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As I started to look into which players should land in my 2016 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Busts article, it dawned on me that I can’t remember a recent time when we saw three third basemen getting drafted in the first round of most Fantasy drafts. One of those three – Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado has landed in my “busts” list this preseason.

“Fantasy Baseball Busts” are essentially players that are expected to be relatively high draft picks that might not produce at such high value. In other words, they’re basically like the opposite of a breakout, which is a mid-round pick that plays well enough one year to become a high draft pick the next.

But as we choose some “busts” for each position, it’s important to understand that we’re not saying these players are going to be brutally bad. We’re just saying there is a good chance this player is being drafted higher than he should be, for whatever reason.

Some of the reasons I’ve discovered through the years that precipitates a bust are things like young players coming off huge rookie seasons, veterans coming off of breakout years and injury-prone players coming off a supremely healthy season. So keep that in mind when you start drafting this year! Caution ahead!

For this exercise, we’re going to name a couple third basemen expected to get drafted pretty high in mixed leagues, along with one third baseman for AL- and one third baseman for NL-only formats. (Here’s a link over to our 2016 Catcher Busts!)

Third Base Busts

Mixed League Busts

This set of “busts” comes from players expected to go high in mixed league drafts, like in the first five rounds or so.

Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Many picked Manny as a first-rounder, and that’s where we’ve ranked him, but he’s going to need everything to go right for him like he did last season. Remember that he has missed a full season’s at-bats because of major injuries to his legs over the past four years.

While it’s true, he’s just 23 years old (younger than Kris Bryant!), and he still has room to develop, I worry that injuries to his legs will continue to happen throughout his career – especially when I own him.

When healthy, Machado is one of the most consistent hitters in the game – even at 23. He was tied among all hitters as one of the most consistent hitters in all of 2015, according to Al Melchior at CBSSports.com.

In back-to-back years, Machado underwent surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left and right knees.

While I hear radio hosts and guests on SiriusXM’s Fantasy Sports Channel talk about Giancarlo Stanton’s injury history, I’m much more leery of Machado, whose injuries are less freakish.

Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox

Just when you thought I rained on your third base parade enough, I come in and urinate all over your guy, Todd Frazier.

Again, this isn’t to say Frazier isn’t a talented beast, and no one was rooting for him harder in the 2015 Home Run Derby in his own ballpark in Cincinnati (OK, maybe millions of Reds fans were rooting harder than me). But this guy has a few too many things going against him for me to spend a third- or fourth-round pick.

He’s coming off a career season, even though he totally took a dump after the All-Star break, much like many other HR Derby champs before him.

His OPS away from Great American Ball Park was 150 points less than at home, and now he’s calling Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field home. Granted, that should continue to be a boon to his power stats, but the move to another team brings its own issues.

For instance, going from the National League to the American League means he’s facing pitchers he normally doesn’t see. That’s usually a positive move for pitchers – not hitters.

His past two years have been quite pleasant from an overall view, but his end-of-season value dropped $6 from $22 at the end of 2014 to just over $16 in 2015.

 

Deep League Busts

AL-Only Busts

This player will likely be drafted as a starter in a 12-team AL-only league.

Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals

The Mous was definitely loose in 2015, as he climbed from the 20th-best third baseman in the AL at the end of 2014 up to the fifth-best third baseman in the AL last year.

But you have to ask yourself, is it more likely that Moustakas is going to repeat a season that has only happened once in his career, or is it more likely that he’ll drop back to his pre-2015 form, when he was posting around 15 HR, 55 RBI and 45 runs scored, with a .230 batting average?

No doubt, Moustakas will once again start off with a huge spring, like he seems to do every year, and his draft stock could climb even higher.

His reduced strikeout rate and a career-high in ISO in 2015 makes us hopeful, but still cautious.

 

NL-Only Busts

This player will likely be drafted as a starter in a 12-team NL-only league.

Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers

You’re going to likely land in one of two camps when you look at Justin Turner on your cheat sheet. You’ll think this is a guy that finally came through in 2015, after the Dodgers traded Juan Uribe in late May. Turner finished the year with the 11th-best wRC+ (148) among hitters with at least 500 plate appearances over the past two seasons, just behind Anthony Rizzo.

Others will be thinking – there’s a reason he didn’t earn a starting job until his age-30 season, and his BABIP was a little too high over the past two years to make me excited (.404 and .321).

Are there some 2015 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Busts we didn’t mention, or are you just unhappy with our busts? Let us know!

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