The third base position for 2015 looks extremely top-heavy to me. At the top we’ve got Donaldson, Beltre, Rendon, and Frazier, and the new guy, Arenado – to me, every single one of the top 4 has risks involved, and it just gets more complicated from there. Let’s take a look at several over/underrated players, breakout candidates, and our top sleeper picks at the third base position.
I see huge profit potential in Machado. He’s had a couple of freak knee injuries, but he’s still only 22 and I love his upside hitting in any part of the Orioles powerful lineup. He was on fire when uninjured in 2014, hitting 12 HR in only 354 AB, compared to his 2013 season where he hit 14 in 710 AB. The power is coming, and the batting eye is improving as well (BB % and OBP increasing each year). I’d project him between 15 and 20 HR with upside for more if he can get 600+ AB, with a .275 or better BA to go with it. I’d jump at the chance to select him at #121 overall.
While I think Zimmerman is possibly on the downside of his career, I think he can still be a monster for fantasy purposes. I haven’t touched him in fantasy for the past couple of years because as a Nats fan I knew that his price was too high what we were likely to get from him numbers-wise. Well, the price has dropped sharply, and this is the year. He’s never been below 25 HR in any of his last four completed seasons, and he’s making the switch from 3B to 1B for the 2015 season, which should reduce wear and tear on his body. The Nationals lineup is loaded again, and I think the opportunity to buy Zimmerman super low is upon us.
Arenado is a stud. I can’t imagine what’s not to love – I only wish that his ADP was lower. But he’s worth it. Dude gets the luxury of mashing the ball at Coors Field half the time, a batters paradise. He’s the undisputed 3B of a Rockies team that will definitely hit him in the top half of their potent lineup. He’s only 23, so he’s still growing into his power potential, and he’s already posted an 18 HR season (2014) in only 467 AB, and he only struck out around 12% of the time. His upside is off the charts.
Beltre is the most consistent force in the 3B market, there’s no doubt about it. But when I look at his 2014 numbers, I’m forced to wonder if undefeated Father Time is finally catching up. Beltre is 35, and his HR output dropped from 30 to 19 in 2014, and his RBI and R totals dropped as well. I figured he was injured and that would explain it, but he still logged 600+ AB. His BABIP was even a career-high .345 to get him to those subpar totals. I just feel like he’s due some regression based on luck, and due some more based on age. Maybe I only speak for myself here, but I just can’t get behind paying a third-round price tag for a player with that much risk.
I actually love Todd Frazier as a player. I owned him in a ton of leagues last year, and rode him hard. And I honestly think he’s still an up-and-coming player. But with an ADP inside the top 60, I’m going to have to recommend a step back. Much of Frazier’s strong 2014 value was tied to his 20 SB. He’s never been above 10 in any other major league season. Pitchers are going to be much more aware of his stealing capabilities this coming season, and I don’t see him going above 10 SB total. If you’re taking him in the fifth round, you’re passing up guys like Carlos Gonzalez, Hunter Pence, Craig Kimbrel, and Starling Marte. I think he’ll be good, but I’d like him a lot more if he was going 20 picks later.
Personally, I simply don’t see too much to get excited about here. Guy who was marginal in the AL goes to a huge NL pitchers park, where he’ll undoubtedly bat just in from of the starting pitcher. He wasn’t a big HR guy before, and you have to think he’ll be less so now. I don’t even think the Padres lineup is that great, even after they bought every available FA and tradable asset. Ignore.
With the season Castellanos had last year, his ADP of 317 is downright disrespectful. I’m not saying that his 11 / 66 / 50 / .259 line was anything to write home about, but the kid was 21 and in his rookie season. He’s still entrenched in a powerful Tiers lineup, is the unquestioned 3B of the future, and will be allowed to work through any struggles. I think we should be expecting 15 / 60 / 60 / .260 from him this year, which is plenty good for a bargain bin 3B. If he makes a leap in his second year, look out below. Keep an eye on him in Spring Training.
Pedro was dreadful last season, but I’m optimistic he can rebound in 2015. He’s making the transition from 3B to 1B this season, which should allow him to concentrate on his hitting and also minimize the season-long effects on his body. Let’s not forget, this is a guy who hit 30 or more HR two years in a row, the most recent being 2013. He actually improved his BB % while decreasing his K %, suggesting progress with his batting eye, and his HR / FB rate dropped 10%, suggesting that he might have been the victim of some bad luck. If Alvarez wins the 1B job outright, he could be in for a serious boost in value in 2015.
Average draft position (ADP) information is courtesy of FantasyPros and is aggregated from Yahoo, CBS, and ESPN draft data.