Last week we talked about catchers; let’s go clockwise around the diamond and move to third base. If you’ve done any drafting yet, or if you’ve just been checking in here at Razzball regularly, you already know that the position involves a comically steep cliff after the top guys are off the board. Since Grey’s third base rankings just dropped Monday, I can’t think of a better way to put things than he already did: it’s like a “choose your own adventure” story/game/nightmare out there. What I said last week about catchers is perhaps even more true about the hot corner: you’ll want to be very familiar with the landscape ahead of time even in shallow leagues and you’ll really, really want to be familiar with it in deeper leagues. You’ll need a plan going in, and/or about a dozen contingency plans depending on how your individual draft or auction goes.
Because I’m finding third base to be the weakest position in fantasy this year, I’ve had trouble deciding what to do in any size league, since, A) there’s such a tiny pool of 3B studs, B) I don’t like taking a hitter with no speed that early in a draft even when I have the option to, C) I feel like the few mid-range options I’d considering drafting are way too expensive but once they’re gone the position is a veritable wasteland, and D) I haven’t had a pick high enough to get Jose Ramirez (whom I said I’d consider taking first overall last year and feel the same way this year) yet. Let’s just say I’ve already experienced many of those 3B choose your own adventure endings Grey mentioned as I’ve zigged and zagged through my drafts, trying to determine my team’s needs… and those endings weren’t all fun and enjoyable. The deeper the league, the dicier the options get, of course, so let’s take a deep dive in and take a look outside the top 300 (based on NFBC ADP from December and January) at who might be available to fill the position once we’re getting uncomfortably late in a deep-league draft.
I’d already drafted Luis Rengifo (NFBC ADP # 300) a couple of times before we even flipped the calendar to 2023, and on Wednesday Coolwhip did the heavy lifting telling you why he might not be a bad option this late in a draft. Rengifo’s ADP has fallen a smidge after the Brandon Drury trade, and he’s now going after Justin Turner and Yandy Diaz and just a tick ahead of Yoan Moncada. Rengifo qualifies at second and third in most leagues and even though he feels more like a MI guy, I have a feeling he’ll wind up at 3B for me on a couple of deep-ish teams where I have daily or mid-week moves and am cutting and pasting the position together based on matchups and such.
After Rengifo/Moncada, there’s a huge ADP dropoff to the next two 3B-eligible players being drafted: Wilmer Flores (#385) and Brendan Donovan (#390). While no one is going to be excited to nab Wilmer this year, he does have triple eligibility (1B/2B/3B) and if your draft adventure involves being really desperate for power this late in a draft I can see going with him here. He hit 19 homers last year and played more than I’d realized – 151 games and 525 at bats. He had surprisingly solid run/RBI totals (72/71), and I can see the playing time/counting stats being similar this year given the lack of offseason upgrades made to the Correa-less Giants’ infield. He’s probably also likely to improve on last year’s ugly .229 batting average (.261 for his career, and Steamer predicts .250 in 2023).
As for Donovan, so far he’s shaped up to be a classic ‘more valuable in real life than fantasy’ player for my money (exemplified by the fact that he won last year’s utility player gold glove), given his lack of both power and speed. I’m also worried about him repeating his .281 average (Steamer predicts .269, and I’ve seen other models dip into the .250’s). So why have I already drafted him on a couple deep-league teams? Well, now I’m kind of starting to wonder that myself to be honest, but I guess it’s because I’m hoping he plays a lot, and hits in a decent spot in what should be a great lineup, and because it’s hard for my head not to be turned by a guy who qualifies at second, third, and the outfield in a really deep and/or draft and hold league.
Eduardo Escobar‘s December/January overall ADP is currently #462 — I really don’t get him being THIS low, especially since a ton of the drafts included in these numbers were done after the Mets deal for Correa fell through. I have to think his ADP will rise with Correa out of the picture and rumblings that Brett Baty will likely begin the season in the minors, but he clearly is still being looked at as a fringe option. Escobar is another guy who heads into the season seemingly likely to produce something close to last year’s numbers, which included a .240 average and 20 homers, and enough runs and RBI to keep him on my 3B radar. No, it’s not a great option, but he could be a sensible deep league fallback plan outside the top 400 at a position this weak.
