We all know that third base tends to be a shallower position, but it had its share of surprises in 2012. Among them were the Mariners’ Kyle Seager and the Reds’ Todd Frazier, both seemingly coming out of nowhere to emerge as viable options. Now, the question facing fantasy owners is which one offers more upside in 2013? Let’s take a look:
Seager - He hit .259 last season, but it is easy to point to poor luck as the reason why. He made good contact (16.9% strikeout rate) and hit the ball hard (21.9% line drive rate), yet managed just a .286 BABIP. A .328 hitter in the minor leagues, the ability is clearly there. I wouldn’t go into the year expecting him to it .300+, but .280 is a very reasonable expectation.
Frazier – He hit .273 in ’11, but also was a lot more prone to striking out (22.2%). Given his minor league track record (23.6% in ’10, 22.8% in ’11), there is a very real chance that he regresses in this department in 2013. Would I think he’s going to hit .250? Of course not, but what he showed in 2012 may be close to his ceiling in this department as opposed to his floor.
Edge – Seager
Seager - After not showing much power in the minor leagues, he seemingly discovered his stroke last year by hitting 20 HR (as well as 35 doubles and a triple). There also is clearly a lot of potential for more. His HR/FB was just 9.8% and most of his success was on the road (15 HR away from Safeco Field). However, with the Mariners moving the fences in for 2013, the confines should become much better for power hitters. Given his numbers, 25+ HR would not be an unfair expectation.
Frazier - He did hit 19 HR, and also had a lot less AB than Seager (422 AB). He does have the benefit of a hitters ballpark, though he hit nearly as man home runs on the road (9) as he did at Great American Ballpark. Couple that with the notion that he should assume full-time third base duties and there is hope. that said, I am not sure there is as much projection as there is with Seager. Frazier is what he is, and that is probably a 20-25 HR hitter over a full season (unless he can better his 13.2% Hr/FB from a year ago).
Edge – I think Seager has more room for growth, but chances are this is a draw
Seager - The Mariners may not be a potent lineup, but by hitting in the middle Seager is going to have ample opportunities to produce. He produced 84 RBI in ’12, spending a lot of time hitting third or fifth. Barring a significant addition or three, there is no reason to think Seager is going to leave the middle portion of the lineup. In fact, any addition would likely just improve his position by giving him more help (coupled with the projected increase power).
Frazier - Unlike Seager, Frazier is likely going to be buried lower in the order. He hit mostly sit or seventh and I don’t see that changing with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips in the lineup. He will get chances, but not as many.
Edge – Seager
Seager - As with the RBI, hitting third is going to give him an advantage. While he failed to crack 60 runs last season, spending more time hitting third should help significantly. I would think 70-80ish is realistic, even in a weaker lineup.
Frazier - The Reds have a better offense, but how much talent is really going to be hitting seventh or eighth in the order? He should improve on 55 with more AB, but by how much? I would probably put him in the same range as Seager, for now. However, a cleanup hitter addition in Seattle would change things.
Edge – Push
Seager - Don’t undervalue Seager’s 13 SB from last season. After swiping 13+ each of the previous two years, there is every reason to think he can replicate it. Among third baseman with at least 300 AB, there were seven who stole as many as 13 bases.
Frazier - He has stolen as many as 18 bases in e minor leagues, but until he proves he will do it in the Majors (3 in 5 attempts last season), we can’t count on it.
Edge – Seager
Well, it is pretty obvious who gets the edge for me. With a lot of room for improvement in the batting average, the improved dimensions of Safeco Field, a spot in the middle of the order and the ability to chip in some stolen bases, Seager is a player I am buying in all formats. I am sure he will come up in other discussions down the road, but mark him down as a player to target heading into 2013.
What are your thoughts on this matchup? Which player would you rather own? Why
Make sure to check out our extremely early 2013 rankings: