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February 14, 2014

TTO Scoresheet Podcast

Third Basemen

by Ian Lefkowitz, Ben Murphy and Jared Weiss

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As you probably guessed, this week we’re tackling the hot corner for Scoresheet players. Below, you’ll find our rankings, general thoughts on strategy for third base, and some deeper looks at players we felt were important to single out. Tune in to our podcast for more thoughts on the position and to hear us answer listener questions on drafts and keepers. As always, we’re happy to answer any Scoresheet-related questions you might have, on the record or off. Also, in case you missed it, you can check out a compilation of our rankings (please note that rankings for positions we haven’t yet covered are still subject to change).

Here’s how we rank the third basemen in Scoresheet:

KEEPERS

Rank

Age

Team

Player

1

31

DET

Miguel Cabrera

2

28

TBA

Evan Longoria

3

31

NYN

David Wright

4

28

SLN

Matt Carpenter

5

35

TEX

Adrian Beltre

6

27

SFN

Pablo Sandoval

7

29

WAS

Ryan Zimmerman

8

20

Min

Miguel(Jean) Sano

9

28

OAK

Josh Donaldson

10

21

BAL

Manny Machado

11

30

SDN

Chase Headley

12

24

TOR

Brett Lawrie

13

22

ChN

Kris Bryant

14

26

SEA

Kyle Seager

15

36

MIL

Aramis Ramirez

16

23

COL

Nolan Arenado

17

30

ARI

Martin Prado

18

28

CIN

Todd Frazier

19

31

ANA

David Freese

CUT BUBBLE

Rank

Age

Team

Player

20

27

PIT

Pedro Alvarez

21

21

Phi

Maikel Franco

22

25

BOS

Will Middlebrooks

23

22

DET

Nick Castellanos

24

25

KCA

Mike Moustakas

25

24

HOU

Matt Dominguez

26

25

CLE

Lonnie Chisenhall

27

29

ATL

Chris Johnson

28

28

MIN

Trevor Plouffe

29

31

OAK

Alberto# Callaspo

30

22

Bos

Garin Cecchini

31

23

Mia

Colin Moran

REDRAFT FOR VALUE

Rank

Age

Team

Player

32

23

Phi

Cody Asche

33

23

CHA

Matt Davidson

34

32

NYA

Kelly Johnson

35

20

Tex

Joey Gallo

36

22

Sea

D.J. Peterson

37

35

LAN

Juan Uribe

38

24

DET

Jose Iglesias

DEEP LEAGUES

Rank

Age

Team

Player

39

28

CHN

Luis Valbuena

40

27

MIL

Juan Francisco

41

31

MIA

Casey McGehee

42

22

NYN

Wilmer Flores

43

29

NYA

Scott Sizemore

44

29

KCA

Danny Valencia

45

33

CLE

Mike Aviles

46

33

TOR

Maicer Izturis

47

27

SLN

Daniel Descalso

48

34

CHA

Jeff Keppinger

49

25

CHN

Mike Olt

50

34

DET

Don Kelly

51

23

ChA

Marcus Semien

52

22

ChN

Christian Villanueva

53

24

Was

Matt Skole

54

19

Col

Ryan McMahon

55

19

Hou

Rio Ruiz

56

21

KC

Cheslor Cuthbert

57

20

CHC

Jeimer Candelario

58

36

Ari

Eric Chavez

59

21

LAA

Kaleb Cowart

60

23

Ari

Jake Lamb

61

21

NYA

Eric Jagielo

62

20

Oak

Renato Nunez

63

24

CHN

Josh Vitters

64

22

Atl

Edward Salcedo

65

21

Ari

Brandon Drury

66

30

Mil

Mark Reynolds

67

27

Tor

Brent Morel

68

26

Cle

David Adams

69

25

COL

Ryan Wheeler

70

34

CIN

Jack Hannahan

71

29

SFN

Joaquin Arias

72

27

MIL

Jeff Bianchi

73

26

CHA

Conor Gillaspie

74

31

Mia

Ed Lucas

75

31

CHN

Donnie Murphy

76

36

Oak

Nick Punto

77

40

WAS

Jamey Carroll

78

25

MIN

Eduardo Escobar

79

28

ANA

Andrew Romine

80

28

KCA

Pedro Ciriaco

81

23

BAL

Michael Almanzar

82

25

Bos

Brock Holt

83

26

LAA

LuisD. Jimenez(LAA)

84

27

Bos

Brandon Snyder

85

25

ChA

Alex Liddi

86

23

Det

Francisco Martinez

87

23

TB

Richie Shaffer

88

26

TB

Vincent Belnome

89

31

TB

Jayson Nix

90

38

NYA

Alex(suspended) Rodriguez

91

28

Atl

Ramiro Pena

92

27

NYN

Zach Lutz

93

27

Mil

Taylor Green

94

25

SF

Adam Duvall

95

27

TB

James Darnell

96

19

Cin

Kevin Franklin

97

22

LAD

Brandon Dixon

There are a few prospects at the top of the position that will be highly touted and will be ranked alongside perennial keepers this year. We definitely recommend holding on to the likes of Javier Baez and Kris Bryant in ongoing leagues with cheap prospect keeper costs, but in expansion drafts, it might be prudent to take one of the many established veterans under 30 that are going to deliver more certainty and value in the short run and are more likely to accumulate and retain value in the long run. Below, we run through some other prospects you could consider instead.

There are 16 third basemen with an SS/SIM score of at least 30. If you haven’t checked out BP’s handy dandy Scoresheet metric yet, by the way, you really should. It is a great way to measure relative value, as it looks only at Scoresheet-relevant metrics, saving you the hassle of trying to figure out how to distill two or three statistics into one measure. Getting back on topic, you’ll note that after that top tier, there’s a rather dramatic drop off in projected value. So you want to make sure you grab one of those players.

In fact, we suggest aiming even higher. If you're starting up a continuing league, maybe it isn't the boldest or most creative strategy to say that you should have one of the top third basemen. After all, you're a Scoresheet team owner, damrnit, and you deserve the best at every position. But even if your life isn't all champagne offense and caviar fielding, you should probably splurge on your third baseman relatively early on. Other positions may have value in the middle tier, but third base thins out early, and some of the star talent, including Pablo Sandoval, David Wright, and even Evan Longoria, is being drafted a little lower than is otherwise advisable. More practically, if you're in a continuing league, it may be worth "losing" a keeper trade to shore up third base, even if you're dealing an ace pitcher or a great outfielder.

KEEPERS
Pablo Sandoval is in the best shape of his life, and unlike most players, that means something. No matter his fitness situation, however, Panda seems like an easy bounce-back candidate for the upcoming season, now that he's a year further removed from multiple hamate injuries, with very little pressure on him internally and the promise of a contract year ahead. He's been going at a discount in many early drafts, if he's available with your league rules, pull the trigger quickly.

If you can’t get a top tier 3B, as mentioned, there’s a somewhat catastrophic cliff toward the back end of the third basemen this year, but in the middle tier of keepers, there’s a plethora of guys that are primed to deliver value in the near term and are either entering or already enjoying the prime of their careers. These players offer an interesting variety of skill sets, balancing on base ability and power with fielding prowess, all at a variety of ages. If you’re looking for a defensive specialist to help boost your team range without hurting you by committing errors, Chase Headley is a solid option without much of a platoon split. If you’re looking for a lefty that’s going to mash righties and give you a chance for a platoon down the road, there’s Matt Carpenter and Kyle Seager to consider, both of whom are on the young side of 30 and figure to play almost every day. If you want an underrated short term value that can offer plenty of pop, Aramis Ramirez is probably going to slide a little in your draft and be a great bargain for another year or two. Make sure you pick out the guy in this class of keeper level third baseman that fits your team well and you won’t get stuck hoping for a miracle in the later rounds.

CUT BUBBLE
On the podcast, the most enjoyable segment may have been the ongoing discussion about a class of hitters that have prospect pedigree but haven’t quite delivered, yet they are still young enough to inspire hope and potentially capture upside value. This category includes Pedro Alvarez, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Moustakas, Matt Dominguez, and Lonnie Chisenhall. The whole group projects to have an OBP in the low .300s, some power, and are all 25 years old or younger. We each have our personal favorites, but each of these guys will be fun to watch in 2014 as we wait and see who, if any of them, can rekindle the hope that they carried as they made their way to the majors.

Will Middlebrooks, to the horror of Red Sox fans (as much as they can be horrified these days), appears to be the second coming of Shea Hillenbrand. That said, Shea may be a stathead punchline, but he put up a couple of good fantasy years around age 27 before slipping away to the land of Hacking Mass. Middlebrooks could follow the same pattern. On the other hand, the specter of Garin Cecchini behind him, and Xander Bogaerts having potential at third, means that Middlebrooks could get squeezed for at-bats.

If you're an optimist on Mike Moustakas, you can foresee for a mere repeat of the 2012 season, and dream on more latent power. More relevant to Scoresheet, you'd also notice Danny Valencia's presence in camp, and hope that he takes some of the at bats against the toughest lefties away from Moose. Not only will that improve his real-life batting line, but in Scoresheet, the effect is doubled, turning him into a solid average hitter against righties even without much improvement. And if the power is unlocked, given that it is only his age-25 season? That's a pick that wins leagues. If you’re a pessimist on Moustakas, you’ll note he has three straight disappointing years in the majors each with an OPS in the .660-.710 range. No one can say for sure how his season will go, but hopefully you now have a better idea of his risk profile.

Matt Dominguez, outside of a dozen home runs a year and fine, but not exceptional, defense, shouldn't have much value to your team besides an at bat sink. Not even a great AL-only option, as you'd almost prefer to cobble a third baseman together from parts.

As with Will Middlebrooks, Lonnie Chisenhall was probably a tough keeper decision for owners who held onto him too long. That doesn't make him a great draft pick, however. Due to the relative permanence of Scoresheet draft decisions, you're trying to predict playing time as much as performance, and Cleveland merely entertaining Carlos Santana's goofery at third base bodes poorly for Chisenhall.

