Often times in fantasy baseball we focus too much on the top of drafts. Who should I take in the first round? At what point of the draft do I take my first pitcher? Those questions are the type I receive on a daily basis. While those questions must be asked, the fact of the matter is that most drafts aren’t won in the first five rounds. In my humble opinion, the way you win a draft is to be smart with trades, to work the waiver-wire aggressively, and to pay very close attention as the draft starts to move past the early rounds when everyone has started to exhaust their team building strategies. This is the point of the draft you can get players on the cheap – think Edwin Encarnacion and Chase Headley last year – that end up helping lead you to a championship. With that in mind, I thought I would touch on bunch of third baseman who according to ADP from the NFBC are all being taken well after the top-100 players go off the board.
Pedro Alvarez (184th overall ADP) can mash the baseball. The issue is why did it take him so long to arrive at the big league level? The #2 pick in 2008, everyone always thought he would be a power hitter of impressive production at the big league level. Pedro hit 16 homers with 64 RBIs as a rookie in 95 games before hitting .191 with four homers over 74 contests in 2011 causing that position to be brought into question. Facing a make or break season last year he went deep 30 times with 85 RBIs. The power is legit and totally repeatable. However, he struck out 180 times leading to a .244 batting average. That may be all we get from him. Think Adam Dunn like power and game. Now he just needs to flash the year-to-year consistency of Dunn which is no small task.
Todd Frazier (163rd) was a very solid producer for the Reds last season as he hit .273 with 19 homers and 67 RBIs in just 422 at-bats. Give him 550 at-bats at that level and we’d be looking at a .273-25-87 season. That will certainly play in any league. Can he get there this season? He’s got the hot corner job in Cincy, but he struggled last year at times with contact, his 103 Ks aren’t exactly an encouraging number, and the result was a poor 0.35 K/BB ratio. Toss in an unlikely to be repeated 22.4 percent line drive rate, and it would seem that his batting average isn’t likely to go up but could go down. I don’t think adding Frazier is a “winning” move, he’s not gonna bust out and go bonkers, but solid across the board production at a decent price seems eminently doable.
Will Middlebrooks‘ (115) name always triggers the following thought in my mind – Danger Will Robinson (that phrase is from Lost in Space). You might be thinking ‘Ray must be really concerned about Will’s wrist.’ Sure it’s an issue (he had a minor setback in spring when some scar tissue broke loose). However, my real concern is expectations. Middlebrooks hit 15 homers with 54 RBIs last season in 75 games. Some people seem to think we’ve got Ryan Zimmerman on our hands now after just 267 big league at-bats for Will. I disagree. Will had an elevated .335 BABIP. He had an extremely elevated 21.4 percent HR/F ratio. If those two numbers come down just a bit we could be looking at a .270 hitter with 20 homers over 500 at-bats. Moreover, Middlebrooks walked 13 times in 75 games. That’s almost impossible to do. Because he struck out 70 times his BB/K ratio is 0.19 which is hideous (it’s less than half the big league average). You can’t hit .300 with a mark like that (he batted .288 last season). Don’t buy all the hype.
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Mike Moustakas (183) had 20 homers, 73 RBIs and 69 runs scored in his first full season. All of that is solid work. However, he hit .242, had an unsightly .296 OBP, batted just .205 on the road with a .624 OPS and hit .211 with a .586 OPS over his final 70 games last season. Moose has the pedigree to do much better than that, but there are holes that need to be rectified before we see a finished product. Some slight improvement is all that is needed for him to be a solid run producing option at third base. He might want to start with learning to take a walk (he had 39 in 149 games last season).
Trevor Plouffe (257) bashed 24 homers in 422 at-bats last season, and the power is real. However, the guy had a .691 OPS against righties (298 at-bats), he had a .655 OPS on the road, batted just .223 in night games (79 contests), and hit .212 with a .619 OPS over his final 53 games. Adam Dunn Jr. is what we got here. Plouffe has legit 30 homer pop if the Twins give him the at-bats, but there are major concerns. The last two years he had four steals but has been caught stealing six times. He ain’t gonna help there. He owns a .213 career batting average. He ain’t gonna help there either. He rarely walks and his high strikeout total lands him with a 0.35 career BB/K mark. He’s also the owner of a mere .256 BABIP, than in part to his fly ball tendencies. Big power can be had with Plouffe, but he’s going to be a burden to your team’s batting average.
* Don’t forget to pick up your copy of the 2013 BaseballGuys Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is now available. Nearly 150 pages of insight to help you dominate the competition in 2013.
By Ray Flowers