Greetings readers, I want to start today by thanking and wishing good luck to all of the participants who drafted with me in my RCL Sunday night. I was kept on my toes throughout the draft, as everyone was clearly prepared and ready to apply all they’ve learned at Razzball and in life to conquer what was (lovingly, I’m sure) referred to in our chat as the “Take Down Laura Holt League.” To those of you who have RCL drafts upcoming and are new to the format, you’ll soon learn what the rest of us have discovered: dollar for dollar (yes, I know most of the leagues are free) it’s about the most fun and challenging format (no) money can buy.
Now, to the business at hand: it’s time to continue our way around the diamond to the hot corner, where we’ll take a look at some late-round third basemen that may be of particular interest to those of us in NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. This week, we’ll keep a true deep-league vibe going by looking only at guys who are currently outside the top 20 third basemen being selected, according to current NFBC ADP.
Josh Donaldson. Let’s start with a guy I drafted in Sunday’s RCL, shall we? Did I have Josh Donaldson targeted? Uh, no… and now that I’m thinking about it, maybe drafting a guy who I just mentioned is ranked outside the top 20 third baseman as my starter at that position in a 12-team mixed league will lead to disaster (but the nice thing about the RCL leagues is that there’s always a ripe waiver wire to turn to should such disaster strike!) Anyway, I wouldn’t go all in on him without a backup plan — and even if he manages to stay healthy that average could get ugly — but I don’t mind taking one chance on Donaldson as a guy who we know has legit power and can hit the kinds of homers that could go out of any stadium at any time, juiced ball or no.
Brian Anderson. Let’s drop down to a guy whose ADP is #232, a player who may not have much upside but who may be about as safe a pick as there is at that point in a draft to at least provide a steady stream of relatively quality at bats and the counting stats to go with them. He’s a guy with a boring name and boring fantasy numbers, but sometimes the boring choice is the right choice. Anderson won’t hurt you in average and is likely to provide solid support in runs, RBI, and homers. Also, the Marlins as a team are at least a little interesting now in my opinion, if that helps.
Eduardo Escobar. I haven’t drafted Escobar yet and really haven’t been tempted to, but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider him if I need 3B help around the 300th pick of a draft (his current ADP is #291). Most figured his amazing 2019 when he hit 35 home runs with 118 RBI was an aberration, and his awful 2020 (.212 with 4 homers and 1 steal in 56 games — yikes, it was even worse than I remembered) would add further evidence that it indeed was. But if the D-Backs as a team can significantly improve on last year’s hitting, and they can hardly do much worse on that front, and Escobar can get in a groove and settle somewhere in between the high of 2019 and the low of 2020, he could if nothing else be a serviceable corner infielder in deeper leagues.
Carter Kieboom. It’s understandable that Kieboom is being left on the fantasy scrap heap this year with a completely off-the-radar ADP of #483. He disappointed many in 2020 after his stock rose during spring training (or maybe it was summer camp, who can remember anything that happened between March and July of last year correctly) upon being named the Nationals’ starting third baseman. That starting gig never really materialized, and when Kieboom did play he was horrible. Weirdly, he’s once again in the position of looking like he might get a chance at significant playing time this year. The bad (and perhaps realistic) news? Even if he does, it might not pay off into any kind of fantasy goodness given how low we now know his floor is and the fact that none of his recent metrics show that a big breakout is imminent. The better news? He’s still just 23, the talent he showed in the minor leagues probably didn’t just disappear, and he’s cheap-to-free if you’re interested in a post hype prospect lottery ticket.
Maikel Franco. I was big on Franco as a super deep league flier last year as someone who would benefit in a huge way with a change of scenery out of Philadelphia, and he basically delivered, with a .278 average and 8 homers while playing in all 60 games for the Royals. That wasn’t enough to get him a deal from another team before the first week of March, as most teams are likely wary, in the same way most of us fantasy owners are, that Franco just isn’t going to ever get on base enough or take his skills to a high enough level to make him an impact player. Word on the street is that his market has finally picked up though, and if he hasn’t signed by the time you read this he may shortly thereafter, so where he lands will certainly affect any remaining fantasy interest in him. With a current ADP of almost 500, though, he’s certainly worth a look in the deepest leagues in case he manages to do more or less what he did last year over a full season in 2021.
Yandy Diaz. Sigh, I’ve always had a soft spot for Diaz, and I’m sure he’ll at least find his way on to an AL-only team of mine again this year. Every day at bats may not be in his future between A) his health, and B) the fact that the one thing we will always know about how playing time will work for the Rays, is that we will never know how playing time will work for the Rays, including when we are in the middle of watching a Rays game. I think it’s worth noting, however, that Diaz was on his way to a solid power season in 2019 before being derailed by injury, hitting 14 homers in 79 games. Last year, he had only 2 homers in 114 at bats, but hit a robust .307 over that span with a delicious .428 OBP. And, he passes my eye test; he just looks like a physically strong, mentally confident hitter every time I watch one of his at bats. Despite the fact that he’s never done much to reward my fantasy faith in him, with an ADP of #516 it doesn’t hurt much to give him one more try.