Pod’s Picks: Third Base

The third base position just took a hit with news that Chase Headley is going to be out 4-6 weeks due to a thumb injury. I was actually the least optimistic about his performance given my ranking, so looks like I will be closest before the season has even begun. Victory! For the hot corner, I will only look at those I ranked in the top 20 as bullish picks, while the bearish group will include those in the consensus top 20. Inside that top 20, there really aren’t a whole lot of players I am particularly bullish on compared to the rest of the rankers.


Todd Frazier

My Rank: 16 | Consensus: 18

A playing time expectation difference? My projection calls for 550 at-bats, which is easily the most optimistic of all the projection systems, including the Fans. But with Scott Rolen not returning to Cincinnati (and potentially retiring), only an extended slump (and injury of course) looks to hamper Frazier’s chances to reach that at-bat total. He was an extreme fly ball hitter last year, so he should have an easy time socking at least 20 balls over the fence. And don’t forget that he’s likely to also chip in a couple of steals.

Manny Machado

My Rank: 18 | Consensus: 20

This surprises me greatly. If I were to have guessed before comparing these rankings, I would have assumed he was overvalued in fantasy leagues. Maybe the other rankers just happen to be in the minority. I am not really excited about his fantasy potential this season, but he does do a little of everything, which has value. Solid power, some speed and acceptable contact.


Pedro Alvarez

My Rank: 22 | Consensus: 19

Not a playing time difference for sure. I’m just simply not a fan of Alvarez. While his average fly ball and home run distance suggests that his HR/FB ratio of 25% may actually be for real, I have to project some regression and therefore do not expect him to approach 30 homers again. A lower home run rate means his batting average is at risk of further decline and that average is already at a level that really kills a fantasy team.

Martin Prado

My Rank: 12 | Consensus: 10

A lot of his value last year was tied to his sudden stolen base outburst. Before last season, he had been an extremely poor base stealer, having been caught more often than he had succeeded. So call me skeptical that he will steal another 10+ bases again. He hits too many ground balls to really take advantage of the home run friendly park effects at Chase Field, so bottom line is that this is just Placido Polanco 2.0, back when Polanco was actually an undervalued, albeit boring, fantasy commodity.

Mike Moustakas

My Rank: 17 | Consensus: 15

Eno Sarris will be none too pleased to see his boy in this group. While I like Moustakas’ upside given his high fly ball rate and what that could mean for his home run output, his average fly ball plus home run distance was merely average last year. I am still projecting a HR/FB rate increase from 9.0% to 11.0% this year, so some upside is already baked into my projection and yet he stills falls into this bearish group. All those fly balls, though, also lead to lots of pop-ups and his BABIP takes a beating. While his history suggests better contact could come at any time, the expectation for now should be that he is not going to contribute in batting average. I don’t see much difference between he and Frazier, but Frazier is in a better ballpark and lineup, so I prefer him between the two.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: 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.

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I won my fantasy league championship last year, and Alvarez’ 30 dingers were an important component.

He’s a 26 yo former #2 overall draft pick coming off his first full major league season. I don’t see why you would automatically conclude that a player in that situation is going to regress. If anything, I think Alvarez is undervalued and is a late round target of mine.