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2015 Fantasy Busts: Third Basemen

The 2015 Fantasy Baseball season is right around the corner, believe it or not, and it’s time to start preparing for your drafts in February and March. Our “Early Busts for 2015” series will help you think twice about drafting certain players at different positions, while our “Early Sleepers” piece keeps you thinking about some undervalued players. Next up is our third base busts.

I can vouch better than almost anyone on how much David Wright was one of the top third base busts last season, as evidenced by his freefall in the preseason third base rankings this year (some analysts even have his teammate Daniel Murphy ahead of him with his dual positional eligibility).

A career .300 hitter going into the year, Wright fought through a nagging shoulder injury to a .269 average with completely evaporated power and speed numbers.

Overvalued: Third Base Busts for 2015

I expect these two players to be drafted higher than what their true values will end up being. In other words, here are two players I believe are overvalued for 2015.

High-End Bust: Josh Donaldson, Toronto

By getting out of the cavernous Coliseum in Oakland, Josh Donaldson’s value seems to have skyrocketed. He was already seen as one of the top players at his position after finishing fifth among all third-base eligible players last season in player rating, but Donaldson is now being drafted/ranked as high as the second-best third baseman (first, if Miguel Cabrera is not eligible at both corner bags). Now, is Donaldson worthy of such a high draft position?

Fantasy-30-for-30-300x300As I inferred earlier, Donaldson’s new home of Toronto has many Fantasy players salivating over his possible production. The Coliseum not only has issues with getting sewage out of the ballpark, but it has kept baseballs in the yard, as well. Oakland’s home has yielded the sixth-fewest home runs in the league over the past five seasons, while the Rogers Centre in Toronto has seen the third-most home runs in back-to-back years. The questions is — does the park factor make that much of a difference to a player’s totals?

I am not a big believer that a stadium will affect a player’s one-year output significantly. I am more of a believer in the facts. Donaldson’s batting average dropped 46 points to a replacement-level .255 last season. His OBP and slugging percentages each had similarly substantial drops, and his walk percentage even took a dip. All the while, Donaldson struck out 18 percent more in 2014 than 2013.

Advanced metrics show that Donaldson’s dip last year was the normal and 2013 was the outlier. In 2012 and 2014, Donaldson posted a .278 average on balls in play, while in 2013, he posted an outstanding .333 in that category. All of this maps out to a player that was swinging for the fences.

Donaldson will be selected during the first few rounds in the majority of Fantasy drafts this season, but I do not believe he is worth that value. The move to the AL East may provide a home-park boost in power, but he will have to face the strong rotations of Boston and Tampa Bay more often (not to mention having to face the A’s always-stout pitching staff for the first time).

What the new Blue Jay offers in power numbers, he gives you marginal value in other categories. Adrian Beltre and Anthony Rendon give better overall value near the same draft position, and Evan Longoria can be had a couple of rounds later with strong bounce-back potential.

Back-End Bust: Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh

As you can probably guess, I am not someone who wins the home run category much in my leagues. I want players who can provide value in multiple categories, not just one. Pedro Alvarez fits the bill as a one-category superstar. A good amount of Fantasy owners expected big things out of Alvarez last season after he hit 30 and 36 home runs in the previous two seasons. He answered the call with a bust-worthy, injury-riddled 18 home runs in 2014, while maintaining his pitiful .231 average.

2015 Fantasy Busts
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When I’m drafting utility or backup players in the later rounds, I want someone who can maintain starter-level production for a few weeks if needed, but also will not hurt you if you start them once a week on off-days for your starters. The last thing you need from this type of player is someone who strikes out a ton.  The worst thing a Fantasy Baseball player can do is strike out. If a player does anything else, there is a possibility for a statistic to accumulate, but a strikeout just does more harm than good. Alvarez has struck out in 32.3% of his at-bats in the last three seasons.

Alvarez is the epitome of a one-tool Fantasy player. Alvarez can provide your team with elite home run production, but he is below replacement-level at every other category. He is not even a lock for elite power after his sub-20 home runs and 56 RBI last season. Even if you are desperate for some power in the late rounds, Alvarez takes more away from your other categories than what he brings to the table in home runs.

If I am in need of a third baseman that late in the draft, I would rather spend my value on Jedd Gyorko or Mike Moustakas. More often than not, I will be heading to a deeper position to fill my utility spots.

Let us know who you think might be overvalued this season with a comment or two about some of your favorite third base busts for 2015.

Josh Donaldson Photo Credit: Rocor

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