Position scarcity is always a hot topic of fantasy baseball conversation during draft season. One of the toughest positions to accurately gauge for this particular year is third base. With two new superstars joining the position when they gain eligibility this season (Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez), it will have likely have some ramifications on the depth at 3B. But, even with those additions, it's a position that is weaker than ever. Last year, there were four players projected to deliver nearly 3 roto points or more (Evan Longoria, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Zimmerman). This year, all of those players aren't projected quite as high anymore with Longoria being the only one projected to stay above that mark. Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of talent coming in to replace those former stars so the traditionally thin 3B position seems to be staying that way.
Before we walk through the outlook at this position, let's take a look at a couple of graphs to show the trends for this position in a 12-team standard roto draft. First, here's what the position looks like without Miggy and Hanley added in:
The projected draft round goes from left to right on the chart and the projected WERTH roto value goes vertically. In the middle is the line where the average fantasy starter would be. As you can see, there's a bunch of players (represented by grey dots) above the average fantasy starter line in the first 10 rounds and then a bunch of guys way below the line the last 10 rounds. We'll investigate that further but let's add in those two new players are see their impact (the changes shown in red):
Okay, it's look slightly different but is that a huge jump in value or not? Let's look at those two lines in comparison to the trendline at an elite position such as 1B:
First base has a steeper slope (quicker drop in value) but a lot more production in the early rounds and doesn't cross down into the negative range until about four rounds later. Even with the additions of two superstars, 3B still has a lot of catching up to do.
The first player off the board at 3B in 2012 is Evan Longoria and he's leaps and bounds above anyone else at this position. In fact, there's not a big projected difference between the next 10 guys who are taken between Rounds 3 to 10. Adrian Beltre is projected nicely but Michael Young projects as having better value than anyone other than Longoria and is found in the 6th round. The usual stars like David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman and Alex Rodriguez are barely projected at above average levels for fantasy starters. Though his projections are lower, Brett Lawrie is the wild card who may wildly outperform his projection and breathe life into this weakened position.
By the conclusion of the 6th round, there's projected to be ten 3B drafted and then it's a long time before another 3B falls off the board. In fact, it's not until about Round 10 that the next 3B, Mark Reynolds, is projected to be drafted. Reynolds represents the last hope for getting any value from this position. As always, Reynolds would violently butcher your team's batting average but his 35 HR and 10 SB are still certainly valuable.
After Reynolds is gone, it's like digging through a scrap heap. Chase Headley and Danny Valencia represent the peaks in value at 3B after the 10th round so, yeah, it's not pretty.
Leagues that have a Corner Infielder spot to fill will have an especially hard time finding valuable 3B to draft. In those leagues, you either hope to get two of the top 10 third basemen or you need to look at first basemen to fill that CI spot.
In my drafts, I will approach third base with a Longoria-or-bust strategy. Ideally, Longoria falls into my lap in the second round but otherwise I'll try to see who is available in Round 5 or 6 by grabbing a Pablo Sandoval, Michael Young or Aramis Ramirez. The back-up plan to all of that will be drafting Mark Reynolds earlier than expected because it's better than venturing into late rounds still trying to find value from this position.
Third Base Average Draft Position and Projected Value in 12-Team League
|Name||ADP Rd||Proj. Roto Value|