Third Base Tiers – Bouncebacks, Young Stars, and Ones to Love
Last week, we looked at the first basemen tiers. This week, we bring you the third base tiers. Similar to first base, the hot corner includes a collection of exciting fantasy options. Some of the third-base options have positional flexibility, particularly at first, so we won’t dig too deep into those players. Use ADP as a guide for where to target various players within the third base tiers, but it goes out the window as the draft moves on. Like last week, we’ll put the third base group into different tiers that include the elite group, OBP league targets, sleepers, and more.
Third Base Tiers – Bouncebacks, Young Stars, and Ones to Love
The elite group of the third base tiers includes Jose Ramirez. That’s it. Particularly since he’s the only player that falls into the group of five-category studs. In 2020, Ramirez finished with 17 home runs, 45 runs, 46 RBI, and ten steals with a .292 batting average. Wow. The BAT X projects Ramirez for 32 home runs, 97 runs, 91 RBI, and 23 steals with a .270 batting average. Enough said.
Near Elite Group
The next grouping is full of four-category contributors that also chip in a handful of steals. Here we have Manny Machado, D.J. LeMahieu, Anthony Rendon, Rafael Devers, and Alex Bregman. Normally, we’d include Nolan Arenado here, but temper expectations with a new team and home ballpark downgrade. Rendon and Bregman also fall into the OBP league bucket since they have elite on-base skills.
OBP League Targets
Outside of Anthony Rendon and Alex Bregman, Cavan Biggio, Max Muncy, Kris Bryant, Justin Turner, and Josh Donaldson stick out for OBP leagues. For rotisserie leagues, Biggio worries me a bit given the low batting average. However, Biggio should provide double-digit home runs and steals in a solid Blue Jays lineup. We’ll discuss Bryant a bit later since his ADP dipped down to a point where he’s in the bounce-back candidate category.
Third Basemen I Love
Yoan Moncada, 3B, Chicago White Sox
NFBC ADP: 83
Although Yoan Moncada could also fall under the bounceback candidate category, he’s someone I love for 2021. Moncada struggled with the effects of COVID-19 in 2020, and so it’s fair to toss out last season. He boasted a career-best 2019 season where he hit 25 home runs, 83 runs, 79 RBI, and ten steals with a .315 batting average. Unfortunately, in 2020, Moncada totaled six home runs, 28 runs, and 24 RBI with a .225 batting average. Check out a deep dive into Moncada by fellow FantraxHQ writer Justin Johnson here. I love Moncada at his NFBC ADP of 88.
Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics
NFBC ADP: 118
With some hesitations due to his season-ending hip surgery, the ADP keeps dipping down for Matt Chapman. He crushed the ball in 2020 with a 51.7% hard-hit rate and 18% barrel rate, both of which ranked in the 95th percentile or higher. Chapman ranked 6th with a 99 mph average exit velocity on FB/LD tied with Gary Sanchez, which showed us his elite power potential.
Recent reports indicate that Chapman is on track for team workouts and will serve as the team’s DH in a few Spring Training games, and that’s good news coming off hip surgery in September 2020. The BAT X projects Chapman for 35 home runs, 85 runs, 92 RBI, and one steal with a .243 batting average. With an ADP of 119 since the beginning of February, Moncada and Chapman end up as my top targets if I miss out on the near-elite grouping of the third base tiers.
J.D. Davis, 3B, New York Mets
NFBC ADP: 244
If you’re looking for a guy with raw power, then look no further than J.D. Davis. After his career-best 2019 season, where Davis hit 22 home runs with 65 runs, 57 RBI, and three steals and a .307 batting average in 453 plate appearances, Davis underperformed in 2020. Davis swung less and showed more patience evidenced by his increased walk rate (13.5%) and a 44.9% Swing% in 2020 compared to a 48.9% Swing% in 2019.
Although his barrel and hard-hit rates dropped a tiny bit in 2020, I expect those to level out over a full season. The tricky part with Davis involves his spot in the Mets lineup due to the added depth with Francisco Lindor. That said, the BAT X projections appear to consider that with 18 home runs, 61 runs, 61 RBI, and two steals with a .265 batting average. Can’t stop, won’t stop loving on the new “Crush Davis,” but the playing time may be a bit concerning based on the projections.
Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners
NFBC ADP: 258
A bit of a boring veteran in Kyle Seager that I love later in drafts. Seager consistently produces, with 20-plus home runs and 110-130 runs plus RBI, but a middling batting average that hovered below .250 of the past four seasons. In 2020, Seager hit nine home runs, 35 runs, 40 RBI, and five steals with a .241 batting average. That’s a 600-plate-appearance pace of 21 home runs, 84 runs, 96 RBI, and 12 steals.
Since the runs, RBI, and stolen bases would’ve finished near career highs, it’s safe to project lower runs and RBI over a full season. He isn’t known for speed, so it’s a bonus if he chips in a few steals. The BAT X projects Seager for 27 home runs, 74 runs, 81 RBI, and four steals with a .246 batting average. Target Seager as someone to plug into a corner infield spot.
Budding Stars – Bohm & Hayes
Alec Bohm, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
NFBC ADP: 114
As one of the Phillies’ top prospects, Alec Bohm performed well in the shortened 2020 season. He totaled four home runs, 24 runs, 23 RBI, and one steal with a triple slash of .338/.400/.481. Bohm is known for his strong above-average hit tool and OBP skills. Although his batting average and OBP look inflated, expect healthy numbers given his minor league track record. Bohm’s .410 BABIP is a bit high, but he recorded a .358 and .406 BABIP earlier in 2019. Over a full season, expect the .410 BABIP to even out, but he’s a solid hitter that makes above-average zone contact with an 87.9% Z-Contact%.
Bohm also displayed his above-average or plus raw power with a 10.3% barrel rate (68th percentile) and 46.8% hard-hit rate (84th percentile). Even though Bohm didn’t hit more than 14 home runs in Double-A in 2019, he’s a big-bodied guy listed at 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds that could develop more power given his strong hit tool. His ADP feels a bit high at pick 116 since it’s assuming the best-case scenario.
— MLB (@MLB) August 23, 2020
I think Bohm could eventually end up as a Max Muncy type with a slightly better batting average. That said, I’d probably prefer Muncy, particularly in OBP leagues since he’s shown the track record. For reference, according to the BAT X, Bohm projects for 19 home runs, 78 runs, 77 RBI, and five steals with a triple slash of .269/.333/427. Meanwhile, Muncy projects for 29 home runs, 91 runs, 86 RBI, and three steals with a .245/.364/.470.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates
NFBC ADP: 145
Another third baseman in Ke’Bryan Hayes that’s experienced an ADP jump given his explosive 2020 season. Hayes totaled five home runs, 17 runs, 11 RBI, and one steal with a triple slash of .376/.442/.682. Another guy that had an inflated BABIP at .450 contributed to his high batting average. Hayes is known for his average to above-average hit tool, but not as much power in comparison to Bohm. He makes a ton of contact, particularly in the zone with a 96.1% Z-Contact% and 83.6% Contact%. The quality of contact finished well with a 9.2% barrel rate, 55.4% hard-hit rate, and .457 wOBA.
— MLB (@MLB) September 27, 2020
Initially, I questioned the sustainability of his success. However, I’m warming up to Hayes in this range right inside the top 150 picks. After reading through the Prospects Live Pittsburgh Pirates team reports, Hayes boasts solid tools that make him a safer prospect for me. The BAT X projects Hayes for 16 home runs, 73 runs, 68 RBI, and nine steals with a .268 batting average. Although the team context stinks, consider Hayes if you miss out on the first 15 or so third basemen.
Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati Reds
NFBC ADP: 79
Earlier in the offseason, I wrote up a deep dive on Eugenio Suarez (insert link) because I wondered what happened in 2020? The slugger gradually slugged and improved from 2017 to 2019. Then in 2020, Suarez totaled 15 home runs, 29 runs, 38 RBI, and two steals with a .202 batting average. Some of the hard-hit metrics looked about the same, but he swung less and made less contact, which potentially impacted the lowered batting average.
Suarez finished with a 14% barrel rate in 2019 that increased to 14.4% in 2020. Meanwhile, his average exit velocity on FB/LD increased as well. The table below shows the notable differences that indicate Suarez should turn it around over a full season. If you’re looking for power around pick 80, take a chance on a bounceback season from Suarez.
Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
NFBC ADP: 137
Our fearless leader Eric Cross wrote up an article on Kris Bryant earlier in the offseason, check it out here. I’ll cover similar key points, but check out Eric’s deep dive on Bryant for more information. Bryant stunk in 2020, there’s no nice way to slice it. He ended with four home runs, 20 runs, and 11 RBI with a .206/.293/.351 slash line. A couple of notable outliers include the increased strikeout rate and terrible OBP, which typically hovered at .380 (his career average). When glancing at his Baseball Savant page, we notice a downward trend in his barrel rate and hard-hit rate from 2015 to 2020. That’s not great.
