This article is part of our The Z Files series.
Welcome to the next installment of "Tiers of a Clown," a unique method of envisioning positional tiers beyond the standard means of using a drop in quality to delineate one tier from the next. To quickly review, the players are classified by a common trait and then loosely ranked by potential production within each classification. Each group is purely subjective, designed to help the drafter look past a static projection and put a premium on roster construction.
Here is what has been covered thus far:
As has been the pattern, a general overview of the position will be presented, then the different third base groupings will be introduced, followed by the players with individual and group commentary. In general, the groups are presented in arbitrary order, though in this case, the top and bottom sets are indeed at the top and bottom of standard rankings.
For many years, third base was a spot to help the power categories, hopefully without damaging batting average. Most corner infielders came from the first basemen. Now, you can get a smorgasbord of contributions, though speed is light. There's even a supply of third basemen who also qualify at second or shortstop. For many years, there were a handful of third basemen eligible at first or outfield, but rarely in the middle.
Two things stood out after identifying the tiers. First, there is a healthy supply of low-risk players throughout the ranks. One of the tenets of a strong roster build is a balance of floor and ceiling. Erecting part of a stable foundation from third base frees you to pursue upside picks at other spots.
That said, there are some potential breakouts at the hot corner. The other intriguing aspect is a decent number of prospects, some who have already had a taste of the bigs while others are knocking at the door. The prospect tier will run deeper than what's likely to be targeted in a redraft, but keeper and especially first- and second-year dynasty players can take heed to help set their "win now or play for the future" strategy.
Third Base Tiers
- Eric Carmen: All By Myself
- Masterlock: Reliable and durable
- Wilt the Stilt: Big rebounds expected
- Upside: Breakout potential
- Me, Myself and I: Three-position eligibility
- The Future: Prospects, rookies and sophomores
- One More Time: Promising but limited track record
- AARP: Older, but potentially useful
- You Can Have 'em: Recognizable names but no interest
|Jose Ramirez||Some still scared off by some prolonged slumps. Don't be, take discount to the bank|
Be it formulaic projections or touch and feel, some of 2019 will be influencing Ramirez's rank. He started out frigid, then was ablaze through the middle months before cooling down again. However, there's indications he was snake-bit early and fortunate during his heater. Focusing on the skills paints a more optimistic picture. Ramirez is a first rounder, with top-five upside.
|Manny Machado||2019 was transition year, fair to expect Orioles version less Camden Yards bump|
|Nolan Arenado||Getting a "could be traded out of Coors" discount|
|Anthony Rendon||Drop in production a function of pitcher-friendly Angels Stadium vs. hitter-friendly National Park|
|Alex Bregman||Not Statcast favorite, but perfect for Minute Maid Park|
|DJ LeMahieu||Hits line drives in his sleep|
|Gio Urshela||Transferred excellent hand-eye coordination from field to batter's box|
|Matt Chapman||Assuming he'll be OK after hip surgery, batting average liability|
|Jean Segura||Perennially underrated|
|Justin Turner||Still solid between IL stints|
|Brian Anderson||Hurt by park but still useful|
|Kyle Seager||Curious to see if he runs with 2020 frequency|
|Yandy Diaz||Well, he sort of elevated the ball more|
While there aren't quite enough in this group for everyone in a 15-team league to draft someone, it's close. The talent ranges from early rounds to near the end game, but the depth of this subset essentially eliminates the need to reach for a third baseman lest you be shut out. It will come as no surprise I'd like at least one from this classification at third or corner infield.
Wilt the Stilt
|Rafael Devers||It's anecdotal, but should benefit from the return of Alex Cora, offensively and defensively|
|Eugenio Suarez||Underlying metrics last season kinder than actual outcomes|
|Max Muncy||Unlucky per Statcast, but there had to be another reason for such a severe skid|
|Kris Bryant||Rebound? Yes, but I'm less optimistic about extent than others|
What can I say, I grew up watching basketball in the 70's and 80's. I'm very willing to take the small discount on Devers and Suarez, confident both will rebound to pre-2020 levels. I need a pretty steep discount on Muncy and Bryant as I'm less convinced they'll revert all the way to prior performances.
|Cavan Biggio||A little harder contact away from next level, plate skills bode well for it to happen|
|Yoan Moncada||Could also be in Wilt the Stilt, but also think there's still untapped potential|
|Austin Riley||Wouldn't be first time a 24-year-old improved plate patience and contact skills|
The key is not paying for the breakout, which means the market can't be as keen on it happening. Biggio's steals keep his price high, but Moncada's 2020 struggles, even if they were COVID-19 induced, are lowering the price to where it's a buying opportunity.
Me, Myself and I
|Tommy Edman||Offers rare speed from hot corner|
|Ryan McMahon||Perfect guy to insert for home games, three-position eligibility makes it easier|
|Andres Gimenez||Could be in The Future tier, but the ability to squeeze steals in at three spots is quite helpful|
|Joey Wendle||More of a way to draft three reserves with one player|
|Marwin Gonzalez||Slotting in here because I'm not as warm and fuzzy about rebound|
|Luis Urias||Playing time crunch, more of a versatile reserve piece|
|Mike Brosseau||Bats from wrong side for Strat-O-Matic Rays|
McNeil and Edman offer non-typical production for a third baseman. This obviously isn't a reason to avoid them, but the main reason I'll draft them is for the position eligibility. McNeil offers batting average, while Edman runs. The issue is some multi-eligibility guys are less useful in some formats, but there is always someone willing to pay for the flexibility then be unable to take full advantage.
|Alec Bohm||Love the plate discipline, could have been in One More Time group|
|Willi Castro||Regular or super-utility?|
|Ke'Bryan Hayes||Looks like real deal|
|Edwin Rios||Will the Dodgers bring back Justin Turner? Would benefit from NL DH|
|Carter Kieboom||Should get another chance to win job at hot corner|
The future is now for Bohm, Hayes and Rios. The bottom seven aren't assured of debuting this season but are being drafted in the NFBC Draft Championships. Yeah, I don't get why either.
One More Time
|J.D. Davis||Confident enough in his bat to put in Masterlock, but lacks track record|
|Jeimer Candelario||Starting to see power come through, scouts said it was there|
|Maikel Franco||Will be more comfortable when he gets full-time job|
|Isiah Kiner-Falefa||Getting love for SB ability, but was only 8-for-13 last season|
|Yoshi Tsutsugo||Getting mulligan, transition already tough but even harder during pandemic|
Once again, risk means a discount is needed. It's there for everyone but Kiner-Falefa. It's as if drafters want to show they're smart for knowing he's going to play shortstop and run (which he will and may do).
|Eduardo Escobar||Only 31, seems older, but I'm too lazy to change to Wilt the Stilt. This is more about possible loss in playing time anyway|
|Josh Donaldson||Someone still willing to pay for name brand|
|Asdrubal Cabrera||Hard to imagine him finding starting job|
|Evan Longoria||More of fantasy reserve at this point in career|
|Matt Carpenter||Not sure even the DH in the NL can revitalize him|
You Can Have 'em
As has been the case with the other positions, here are some recognizable players who won't be on my roster. Identifying them and tracking if any get drafted help lengthen the pool for the end game.
Third base is in the books. Did I miss someone? Is there a classification you like better? Let's talk about it.