STRATEGIES FOR DRAFTING THIRD BASEMEN
In less than a week, three of the top third basemen have been slowed by injury. Chase Headley is likely to miss at least the first month of the season; David Wright is a wait-and-see injury; Hanley Ramirez is undergoing tests on his inflamed thumb – though we’re pretty sure he was going to play SS in your Fantasy league anyway.
Earlier this month in “Scratching the Surface” we helped you find middle infield bargains. Third base is considered a deep position this year, but as we scratch the surface and study draft trends we see that you have to act early to grab a top third baseman; if you don’t, there are plenty of options – options with plenty of questions and unknowns.
But first, let’s forget about the injuries – for now – and look at the draft trends at the hot corner, as of March 20, courtesy of the National Fantasy Baseball Champion’s Average Draft Position (ADP) rankings. Here is the landscape
|Section of the draft||Number of 3B drafted|
|101 – 200||7|
|201 – 300||5|
The lesson here is that if you want a bona fide starting 3B for your team – despite the depth at the position –
[caption id="attachment_40266" align="alignright" width="300" caption="<em><strong>Jeff Keppinger is an intriguing Fantasy play due to his multi-position eligibility.</strong> Photo Credit: Rich Pilling, Getty Images</em>"][/caption]
you need to grab one in the first four or five rounds. There are options later, with no need to rush, as your corner infielder is more likely to be a first baseman. The top 10 who are going off the board are: M. Cabrera (1), Ramirez (20), Longoria (21), Beltre (22), Wright (25), Zimmerman (34), Headley (38 and falling), Aramis Ramirez (50), Lawrie (70), and Sandoval (81). After that, almost 40 picks expire before another 3B is typically drafted.
Here is where to get third basemen in the middle of your draft. As we did with middle infielders, we compare the ADP to Tim McCullough’s overall ranking of the player in his top 300 (as seen in the Xclusive Edge Fantasy Baseball Package). Again, any ADP more than 10 picks ahead of McCullough’s ranks are a “reach” and those falling more than 10 spots after his rank are “rewards.” Those within 10 spots either way are a “push:”
What we’re seeing here is a mixed bag, and even the “reaches” aren’t too bad. The truth is if you want a guy (I like Frazier this year for example) you should grab him a round before his ADPs. If you really, really want him, make it two. Ignore the comments, such as “hold on while I cross his name off my list, when I can get all the way down there…” from your league-mates and enjoy the player.
All of the above names are fine CI choices, but they do need to be watched. Ideally, they’d be good Utility/DH choices or even the first corner infielder off your bench. It’s best to figure out which two you like the best and draft them just before their ADP.
Here are the rest of the hot corner options:
Here are the rest of the hot corner options:
Gyorko will make his major league debut at 3B for the injured Headley, and it might not be until late May until he reaches the threshold of games played at 2B for you to play him there, so figure that into your draft plans. As we told you earlier this month, though, forget drafting any rookies (except in keeper/dynasty leagues) when you’re playing for this season. There are better third year players all over the draft that would be better (that is safer) choices. There are some nice rewards here. In fact, many of these names could make for early season replacements (or longer) if you want to take a chance on Headley or Wright. Young is particularly useful in that he has 20-game eligibility at either corner position and played 16 games at 2B last season. Many of his statistics dipped last year and he is 36 years old, but he has a change of scenery, playing in a good ballpark with very little pressure or fanfare. He would soar up draft boards if he has 2B eligibility, but grab him around 200-210 and enjoy his production; and if Chase Utley gets hurt again, he may reward you with 2B eligibility later this year.
Keppinger, like teammate Gordon Beckham, is an overlooked piece of the White Sox infield. With names like Dunn, Konerko, De Aza, Viciedo and Rios around them, Keppinger, Beckham and catcher Tyler Flowers will be available; they too play in a good hitters park in a productive lineup. Keppinger has 20-game eligibility at 1B, 3B and 2B. As an everyday player, he’s probably good for .280 and 12 HRs. Not outstanding at the hot corner, but more intriguing at 2B, no?
Though you may want to scope out a 3B in the initial phase of your draft, it’s not an urgency to grab one. The sneaky depth at the hot corner also makes it easier to draft a player with an injury, though drop Wright, Ramirez and Headley down your draft charts based on the portion of the season you believe they will miss.
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