Position Battle: Colorado Rockies 3B: Wheeler, Arenado or Other, Who Should Fantasy Owners Want To See?

At this time a year ago we all likely would’ve assumed Nolan Arenado would be the Rockies Opening Day third baseman in 2013. A disappointing season later, Arenado has a chance to be in the discussion, at some point, but he certainly is not the leader in the pack. Let’s take a look at the potential options and see if they have fantasy relevance and who fantasy owners should be pulling for:

Ryan Wheeler
Acquired from the Arizona Damondbacks this offseason, Wheeler has the potential to make an impact for the Rockies. Granted, he failed to impress in the Majors last season (.239 with 1 HR in 109 AB), he did play well at Triple-A (.351 with 15 HR in 362 AB).

There was a lot of luck in the latter numbers (.388 BABIP), and it also came in the Pacific Coast League, so there is reason to be skeptical. However, at Double-A the year before he hit he .292 with a .463 SLG. In other words there is some upside, especially playing in the thin Denver air. Is he going to hit 30+?  Not likely, but 48 extra base hits in 480 AB do tell us that there is 20+ HR potential.

He also makes good contact (18.5% in the Majors last season) and hit the ball hard routinely (22.7% line drive rate). In other words, just looking at his cup of coffee and writing him off would be a mistake.

There is a lot to like and, if/when he gets his opportunity, he will be worth the gamble in deeper formats.

Nolan Arenado
Considered one of the best third base prospects, Arenado laid an egg in 2012. Spending the entire year at Double-A (516 AB), he hit .285 with 12 HR. Maybe those aren’t awful numbers, but they are far from what owners expected.

Before fantasy owners get all worked up, he posted a minuscule 10.1% strikeout rate and added 36 doubles. In other words, there are reasons for optimism despite the overall underwhelming numbers.

He may not develop the power we hope for, though he is just 21-years old, but the kid knows how to hit. A .296 BABIP also shows that there is room for growth.

While the Rockies have no reason to rush him, assuming the other options underperform (not unthinkable), a strong start for Arenado should get him t the Majors in 2013. He is a must own option in all keeper formats and one we will take a closer look at in time.

Chris Nelson
In his Major League career (550 AB) he has 13 HR and 6 SB to go along with a .284 average. He did show a little better at Triple-A (23 HR over 659 AB to go with a .319 average), though skeptics will tell you that came in the PCL.

That said, there is a little bit of pop in his bat and he hit the ball hard last season, with a 25.1% line drive rate in 345 AB. His ability to maintain that, which is probably unlikely, would be the only way he holds fantasy relevance. He’s more of a place holder, so even if he starts with the job fantasy owners shouldn’t expect much.

Jordan Pacheco
He had 475 AB and he demonstrated a tremendous ability to hit the baseball hard (26.4% line drive rate). That said, he had 5 HR and 7 SB. He’s more of a utility player and, without power or speed, holds no fantasy appeal.

At the end of the day, Arenado is probably the player with the highest upside though it’s going to take a hot start for him to get his opportunity before late in the year.  That said, of the options looking to open the year with the job it’s Ryan Wheeler who holds the most potential fantasy appeal.  He’s the name to watch and the one that those in deeper formats should be stashing.

What are your thoughts of the Rockies’ third base options?  Are you targeting any of the options?  Why or why not?

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