February 14, 2014
TTO Scoresheet Podcast
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.