By: Nate Ramacher
Many projections this season indicate 3B is a shallow position. That is relatively true from a stud standpoint. Most lists will have the same top 3 who are all awesome. If you can get one early in the draft you will be dealing from a position of strength. However, if you do not get one of those guys, or if you get Machado and plan to use him at SS, there are 5-8 quality, high-upside players left and a bunch of solid bats available after that.
The reason this list is so long, when most leagues have no more than 12 teams, is to demonstrate the point of the post – there is value to be had late at 3B!
Sure, it might be smart to back up any player after the top 3 studs with another 3B but that is okay. There are over 20 3B that could realistically produce at a level that makes them viable Utility batters. That means you can hedge your bets with a couple of them and hopefully get 2 productive hitters from the deal. Players like Plouffe and Sandoval could easily be as productive as low-end 1B or OF, which can’t be said about truly weak positions like SS, 2B and C. Plus, guys like Kang, Murphy and even Lawrie could bring corner infield pop with middle infield versatility. The best part is that many of these players can be added in the last 5 rounds of your draft.
On my list below, Bryant at #4 through Franco at #11 all seem to be good bets to produce at a starting level with some upside beyond that. If you can find value at other tough-to-fill positions early in your draft, back it up with 2, or even 3, 3B and see who steps up and/or play the hot bat or better match-up.
15, yes 15, 3B Worth Owning:
Donaldson, Machado and Arenado are beasts in excellent, stable situations – good hitters’ parks and/or good line-ups. All are potentially worthy of top 10 picks.
1. J Donaldson
2. M Machado
3. N Arenado
Bryant and Sano offer tremendous upside but, for all of their talent, they are relatively unproven and still strike out a bunch.
4. K Bryant
5. M Sano
Beltre and Longo seem to be over-the-hill but are competent vets and may recapture their youth for stretches. Frazier was horrible for the 2nd half last year and neither he nor Carpenter have a long track record of elite production.
6. A Beltre
7. E Longoria
8. T Frazier
9. M Carpenter
Rendon and Franco are high-risk, high-reward as both have been very highly-regarded prospects but have not proved that they are the players their GMs want to believe they are. Both have shown good signs at the major league level but Franco also plays in a Triple-A-looking line-up.
10. A Rendon
11. M Franco
There is a drop here but these guys have shown to be productive in the past as recently as last year. Moustakas and Plouffe can get red hot for stretches, Duffy was a nice multi-category player last year and Big Panda just needs to let his belly point towards the Green Monster and hit about 20 balls over it to be worth owning again.
12. M Moustakas
13. T Plouffe
14. M Duffy
15. P Sandoval
5 others to consider: JH Kang – looked good last year but out to start season with major injury, D Freese – Pit seems to be able to find retread gems and he could be worth a flyer especially if you are waiting on Kang, D Murphy – if you believe the play-off power he is a versatile player with some upside, N Castellanos – has been average so far but is a big athlete that Det thinks highly of, L Valbuena – the power he showed last year with a slight uptick in average would make him a very useful asset.
Let me know your thoughts! Am I crazy if I pass on Bryant in the 1st round or early 2nd to be patient and mine for value later? Is there another sneaky sleeper at 3B that I over-looked? Tell us in the comments below.