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Third Base Rankings for 2019

It’s February already! I need to get moving on my rankings. This post completes my infield rankings and I plan on getting the outfielder rankings out early next week. If you want to see all my other rankings, CLICK HERE! 

Where were we? Oh, right, third base rankings. Third base is pretty deep this year. However, there’s a shit-ton of guys that are eligible at other positions (especially if you play in Yahoo leagues). If I’m being honest, in Yahoo leagues, I just draft the player with the best value and worry about positions later. The chances are, you can fill out a roster in Yahoo formats without worrying about positions. For the rest of us, I’ve put out my rankings with tiers to make things a little bit easier. The tiers are based on my projections and standard gain points. I write a blurb on each tier below the rankings. Here we go!

Rankings Updated 3/13/19.

Third Base Rankings for 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositionsTier
1Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B1
2Nolan ArenadoCOL3B1
3Manny MachadoSDSS/3B1
4Alex BregmanHOUSS/3B1
5Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B2
6Anthony RendonWAS3B2
7Kris BryantCHC3B2
8Eugenio SuarezCIN3B2
9Vlad Guerrero Jr.TOR3B2
10Travis ShawMIL2B/3B2
11Matt CarpenterSTL1B/2B/3B3
12Miguel AndujarNYY3B3
13Matt ChapmanOAK3B3
14Justin TurnerLAD3B3
15Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B3
16Wil MyersSD3B/OF4
17Mike MoustakasMIL3B4
18Josh DonaldsonATL3B4
19Rafael DeversBOS3B4
20Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B4
21Eduardo EscobarARISS/3B4
22Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B4
23Evan LongoriaSF3B4
24Kyle SeagerSEA3B4
25Carlos SantanaCLE1B/3B5
26Nick SenzelCIN3B5
27Jed LowrieNYM2B/3B5
28Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B5
29Jeimer CandelarioDET3B5
30Jake LambARI3B5
31Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF5
32Maikel FrancoPHI3B5
33Colin MoranPIT3B5
34Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF6
35Ian HappCHC3B/OF6
36Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF6
37Miguel SanoMIN1B/3B6
38Hunter DozierKC1B/3B6
39Renato NunezBAL3B6
40Scott KingeryPHISS/3B6
41Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B6
42Jedd GyorkoSTL2B/3B6
43Aledmys DiazHOUSS/3B6
44Johan CamargoATLSS/3B7
45Matt DavidsonTEX1B/3B7
46Matthew DuffyTB3B7
47Tim BeckhamSEASS/3B7
48Eduardo NunezBOS2B/3B7
49Todd FrazierNYM3B7
50Alen HansonSF3B7
51Miguel RojasMIASS/3B7
52Yangervis SolarteFA2B/3B7
53Austin RileyATL3B7
54Isiah Kiner-FalefaTEXC/2B/3B7

TIER 1: I’ve discussed Ramirez (2B Rankings), Bregman (SS Rankings), and Baez (both 2B and SS Rankings). Nolan Arenado is the only player in tier 1 I have not discussed. Arenado is still just 27 years old and has averaged 40 home runs and 125 RBI the last four seasons while never hitting below .287 in that span. That’s incredible, bankable production, he’s great. However, his production did dip a little bit in 2018. His barrel rate was just 7.4% in 2018 behind hitters such as Kike Hernandez, Starling Marte, and Lewis Brinson. His previous elite level strikeout rate dipped three percent to 18.1%. Calling Colorado home, I still see Arenado around .290 with 35 homers and 100 RBI, but without any speed, I no longer feel comfortable grabbing him inside the top 10 (he’s 11 for me).

TIER 2: Rendon is criminally underrated every single year. His injury history past is far behind him as he’s averaged 616 plate appearances a year the last three seasons. I discussed Rendon in my HR/BRL under-performers, so you know I love him going into 2019. Bryant is due for a bounce back after suffering from injuries all year in 2018. That being said, I don’t see the MVP caliber season we saw in 2016 from Bryant. I think his numbers will be similar to Rendon’s with about 10-15 points lower in terms of batting average. Then there’s Vlad. It’s amazing that he’s in the second tier without playing a single game in the Majors. He profiles as a .300 hitter with good power. That’s why he’s here. His numbers could be as good or better than Rendon’s or similar to Andujar’s (on the low side).

