Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Third Base
The calendar has flipped to March and spring training is underway, so you know what that means -- it's draft season.
Season-long fantasy baseball Twitter is abuzz with nightly draft boards and threads, and perhaps you've already gotten in on the action or have a draft right around the corner.
I'll be posting positional rankings for 12-team, standard-scoring roto leagues throughout the week, with brief notes highlighting notable players and situations. These are by no means strict and rigid rankings, as roster construction should play a big role in who you draft, so I've also included tiers to show which players have comparable values.
You can find our first base rankings here. Now, let's move across the diamond and take a look at third base.
Jose Ramirez is firmly entrenched as a late first-round pick, with all public projections on FanGraphs allotting him at least 30 home runs, 20 stolen bases, and a batting average in the .270 range. Only a handful of true five-category contributors exist, and he's one of them.
It seems I'm slightly below consensus when it comes to DJ LeMahieu. Don't get me wrong -- between an elite batting average, high counting stats in a strong Yankees lineup, and multi-position eligibility, he's a fantastic asset for any fantasy roster.
My only issue is that LeMahieu is being drafted for his ceiling, specifically when it comes to power. The past two seasons have easily been his best in that department, but 2019 had the infamous juiced ball and 2020's output has red flags all over it. Last year, LeMahieu tallied 10 home runs and a career-best .226 ISO, yet produced a mere 2.9% barrel rate (9th percentile) and upped his ground-ball rate to 56.6%. He certainly won't repeat a career-high 27.0% home-run-to-fly-ball rate, either.
Add in a "deadened" baseball in 2021, and it's fair to wonder if LeMahieu's home runs dip well below 20 this season, which is a tougher pill to swallow at his top-30 ADP. I'm comfortable grabbing him if he drops a round or so, but you can probably still get Anthony Rendon or Rafael Devers in that scenario, who are both better bets for power while also still providing solid batting averages.
Alex Bregman was a borderline first-round pick in 2020, but an underwhelming campaign has seen his draft stock drop to that of a top-50 pick. There are reasons to be skeptical of his fantasy ceiling -- we probably can't bank on many stolen bases (he tallied zero last year and is already dealing with a hamstring issue this spring), and his underlying Statcast power metrics have never jumped off the page. Still, this is one damn good hitter we're talking about (career 145 wRC+) with excellent plate skills, so this could be a classic "buy low" opportunity.
Eugenio Suarez is being drafted at around pick 70, which just seems too low for a guy with his home run power. ATC projections peg him for the fifth-most dingers in the league. He probably won't hit for average -- so keep that in mind -- but you otherwise can't go wrong with locking him in as your third baseman.
On the other hand, there's risk in taking Cavan Biggio at roughly the same ADP as Suarez. On a deep Blue Jays team, he's likely to bat lower in the order, and the deadened ball could really sap his power output considering his rather meh Statcast metrics. That being said, he's 20-for-20 on stolen base attempts in his young career -- you need to get speed somewhere -- and he's eligible at multiple positions. He isn't my first choice, but I can see the appeal for certain roster builds.
It's easy to like Matt Chapman at an ADP outside the top 120 -- projections across the board have him locked in for 30-plus bombs.
If you're short on swiped bags, Andres Gimenez is an intriguing player to take a chance on. He went 8-for-9 on stolen base attempts in 2020 and was a prolific base-stealer throughout the minors. Gimenez is battling Amed Rosario for the starting job at shortstop in Cleveland.
Justin Turner should be batting in the heart of the order for the Dodgers again. Age and past health issues are keeping his ADP outside the top 200, but that shouldn't deter us from scooping him up -- he should put up numbers as long as he's on the field.