2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Five No. 1 contenders for third base, featuring big power from Miguel Sano
Bargain third basemen who could become No. 1 at the position for 2021? Here are five candidates.
When you're looking for stars on Draft Day, third base is one of the best places to turn. You'll see the likes of Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Anthony Rendon, Jose Ramirez and Rafael Devers all potentially go off the board in the first two rounds of a 12-team draft, with as many as 16 players taken within the top-100.
But there's still upside even beyond that. We're continuing our search for No. 1 contenders at each position with third base, and the highest ranked player in this group isn't being drafted until 124th overall, on average. The rest of the list are 179th or later. If first base is, third has taken its place as the home for both superstars and potential late-round studs.
I'm not necessarily saying you want to wait at third base to grab these guys, but with the kind of upside that is available late, you'll want to make sure you can snag multiple players. Hey, that's why we invented the Utility spot, right?
Miguel Sano 3B
MIN Minnesota • #22 • Age: 26
Sano featured in this column for first base, too, so I guess you could say I'm excited about him. Sure, he strikes out too much and gets hurt all of the time. He was so bad in 2018 he was sent to the minors. I know all of those things, and so does everyone else. It's why he's being drafted where he is when he was nearly a good as Joey Gallo last season. Sano has top-of-the-chart power, and has consistently run high BABIPs in his career, to the point where his average typically isn't as much of a drain as his strikeout rate would make you think. Sano is one of maybe five players with legitimate 50-homer upside, and he's going to hit in the heart of one of the best orders in baseball. Pete Alonso's 2019 is well within his reach.
KC Kansas City • #17 • Age: 28
Dozier hasn't been much of a base stealer, but he showed off his above-average speed (80th percentile in sprint speed, per Statcast) with his AL-leading 10 triples in 2019. Now, Dozier is talking about stealing more bases in 2020, and that's what has me excited. Dozier was a delayed breakout in 2019, and his batted-ball metrics back up a lot of the gains he made. If he can sustain the contact improvements while hitting for 30 homers and can manage to steal, say, 10 bases, that profile doesn't look that different from what Marcus Semien did last season when he was a top-20 player. I'm not saying that's a likely outcome, mind you, but it's not inconceivable.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #41 • Age: 25
We saw what the upside was with Andujar: He was a top-40 player in 2018, ranking just behind Anthony Rendon at third base. He isn't technically third-base eligible for 2020, but he'll get it before long, along with outfield and first base, in all likelihood, as the Yankees move him around the field trying to get his bat in the lineup. Assuming he's back to full strength from his shoulder injury, Andujar is a 25-year-old with a track record of high-level success in the majors, playing in a great lineup and park, going late in drafts. I wasn't on him this time a year ago, but there's still a lot to like about Andujar, especially at his current price.
STL St. Louis • #13 • Age: 34
Here's the question: Did Matt Carpenter just lose it all last year? He followed up his best season in 2018 with his worst, and it really came out of nowhere. Even before 2018, he consistently posted elite peripherals that suggested he should be better than he was. That came to an end in 2019 in dramatic fashion, and this time around, the underlying numbers don't really provide much reason for optimism. So, if last year really was the end of the line for the 34-year-old Carpenter, it wouldn't be a surprise. However, he wouldn't be the first player in his 30s to struggle through a down year and then bounce back. At his price, it's worth paying for the chance that Carpenter still has something left in the tank, especially in a points league.
Austin Riley LF
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 22
We saw the good and the bad in Riley's profile last season; he was an unstoppable monster, hitting 12 homers in his first 34 games; he hit .164 with a 41.4% strikeout rate in the next 46 games. Riley's always had some swing-and-miss to his game, but his strikeout rate was a much more manageable 25.8% in Triple-A. If he can get to that level again, he's another player where something just south of Pete Alonso's rookie season isn't out of the question. It's a lot to ask, but Riley had a top-25 barrel per batted-ball rate, with a higher hard-hit rate than Alonso. The skills are there if he figures out how to put them into play. If Riley wins the third base job out of spring training, expect him to soar up draft boards, for good reason.
So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.
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