TIER 3: This tier is filled with injury concerns and breakouts. Basically, I don’t anticipate that any of these players play enough games or perform at their peak level. For instance, Carpenter is 33 years old and is coming off a season where he hit 36 home runs, eight more than his previous career high. I know he’s a Statcast hero, but with a rising strikeout rate, a lower batting average and a home run total closer to 26-28, I’m not comfortable putting him inside the top 75. I’ll touch on Chapman because, at age-25, he has the power potential to hit 35+ homers. I still think he’s a year away from a monster season but still, think he’s worth a top 100 pick given the Athletics lineup and his improvements from 2018.

TIER 4: Josh Donaldson still harnesses power and solid plate discipline. That’s about where the positives end. He’s 33 years old, hasn’t had more 496 plate appearances since 2016, and his contact rates have plummeted the last three seasons. His strikeout rate is trending in the wrong direction, since 2016, and it looks like this: 17%, 22.4%, 24.7%. Donaldson is a .250 hitter with 25-30 homer power, IF (big if there) he can stay healthy for 140 games. Wil Myers is in the same boat as Donaldson because he can’t stay healthy. Myers is intriguing because he has speed. A 25-20 season is in the possible outcomes for Myers. It’s a good time to buy Rafael Devers after he flopped last year. He’s only 22 years old and hasn’t yet reached his raw power potential. 2019 may be the cheapest Devers will be for the next 10 years.

TIER 5: Nick Senzel has the talent to jump two tiers right now but he’s dealt with injuries and bouts of vertigo over the last season plus. Basically, he’s a high risk/high reward player in 2019. The Reds are giving Senzel a shot at Centerfield with Suarez and Gennett blocking him at 3B and 2B, respectively. If he struggles defensively in center during spring training, he may be in the minors to start the season. I could see anywhere from .285-22-12 to .250-10-5 given injuries, minors, etc. Seager seems like a major average drain similar to Carlos Santana. Seager’s 30 homer potential is now gone and the lineup around him in Seattle is not exciting. He’s the epitome of a boring, everyday veteran. He still has value in 15-team leagues, but I won’t be reaching for him. Jake Lamb is interesting because he’s moving to 1B with the departure of Goldy. Still, on the right side of 30, Lamb could still hit 25 homers while sitting against lefties.

TIER 6: This is truly the swiss-army knife tier. I’ve touched on most of these guys at other positions but should discuss Ian Happ. Happ was someone I was high on coming into 2018 but he completely flopped as his strikeout rate went through the roof after an elevated 31% K rate his rookie year. The positives include youth, improved O-swing, and extremely valuable contact (when he actually does make contact). The bad, while he offered at pitches outside the zone less often, his zone contact rate dropped over 7%! He does run some and could pop 25+ homers given improvements in contact rate, but still remains very risky in Chicago where he doesn’t have an avenue to play every day. The other guy that no one is talking about is Renato Nunez, Baltimore’s third baseman. He should play every day and has shown 30 homer power in the minors. There’s a lot of holes to his offensive game and will be some slumps but Baltimore is a great park to hit in for power and given the lack of depth on the Orioles, he could hit fourth or fifth in the lineup if he’s successful.

Tier 7: is cringeworthy. There’s a combination of over-the-hill veterans and a few young players without a starting job. Personally, I’m hoping Frazier doesn’t reach 300 at-bats this year with Alonso coming up and McNeil getting more playing time. Matt Davidson has power but no starting role. Austin Riley was a favorite prospect of mine last year, but he took a step back. That’s the reason the Braves gave Josh Donaldson a one-year deal. Not only that, Johan Camargo had a solid year in 2018 and can fill in at short as well. In my opinion, Riley requires more seasoning and even if Donaldson gets injured, Riley will stay in Triple-A with Camargo filling in at third base. Riley will be called up this year but it won’t be until August or later. What happened to Eduardo Nunez? I’ll give you one word, SPEED! His steals went from 40 in 2016 to 24 in 2017, to just 7 in 2018. He actually had more plate appearances in 2018 than in 2017. Sure, he can play all over the field, but 2B is likely where he sees the most playing time. His speed is on the severe decline and I can’t bump him up at all.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.