REDRAFT FOR VALUE
Cody Asche has been named as the primary candidate for the Phillies hot corner by GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. He struggled a little bit last year in a brief major league stint—about 180 PA—but did well in the upper minors in 2012 and 2013, posting a .295/.352/.485 line in Triple A Lehigh Valley last year. He’s likely to be available in the early parts of your draft and at 23 years old, he’s a fun candidate to draft in 2014, hope for some early value, and see if he can blossom into a keeper.

What were the odds after 2007 that Juan Uribe would likely outlast Derek Jeter? You have to play somebody at third base, and with his above average defensive range and exceptional hands, Uribe will probably return more value than several players drafted ahead of him. He'll hit like Juan Uribe, so prepare accordingly with a strong bat on your bench and another inning-eating third baseman to handle the late innings.

Following the Alex Rodriguez debacle, Kelly Johnson figures to get a chance to be the starting third baseman for the Yankees in 2014. He’s not likely to turn into much more than a single year value, but if he’s available early in the redraft for your league, he’s a good opportunity to target for 2014.

DEEP LEAGUES
With his triple slash of .218/.331/.378 on a BABIP of .233, one’s mouth waters at what kind of season Luis Valbuena could post this year in Chicago with some positive BABIP regression. Or is that the Giordano’s pizza? Even if he picks up the 30 points to his career .260 BABIP, that’s a heck of a late round steal, right? Well, keep in mind he did have a .260 BABIP in 2012, to go with a .219/.310/.340 line. So there’s a reason he’ll be available late. But the guy has a clear ability to take a walk and power to hit double digit homers in a full season of plate appearances. You shouldn’t be taking him as your starter, so root for the Cubs to keep him in a platoon to boost his value to you.

We had an extended Mr. Baseball joke all set to go, until we took a look at a picture of Casey McGehee and realized he looked absolutely nothing like Tom Selleck. He does, however, seem to bear at least a passing resemblance to the late Gert Frobe, but there’s a decided lack of baseball in Goldfinger. At any rate, McGehee is back from an excellent season in Japan to start in Miami, and was perhaps gifted an average Scoresheet defensive rating. It is anyone’s guess at how well he’ll hit, as Japan is no more a magic elixir for rejuvenation than anywhere else. We’re cautiously optimistic, though, and keep in mind his last two seasons in the States were rather hit-unlucky. Had they been more normal, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation.

PROSPECTS
Miguel Sano is probably just behind Xander Bogaerts and Javier Baez for top Scoresheet prospect (which shouldn't diminish Byron Buxton's real life talent) and should go accordingly highly in startup leagues. Closer to earth, though, are prospects at or nearing the call, such as Nick Castellanos, Colin Moran, and Matt Davidson. However, all three bring some serious question as to whether they are potential long-term keepers, and even if you're on the positive side of the ledger, you may have to prepare for rough sledding over the next year or two. It may be worth moving each of those players to someone who's more inclined to draft off real-life or dynasty league prospect rankings. Better still are Maikel Franco and D.J. Peterson, who may be third basemen in name only, but may stick at the position long enough to provide an extra year of value there in Scoresheet, and who both project to hit enough to stick at a corner. Franco, in particular, is close enough to ready to commit Ryan Howard to a strenuous Subway diet regime. In deeper leagues, there's some value further down the list, particularly with Ryan McMahon, a baby quarterback from the Rockies system who is at the edge of being draft-worthy even in standard mixed leagues, due to his own ability and the Colorado effect.

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3 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

John Carter

With Alex Rodriguez out for the season, I thought it would be fun to compare him to all the best A.L. prospects of his era and his cohort stars and took a stab at measuring his excellence - that is his impact on our A.L. Scoresheet League. I am breaking it down into web friendly 6 parts starting today and continuing for a week: www.scoresheetwiz.com

I hope this isn't against some rule. It is applicable here and it is a free site with no advertising.

Feb 14, 2014 12:29 PM
rating: 0
 
Noel Steere
(965)

Derek Dietrich may get play as the Marlin's 3B:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/mlb/miamis-derek-dietrich-a-sleeper-candidate-at-third-base?ymd=20140127&content_id=67163198

Seems like a better play for a combination of value this year and upside in the future than going with McGehee.

Feb 15, 2014 15:20 PM
rating: 0
 
IanLefk
(85)

Thanks for the tip! I hadn't heard that news yet. Last I knew, the Marlins had prematurely soured on him, but who can tell with those crooks and bagmen in charge?

All three of us are Derek Dietrich fans to one degree or another, actually, and we had him in most of our leagues last year, but tweener players who don't have a lot of 2014 value and aren't potential keepers don't set our worlds on fire. I think I'd still have McGehee ahead for now. If the Marlins give him extended run this spring, that's definitely a situation worth monitoring, but I think it's premature to consider him a long-term play in most standard leagues.

Feb 15, 2014 21:40 PM
rating: 0
 
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