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We conclude our fantasy baseball preview of the infield positions by taking a look at the hot corner. Be sure to read the rest of our fantasy baseball coverage as well:
As our very own Mario Mergola explained in a recent piece, because of the many formats that are out there in the fantasy baseball landscape, these rankings will attempt to consider both head-to-head and 5×5 roto leagues. Projections are based on Steamer projections, available at fangraphs.com.
1. Josh Donaldson, Age: 29, Position: Third Base (3B)
Donaldson goes from Oakland’s cavernous ball park to a launching pad in Toronto, thanks to a trade that occurred between the two teams in the offseason. He is projected to post the second highest Isolated Power (ISO–a stat that measures power) among third basemen. He drives in runs, gets on base, has good plate discipline, and is expected to hit in the middle of a potent Blue Jays’ lineup. Everything just seems to be lining up right for Donaldson to take over the top spot at this position.
2. Anthony Rendon, 24, 2B/3B
Rendon was our top player among all second basemen. To summarize, a combination of pedigree and high degree of skills has Rendon among the elite infield hitters in all of baseball.
3. Adrian Beltre, 35
Beltre has been the class at this position, the epitome of consistency at the hot corner. But at 35, some decline is expected and that is why he slipped to third in these rankings. But even with some decline, he still provides lots of power and production in an environment that is lacking in that department.
4. Carlos Santana, 28, 1B/3B
The next three slots were tough to figure out, but Santana gets the fourth spot because of his advanced discipline at the plate. Santana has always had the skill to be a premier, power-hitter in the majors, but a career .274 BABIP and his extremely patient approach will frustrate owners in both roto (low batting average) and points’ leagues (the walks are nice, but consistency and more extra base-hits would be a lot better). Nevertheless, he doesn’t have to catch anymore and he seems to finally be planted at one position and that should help him concentrate on displaying his hitting prowess.
5. Nolan Arenado, 23
Arenado has struggled to stay healthy, but made some strides in 2014 to have him ranked this high. His strikeouts and walks have improved steadily the last two seasons. He definitely has shown the ability to take advantage of his home park and entering his third season in the majors, Arenado may be a legit breakout candidate and even a sleeper pick because owners will be afraid to take risk on a guy who has a history of injuries. But Arenado has the pedigree to be a good hitter and it might be time for him to finally show off his skills.
6. Evan Longoria, 29
After struggling to stay healthy for a while, the last two seasons saw Longoria play more than 160 games. He had a great year in 2013. Not so good in 2014, despite posting 20/90 season (home runs and RBI). But his slash line was the worst of his career and understandable that people are reluctant to select him. Regardless, he’s too talented to be this awful and is young enough to bounce back from a bad year.
7. Todd Frazier, 29, 1B/3B
We mentioned Frazier in our First Base preview. If he can improve his plate discipline, show that last year was not a fluke, and show more consistency, he can easily be one of the elite players at two positions.
8. Kyle Seager, 27
Going with upside in this spot as Seager continues to improve his production every season. Batting average is a slight concern and would like to see him draw more walks. Plus playing at Safeco is always a negative, but if he can pull off another 25/90 season, he will make many owners very happy.
9. Matt Carpenter, 29
Carpenter’s skill-set is more geared towards points’ leagues than roto leagues. Roto owners see 10 home runs from a third baseman and they want to vomit. Points’ leaguers see a guy that has no trouble hitting 35+ doubles per year. Plus his plate discipline is always a plus. His batting average projection is low, but with a high career BABIP (.338), there’s no reason why he can’t post a .300 average to help roto leaguers.
10. Chris Davis, 29, 1B/3B
Missing the cut as a starter at first base, Davis makes for a very intriguing pick at third. His power is arguably unmatched by anyone in this position as he is a prime, bounce-back candidate for 2015. But there are plenty of knocks: 25-game suspension, he strikes out a lot, and he will hurt the batting average, but it’s really hard to ignore a big thumper like Davis.
11. David Wright, 32
Wright basically hit rock bottom last season. His numbers were too putrid to mention again. Only way to go is up and Wright is another bounce-back candidate at this position. It’s worth mentioning that he was battling injuries the last couple of seasons, especially with a left shoulder injury that nagged him for most of 2014. But all reports indicate he’s in good health.
12. Ryan Zimmerman, 30, 3B/LF
Yet another bounce-back candidate here, Zimmerman only played in 61 games in 2014, but was productive in the few games that he did play, posting a slash line of .280/.342/.449. He’ll mostly be playing at first this year, which can only help him stay healthy for the upcoming season.
13. Manny Machado, 22
Good: Potential to hit for plenty of power… plenty of untapped potential…decent batting average
Bad: Needs to raise his Walk Rate…injury concerns
14. Josh Harrison, 27, 3B/LF/RF
Good: Versatile…Career year in 2014…Arguably best source for steals at position
Bad: Plate discipline can use more work…very fluky 2014
15. Pablo Sandoval, 28
Good: Does a great job hitting at pitches outside the zone…can post great batting average…limits strikeouts
Bad: Injury risk…despite size, has not hit for much power
16. Xander Bogaerts, 22, SS/3B
Good: Has pedigree to be successful…power potential is hard to ignore
Bad: Strikeouts and pop ups are hurting him…has displayed mediocre contact skills
17. Marcus Semien, 24, 2B/3B
Good: Power/speed combo…Surprisingly patient at the plate
Bad: Has not streamlined minor league plate discipline to the majors
18. Aramis Ramirez, 36
Good: Good batting eye…can still post good batting average…still has some pop left in his bat
Bad: Age and injuries are always a concern
REST OF THE SCRAP
Kris Bryant would be ranked a lot higher if it wasn’t for the risk that he could start the year at Triple-A…Martin Prado can post a decent average, but unpredictable in all other aspects…Pedro Alvarez brings the power, but at risk of being part of a platoon…Brett Lawrie has been discussed in greater detail before…Trevor Plouffe had a career year of sorts; 2014 might be as good as it gets…Nick Castellanos has plenty of upside, but might still be undergoing growing pains in 2015…Mike Moustakas had many people believing in him with his playoff performance, but he’s still an inconsistent power hitter…Chase Headley will be playing at Yankee Stadium for a full season. Maybe he can take advantage of that fact in 2015…David Freese apparently has added more muscle to his body. That might be a thing for him this season.
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