The “Hot Corner” is about to have a major facelift the size of Joan Rivers’ face. Miguel Cabrera is moving across the diamond. Longtime fantasy contributors such as Adrian Beltre and Aramis Ramirez are fading, and in Ramirez’s case — fading fast. A plethora of new prospects will be moving in that will make this position pretty deep over the next five or six years (though not as deep as shortstop is about to get). In other words, the best prediction within this article may be this: the third base rankings will change drastically next year.
In the meantime, the first seven names on this list come with very little risk. The Fourth and Fifth Tier players can still be contributing players on championship teams. After that, nobody should be picked from the remaining players except in very deep leagues.
Please note that all rankings assume a standard, mixed, five-by-five league (average, runs, stolen bases, RBI, home runs, ERA, Wins, WHIP, strikeouts, and saves). Also, Xander Bogaerts played nine game at third base and eight games at shortstop, but is slated to start at short for the Red Sox. He is more valuable as a shortstop and will be addressed in those rankings.
Miguel CabreraJust as Bogaerts is more valuable at shortstop, Cabrera is more valuable if he is your third baseman instead of at first base. Draft him No. 2 overall behind Mike Trout, place him at third base and then draft a first baseman such as Jose Abreu six or seven rounds later.
All three of these players have been going in the second or third rounds of mock drafts. Beltre put up a WARP near 6.0 in his mid thirties in 2013; that is probably not sustainable this year. He has also played in a lot of games the last two years (654 and 690 plate appearances, respectfully). The decline is coming quickly. As the saying goes… “I would rather trade a player a year before the decline then a year after.” Longoria, on the other hand, is 27 and just had a career high in games played.
Some past injuries are accidents that should not be held against players when drafting them. Some past injuries are body breakdowns that should be held against players when evaluating. Zimmerman qualifies for the latter. He is the type of player who will be useless by the age of 32. That is a real problem for the Nationals considering he will be 32 in September of 2016 and they have him signed through 2019. Donaldson has tremendous plate discipline, which makes breakout season last year more believable.
Sandoval’s offseason training has become legendary. “Team Panda” is credited with reducing the 5-feet-11 third baseman’s weight from 280 pounds to a reported 240. His motivation may center around the expiration of his contract in November. Machado needed major knee surgery in September; it’s never wise to draft a player who is hurt in the knees, wrist, elbow or shoulder going into a year. Regarding Arenado, which player was he from the list below and which players are George Brett and Mike Schmidt from their rookie years?
Player A: 0.7 WARP, a slash line of .282/.313/.363 and had 2 HR and a K rate of eight percent.
Player B: 2.1 WARP, a slash line of .196/.324/.373 and had 18 HR and a K rate of 30 percent.
Player C: 2.7 WARP, a slash line of .267/.301/.405 and had 10 HR and a K rate of 14 percent.
Answer: Brett is A. Schmidt is B and Arenado is C. In other words, be patient with Arenado because third basemen usually take some time to adjust to the Majors. By the way, both Hall of Famers made major jumps in their sophomore years.
Seager’s 22 home runs in 2013 tend to overshadow the fact that he does not drive in a lot of runs (69), has an uninspiring average (.260) and does not steal many bases (9). Headley is living off one good 2012 season. Lawrie is living off of a terrific Minor League career (that has not carried over to the Majors). And Ramirez is living off of a lot of food. As his weight and age increase, he becomes more and more irrelevant.
Middlebrooks is by far the best of this group. If Stephen Drew resigns with Red Sox, that will negatively change his playing time and his ranking. Frazier and Dominguez are very similar players, but Frazier’s arm-bar swing is so ugly… he has made no adjustments to correct the holes in it. He will not get any better; Dominguez may go by him. Castellanos is getting a lot of media attention. Do not buy the hype. His bat (.276/.343/.450 with 18 home runs in 595 appearances) was just better than average in the high minors.
Freese, Moustakas and Reynolds have all seen the shine come off their stars. Flores may be a steal here. Flores hit better in Triple-A (.321/.357/.531 with 15 home runs in 463 appearances) than Castellanos. Flores cannot field so people gloss over him.
Kris Bryant, CHC
Miguel Sano, MIN
Garin Cecchini, BOS
Joey Gallo TEX
Many think that Sano is a better prospect than Bryant. His plate discipline needs more work than Bryant and plate discipline is always a key indicator of success in the Majors. Cecchini is an on- base machine. Gallo has contact problems that may break him. The top three are worth stashing if your league allows that.