MARKET PULSE: Third base, 2020

NOTE: Our preseason Market Pulse column is an exercise in identifying the gaps between the valuation of the "popular" market (as reflected in Average Draft Position, or "ADP") and that of BaseballHQ.com. If a player is not listed here, it's likely that he qualifies at a scarcer position, or he's not in the ADP Top 500-600 (it's a bit fluid). Remember that this is an exercise in relative valuation, not absolute.

Each hitter is being considered at his scarcest qualified position (in order: C/DH, SS, 2B, 3B, 1B, OF), as it is the scarcest eligible position that typically drives fantasy value. The rankings are a risk- and position-adjusted estimate using current BaseballHQ.com projections. It is a purely quantitative ranking, with no specific consideration of "upside" (aside from reliability scores). The dollar values are position adjusted, but do not incorporate risk. Average auction values are approximate. These are not the "official" BaseballHQ.com straight draft rankings, but they should be close.

The article assumes a standard 15-team, mixed, 5x5 league, though the recommendations here will generally apply in most formats. A positive number in the "Diff" column indicates a player that BaseballHQ.com ranks higher than the "market," and a negative number indicates we have the player ranked lower, based on ADP. The list is split into tiers, based on the ADP. The ADP itself is based on recent NFBC drafts.

Previous columns: C/DH | SS | 2B 

(NFBC ADP Report) | Unofficial Rankings

Third base is both a thin and a shallow position this year. (In addition to the players here, there are 21 third-base eligibles who are also eligible at second base and shortstop, but a lot of those guys will be drafted to play those positions.) A bunch of the guys in the later rounds are boring veterans, most of whom are high-floor, low-upside types, so if you're hoping to strike gold, this isn't the best place to look. We would recommend grabbing a third-baseman for your corner slot or at least a reserve pick, because the pickings will be slim among free agents, even in shallower leagues. You might also want to favor middle infielders with 3B eligibility, all things being equal.

                                      HQ                      --  HQ Projections --
Player                TM POS REL ADP Rank Diff HQ$ AAV Diff |  AB AVG HR RBI  R  SB
==================   === === === === ==== ==== === === ==== | === === == === === == 
Arenado, Nolan       COL   5 AAA  14    6    8  33  33    0 | 583 297 37 112  99  3
Ramirez, Jose        CLE   5 BAD  19   10    9  34  30    4 | 551 281 28 100  93 27
Rendon, Anthony      LAA   5 BAA  20   15    5  30  29    1 | 570 290 31 110 101  5
Devers, Rafael       BOS   5 BBD  22   18    4  30  28    2 | 598 294 32  98 101  6
Bryant, Kris         CHC5o97 BAC  55   39   16  23  19    4 | 540 281 29  77  99  5
Guerrero Jr., Vlad   TOR  50 ADF  57   69  -12  18  19   -1 | 587 295 23  83  71  2
Suarez, Eugenio      CIN   5 AAB  58   41   17  21  19    2 | 515 275 34  93  79  3

Moncada, Yoan        CHW   5 BBC  66   96  -30  15  17   -2 | 495 271 21  66  77 11
Chapman, Matt        OAK   5 AAC  92   42   50  21  14    7 | 548 262 34  93  92  1
Donaldson, Josh      MIN   5 DBC  96   91    5  20  14    6 | 488 265 34  83  86  4
Sano, Miguel         MIN   5 DCF 119  114    5  18  12    6 | 512 247 37  94  84  0
Gurriel, Yulieski    HOU  35 ABB 128   48   80  20  11    9 | 581 292 20  91  78  5

Kingery, Scott       PHI o85 BBD 160  152    8  10   9    1 | 545 248 18  56  72 17
Turner, Justin        LA   5 CBB 174   75   99  19   8   11 | 489 297 26  73  81  3
Davis, J.D.          NYM o75 ACC 176  212  -36   6   8   -2 | 409 278 19  57  55  3
Dozier, Hunter        KC 5o9 BCC 180  216  -36   6   8   -2 | 526 247 22  66  67  3

