Four third-basemen are being drafted in the first 11 picks of NFBC drafts. The position also offers some decent value between #70-150.

The Elite Tier

Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado are both deservedly in the top 5 overall. Bryant lowered his strikeout percentage from 30.6% in 2015 to 22% in 2016. As his patience grew, he raised his OBP (.385) and ISO (.262). He drove the ball more with more authority, as seen in his 23.7% LD% and and 40.3% HARD%. (See his launch angle chart on LD and FB)



Last season, Bryant hit 22 HR on the road with 61 RBI, and he hit 17 HR at Wrigley Field with 41 RBI. Even though Steamer's projections of 32 HR and 94 RBI could be low, he should provide a nice foundation to one's roster. 

Nolan Arenado is in the same category as Bryant. His ability to draw more walks (9.8%) helped raise his OBP from .323 in 2015 to .362 last year. Even as his HR/FB fell (16.8%), he hit more fly balls (46.7%) while keeping his hard contact (37.9%) consistent. Arenado hit 25 HR in 311 AB at Coors Field and 16 HR in 307 AB on the road. With plenty of home games at Coors Field, owners should place confidence in Arenado as a top-five pick that can produce another 35 HR/100 RBI season.

Owners are taking Manny Machado a few picks (8.18) later. The Orioles stopped running as a team last year, as seen in Machado's lack of stolen bases. While he hit more home runs (37) in 2016, he became more impatient (6.9% BB% and 17.2% K%), which hurt his .343 OBP. While Camden Yards is a hitters park, Machado hit just as many home runs (19) on the road in 2016. Like the two other elite options. he hits the ball in the air (42.7% FB%) frequently, and he elevated his hard contact rate (35.4%) last season. Owners can expect his power potential to stay close to Steamer's projections of 33 HR and 101 RBI because Machado's average fly-ball distance (313.38') was the tenth best in MLB last season. 

Josh Donaldson posted an elite OBP (.404) as he drew more walks (15.6%) in 2016. His hard contact rate (40.4%) and home park environment should lead to another 20 HR at the Rogers Centre. Donaldson hit 21 HR at home last season and 24 HR at home in 2015. His consistency and value at the end of the first round will provide a team with plenty of options later in the draft, and Steamer sees Donaldson hitting 31 HR and driving in 93 runs in 2017, which could also be on the low side. 

The Second Tier

For those owners that wait to draft a third baseman, the second tier provides strong value. Kyle Seager had his third consecutive 25+ HR season, and he increased his walk rate (10.2%) to post a .359 OBP. His hard contact (38.7%) moved closer to his 2014 rate (37.8%). For the second consecutive year, Seager hit more HR (19) away from Safeco Field, and his road HR/FB (18.3%) was higher than his home HR/FB (10.9%) for the second straight year. Seager has the power to match his 24 HR and 82 RBI projection.

Matt Carpenter and Todd Frazier are going near the 4/5 turn. With health, Carpenter offers value with his flexible positional eligibility in 2017, and his peripheral numbers (41.9% HARD%, 43.2% FB% and 26.2% LD%) reveal his strong skills. A year at first base and health could keep him in the lineup more often. His career .376 OBP will play well in OBP leagues, and Steamer's projection of 18 HR and 68 RBI could be conservative.

Fantasy Baseball 3B Rankings

More strikeouts (24.5%) did not stop Todd Frazier from posting his first 40 HR season. Owners can expect a slight batting average bump because his .236 BABIP was below his career .278 BABIP, even though we can expect players with fly-ball tilts (48.7%) to have a lower BABIP. There are some warning signs, as Frazier hit fewer line drives (15.7%) and his hard contact (31.3%) dropped. Steamer's prediction of regression with 29 HR, 87 RBI, and 12 SB for Frazier could be close. 

Adrian Beltre is the value pick of this group because he continues to produce consistent seasons. His 32 HR from last year mirrors his 2011-2013 statistics. He traded some line drives (17.7%) for some fly balls (42.1%) as he increased his hard contact to 35.6%. Even with help from his home park, Beltre hit more home runs (18) on the road in 2016, and his 16.4% road HR/FB was higher than his home HR/FB. Steamer sees a season closer to his 2014-15 production with 21 HR and 84 RBI, but a 25-28 HR season with 90 RBI could return a nice profit.

Sixth-Seventh Round Options

Alex Bregman's NFBC stock has fallen slightly in the last month, but owners are still selecting him in the sixth round. In his first 217 PA, he struck out often (24%), but he drove the ball (28.2% LD%) well. He hit well at AA (14 HR in 285 PA), but Steamer sees a decent season instead of a breakout season. While his value in keeper leagues is tremendous, a projection of 19 HR and 73 RBI could disappoint owners that pay a sixth-round price tag. 

Steamer also predicts a similar season (18 HR and 72 RBI) for Anthony Rendon. His walk numbers (10%) and strikeout percentage (18.1) remained consistent with his career numbers. Steamer projects a dip in SB (9), and he was successful on 12 out of 18 SB attempts in 2016. Rendon did produce a .180 ISO, and he hit more fly balls (43.8%) last year.

Second to None - 2B Value

Those owners that need some speed at 3B can call on Jose Ramirez. He will not produce the power numbers of Rendon and Bregman, but a projection of 11 HR, 20 SB, and 65 RBI could help teams. He makes consistent contact (88.8%) and he hit more line drives (22.8%) while a one-hundred point BABIP (.232 to .333) swing helped him reach a .363 OBP in a strong lineup. 

