I look out my window and see piles of snow, covered in a strange sheet of ice, and yet, I can smell it in the air – baseball. I’ll be here covering the rest of season rankings for third base this year. In order to get to the ROS part of the rankings, we have to establish our starting point. I’m not here to give you hOt TaEks just to generate outrage and clicks. My purpose is to help you win your league this year. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to reach out and we’ll get these trophies together. Without further chatter, let’s get to my initial rankings.
|7||Rafael Devers||3B||Red Sox|
|9||Cavan Biggio||2B/3B/OF||Blue Jays|
|11||Yoán Moncada||3B||White Sox|
I had some issues figuring out in what order to rank Rendon, LeMahieu, Arenado, Devers, and Bregman. Even though they’re in the same tier, I didn’t find myself REALLY excited about any of them. Personally, I don’t know why everyone is super down on Anthony Rendon. Yes, the barrel rate ticked down slightly but the plate discipline was elite. I’m still excited for Rendon in LA. Moving down slightly, Nolan Arenado carries the biggest question mark of them all. We have a full sample size of his stats in and out of Coors but what does that mean in St. Louis? There’s definitely something to be said about the difference in pitch mix that he saw in Colorado but does that mean he can’t succeed in a new home? D.J. LeMahieu has so far proven that statement to not be true.
Since all of the trashcan jokes have already been made, I’ll get to Bregman’s issues – the disappearing barrel rate. Starting in 2018, we’ve seen Bregman’s barrel rate drop from 7.6% (55th percentile) to 4.8% (17th percentile) to 3.9% (13th percentile). The plate discipline is elite but that dip is very concerning. When it comes to Rafael Devers, there’s little to question about his talent. However, his offseason appetite and workout regimen are often compared to pre-trade “thicc” James Harden. Unlike Rendon, Devers’ plate discipline went into the trough last year, spiking a career-worst in O-Swing rate and zone contact rate. In fact, his 75.6% zone contact rate ranked 132 out of 142 qualified batters.
I love Eugenio Suárez. He’s my bae and has been for some time, BUT the new approach is a little concerning. He’s been swinging out of his shoes for two years now, selling out for homers. The good news is the homers have been there. The bad news is he’s going to live and die by his HR/FB rate because the line drive rate has tanked while his fly-ball rate has spiked.
I had a very difficult time with where to place Yoán Moncada on this list. Moncada struggled with his conditioning following his bout with COVID, so I’d expect the stolen bases to bounce back to his previous 10ish range. Lord knows those stolen bases are gold in this day and age. Matt Chapman is returning from season-ending hip surgery and struggled mightily in the shortened season. Chapman’s strikeout rate reached heights-previously-unknown and was supported by his poor plate discipline. I’m willing to buy back in the leash will be short to start dropping him down this list if the plate discipline remains at its 2020 levels.
If you haven’t noticed by now, plate discipline ranks pretty high on my “what’s going on with this player” list. However, when I dive into the discipline numbers for Kris Bryant, nothing jumps out. The issues show up in the quality of his batted balls. Over the last two years, Bryant has seen his line drive rate fall significantly while simultaneously seeing an increase in infield flyballs. At his current ADP of 130 in NFBC he is “persona non grata” for me.
Speaking of plate discipline, you have to be pleasantly surprised with Ke’Bryan Hayes in his first taste of the majors. Hayes was always known as an elite defender coming up in the minors, so to post a 9.5% walk rate over 95 plate appearances certainly caught my eye. His glove will keep him in the lineup, so Hayes should see plenty of playing time. While I currently have Josh Donaldson directly behind Hayes, I wish there was a special list for “while they’re healthy” because Donaldson would be up towards the top. I love Donaldson as a corner infielder but be prepared to snag a replacement for him once he hits the IL.
If you’re looking for positional eligibility and a handful of steals, Tommy Edman may be just the guy you’re looking for. Although, at this point, I’d be looking to take a flier on Andrés Giménez over Edman who should see plenty of plate appearances and has the speed to steal upwards of 25 bases. I could see Giménez shooting up this list if he gets a green light in Cleveland.
While Mets fans have to be excited about all the fun additions, I’m not sure what it means for J.D. Davis’s plate appearances. The Mets have also been linked to Kris Bryant and Jackie Bradley, Jr. If the playing time is there, Davis is another player that I could see shooting up this list.
The closest player that didn’t make the cut was Kyle Seager and there are deeper guys I have my eye on like Yandy Diaz, Luis Urias, and Carter Kieboom. I’ll be back every other week to update the ROS rankings and talk about the biggest movers. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below and we’ll keep the conversation going!