Towards the end of the 2020 season, Bryant suffered an oblique injury after taking a cut during an at-bat. It makes us wonder if it bugged him throughout the season and worsened on that swing. Oblique injuries and rotational activities, especially violent ones like swinging a bat lead to a worrisome combination. We notice in the graph above that his wOBA dropped in 2018 and 2020 when Kris Bryant suffered injuries. The BAT X projects Bryant for 27 home runs, 88 runs, 85 RBI, and four steals with a triple slash of .254/.357/.460. Assuming health, Bryant’s worth considering as a bounceback at pick 137 since the beginning of February 2021. Especially in OBP leagues, he’s extra valuable.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Minnesota Twins
NFBC ADP: 204
Although Josh Donaldson recently turned 35 years old, it’s difficult to bet against him, particularly with his ADP past pick 200. I may or may not have traded Donaldson away in a redraft league in 2018 when he barely played then faded him in 2019. If we needed a reminder, Donaldson finished with 37 home runs, 96 runs, 94 RBI, and four steals with a slash line of .259/.379/.521 in 2019. Straight dominance.
Well, in 2020, Donaldson hit six home runs, 14 runs, and 11 RBI with a triple slash of .222/.373/.469. OBP skills remained the same, but the batting average and counting stats dropped. Donaldson missed more than half of the 2020 season due to a calf injury that he ended up reinjuring, which negatively impacted him.
In an MLB.com article by Do-Hyoung Park, he discussed how the Twins plan on helping Josh Donaldson stay healthy. He noted that the Twins may rest Donaldson a bit more with off days or time at DH. In the same article, Donaldson reported that he had been stubborn in the past regarding his calf injuries with plans to be smarter about it. Overall, good signs that Donaldson should and can remain healthy in 2021. Similar to Kris Bryant, when healthy (2017 and 2019), Donaldson performs well.
In 2020, he finished with a 6.9% barrel rate compared to his career 13% rate yet his 53.4% hard-hit ended as a career-high compared to his career 47.6% rate. We can toss out Donaldson’s 2020 hard-hit metrics since it’s difficult to glean conclusions from them. The BAT X bakes in some time missed, but still projects solid numbers with 26 home runs, 82 runs, 74 RBI, and three steals with a triple slash of .246/.363/.462. Donaldson’s another bounce-back candidate in the third base tiers.
Sneaky Late-Round Sources of Steals
Luis Urias, 2B/3B/SS, Milwaukee Brewers
NFBC ADP: 402
We’ll define late-round as near or past pick 300, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Luis Urias fall into that group. Both should provide double-digit steals assuming health and full-time playing time. Luis Urias is known for his hit tool with some speed. In his career 422 plate appearances, Urias totaled six home runs, 43 runs, 40 RBI, and three steals with a .226 batting average. The batting average, power, and speed stink, but he hasn’t received full-time playing time quite yet.
Urias holds an NFBC ADP near pick 400 since the beginning of February, but there’s a risk of playing time per Roster Resource, which projects him in the minors. The BAT X takes into account the potential playing time and projects him for seven home runs, 43 runs, 37 RBI, and three steals with a .248 batting average in 383 plate appearances. It’s a gut feeling, but Urias should earn semi-full playing time for the Brewers, even if it’s as a utility guy.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa, 3B/SS, Texas Rangers
NFBC ADP: 300
On most sites, Isiah Kiner-Falefa holds third base eligibility, even though he expects to serve as the everyday shortstop for the Rangers. Kiner-Falefa should receive full-time playing time, but the counting stats may not end up super exciting. In 2020, he finished with three home runs, 28 runs, ten RBI, and eight steals with a .280 batting average in 228 plate appearances.
The BAT X gives a fair projection with eight home runs, 66 runs, 49 RBI, and 13 steals with a .258 batting average. Similar to Luis Urias, he’s not going to light up the Baseball Savant page with hard-hit metrics. However, Kiner-Falefa makes a ton of zone contact with a career 93.6% Z-Contact%, and he barely whiffs or strikes out. With an ADP near pick 300, target Kiner-Falefa as a late-round source of double-digit steals.
For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2021 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
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