If you haven’t already heard, things are bleak at the hot corner. Sure, there’s some amazing talent at third base, but much of it is concentrated at the top of the position. In fact, six third basemen are going within the top 35 draft picks, on average. After that, the drop-off is real and it comes at you fast. However, undervalued players are still out there once the reliable options are off the board. I’ll take a look at four players available outside the the top 150 picks who can add value to your draft day lineups. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some third base sleepers for 2023 fantasy baseball!
The season is not here yet, but why not get a head start and jump in a Fantrax Classic Draft contest? Get a jump on the season with a Best Ball league or maybe a Draft and Hold. Or put some green on the line with a new season-long league to try and conquer. There’s no better time than now to get your baseball on!
Third Base Sleepers for 2023
Matt Chapman, Toronto Blue Jays
If you’re in the market for a power third baseman but don’t want to pay a draft day premium, look no further than Matt Chapman. He swings a 30-homer bat, plays on a loaded offense, and is going just outside the top 150 draft picks on average. Chapman falls short in the batting average department, but he’s a strong three-category contributor at a position where production quickly drops off.
Chapman had a solid first season with Toronto in 2022. He hit 27 home runs with 83 runs scored, 76 RBI, two stolen bases, and a .229 batting average. He also finished with a 117 wRC+. The batting average is underwhelming, but it’s a 19-point increase from 2021 – an improvement due in part to Chapman cutting his strikeout rate from 32.5% to 27.4% in 2022.
In addition to an improved plate approach, Chapman posted a more-than-healthy 12.9% Barrel% and significantly upped his HardHit% nine points to a whopping 50.7%. He also made more overall contact, and limited his chase rate to a career-best 22.9% (league average is 32.6%).
If Chapman can maintain his plate discipline and quality of contact improvements, a 30-homer season with strong counting stats (and a couple of steals!) should be in the cards. Combine that with the fact that he’s tallied at least 615 plate appearances in each of the last four full seasons, and you’re looking at why Chapman is one of my favorite third base sleepers for the 2023 fantasy baseball season.
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies
It’s easy to overlook Ryan McMahon, but he’s one of the steadier third base options going around pick 200. He’s played over 150 games in back-to-back seasons while putting up nearly identical stat lines across the board. The notable exception being McMahon’s run production numbers – he combined for 166 runs scored and RBI in 2021, compared to 134 in 2022:
For the 2023 season, I expect McMahon’s run production totals to rebound closer to his 2021 levels. While the Rockies aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, the addition of a healthy Kris Bryant should help generate more team runs (injuries limited Bryant to 42 games last season). A full season of Ezequiel Tovar should come in handy as well.
In addition to an improved supporting cast, McMahon should benefit from improved quality of contact metrics. He made better contact last season, barreling the ball 10.4% of the time (up from 7.3%) while posting a 46.3% HardHit% (up from 43.3%). He also recorded a career-best 113.7 maxEV.
There’s nothing flashy about McMahon’s game. But he contributes across the board, including stolen bases – a contribution that is sorely lacking among third basemen. McMahon often flies under the fantasy radar, making him one of the sneakier third base sleepers for 2023.
Jordan Walker, St. Louis Cardinals
If there’s one rookie who can make an immediate impact this year, my money is on Cardinals’ top prospect Jordan Walker. The young talent has a knack for getting on base while bringing plus power and speed to the fantasy table.
Last season, Walker crushed Double-A ball to the tune of .306/.388/.510 with 19 home runs, 100 runs scored, 68 RBI, and 22 stolen bases across 536 plate appearances. In fact, Walker played so well that the Cardinals transitioned him to the outfield in August in order to help expedite his path to the majors.
There’s some risk that Walker starts the 2023 season in Triple-A, so keep an eye on him this spring. However, with so many Cardinals players competing in the World Baseball Classic, Walker will be given every opportunity to crack the Opening Day roster. If he does, he’ll bring both pop and speed, while hitting in a solid lineup. Walker’s upside is worth grabbing in drafts this season – especially if you wait on the position.
Jeimer Candelario, Washington Nationals
There’s some deep-league sleeper appeal to Jeimer Candelario. He’s coming off one of his worst seasons, slashing .217/.272/.361 with a lowly 80 wRC+ in 467 plate appearances. Candelario also posted a career-worst 6% walk rate and chased pitches outside of the zone 36.8% of the time. Not good. However, there’s some room for optimism heading into the 2023 season.
Candelario was fairly unlucky last season, posting a .257 BABIP. He also got off to a sluggish start before a shoulder injury sidelined him in June. Following his IL stint, Candelario fared better in the second half of the season. He slashed .250/.289/.426 across 204 plate appearances with a .176 ISO and 100 wRC+. That doesn’t knock your socks off, but it plays in deeper leagues.
If everything breaks right, Candelario could put up decent numbers this season. He signed a one-year contract with the Nationals and the change of scenery could do him some good. Candelario has guaranteed playing time and should benefit from the park upgrade. He won’t give you steals, but a push for 20 home runs, 120-130 combined runs scored and RBI, and a .240 batting average is in the cards. That’s doable for a third baseman going just inside pick 400.
Who are your favorite third base sleepers? Drop some names in the comments below. For more great analysis check out the 2023 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit!