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Pod’s Picks June Update: Third Base

And on we go with my updated Pod’s Picks, comparing my rank versus the other three RotoGraphers. We’re now up to the third basemen, of which the consensus rankings published two weeks ago can be found here. I’ll generally only consider those third basemen that I ranked within the top 20 for the bullish category and those the rest of the crew ranked in the top 20 for the bearish category.

Bullish

Aramis Ramirez

My Rank: 8 | Their Rank: 20

I don’t get it. I really don’t. Seemingly every year now Ramirez is undervalued. Perhaps his age and last year’s knee issues are weighing on fantasy owners’ minds. But he’s shown few signs of slowing down at the plate. He makes good contact, allowing him to be an asset in batting average. His overall power has been extremely consistent and his HR/FB rates have amazingly stuck inside a narrow range between 11.6% and his current 14.5% since 2007. He hits in the middle of a good lineup. I understand that you want to ding him for the risk that age is going to take its toll at any time. But he keeps chugging along and needs to be valued that way.

Juan Francisco

My Rank: 19 | Their Rank: 31

This is almost undoubtedly a playing time thing, but damn, 31 is harsh! Francisco is currently ranked fourth in baseball in batted ball distance and sports a career HR/FB ratio above 20%. He’s also hitting fly balls at a career best rate. We know his power is for real, but what comes along with that power is a major problem actually making contact. That essentially makes him a younger Mark Reynolds. When Brett Lawrie was healthy, he was relying on the Blue Jays playing Lawrie at second base to open up the hot corner for him. But with Lawrie on the disabled list with a fractured finger, Francisco should see a significant uptick in playing time.

Bearish

Manny Machado

My Rank: 23 | Their Rank: 11

He was already a big risk coming back from serious knee surgery and his situation has gotten worse. He continues to hit pop-ups much too frequently, but this time his BABIP is reflecting that inability to avoid the infield fly on a consistent basis. While a .262 mark is probably too low, he was no .322 BABIP guy. The hope was that his power would take a step forward, but it hasn’t. His ISO is frighteningly hovering around .100, while his batted ball distance is down about 10 feet from last year. But the worst of it is that he has been dropped to 7th in the lineup from 2nd. That loss of plate appearances is going to take a huge bite out of his fantasy value.

Pablo Sandoval

My Rank: 18 | Their Rank: 8

Like Ramirez above, Sandoval appeared in this same category of my preseason third base Pod’s Picks. He’s hitting for a bit more power than last year due to a slight increase in fly ball and HR/FB rates. But aside from that, he’s exactly what I expected. He hits too many pop-ups to regain that inflated BABIP skill he displayed back in 2009 and 2011, so he’s unlikely to be a huge asset in batting average again. I think those two seasons continue to increase his perceived value and push it much further above his actual value.