Cover Image by: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

What’s up? BABIP, that’s what – June Update

BABIP across Major League baseball normalizes right around .300 league-wide. It’s a number we always look at when a player is running a very low or very high BABIP. We typically point to the outlier and expect it to regress back to the mean. Unfortunately, there are many factors that can sway a players BABIP one way or the other such as: sprint speed, hard/soft contact, fly ball%, line drive%, pull% on ground balls into the shift, etc. I could go on, but you get the point, not all BABIPs are created equal.

I’m focusing on players with elevated BABIPs and comparing them to xStats.org definition of xBABIP. I’ll also be referring to value hits, poor hits, and high drives so check the definitions here. xStats isn’t perfect, but what is? Even mlb.com Baseballsavant has issues with its expected stats. It’s still a great tool to use and is considerably more accurate than other expected stats. You’ll notice that many players with high sprint speed will often run a lower xBABIP than their actual BABIP. Knowing that, we can use that to our advantage. However, other players who are not graced with a high quantity of quick-twitch muscle fibers will have to rely of line drives and hard contact to boost their BABIP. Without further ado, here’s the

NameBABIPxBABIPDiffAVGxAVGDiff
Ian Happ0.3850.297-0.0880.2370.188-0.049
Matt Kemp0.40.32-0.080.3440.295-0.049
Starling Marte0.3520.291-0.0610.2940.248-0.046
Albert Almora0.3650.312-0.0530.310.261-0.049
Domingo Santana0.3680.308-0.060.260.239-0.021
Scooter Gennett0.3890.341-0.0480.3440.294-0.05
Nick Castellanos0.4110.356-0.0550.3360.304-0.032

Well, there’s Ian Happ. After a disastrous April which involves a near 50% K rate, he’s righted the ship a bit. But alas, his BABIP is an unsustainable .385! Not only should he regress, but xStats is calling for a drop of 0.091 and should have a batting average below the mendoza line.  Happ has above average speed, so I don’t expect full regression, but if he maintains his 40% strikeout rate, I don’t see him hitting over .220 this year. He’s getting by with a very good high drive percentage which has maximized many of his batted balls. But, how long can he keep this up with a 40% strikeout rate? I like Happ longterm, but he’s in a hole this year and is too risky to make it HAPPen.

No one is going to mistake Matt Kemp for having great speed now that he’s well into his 30s, so a BABIP of .400 is insane! What’s interesting, is how xStats still pegs him for a .320 BABIP which can still yield positive results, unlike Happ. What’s also interesting is his high percentage of value hits and a solid 15.5 degree launch angle. His expected home runs currently sits at a very impressive 12.2, he currently sits at 10 HR on the season. His plate discipline is poor (but it’s always been below average) however, he’s got a hard contact% of over 45% with a 12% soft contact rate. I’m not buying Kemp at face value, but while the average will come down, his power may jump a little. Maybe he’s got one more 30 HR 95 RBI season in him.

I won’t spend much time on Starling Marte. As I mentioned in the introduction, speed tends to trick xStats a little in terms of xBABIP. In fact, Marte has outperformed his xBABIP by nearly .030 on average the last three seasons. That being said, his current 0.061 difference is double last year’s difference. While his power looks just about right, there is some cause for concern with his low high drive (LOL sounds weird) rate and high poor hit percentages. I’m not completely selling Marte, but I’d expect him in the .280 range for batting average by season’s end. He’s still a valuable piece with mid-teens power and around 30 steals.

