This season, the third base spot is one of the perceived weakest fantasy positions, forcing many to draft one as early as possible. Getting the position right could make the difference in how you finish since it could be a top-heavy group. That said, reaching for any position can be a risky move. Instead, let’s look at a few bargain third basemen and a couple of busts to avoid.
Unless otherwise mentioned, ADP listed is from 15-team leagues on NFBC since March 7, 2022.
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Justin Turner (152.68 ADP)
JT scares people because of his age. At 37 years old, when are the wheels going to fall off? It’s a valid question. Last season, at age-36, Turner tied career-highs in games played with 151 and home runs with 27. Yet, Turner hasn’t shown signs of slowing down, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are gearing up for another late October run. While losing Corey Seager to free agency, the Dodgers somehow managed to land Freddie Freeman. This lineup should be potent, and that’ll help Turner’s counting stats.
Outside of his barrel rate, everything else pops as above-average on his statcast page. Turner should give you a solid average, he doesn’t chase or strike out much, and his career-high launch angle last season, so the home runs should stick around, barring a significant decline in production due to age. Like Joey Votto, I think he has another year’s worth of quality play left in the tank. The auction calculators love him as a value, and so do I.
Stat line prediction: .281 AVG, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 78 R, 2 SB
Luis Urias (223.29 ADP since March 21)
Urias took a step forward last season. He hit career-high 23 homers in a team-high 570 plate appearances. Unfortunately, Urias won’t lead the team in plate appearances if he happens to miss the start of the season. Urias suffered a quad injury, and the report on March 20 was he’d be out at least two weeks, leaving him questionable for Opening Day. Keeping that in mind, I decided to use Urias’s ADP since March 21.
From March 1 to March 20 in 15-team leagues on NFBC, Urias was going on average at pick 154 as the 12th third baseman off the board. Since March 21, his ADP has fallen to around pick 223 as the 19th/20th third baseman. At this time, it’s unknown how much time Urias will miss. However, the Brewers didn’t sound overly concerned about the injury. Maybe, this is a spot we can find some value while the rest of the fantasy world attempts to avoid a landmine.
I believe in Urias’s power gains from a year ago. Watching videos of his swing from 2019 and comparing them to his swing in 2021, it’s clear Urias has changed his mechanics and stance quite a bit. In 2019, Urias had more of an open stance. Last season, he closed it up and added a slight backbend, resting the bat on his shoulder most of the time pre-pitch. I’m not a swing expert. The pre-pitch setup could be nothing. However, it seemed to simplify things, allowing him to kick his leg straight up and go rather than bringing his leg forward up and out. The backbend would sometimes get more exaggerated, but that could signify gained confidence and feel at the plate.
If Urias happens to only miss a short amount of time due to injury, I love him at the current price. As a placeholder for Urias in deep leagues, Mike Brosseau isn’t a lousy option late in drafts. He should be the top option to fill in at third base for Milwaukee.
Stat line prediction: .255 AVG, 21 HR, 68 RBI, 70 R, 4 SB
Jeimer Candelario (225 ADP)
Candy has put together two straight, consistent under-the-radar seasons. In the 2020 COVID-shortened year, he hit .297 with a .872 OPS and 137 OPS+. Last year, he hit .271 with 16 home runs and a league-leading 42 doubles. The homers could be better, but those are solid numbers when you consider he plays half of his games at a pitcher-friendly park in Detroit.
His expected numbers have been consistent as well. Although his hard-hit rate decreased, his xBA went from .277 to .278 and xwOBA from .356 to .357. He should be fourth or fifth in Detroit’s lineup. On paper, it’s not the best lineup in the league, but with the emergence of Akil Baddoo at the top and the addition of Javier Baez, it could be much worse. Candelario won’t single-handedly win you a league, but he’s setting up to be a good batting average stabilizer who could chip in some homers and RBIs.
Since Candelario and Urias are so close in ADP now, I’ll grab whichever falls further or both on the right team.
Stat line prediction: .273 AVG, 17 HR, 74 RBI, 73 R, 1 SB
Adalberto Mondesi (58.85 ADP)
If you follow Mondesi’s stats, it’s easy to see why people get enamored with the possibilities of a monster season. Last season, Mondesi stole 15 bases in 35 games played. That alone helped fantasy owners in roto leagues. Mondesi played all but one game and led the league in steals with 24 in 59 games. Since entering the league in 2016, he has failed to play more than 102 games in a single season due to injuries. We won’t count 2020 against him.
Nonetheless, his on-base skills are terrible, he strikes out way too often (31.6 percent last year), and he’s a batting average drainer. Bobby Witt, Whit Merrifield, and Nicky Lopez need to be in the lineup. If Mondesi doesn’t improve outside of stealing bases, he could be out of a job. Add in the injury risk factor, and he’s a stay away for me. I get the appeal and the upside. Mondesi could easily steal over 60 bases if healthy for an entire season. Be that as it may, I’d instead not take the chance and find speed elsewhere. Third and fourth-round picks are too costly.
Stat line prediction: .233 AVG, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 60 R, 37 SB
Matt Chapman (180.83 ADP)
Chapman’s put up decent home run numbers at the Coliseum in Oakland, which isn’t the best park for hitters. That said, and you’ll hear this from me a lot, rostering hitters capable of hitting near the Mendoza line isn’t my thing. Everyone is capable of doing it because the game is so unpredictable, but Chapman’s chances of it being a reality are more significant than most.
His highest batting average set in 2018 was .278. Since then, he’s progressively gotten worse. In 2019, he hit .249. In 2020, he hit .232. And last year, he hit .210. Chapman should help the Toronto Blue Jays tremendously, handling the hot corner at third base on the defensive side of things. However, he’s only a three-category contributor on offense.
While he had the lowest average of his career last year, he did have a low chase rate and the highest walk rate of his career. Does that mean there’s potential for an upswing in performance? Possibly, but when you look at his third percentile strikeout rate, expected batting average, and eighth percentile whiff rate, the bounce-back season is wishful thinking. Not to mention, he’s missing a lot of in-zone pitches with only a 72.4 percent in-zone contact rate. Please stay away from Chapman unless he falls a few rounds.
Stat line prediction: .221 AVG, 31 HR, 82 RBI, 85 R, 2 SB
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