Fun With Tiers, Third Base April Edition

I don’t really like tiers, but it probably has something to do with the neatness of placing a player in a designated strata. I’ve never used tiers in fantasy baseball drafts because I think it tends to blind you to the nuances of each player and the specific needs your team might have. But now that the season has started, you should be all drafted up and it’s time to brand your cattle.

Third base quite obviously has a star, and if you’re counting by wins above replacement, maybe it’s got a few stars. But in fantasy baseball, this position gets pretty uninteresting pretty quickly, although I wouldn’t consider it to be lacking in depth. Just perhaps lacking in, say, pizazz. And due to my weariness of tiers, instead of a top five, I’m going to hit you with eight. Try and stop me.

For the heck of it, and since we’re just a couple days into the season, I’m going to include Steamer projections in the standard 5×5 categories. I think it tends to add to the discussion about subtleties between players (or lack thereof). Onward!

Tier Of His Own Tier

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
Miguel Cabrera 0.325 37 103 114 3

Blah, blah, MVP, blah blah, awesome. Yeah, Miguel Cabrera is super rad and if he doesn’t get hurt, he’ll be up here all year long.

Kind of Tier 1.5

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
Adrian Beltre 0.295 28 84 100 1
Edwin Encarnacion 0.268 33 91 99 6
Evan Longoria 0.263 29 85 94 2

There’s an argument to be made that E5 belongs in the #2 slot what with his Bautisa-like emergence as an elite power bat, but considering he doesn’t qualify at third base in all formats, I’m just going to leave it like this. We haven’t seen back-to-back healthy seasons from Longoria since 2009-10, so it’s kind of incumbent upon him to perform in order to hang around with this group — but when it comes to counting stats, he’s a cut above the next tier when he’s on the field.

Tier 2

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
David Wright 0.285 20 76 76 13
Ryan Zimmerman 0.277 22 73 75 4
Pablo Sandoval 0.284 21 75 83 2
Josh Donaldson 0.267 22 76 79 6

In fantasy circles, I like all of these bats very much — but they all come with just a little concern. Wright has simply been inconsistent, even if it’s wrapped up in crummy luck or massive ballparks — his production has fluctuated fairly dramatically since the 2009 season. Zimmerman is a nice source of power, but can be counted on to miss about 20 games every year, which impacts his counting stat totals. Sandoval enters his walk year in great shape and a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but his injury woes have also been a real issue in the last three seasons. And on Donaldson, well frankly he could be the best of the bunch but kind of like when you’re playing pool in a bar and you sink two stripes on the break — you still need to prove it.

 Tier 3

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
Matt Carpenter 0.284 10 76 53 5
Martin Prado 0.286 14 78 69 7
Kyle Seager 0.269 18 76 77 8
Brett Lawrie 0.269 17 69 66 12
Jedd Gyorko 0.261 24 69 80 4
Pedro Alvarez 0.241 28 65 78 2
Aramis Ramirez 0.269 20 62 71 3
Nolan Arenado 0.282 16 67 75 4
Will Middlebrooks 0.261 20 56 64 5

Matt Carpenter scored 126 runs last year. 126! The projection systems aren’t buying it though, and while Carpenter should be good for a solid batting average and a goodly number of runs, he really doesn’t provide a whole lot beyond that. In fact, if you believe the projections — he’s kind of a Martin Prado light, without the position flexibility. The player in here I’m probably most curious about is Jedd Gyorko who could see himself jump up a tier if he can pull of the kinds of figures Steamer is talking about. Seager, Lawrie, Arenado, Middlebrooks are all awfully similar and all come with their own set of warts, but they should be productive.

Tier 3.5

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
Chase Headley 0.256 16 69 66 9
Xander Bogaerts 0.263 15 65 65 8
Mike Moustakas 0.256 15 52 57 4
Chris Johnson 0.275 13 57 64 2
Anthony Rendon 0.264 11 55 52 3

These five really aren’t much different than Tier 3, but I guess their warts are just a little more pronounced. Headley, as you know, has been among the most productive and the least productive third baseman in the span of two years. Who shows up this year is left to fate and your eight-ball. I fully expect Bogaerts to be up a tier in a month or two, but with any rookie, it’s just kind of nice to see the production first. Moustakas clunked in 2013 despite all the promise of looking like Chris Davis in AAA. Chris Johnson will probably never be better than 2013. Anthony Rendon is more valuable as a second baseman.

Tier 3.5.2

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
Matt Dominguez 0.247 18 60 66 1
Todd Frazier 0.241 18 55 61 6

Need more home runs than the previous tier might promise you and can stomach a rotten batting average? Look no further.

Tier 4

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
David Freese 0.27 13 56 56 3
Manny Machado 0.268 12 58 51 7
Nick Castellanos 0.269 11 59 58 5
Trevor Plouffe 0.241 17 55 59 3
Cody Asche 0.256 11 40 45 6
Kelly Johnson 0.236 13 45 43 7

I can’t put my finger on what separates Teir 4 from the previous two, but there’s just a little something less exciting about this group. It’s probably the projected runs and RBI. I’m curious to watch Castellanos though.

Tier 5

Name AVG HR R RBI SB
Conor Gillaspie 0.25 5 21 21 1
Mark Reynolds 0.221 10 23 26 1
Mike Olt 0.218 3 11 11 1
Juan Uribe 0.237 14 50 56 4
Luis Valbuena 0.238 10 44 41 4
Casey McGehee 0.242 10 39 42 3

Digging deep, here. Although, Conor Gillaspie might have a good shot at more than 21 RBI if the White Sox keep trotting him out there in the cleanup slot. It might get Robin Ventura fired and Chris Cwik will probably lose a bet, but hey, he might sniff 50 RBI despite it all.




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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.


11 Responses to “Fun With Tiers, Third Base April Edition”

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  1. Josh B says:

    Matt Dominguez had a contact rate of 83.40%; more than Cabrera, more than Trout. He aslo had a .254 BABIP. The year before when his BABIP was .299 his average was .284. And his contact rate that year was 88.10%. Way to do your research.

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  2. jon says:

    Hey Mike – do you think 3B is deep enough to roster both Alvarez and Frazier in a 10-tm mixed league? I’m trying to hedge a down season for Alvarez so I drafted Frazier with my last pick. But there are already guys I wanna pickup instead of keeping a backup 3B. Only 4 bench spots and one DL – What do you think? Thanks!

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    • Michael Barr says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      in a typical 5×5, rostering Alvarez and Frazier would have me concerned about a serious AVG drag. If Frazier had the kind of power Alvarez had, maybe it would be worth that risk. Seems unlikely you would get many bites on Frazier in a trade, either. Hard to know without seeing the rest of your roster. Good luck!

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  3. Anal Hershiser says:

    But Manny Machado once beat a man to death with only his

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  4. Ballpark Frank says:

    Where will Carlos Santana fall once he gets 3B eligibility?

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