Albert Almora is basically getting by with smoke and mirrors. Sure an expected average of .261 isn’t the end of the world. The Cubs are deploying Almora in the lead off spot basically because they have no one else. That at least should give him a cushion, but he doesn’t walk much and has a xOBP of .317. It’s more than just outperforming in terms of average too though, he’s barreled a total of one ball out of 139 batted balls in 2018. His average exit velocity is 85.7 mph which puts him the bottom 10% for all qualified hitters. Get this, his xwOBA against off-speed and breaking pitches is under .210! No, that’s not his expecting batting average, it’s the expected weighted on-base average you guys! I don’t need to ramble because he’s hardly fantasy relevant, but a guy with no power and no speed should not be owned. If someone is loving this average boost move him immediately.

Domingo Santana has not followed his breakout with much success at all. He’s lost some playing time with the additions of Cain and Yelich and he’s really struggled to get on track. Would you believe me if I told you than Santana had a .363 BABIP and a 30.9% HR/FB rate in 2017? Yup, and that was in over 600 plate appearances. The difference is, he actually earned that elevated BABIP last year with an xBABIP of .373! Previously, he was a line drive machine, which other than speed will fuel a high BABIP. This year, he’s down about 5% from his previous two seasons. Here’s the deal, he strikes out 30% of the time, hits over 50% of his batted balls on the ground, and have average speed at best. He hits the ball hard but you probably got his career year last year. He could get hot, but should be left on the wire in shallow mixed leagues.

Nicky C, MY BOY! The hard contact King! The Exit Velo C-Lo-anoes. Annnnd we’re back. He somehow has a 48% hard contact rate with a sub-10% HR/FB rate. What!?!? The good news is xstats believes he should still be very good in terms of average and has been unlucky in terms of power. The bad news is, I don’t have any but it’s time to do the splits. Not that kind, the hitter splits. Castellanos is hitting .458 with a .543 BABIP against lefties! I’m not an psychic but I think that might not stick. There are no home/road splits and he’s hitting well to all fields. Here’s the issue with his power, nearly 78% of his fly balls are to center or the opposite field. He’s hit a total of 1 HR to center and 0 HR the other way. Detroit isn’t a great park for power and center is where homers go to die. He doesn’t hit the ball as hard the other way, so Nicky C needs to start yanking fly balls to the pull side if he wants to hit 30 ding dongs like I projected. Come on dude, pick it up to make me look good!

Last, but not least, may favorite non vespa, Mr. Scooter Gennett. His breakout last year involved a four homer game and a couple of multi-homer games. For some reason, fantasy owners held that against him as if to say, you’re not that good, you only a handful of great games! As good as he’s been this year, it’s nice to see his expected average above .290. The rest of his xStats metrics are relatively average in terms of exit velocity, launch angle, and value hits. That means he’s been extremely lucky in terms of home runs, xStats has him at about four homers less than his 12 to date. His 26% line drive rate is fueling the high BABIP and batting average, so I expect his average to creep back to or below .300 to match his expected batting average. I also would expect less home runs going forward but keep in mind, he out performed all of his metrics last year and is performing similar in terms of skills in 2018. I’d think of selling, but don’t take a discount on him. Try to get a top 50-75 player, if not, keep rolling with him.

Second Base – The Choice is Yours

I am going to round out the infield with second baseman as the regular season is literally eight days away! Some people have already had their drafts but this upcoming weekend is the last big time-frame for fantasy baseball drafts. I’d like to get the starting pitcher “The Choice is Yours” but I’ve been busy writing a few articles for draft preparation over at FantasyPros, so go check it out. If I can’t get to it, I’ll post all the pitchers I’m way higher/lower on than Yahoo ADP. Today I’m looking at five mystery second baseman using ZIPS projections and NFBC ADP. Second base is similar to shortstops in that I can’t believe how deep the position is compared to years past. There’s just so much offensive talent in today’s game, I wouldn’t put extra weight on positions like 2B and SS like in the past when they were considered shallow. Get your guys and get your numbers, catcher is the only shallow position in my opinion. Let’s look at our 2B mystery players.

