2014 Pod’s Picks: 3rd Base

Third base actually appears relatively decent this year with a group of youngsters on the rise, or those we’re still waiting for to break out (Moose Tacos, I’m talking to you), as well as the standard top tier vets.

The third base edition of Pod’s Picks may help you find value or learn who to avoid at their current going rates. The bullish section will only include players from my top 20, while the bearish group will only include those whose RotoGraphs consensus is in the top 20.

Bullish

Aramis Ramirez

My Rank: 8 | Consensus: 15

I feel like this is an annual tradition that I value Aramis higher than everyone else. He’ll be 36 this year (holy crap, that’s way older than I realized!) and age-related decline is likely one of the explanations for why the rest of the rankers are less optimistic than I am. Having been rather healthy previously, he battled knee issues last year and was limited to a little over half a season’s worth of plate appearances. I am not projecting a full rebound, but given less playing time and a deteriorating performance level, his projected line is worth a top 10 value at the position.

Jedd Gyorko

My Rank: 9 | Consensus: 14

Oddly, two of the other three rankers valued Gyorko one slot higher than me at second, but at third, I was the most bullish ranker. Weird. Some of his increased value will come from more plate appearances, since he recorded just 525 last year. A jump to the 600 plateau would boost all his counting stats. And given his solid line drive rate and better than average IFFB%, he should also see an uptick in BABIP and ultimately batting average. Furthermore, his minor league record indicates that he should make better contact as well.

Todd Frazier

My Rank: 16 | Consensus: 20

Frazier took a step back last year, but his underlying skills were relatively stable. He increased his walk rate and reduced his strikeout rate, but fewer fly balls combined with a downturn in HR/FB rate resulted in the same home run total in 109 more at-bats. His batting average also plunged as his BABIP dipped below .300. As you might expect, I’m figuring a rebound in all areas as he sets a new career high in home runs after breaching the 20 level.

Bearish

Pablo Sandoval

My Rank: 18 | Consensus: 7

Hmmmmm. Sandoval’s power has jumped all over the place, making it tough to determine his true talent level. Excluding his inflated 2009 mark, he has been rather consistent with his BABIP, while his walk and strikeout rates have been remarkably stable. So really, it comes down to the power and the health. My ranking already reflects a slight rebound in power up to 17 home runs, so I honestly don’t know what the others are projecting to push him so high in the rankings. His low runs scored totals kill his value, as he hasn’t exceeded 60 since 2010, and even that year was just 61.

Brett Lawrie

My Rank: 15 | Consensus: 8

Third time’s a charm? Oh how the tide has turned. Last year I drafted Lawrie in LABR and thought he was an undervalued post-hype type. But instead of taking a step forward, he is doing his best to suggest that his 2011 power, including the surge he experienced in the minors, was a total fluke. I still think he has 15/15 potential, and in fact I’m very nearly projecting that. But, he’ll likely be stuck near the bottom third of the Blue Jays order, which will cut into all his counting stats. I think he is certainly capable of earning top 10 value at the position, but it’s an aggressive rank that to me represents his upside, not his most likely scenario.




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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.


3 Responses to “2014 Pod’s Picks: 3rd Base”

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  1. Chicago Mark says:

    Good stuff Pod. Panda has had two seasons of 20+ home runs and >.300ba. Looking at the spreadsheet you guys put out the other day, you are clearly the outlier at 18. The other three have him in the top 10. I can see every one of the others you ranked ahead of him but who fell behind him in the consensus beating him out. Although I don’t buy into Middlebrooks, Frazier and Carpenter that much.

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  2. mcbrown says:

    Re: Lawrie, do the various FG writers agree on his position eligibility? I’m with you that he is unlikely to crack the top 12 among 3B’s, but he’s very likely to be a top 10 2B in leagues in which he’s eligible. And he has 2B eligibility in every league I’m in this year (Yahoo, Ottoneu).

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  3. rbt says:

    Lawrie belongs in the same boat as Moose Tacos…”waiting for the breakout.”

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