Evan Longoria increased his home run total (36) with more fly balls (46.8%) and harder contact (36.3%). His 15.5% HR/FB falls closely to his career 14.9% HR/FB. Even though his strikeout rate (21%) has remained steady, four healthy years have led to an average of 27.75 HR/year. His power numbers over that time span mirror Steamer's projection 26 HR and 87 RBI could provide good value at pick #105. 

Some Upside and a Dodger

Javier Baez and Maikel Franco offer tantalizing upside at the 7/8 turn. Baez did not draw many walks (3.3%) in 2016, and he hit fewer line drives (19.5%). Even though he hit more fly balls (36.4%), his hard contact fell to 29.1%. How many AB's will Baez accumulate in a crowded lineup? Steamer projects 447 PA with 17 HR, 59 RBI, and 10 SB. 

Maikel Franco will see consistent playing time in Philadelphia. Franco hit 18 HR in the first half of 2016 when his 18.2% HR/FB was higher than his 9.9% HR/FB in the second half. His ground ball tilt (44.5%) does not scare Steamer away from projecting him to hit 26 HR with 83 RBI. His average fly ball distance of 289.12' (104th) placed him in the middle of MLB, and more line drives (23% in the second half) would help his progress.

The Dodgers resigned Justin Turner after he hit 27 HR last year. While his line drive numbers (23.9%) dropped, he hit more fly balls (40%) and made hard contact 37.6% of the time. Even with some improvements and consistent contact (84%), Steamer predicts 19 HR, 70 R, and 73 RBI for Tuner.

A sub-par second half (.197 with 9 HR and 30 RBI) is depressing Jake Lamb's price. His hard contact dropped (from 41.9% to 36.2%) after an injury, but Lamb's average fly ball distance (302.81'-31st), .260 ISO, and 20 HR in the first half illustrate his power potential. While Steamer calls for 20 HR and 71 RBI, he could produce more with health.

CI Options

After stealing 34 bases in 2016, Hernan  Perez helped fantasy teams win championships. Instead of relying upon walks (4.2%) to get on base (.302), ground balls (43.5%) and his speed helped him reach safely. His 23.5% hr/f in July and 17.1% hr/f in August accounted for 10 of his 13 home runs. The speed (18-20 SB) will help teams, but his low OBP and limited power (8 HR) will limit his upside. 

Ryon Healy hit 13 HR in the second half for Oakland. According to BaseballSavant.com, he averaged 404 feet/HR, and he made hard contact 30% of the time. With Trevor Plouffe in Oakland, Healy may lose some AB's. Steamer calls for 17 HR with 69 RBI. 

An ACL injury limited Mike Moustakas to 104 AB last year just as fantasy owners were banking on more growth from his 22 HR and 82 RBI season in 2015. Steamer projects close to the same numbers (23 HR and 73 RBI) as 2015, which could provide decent value in the 13th round. 

Like Moustakas, an injury to Nick Castellanos cost him some valuable playing time after his strong first half. He hit 17 HR with 51 RBI in the first half, which his skills (37% HARD% and 43% FB%) supported. According to BaseballSavant.com, he finished 15th in Barrels/PA (8.3%), and he his average HR distance was 400'. As expected, he lost power (30.5% HARD% and 1 HR) after he fractured his hand. Even though he was on the verge of a breakout, Steamer predicts 17 HR and 64 RBI from Castellanos in 2017. 

Nick  Castellanos Launch Ball Breakdown


More CI Options 

When will the White Sox call up Moncada? He stole 45 bases in A and AA ball last year, and he continued to draw walks (13%) in AA. Even though he is a top prospect and a strong keeper, the projection of 5 HR with 12 SB may not be enough value for a 15th round pick in an NFBC redraft league. 

Jung Ho Kang provides more value in 2017. He hit 21 HR and drove in 62 runs in 2016 as he elevated his hard contact (39.4%) and his fly ball (37.3%) rate. As he drew more walks (13.1%) in the second half, he boosted his OBP from .326 to .383. With continued patience and hard contact, Kang could surpass Steamer's projection of 19 HR and 68 RBI. Make sure to check Kang's off-field troubles (DUI and domestic violence) in the next few weeks, which may cut into his playing time. 

Yulieski Gurriel and Eugenio Suarez are being drafted in the 17th round. Gurriel made contact (84%) consistently, and he hit 3 HR in 137 PA for Houston. Steamer's prediction of 12 HR with 55 RBI could have owners looking elsewhere for CI power. Suarez could offer more power than Gurriel if he can match his 21 HR, 70 RBI, and 11 SB from 2016. He increased his hard contact (34.9%) and had a good launch angle on his FB. 

Eugenio  Suarez Launch Angle Breakdown


If he continues to create hard contact, he could reach Steamer's projection of 17 HR with 64 RBI and 8 SB. 

Recap

The elite options in the first round will provide a strong foundation in HR and RBI for fantasy teams. Those owners that wait until the second tier can find good value in Kyle Seager and Adrian Beltre. If Matt Carpenter's stock drops to the #90-100 range, he could offer decent value with positional flexibility. Evan Longoria's power should also offer good value at #105, and some of my teams will take a chance on shares of Maikel Franco at 3B and Nick Castellanos (check power/injury) at CI.

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