Similar to overall depth of the catcher position, there’s a noticeable drop-off at a certain point relatively early in fantasy baseball drafts after the top third base options at the position come off the board. The likes of José Ramírez, Austin Riley, Rafael Devers, Austin Riley, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado and Bobby Witt Jr. Alex Bregman, Gunnar Henderson and perhaps Max Muncy are also worth looks relatively early on in drafts.
The drop-off after that group could potentially lead to fantasy managers reaching for third baseman at certain points in the draft if they missed out on some of the top options.
And while finding undervalued third basemen later in drafts is another story for another day, there are a few players at the position to avoid drafting in and around their current ADPs.
These are five of those catchers.
*All NFBC data via NFBC.
Brandon Drury – 187.54 ADP*
Drury thrived early in the season last year in a decidedly hitter-friendly ballpark in Cincinnati, crushing 20 home runs to go along with a .274 average, a .335 on-base percentage, and a pair of stolen bases in 385 plate appearances for the Reds. It was the start of a career and breakout year for the infielder, who also played a variety of positions across the field, providing the Reds and fantasy managers alike with some crucial versatility and positional flexibility.
However, that was all prior to the trade deadline.
Drury was traded to the San Diego Padres at the deadline, where he wasn’t quite as productive. Moving to a decidedly more pitcher-friendly park may have had something to do with that, but it was hardly an ideal situation for the infielder.
The good news, at least from a fantasy standpoint, is that Drury is no longer in San Diego. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason.
And while the switch in ballparks looks good on paper— Angel Stadium ranks fourth in the league in overall park factor and park factor for home runs in the last three seasons per Statcast — there are still some things to be concerned about fantasy-wise.
First and foremost, of Drury’s 29 home runs last season, he would’ve only had an expected home run metric of 23 at Angel Stadium.
He’ll also likely be hitting further down the lineup with the Angels. A staple near the top of the Reds lineup early in the year and a fixture in the middle of San Diego’s batting order after the trade, sixth or seventh seems like the best-case scenario for the infielder in a Los Angeles lineup that is also set to include the likes of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Taylor Ward, Anthony Rendon, Hunter Renfroe, and Jared Walsh. If Logan O’Hoppe breaks out as a rookie it could, speculatively speaking, push Drury even further down the lineup.
He’s still going to bring versatility for fantasy managers, however, his placement in the Angels’ lineup will likely hurt his ceiling where counting stats are concerned. Lineup placement or no, regression seems likely in terms of home runs as well. Drury’s overall expected home run metric was 24.9 last season, a stark comparison to his actual 29 home runs.
A potential dip in home runs and counting stats make him someone to avoid at his current ADP, even with his positional versatility.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – 171.57 ADP*
Many of Hayes’ contact metrics from last season were excellent.
A decidedly above-average hard-hit rate? He had that at 46.8%.
A high average exit velocity? Yep, that was also true of Hayes, who finished with a 91 MPH average exit velocity that finished in the 85th percentile league-wide.
A high max exit velocity? The third baseman had that too, with a 113 MPH metric that checked in in the 89th percentile.
The 26-year-old also posted solid strikeout metrics, with a 21.8% strikeout rate and a 20.7% whiff rate.
Generally speaking, players who hit the ball that hard on a regular basis with that much contact have impact fantasy potential. Hayes does, but many of those hard-hit balls end up on the ground.
Last season, among 130 qualified hitters, only 16 had a higher ground ball rate than Hayes’ 49.4% metric. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in part due to that metric, the infielder finished with just a .294 wOBA and a .303 xwOBA.
If he can hit the ball in the air more, Hayes will certainly be someone to draft around his current ADP. In fact, he would be a steal in drafts if his power output improves considering his ability to rack up stolen bases.
The former first-round pick stole 20 bases last season to go along with a .244 average, a .314 on-base percentage, and seven home runs in 560 plate appearances. With stolen base numbers potentially set to increase this season due in part to larger bases, Hayes’ stolen base numbers could rise even more so.
Still, he’s just collecting too many grounders, not to mention not enough barrels. Hayes logged a 3.9% barrel rate that was higher than just 12 qualified batters.
Given the nature of the depth at third base league-wide, fantasy managers are probably better off looking elsewhere for a third base option unless the rest of their team is stacked with power hitters and RBI threats.
