2014 Rest of Season Rankings: Top 20 Third Basemen

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With the All-Star game closing in, now is the perfect time to start looking at our updated Rest of Season rankings.  Who’s worth buying?  Who isn’t?  Let’s take a look (the number in parenthesis was the players preseason ranking):

 

1) Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers (1)
2) Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers (2)
3) Josh Donaldson – Oakland A’s (5)
4) Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays (3)
5) Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians (NR)
6) Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals (NR)
7) Todd Frazier – Cincinnati Reds (20)
8) Kyle Seager – Seattle Mariners (9)
9) David Wright – New York Mets (4)
10) Pedro Alvarez – Pittsburgh Pirates (10)
11) Nolan Arenado – Colorado Rockies (12)
12) Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles (13)
13) Aramis Ramirez – Milwaukee Brewers (8)
14) Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants (16)
15) Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals (7)
16) Lonnie Chisenhall – Cleveland Indians (25)
17) Matt Carpenter – St. Louis Cardinals (6)
18) Chase Headley – San Diego Padres (15)
19) Nick Castellanos – Detroit Tigers (NR)
20) Brett Lawrie – Toronto Blue Jays (11)

 

Thoughts:

  • Can Todd Frazier maintain a 17.0% HR/FB?  He hasn’t shown that type of potential before, and there also is a dramatic split between home (27.7%) and on the road (7.5%).  It’s not a huge surprise, given his home ballpark, but also leads us to believe that a regression could be in his future.
  • There was a time when David Wright was one of the elite third basemen in the league, but that’s simply no longer the case.  While he still has the potential to hit for a good average, the power isn’t there (7 HR) nor is the speed (4 SB).  It’s the latter that’s a bigger surprise, to an extent, and helps to send him spiraling down the rankings.
  • Pedro Alvarez’ strikeouts are down thus far this season (24.2%), and we all know there’s more power than he’s shown (he has 13 HR, but a 15.3% HR/FB vs. a career mark of 21.0%).  There’s a lot of upside there which just can’t be ignored.
  • With Nolan Arenado back off the DL what can we expect?  He has shown an ability to make good contact (13.5%) and hit the ball hard (21.4% line drive rate).  Throw in playing half his games in Coors Field, which could lead to some more power, and what’s not to like?
  • Are there many players who have been more disappointing than Xander Bogaerts in 2014?  That’s not to say that there isn’t upside, but it’s also not impossible to think that he could get sent back to Triple-A to try and work out his issues if he can’t right the ship.  He just missed the rankings and really could go either way moving forward.

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9 comments

  1. Mike says:

    Professor would your trade verlander for tanaka right now? It’s a keeper league. Trade has to be excepted before MRI is read. I know it’s a roll of the dice. Do you do it?

  2. M says:

    YES YES YES YES YES

  3. Paul says:

    Any concerns about Donaldson’s extended slump?

    Considering the following trade but worried about Donaldson…

    My Freeman + Polanco for His Teheran + Donaldson

    What do you think?

    Thanks!

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    Mike – If you are looking more towards next year/future, I’d do it in a heartbeat. If you are looking 2014, it’s a bit tougher.

    Paul – I don’t have concerns about Donaldson, but I’d still prefer the Freeman/Polanco side of that deal.

  5. bigwang says:

    longoria and wright have both struggled to a similar degree this year, but wright has been penalised much heavier in your rankings. i think that is unjust.

    so far in july wright has an OPS north of 1.100 with a 3:1 BB:K ratio (this following a 11:13 ratio in june). it may be a bit too soon to write him off.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Certainly not writing him off, but little power and little speed = not that valuable.

      Wright’s HR/FB is at 7.9% and has been above 13.0% just once since 2009. The key to his value was going to be his ability to contribute across the board, but if he isn’t going to steal bases his upside is capped.

      Longoria has struggled as well, but has had aguably a little bit of poor luck (.300 BABIP despite 22.0% line drive rate), has shown more power and also could see a boost in his fly ball rate (36.1% vs. 42.2% for his career) helping the power a little bit more.

      As I said, Wright is a usable option and shouldn’t be written off, but there’s also a lot more upside in Longoria at this point.

      • bigwang says:

        just a few points from me:

        1. there has been work done (not by me) to suggest that power doesn’t stabilise until 550PA or so. therefore, to penalise one player for half a season’s underperformance, while making excuses for another player to keep his ranking afloat, appears just a little bit premature and biased for me.

        2. instead of perpetually looking at one’s LD% vs BABIP and declaring someone to be potentially lucky or unlucky, there are actually ways to eliminate more of the guess work. razzball for example has an excellent tool available that utilises xBABIP calculations (http://razzball.com/playerrater-babipvavg). look up longoria and you’ll find that he has not been unlucky at all given his batted ball distributions.

        3. Below are the ZiPS and Steamer RoS projections for wright and longoria, in this format: HR/R/RBI/SB/AVG

        Steamer
        Wright: 9/33/34/5/.284
        Longoria: 11/34/37/1/.264

        ZiPS
        Wright: 7/30/32/6/.279
        Longoria: 10/33/34/2/.260

        as much as we want to take these projections with a grain of salt, they are strangely accurate more often than not (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/you-should-trust-the-projections). and while longoria is still expected to win in the HR department (no one is questioning that, myself included), the overall projections come pretty close – closer than one would expect for the gap to exist between a 4th ranked and a 9th ranked third baseman.

        but who knows what will happen next. i could be completely wrong at the end of the year, as is often the case. projections also don’t factor in injuries/playing hurt (for example, wright’s shoulder issue – who knows if this is related to his struggles, though it would make some sense). but this is just how i see things at the moment based on the information i have.

  6. PaulJ says:

    No Conor Gillaspie?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      These were done towards the beginning of July, before he really got hot. Even so, he’s borderline given the general lack of power

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