The Z Files: Hot Tracks at the Hot Corner

The Z Files: Hot Tracks at the Hot Corner

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

Eric Carmen

Jose RamirezSome 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.

Masterlock

Manny Machado2019 was transition year, fair to expect Orioles version less Camden Yards bump
Nolan ArenadoGetting a "could be traded out of Coors" discount
Anthony RendonDrop in production a function of pitcher-friendly Angels Stadium vs. hitter-friendly National Park
Alex BregmanNot Statcast favorite, but perfect for Minute Maid Park
DJ LeMahieuHits line drives in his sleep
Gio UrshelaTransferred excellent hand-eye coordination from field to batter's box
Matt ChapmanAssuming he'll be OK after hip surgery, batting average liability
Jean SeguraPerennially underrated
Justin TurnerStill solid between IL stints
Brian AndersonHurt by park but still useful
Kyle SeagerCurious to see if he runs with 2020 frequency
Yandy DiazWell, 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 DeversIt's anecdotal, but should benefit from the return of Alex Cora, offensively and defensively
Eugenio SuarezUnderlying metrics last season kinder than actual outcomes
Max MuncyUnlucky per Statcast, but there had to be another reason for such a severe skid
Kris BryantRebound? 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.

Upside

Cavan BiggioA little harder contact away from next level, plate skills bode well for it to happen
Yoan MoncadaCould also be in Wilt the Stilt, but also think there's still untapped potential
Austin RileyWouldn'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

Jeff McNeilLeMahieu-light
Tommy EdmanOffers rare speed from hot corner
David FletcherMcNeil-light
Ryan McMahonPerfect guy to insert for home games, three-position eligibility makes it easier
Andres GimenezCould be in The Future tier, but the ability to squeeze steals in at three spots is quite helpful
Joey WendleMore of a way to draft three reserves with one player
Marwin GonzalezSlotting in here because I'm not as warm and fuzzy about rebound
Luis UriasPlaying time crunch, more of a versatile reserve piece
Mike BrosseauBats 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. 

The Future

Alec BohmLove the plate discipline, could have been in One More Time group
Willi CastroRegular or super-utility?
Ke'Bryan HayesLooks like real deal
Edwin RiosWill the Dodgers bring back Justin Turner? Would benefit from NL DH
Carter KieboomShould get another chance to win job at hot corner
Josh Jung 
Nolan Jones 
Colton Welker 
Jonathan India 
Austin Martin 
Kody Hoese 
Nolan Gorman 

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. DavisConfident enough in his bat to put in Masterlock, but lacks track record
Jeimer CandelarioStarting to see power come through, scouts said it was there
Maikel FrancoWill be more comfortable when he gets full-time job
Isiah Kiner-FalefaGetting love for SB ability, but was only 8-for-13 last season
Yoshi TsutsugoGetting 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).

AARP

Eduardo EscobarOnly 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 DonaldsonSomeone still willing to pay for name brand
Asdrubal CabreraHard to imagine him finding starting job
Evan LongoriaMore of fantasy reserve at this point in career
Matt CarpenterNot sure even the DH in the NL can revitalize him

You Can Have 'em

Rio Ruiz
Travis Shaw
Jedd Gyorko
David Bote
Todd Frazier
Johan Camargo
Eric Sogard
Brock Holt
Jake Lamb
Brad Miller
Joe Panik

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.

RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
Beat Chris Liss 2
Beat Chris Liss 2
Fantasy Baseball Podcast: TGFBI, Jarred Kelenic and more!
Fantasy Baseball Podcast: TGFBI, Jarred Kelenic and more!
Spring Training Job Battles: Let the Competition Begin
Spring Training Job Battles: Let the Competition Begin
Farm Futures: AL Central: 148 Prospects You Need To Know
Farm Futures: AL Central: 148 Prospects You Need To Know
The Z Files: Changing Wins to Innings and Saves to Solds
The Z Files: Changing Wins to Innings and Saves to Solds
MLB: FSGA Champions League Draft Review
MLB: FSGA Champions League Draft Review