2022 Third Base Primer (Fantasy Baseball)
While baseball, unfortunately, remains in a lockout as I begin this article, fantasy baseball prep never sleeps. Regardless of your league type, knowing the player pool is essential, and especially the intricacies of each position. When it comes to the hot corner, the position is certainly hot at the top, but it cools off in a hurry. Imagine this position as a hot bath. It feels great when you first get in, letting the hot water soothe all your aches and pains, but the longer you sit there, the colder the water gets until you can’t take it anymore and step out. That’s exactly how this position feels this season in drafts, so knowing where and when to attack third base is crucial.
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Third Base ADP (Since Jan. 1)
Let’s start with some ADP, shall we? There have been 115 NFBC DCs since the calendar flipped to January, and here is how this position is being drafted along with min and max picks.
Gotta Pounce Early
You could make a strong argument that the third base position is the shallowest in fantasy this year outside of catcher. First base is in the mix too, but it gets pretty dicey after the top 6-7 options are off the board. At the top, you have a consensus top-five overall selection, Jose Ramirez. The consistency that Ramirez has shown in the power/speed department is scary, but in an extremely positive way. In his last four full seasons, Ramirez has averaged 32 HR, 26 SB, 99 R, and 94 RBI, and he was on a near 50/30 pace during the shortened 2020 season. Locking up his power/speed blend early from this shallow position is killing two birds with one stone. Don’t be afraid to take him as high as No. 2 overall, and maybe even No. 1 if he gets dealt to a team with a better offense to put around him.
After Ramirez, both Devers and Machado are going in the 2nd round more often than not and are fine selections there. Both offer high-end production in four categories with the ability to at least add 5-10 steals as well. I’d have no issues taking either of them where their ADP currently is. However, the player directly behind them is a strict avoid for me. When are we going to learn our lesson as a community when it comes to Adalberto Mondesi? Sure, he has the ability to carry fantasy teams for weeks, but the risk vastly outweighs the reward, especially when it will take a top-50 pick or so to secure his services.
Austin Riley, Nolan Arenado, and Alex Bregman are three of my favorite targets this season. None will provide speed, but they all can contribute solidly in the other four categories and have very reasonable price tags. Ideally, I’ll have my starting third baseman by the time these three come off the board, as it starts getting murkier in these third base waters after pick 100. But here’s the problem: Everyone else knows third base thins out quickly, and they’ll be trying to get their starter early as well. If you don’t select one of the top seven, you have to bet on guys like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rendon, and DJ LeMahieu staying healthy and productive for a full season. We’re not even sure where Bryant will sign yet either. This isn’t a trio I’ll have many, if any, shares of this season.
Upside Plays After Pick 100
If you miss out on the elite options and aren’t inspired by the guys in the 100-125 range, there are a few options you could go after in the middle rounds if you’re seeking a positive ROI. That all starts with Ke’Bryan Hayes, currently the 11th third baseman off the board around pick 133 on average. A wrist injury limited Hayes for the vast majority of the 2021 season, hence the suppressed stat line. However, some of his metrics were highly encouraging, including a 45.8% hard contact rate, 90.2 mph AVG EV, solid approach, and a 7oth percentile sprint speed. With his profile, a .270/20/10 season is well within reach, which would make him a great value where he’s being taken in drafts.
Outside of Hayes, Luis Urias took a step forward in 2021 and could do the same again in 2022. But my other two favorite targets in this range are Yoan Moncada and Ryan McMahon. I’ve been vocal about my frustrations with Moncada for a while now, but after pick 150 is very reasonable for someone who put up a .315/25/10 season back in 2019. Let’s just hope he runs a little. As for McMahon, he’s consistently produced but still flies under the radar in drafts. In each of his last two full seasons, McMahon has exceeded 20 home runs and 80 RBI with an average around .250 and a handful of steals as well. It’s far from a sexy profile, but you know what you’re getting with him, which is more than you can say about the others in the back end of the top 200.
The Post-200 Dandies
OK, dandies might not have been the right word, but once I get past pick 200, there are four players I’ve found myself targeting frequently.
Josh Donaldson (MIN): If you shy away from the former AL MVP because of his durability issues, I wouldn’t blame you. But when Donaldson is on the field, he’s still producing like a top-150 player. In 2019, Donaldson racked up 37 home runs, 94 RBI, and 96 runs scored, and had 26 homers, 72 RBI, and 73 runs last season in 543 plate appearances. On top of that, JD’s quality-of-contact metrics were exceptional, and he maintained his strong plate approach. We can likely only bank on 125-130 games from him, but those could be 125 highly productive games that lead to a positive ROI.
Eugenio Suarez (CIN): It’s funny: I never imagined myself with any shares of Eugenio Suarez this season. But, hey, the power speaks for itself. Suarez has registered a barrel rate of 13.8% or higher in each of the last three seasons and still cranked 31 homers in just 574 plate appearances last season. He finished the season strong too, with a .355/.446/.790 slash line and seven home runs in the month of September. The AVG won’t be great, but draft him for the power and multi-positional eligibility, and cross your fingers that he can hit .220-.230 or so.
Alec Bohm (PHI): The 2021 season was far from kind to this former top-25 prospect. In 417 plate appearances, Bohm slashed an uninspiring .247/.305/.342 with just seven home runs. Not exactly what we expected from the hulking third baseman in his first full Major League season. However, Bohm still recorded a 92 mph AVG EV and a 49.5% hard contact rate through his struggles. It’s quite possible he was slightly overvalued as a prospect, but when you’re pushing pick 300 in your drafts, I’ll take a chance on Bohm taking a step forward in 2022.
Jonathan Villar (NYM): It’s hard to say if Villar will sign as a starter, but he always seems to find his way into a regular role. His days of posting 19/62 or 24/40 campaigns are behind him, but it’s hard to find a potential 15/15 player this late in your draft who also qualifies at shortstop as well. In 2021, Villar racked up 18 homers and 14 steals in 505 plate appearances with the Mets. Just keep an eye on where he lands following the lockout.
In conclusion, I’d recommend trying to lock down your third baseman within the top 100 picks. But if that’s not possible, there are still some solid options throughout your draft.
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