2B ZIPS Projections   NFBC
PlayerAVGHRRRBISBADP
Player A0.283207484284
Player B0.25421637112103
Player C0.25629868614104
Player D0.25528778511128
Player E0.26116835811184

Player A looks like a safe bet to at least contribute in four categories but clearly has no speed. However, he’s doesn’t appear to excel in any single category. This AL veteran has long been considered one of the best second basemen of the last decade and has made eight All-Star appearances. Ok, this one is pretty easy, Player A is Robinson Cano. He’s not a bad “safe” pick but he’s 35 years old and his home runs totals the last four seasons are 14, 21, 39, and 23. The 39 in 2016 appears to be an outlier for an aging veteran who never really had elite power. Cano has always been a high contact guy with elevated BABIPs which typically were justified. However, his BABIP is trending in the wrong direction from .334 in 2014 and on a steady decline to .294 last year. Cano is no longer a .300 hitter and I expect the batting and average and power to continue their downward descent. DON’T GET WITH THIS.

Player B is one of the more exciting players to watch. He’s a wizard defensively and can hit some moon shots (when he connects). He’s on my hometown team so I get a lot of exposure to him, he’s only 25 years old and has over 360 games played in the majors. Player B is Javy Baez. Yes, he did have a solid season last year with a .273, 23 HR and 10 steals in only 508 plate appearances. If you’ve been visiting my site, you know I’m not a huge fan, here’s my bust post I wrote back in January. Click bait! Anyways, the keys points are that he swings at everything, doesn’t make a lot of contact, and doesn’t hit the ball hard constantly. Playing time could be an issue with Joe Maddon and the Cubs if he doesn’t kick the old habits. His stat line was just fine last year but xStats pegged Baez for a triple slash of .242/.317/.431 with a xBABIP of .304. If that isn’t bad enough, Javy was second to last in both O-Swing% and SwStr% which means he chased pitches out of the zone and swung and missed almost as much as anybody in the league. DON’T GET WITH THIS.

Player C looks like the best combination of power and speed based on ZIPS projections. He’s also one of the three players clumped in a tight ADP window that includes Baez and Player D below. Based on his projections, there’s no reason he should be drafted at the same ADP as Baez and I already wrote about my displeasure for the Baez ADP. The issue is that Player C hit an atrocious .204 last year! Ok, so Player C is Rougned Odor. Yes, the strikeout rate went up to a career-worst 24.9% and his plate discipline is poor, but it’s not as bad as Baez’. He still managed to hit 30 home runs and steal 15 bases which were nearly identical to 2016 and he’s only 24 years old. Bottom line is his BABIP won’t be .224 again and the power is legit justified by a 37% hard contact rate. A .250-30-14 season is much more likely for Odor is 2018. GET WITH THIS. 

Player D looks almost identical to Odor with a little less speed and maybe that’s why his ADP is a little lower. Player D is also very young (only 23), has a lot of swing and miss to his game, but actually has an above average walk rate, unlike the rest of this list. He also has a playing time issue similar to Baez but is eligible in the outfield as well. Player D is Ian Happ. I really like young players with good walk rates, it shows maturity and potential upside. His 30+% K rate is bad but his profile looks good in that he hits about 40% fly balls and only had a 3.2% IFFB rate, meaning he’s getting good value out of his fly balls, hence the 25% HR/FB rate. I don’t think he will repeat that but he did hit 24 home runs in only 413 plate appearances. So he has a little more power than Baez and a little less speed with a better walk rate, I’ll take my chances with Happ two rounds later. GET WITH THIS.

Player E is the other old man of the group. He had one of the worst seasons of his career and is now playing for a new club. To me, his poor season was fueled by a poor BABIP because his walk rate improved, his hard contact was the highest of his career, and his approach remained well above average. Player E is Ian Kinsler. Yeah, lots of Ian talk today. Kinsler is 35 years-old but I think the projection by ZIPS is a bit low. He’s averaged 25 home runs the last two seasons and will be leading off in front of Mike Trout. His SwStr rate and K rate remaining near elite and the improvement in walk rate mean plenty of runs. I can easily see 20 homers, 10 steals with 95-105 runs. His ADP needs to be inside the top 150. GET WITH THIS.