Dropping down even further to some quick hits outside the top 500… a Rodolfo Castro (#507, and he qualifies at 2B/3B) pick doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence, but I kind of like him as a late flyer here. He’s a switch hitter who may end up playing a decent amount of second base for the Pirates; he wasn’t bad after he was promoted the second week of August last year and ended up with 11 homers and 5 steals in 253 ABs on the season. His draft price could rise somewhat with a solid spring, as I feel he could optimistically project as a 20/10 guy if it looks like he’ll be the everyday second baseman in 2023.
Ramon Urias (#515, also qualifies at 2B/3B) has become an AL-only, very late target for me, as I once again find myself rostering more Orioles hitters than is probably advisable (deep leagues = limited options; you know the drill!) I think he’ll get regular playing time at third, and Steamer projects him for 15 homers versus the 16 he hit last year. He hits the ball hard, he doesn’t chase a lot, and it just wouldn’t shock me to see him eclipse both his playing time and his power projections this year.
If you’re just looking for cheap, very late NL power, or hopeful power at least, we stumble upon Patrick Wisdom (#537) and J.D. Davis (#540) at this point. I don’t think it’s a secret who either of these guys are at this point in their careers, and I’d prefer not to roster either of them regardless of league size, but once again I’ll mention that one needs back-up plans to the back-up plans in the very deep league world. Steamer has Wisdom playing in 81 games with 16 homers for the Cubs, and Davis hitting 11 bombs in 83 games for the Giants, so do with that information what you will.
Now, outside the top 550 — let’s look at one more name for each league. For the NL, I’ll go with Spencer Steer. I suspect the Reds’ opening day lineup will look atrocious on paper, but I also suspect that it will provoke some deep-league dumpster diving from those of us searching for at bats. At the moment Steer (who arrived to Cincinnati in the Tyler Mahle trade) looks to have a pretty clear path to playing time at third, and if he manages to settle in at the big league level I don’t see 20 homers (albeit with a sketchy batting average, most likely) being a particularly bold prediction.
We’ll close all the way down at #612 Jace Peterson, who should be in line for regular at bats in another ugly lineup that we deep-leaguers may find ourselves picking through, looking for something to salvage. He may sit against lefties, though in his mere 32 ABs against southpaws last year he hit .281 with a .343 OBP, so who knows… no matter what, there should be more quantity, if not quality, for him this year. With the rule changes and as a veteran who may have a green light to run on a team with nothing to lose, maybe he’ll improve upon his SB numbers (he had 10 in 2021 and 12 in 2022) and end up being a relatively solid source of speed if nothing else.
Hey Laura, kinda a bit late to your post here, but always love your writeups. I’m wondering if you could possibly weigh in on a convo Grey and I were just having on his post.
Do you think you would lean more towards Grey’s, “meh” opinion of this player than mine? He’s obvi just a deep league name (for now!) Any thoughts on the player are greatly appreciated!
Hey Nux, glad you checked in! I’ve already drafted Massey on one of my NFBC draft & hold teams and will definitely be mentioning him when I get to talking about second basemen. I have to think he’ll get a decent amount of playing time even if Nicky isn’t moved; at least if I were the Royals I’d want to give him a real shot to see what they have there. There’s a lot to like in his profile (as you already know) and I feel like he’s one of those guys who, since he lost the pandemic year in his development, it will be a little more of a crapshoot to see if he can translate it to the big league level. At his current price I’m definitely interested in multiple shares this year; really nothing to lose if things don’t pan out.
Excellent Laura! Ima print this out as a DC draft aid! Will consider all of these save for maybe Wisdom. Seems crowded in Wrigley, but who knows.
I’m sure you considered these but, any thoughts on Burger, Ezekiel Duran and/or Emmanuel Rivera? Moncada, Josh Smith/Brad Miller and Rojas/Longoria don’t seem like high hurdles to playing time. Thanks!!
Hey SSC, that’s funny you said that about Wisdom, b/c as I was turning this post in I was kind of thinking that if I’d done it over I wouldn’t have included him, so I’m glad you made that edit! : ) Not super excited for any of those guys… Burger would need to show me something interesting at the MLB level before I’d even take him in a DC league; it’s just hard for me to see him having any fantasy success even if he ends up with playing time. I think Duran’s power is real and he’s worth keeping an eye on, but unless Jung flops and they needs immediate help, I’d send him to the minors this year so that he can work on his plate discipline… maybe he’ll make the team as a utility guy given the lackluster options as you mentioned but I’d be surprised if they don’t want to get him more seasoning. Rivera also worth monitoring, but I think Rojas will play more than some think and even with an ancient and fragile Longo I feel like he’s ticketed to more of a back up role this year; also need to keep an eye on the wrist he hurt at the end of last season.
In draft and hold type formats, I’ve taken a couple fliers on guys like Jung or Jordan Walker (obviously being drafted way higher than the guys you mentioned but still could be a huge bargain if everything breaks right) and then making sure I grab at least two or three multi-position eligibility guys that I can play at either MI or CI who will hopefully at least get some counting stats if my other options get hurt or flame out, like Isaac Paredes or Joey Wendle. (Both of whom have ADPs outside the top 500 and who I’ll probably mention in one of my middle infield posts). Oh, and I meant to mention Jean Segura in this post as well… his ADP is around 250; not an exciting option but I’ve already got him on a couple teams figuring he’ll get 3B eligibility early on this year and might be a decent part of a deep-league team.
Great tidbits! Appreciate the thought process/strategy talk immensely… especially in these DCs where one has no choice but to pass on some position(s) and can’t fill holes fast enough. So far, in this draft season, it’s been 3B and C.
Thanks again and appreciate you!
Hey Laura, thanks for the great stuff, as always. In my 12 team daily, Wilmer is traditionally the guy I end up picking up when I need a filler. He manages to stay on my roster most of the rest of the year because he’s actually decent, and he can be played across the infield.
Hey bass, thanks for reading! Yeah, Wilmer’s so easy to write off, but then every year at this time I’m always surprised at how decent his previous season’s numbers are. I think he filled in for me for some long-ish stretches in a couple of my RCLs last year — we’ll see if he has another season of decent productivity in him!
Laura, thanks for the write-up as always.
Question on one of your comments; potentially considering taking Ramirez if you had first pick overall. Does it worry you that his average dropped over the last 2 months of the year?
I think it’s a good point that his average likely won’t repeat as it’s always been pretty volatile; I think it’s more likely he’ll be under .270 in 2023 as opposed to actually clearing .280 like he did this past year. But the power/speed combo at such a weak position might still push me over the edge to grab him first… though unfortunately it’s a decision I haven’t had to make yet as I haven’t picked higher than 5th so far. I can see arguments to go a few different ways for #1… and IMO it’s even trickier once you realize how much more quickly the OFs dry up than you might expect!
You willing to roster Miguel Vargas right away- should qualify at 3rd- or does the Dodgers use of him to big a factor?
Hey PTM, I’m generally a little more prospect/rookie-averse than most, and it’s really hard to predict how everything is going to shake out for the Dodgers this year (still seems like there might be a trade coming, but who knows…) But anyway I’d roster Vargas depending on the league (and his current NFBC ADP of 289 could be a steal, and not a disaster if he doesn’t work out), but in a deep league would definitely want to cover myself and make sure I have a couple other potential options.
3rd base is such an unmitigated disaster. Though, I do like Steer crazy late
Just saw Paul Sporer also mentioned him today at the end of his Rotographs 3B article… Steer coming in hot! I’m in the middle of a slow draft right now where I’ve just decided to completely punt 3B until one of my very last picks. I’m just not going to take someone like Eugenio or Bohm when there’s still SPs I love on the board.
Yeah, Bohm or the “rear end of a draft” bum, prolly same diff…if you get ABs