Hayes could be worth a look as a backup third base option later in the draft for fantasy managers who select an elite option in an early round given his upside, but he probably shouldn’t be relied on as a fantasy team’s primary third baseman unless he can hit the ball in the air more.
Eugenio Suárez– 152.54 ADP*
Suarez had a strong first season in Seattle doing what he does best, connecting on home runs and driving in runs.
The 31-year-old hit .236 with a .332 on-base percentage, 31 home runs, and 87 RBI in 629 plate appearances for the American League West franchise, bouncing back from a decidedly down year in his last season with the Reds in 2021 in the process.
In terms of home runs, those should continue in bunches for Suarez, at least if his barrels continue as they have for the last four seasons.
However, Suarez’s 87 RBI, which were the most he’s logged in a season since the 2019 campaign, might not be as plentiful during the 2023 season.
Of course, Suarez’s RBI chances won’t dry up completely. He still seems likely to hit near the middle of Seattle’s lineup. However, with new additions Kolten Wong and Teoscar Hernández settling into the top half of the lineup – at least so far in Spring Training – the veteran third baseman may find himself hitting a bit further down in manager Scott Seravis’ batting order.
A breakout season by Jarred Kelenic at the plate could push the former Tigers and Reds player further down the lineup.
In short, the home runs are still good, but fantasy managers probably shouldn’t go into drafts and this season expecting a repeat performance in RBI from the Mariners’ starting third baseman. With Suarez’s current ADP, selecting someone like Max Muncy a few rounds earlier or waiting to take Jordan Walker or Justin Turner later in drafts might be the more prudent move.
Jose Miranda – 152.39 ADP*
The Minnesota Twins infield will look decidedly different next season. While Carlos Correa is back with the club, Luis Arraez and Gio Urshela were traded while Miguel Sanó became a free agent. The moves should, in theory, open up regular plate appearances for Jose Miranda.
Miranda hit .268 with a .751 OPS, 15 home runs, 66 RBI, and a stolen base in 483 plate appearances last season.
And while the third baseman does things well – an 18.8% strikeout rate, a 42.4% hard-hit rate, and regular plate appearances near the middle of a lineup usually work well fantasy-wise – he’s probably someone to consider later in drafts after the likes of Alec Bohm, Ryan McMahon, Jordan Walker and Isaac Paredes, all of whom have lower ADPs than the Minnesota third baseman.
While the hard-hit rate was promising, some of Miranda’s other contact metrics weren’t ideal as managed just a 6.2% barrel rate and his xwOBA (.317) finished below his actual wOBA (.329). In fairness, Miranda was in his debut season in the Majors, but his current ADP has him being selected ahead of the likes of Dustin May, Chris Sale, Javier Báez, Pablo López, Brandon Nimmo, and Lars Nootbaar.
The lack of overall depth at third base might have something to do with the ADP, but if Miranda’s quality of contact metrics continue, fantasy managers are probably better off looking elsewhere.
Josh Rojas – 152.39 ADP*
There was plenty to like about Josh Rojas‘ production last year.
He got on base plenty, with a 10.8% walk rate in part to thank for a .349 on-base percentage. And when he did get on base, Rojas was a stolen base threat, with 23 stolen bases in 125 games (510 plate appearances) last season. The infielder also tacked on nine home runs while striking out at the lowest rate of his career (19.2%).
And, as an added bonus for fantasy managers, he saw significant time at both third base and second base, solidifying his multi-position versatility.
But even with that versatility, it’s fair to wonder if Rojas will get as consistent of a role this time around in 2023.
The former Astros prospect faces significant competition at both of his primary positions this season, with Ketel Marte still with the team at second base, and new signing Evan Longoria entering the mix at third base. Rojas has played the outfield corners too, but the Diamondbacks seem set there as well with the likes of Corbin Carroll, Kyle Lewis, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Jake McCarthy, and Pavin Smith on hand.
Designated hitter could be a possibility too, but Arizona could utilize Lewis, Smith, Seth Beer, or other position players in need of a day off from the field there.
With so many options, it’s also possible that the Diamondbacks use Rojas more exclusively against right-handed pitchers, who he was much more productive against last season.
Either way, there just might not be the plate appearances for a regular role for the infielder this season, something that’ll hamper his fantasy value and ceiling, regardless of production.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Joe Robbins / Icon Sportswire