Third base continues to be a source of frustration for many owners featuring injury (Ryan Zimmerman), ineffectiveness (Pablo Sandoval, Mike Moustakas) and sometimes injury and ineffectiveness (Chase Headley, David Freese), among others. Third base has also featured a bit of a coming out party from a few players which has been a magical salve for those of us hurting at the hot corner. But then again, it is just May, so I’m not particularly motivated to move the needle too quickly on shaking up the regular royalty when it comes to the tiers.
I’m going to do a little something different, which I think will provide some adequate context to the discussion and perhaps take a little of the April emotional manager out of the equation — I’m going to post Steamer rest-of-the-season projections with my tiers in lieu of posting what they’ve done so far. Because what they’ve done so far is super nice and all, but what really matters is what they’re going to do. Right?
So let’s get this out of the way:
Yeah, Miguel Cabrera has had a pretty lukewarm start, and by his standards, it’s one of the worst starts in his career. It’s led me to talk like a gold rush hillbilly in fact. But I’m not ready to write his obituary nor give him any company in a tier of his own. If we end May and Miguel Cabrera still resembles Trevor Plouffe, well, then I’ll have some hat eating to do.
Here’s where we have a little movement from April.
I’m willing to bump Donaldson up here finally, and maybe I should have had the fortitude to do so back in March, but Donaldson has pretty much been as advertised. He might not ever hit .300 again, but he’s pumping out the home runs and concomitant counting stats once again, and he’s pretty much been the most valuable third baseman since the start of the season. Beltre’s had kind of a slow start and hasn’t hit for much power at all and I do worry about his health while Encarnacion just feels like the kind of player who is about to break out.
I kind of hate this tier, but it just feels necessary. On the one hand, we’ve got to give some credit to the nutty run that Arenado has had, and with these projections, he’s top ten material at third base, if not a little on the underwhelming side. And we like to be whelmed. But David Wright has been all sorts of absent, trumped perhaps only by Pablo Sandoval who looks lost and then Ryan Zimmerman who actually has been literally absent. And then there’s Todd Frazier, who has been my April BFF when trying to shove gum in the dam holes. Not only has Frazier hit .265/.349/.478, but he’s checked the box in all four other roto categories with five home runs, 18 runs, 19 RBI, and even three steals. What a guy! Steamer isn’t so excited about his ROS, but color me a little bullish on Frazier from here on out. Aramis Ramirez will either be up a tier or down a tier by June, we can bank on that.
Hmm, well, isn’t this a mess. Carpenter hasn’t necessarily turned into a pumpkin and ought to score another pile of runs, but it’s looking increasingly likely that he’s a one trick pony. Pedro Alvarez is doing exactly what you would expect Pedro Alvarez to do. Kyle Seager is back from the dead, and if you are okay with Kyle Seager’s ROS projections, then you kind of have to be okay with Rendon, Lawrie, Machado, and Middlebrooks too. Martin Prado is striking out at a ridiculous pace for his standards with 24 strikeouts already where he fanned just 53 times all season last year. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if he were doing anything else at all, which he isn’t.
Honestly, any of these guys could be up a tier. I really like what I’ve seen from Plouffe thus far, and I’ve probably written too much about him already on this site. He’s been highly productive on the run scoring and RBI front, and holding his own in batting average rather surprisingly. He’s more known for his power, which should show up any day now. What’s not known if the batting average does what they suggest above, which then becomes problematic. And problematic is probably a good way to describe this whole group because they all have their warts, although I know there are many of you who are big Dominguez, Castellanos, and CJ fans, and if so, well, bully for you. And Juan Uribe. 135 wRC+. Seriously.
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