Anderson, Brian      MIA 5o9 BBA 231  108  123  14   5    9 | 560 262 24  83  81  3
Urshela, Giovanny    NYY   5 BDD 234  337 -103   1   5   -4 | 389 275 14  49  51  0
Diaz, Yandy          TAM  53 DCB 239  294  -55   3   5   -2 | 392 270 15  49  59  3
Shaw, Travis         TOR   5 ABD 319  356  -37   0   2   -2 | 417 226 21  61  55  3
Seager, Kyle         SEA   5 CBB 322  164  158  10   2    8 | 559 243 28  83  71  2
Carpenter, Matt      STL   5 BAF 332  406  -74  -1   2   -3 | 349 239 18  45  55  2
Gonzalez, Marwin     MINo953 ABD 388  326   62   1   0    1 | 377 268 14  54  48  2
Franco, Maikel        KC   5 ABD 391  589 -198  -5   0   -5 | 442 222 15  61  50  0
Longoria, Evan        SF   5 CAB 405  178  227   9   0    9 | 505 260 22  75  64  3
Frazier, Todd        TEX   5 CBB 442  209  233   7  -1    8 | 430 249 20  71  68  3
Bohm, Alec           PHI   5 AFF 447  661 -214  -7  -1   -6 | 219 280 10  29  27  2
Lamb, Jacob          ARI  53 FCD 460  546  -86  -6  -2   -4 | 268 237 11  44  40  2
Moran, Colin         PIT   5 BCB 472  287  185   3  -2    5 | 506 263 16  71  50  0
Candelario, Jeimer   DET  53 CBB 516  554  -38  -5  -3   -2 | 330 240 11  44  45  2

Yoan Moncada (3B, CHW) is trending in the right direction overall, but his skills still underwhelm overall. A popular breakout pick in 2019, his output improved considerably, but there's nothing that stands out in his skill set, except perhaps a low rate of soft-hit balls (12% in 2019). As a result, (as Arik Florimonte pointed out in a recent Facts/Flukes), his unusually high hit rates (35% in 2018 and 41% in 2019) might not be that unusual. While he has only shown league-average power (103 xPX in 2019), his high hit rates might come from avoiding weak contact. However, he won't repeat his .315 BA from 2019 (xBA was .262) without further skills growth. He still has upside, as he's only 25, but with three of the next four guys by ADP easily projected for 30+ HR and decent BA, there's no reason to reach whatsoever.

So Yulieski Gurriel (3B/1B, HOU) hit a bunch of home runs in 2019. It must have been windy in Houston last year, because no matter how you slice the skills (xPX, exit velocity/launch angle), he was very lucky (13 xHR vs. 31 HR). Perhaps GMs are wary of the discrepancy and are pricing him down accordingly, but we suspect it's more just Boring Veteran Syndrome. Even without the homers, he has value as a guy with a high BA floor who will generate counting stats like Runs and RBI. His BaseballHQ projection already sees a bunch of HR regression; even if he only hits 15, he'll be a nice value in the 8th round or later.

It's hard to see why fantasy GMs are shying away from Justin Turner (3B, LA), except perhaps for his age (35). He put up a typical Turner season in 2019, and his production was right in line with what we would expect based on his skills. He may be more pressed for PT (while the Mookie Betts acquisition may have some effect, the Dodgers also traded away two OF, so it may not impact the overall allocation of AB), which is a possible concern. However, he's currently projected for 75% of the third-base AB, so we are hedging his PT a bit already. The earliest he's going is the 9th round. He's a clear bargain any time after that.

Brian Anderson (3B, MIA) had a nice growth year in 2019, getting to league-average power while maintaining a good contact rate (75%). His home park will limit his HR output some, but if his upward FB% trend continues (23%/29%35% from 2017-2019, though 2017 was a small sample), there's perhaps some upside. His skills fully support his 2019 production, so he's a relatively safe bet, especially at his 16th-round draft price.

Giovanny Urshela (3B, NYY) makes for an interesting juxtaposition with Anderson. While Anderson's 2019 looks like a nice progression by a young player, Urshela's came out of nowhere—he's never shown this kind of power at any level. Granted, his production is fully backed by his skills (which he maintained all season), but there's a chance he turns back into a pumpkin. BaseballHQ is currently projecting 60% PT (389 AB), so there is some room for PT upside there if he can maintain those skills, but the pumpkin still looms. At this ADP, Anderson is the safer pick (and with about as much upside).

Kyle Seager (3B, SEA) is another boring veteran, but his 2019 second half showed some potential upside for 2020. If you extrapolate his second half (always a risky proposition), you're looking at something like a .280 BA, 28 HR, and 175 R+RBI. Aside from the HR, BaseballHQ is projecting lower numbers that those, but his second half was well supported by skills (in fact, his .249 BA was considerably lower than his .288 xBA). It's not monster upside, but we're talking a 10-round difference between projection and ADP already, on a guy who has a very high floor.

Evan Longoria (3B, SF) and Todd Frazier (3B, TEX) are two more Boring Veterans, both easily acquired in the reserve round. They have similar projections: .250-ish BA with 20+ homers and the counting stats you'd expect of a 3/4-time to full-time hitter. Longoria is a bit safer pick, with a clear floor and little upside. Frazier has been a bit more volatile the past few years, but he does have some playing time upside. He's currently projected for 50% of the Rangers' 3B AB, but his competition is Isiah Kiner-Falefa (C/3B, TEX), who hits like a catcher, and Matt Duffy (3B, TEX), who has averaged 100 days a season on the IL the past four years. Both players are values as reserve or endgame picks, and Frazier could yield a bit more if the chips fall in his favor.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.