After the third base position came into 2020 as arguably the deepest place in the imagination, there will be no such allegations this time. Several veterans in a corner took a step back last year, and a few sleepers continued to sleep. Third base is by no means a weak position for ejectors, but it has become a place that needs to be treated with some speed. This is especially true in roto-leagues, as many leaders scratch their heads when it’s time to fill the corner infield field.
Third Base offers a pair of superstars (Jose Ramirez, Manny Machado) and five established studs (DJ LeMahieu, Alex Bregman, Rafael Devers, Anthony Rendon, Nolan Arenado) before things start to get dicey. The next level is filled with players who struggled last season, such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Kris Bryant and Yoan Moncada. Those waiting to fill the hot corner may need to cover themselves by preparing more members of that group.
Further down the list, there are plenty of sleepers for those who want to take a risk with the corner field. But sleepers are at risk, and the likes of Dylan Moore and Andres Gimenez can easily become a waste of time for the summer.
Drafters also have some flexibility with the skill profile of their third baseman. Power options are plentiful, and some of these slippers can also beat the average. Speed sources are harder to obtain, but there are a handful of players who can deliver a remarkable steal overall.
I PLAY WHEN AT 3B
Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays (ADP 59)
Biggio offers the versatile skill set that fantasy leaders coveted during this time, and had 24 homers and 20 steals in 159 career games. Lefty slugger is also a run-score machine that will operate from a first-class location in a Blue Jays series full of right-handed hitters. Qualification in three positions (2B, 3B, OF) is the icing on the cake.
Eugenio Suarez, Reds (ADP 80)
One of baseball’s most underrated sluggers, Suarez ranks second in baseball in homers and 14th in RBI since the beginning of 2019. The career .261 hit gave an unusually low .202 average last year that can largely be explained by a 98-point year- over-year BABIP fall. Fantasy leaders looking past the battlefield can get a high-end third baseman for a fraction of the draft cost.
Eduardo Escobar, Diamondbacks (ADP 228)
Although Escobar was due to some regression last season, the 226-point PPP drop from year to year was more than expected. The 32-year-old is now late in shallow leagues, despite being just one year removed from producing 35 homers, 118 RBIs and 94 points. Even a return to the 2018 form (23 HR, 84 RBIs) would make Escobar an excellent choice.
THIRD BASEM I FATHER
Nolan Arenado (ADP 21)
Yahoo! Drafters is apparently unaffected by Arenado’s departure from Colorado, and misses him in the second round of most drafts. But the Coors Field effect is very real, and although the third baseman will not perform at the career path level (.793 OPS), he will suffer from no longer playing half of his games in baseball’s best hit arena. In addition, Arenado must prove that he has passed the shoulder injury that contributed to a miserable 2020 season (.738 OPS). Simply put, there is too much risk associated with the nearly 30-year-old calling his name before Rd.4.
An overweight Guerrero failed to break out during his second season, delivering a .791 OPS that was barely better than his rookie brand. And while the nearly 22-year-old deserves credit for getting in shape for the winter, his mediocre stroke number was caused by more than an oversized waist. Guerrero produces far too many ground balls (54.6 percent in 2020) to be a remarkable power hitter and must make major changes to his batting profile before he can reach his soaring ceiling. Although the youngster is likely to achieve greatness along the way, it is an overly aggressive move to project a major breakout this year.
Ke’Bryan Hayes (ADP 150)
Hayes was surprisingly great (1,124 OPS) across 95 record appearances in his debut season. But the sample’s success size is small, and before 2020 he had produced unimpressive career numbers (.752 PPP) in minors. Overall, fantasy leaders need more proof that this glove award prospect has turned the corner offensively. In addition, Hayes is fighting an uphill battle to collect counting statistics in a Pirates series that projects as one of baseball’s worst.