Both in real life and fantasy, it's a joy to watch the current crop of third basemen play. The position most neglected historically is having maybe its best era, with great peak talents, future Hall of Famers exiting their prime, and a few youngsters getting ready to approach greatness. What's more, this list doesn't even contain Kris Bryant yet.
As ever, our house rules for these rankings. The keeper rankings assume that your team is in a 10-team continuing league with 13 hard keepers, including up to two crossovers, operating under standard Scoresheet rules. The more your league differs from normal, the more your lists may vary.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
The best players on the Indians were far from the best prospects.
On Monday I read about the Devin Mesoraco extension and my brain immediately went to one name: Yan Gomes. Mesoraco’s new contract was a nice move by the Reds, but the Indians' decision to give Gomes six years and $23 million prior to the 2014 campaign now looks like an even bigger steal and quite the stroke of genius. There were some front office executives who were a bit surprised that the Indians were so aggressive in their efforts with Gomes, extending him after he seemingly came out of nowhere and delivered a strong all-around performance in 2013 while splitting catching duties (before taking over the role full time in August) with Carlos Santana.
In 2014, Gomes rewarded the Indians for their faith in him and showed that he wasn’t just a small sample wonder, delivering a .283 TAv, compiling 3.7 WARP, and once again proving to be a strong defender (and framer) behind the plate. By the end of the season, not many were questioning the decision to extend Gomes—and maybe they shouldn’t have doubted the move from the very start. As an organization, Cleveland has done a good job unearthing and developing hidden gems like Gomes, so perhaps they deserve the benefit of the doubt when they make a move that on the surface appears to not make complete sense.
The two-time Tommy John survivor will wait before signing this winter, while Jurickson Profar is recovering nicely.
Brandon Beachy in no hurry to sign
The link above goes to the first in a series of tweets from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, relaying a statement from Rob Martin, who represents Brandon Beachy. To save you the trip to Rosenthal’s timeline, here is the quoted statement in its entirety:
Part one in a two-part series comparing the PFM's performance to those of owners in experts leagues.
Sometimes in these pieces, I delve into a long explanation of what I’m going to write and what I’m going to set out to prove. That’s not going to happen today. I’ve got a lot of tables to produce and a tight deadline so I’m just going to dive right into it. Today’s goal is to take a look at the PFM, take a look at expert prices, and determine whether or not I should be using the PFM more as a tool to devise my bid limits or if perhaps I should chuck my bid limits entirely. How’s that for a attention grabbing lead?
Baseball Prospectus fantasy writers get asked about PECOTAa lot. Some subscribers don’t understand why they should bother with my bid limits when the PFM serves the same purpose as my bid limits but with a more mathematical bent. Others find my bid limits interesting but think that the PFM should be featured more as we approach Draft Day.
Welcome to PECOTA day, sponsored by DraftKings. Premium subscribers can now download the 2015 Weighted Means Spreadsheet under the Fantasy tab at the top of this page, or by clicking "manage your profile." Player pages have been updated with these projections, as have team depth charts (with projected standings) and the fantasy team tracker. Allow us to expand on a few details that might be helpful to you.
Why Does PECOTA Hate My Team?
Every year, fantasy owners and fans of teams ask this question, “Why Does PECOTA Hate My Team?” Last year, Deadspin compiled five dozen “(maybe) surprising player projections.” This season, there’s already been a Lineup Card with eight such surprising projections and Sam Miller did some Pebble Hunting to reveal some of the “winners” in the PECOTA pitching projections. This all raises the question of why Baseball Prospectus would keep publishing surprising projections. Shouldn’t these things be getting better with time, as the system is refined and there’s more data?
It would be disingenuous to suggest that projections never miss the mark. Sometimes by a lot. In fact, last season alone, 39 of the 362 position players for which Baseball Prospectus had projected 100 or more plate appearances actually amassed 100 or more plate appearances with very unexpected (to PECOTA) hitting performances. We looked at these players’ WARP-per-600 plate appearances, with FRAA removed (yes, FRAA is important, but it’s projected differently and is—sometimes—much more out of the player’s control than batting stats). Using this metric, 39 players missed by 3.0 or more WARP-per-600. It could almost have been called, “Craig’s List”, as Mr. Allen Craig was the no. 9 culprit with a WARP-per-600 difference of 4.6 … and as those who saw him play for Boston can attest, he was making a strong run to top this list. PECOTA had projected 1.8 WARP-sans-FRAA in 426 PA (March 22nd projections), and he ended up with -1.7 WARP-sans-FRAA in 505 PA. But Dan Uggla took the top honors, falling 5.7 WARP-per-600 short of projections. Steve Pearce was no. 3 and represented the top over-performer, bettering his WARP-per-600 projection by 5.4.
The above examples come from the most stable group of players—batters who were projected to play and who did play. Yet, some of the most surprising projections entering the 2014 season ended up being close to perfect. For example, people who saw A.J. Burnett pitch in 2013 thought PECOTA needed glasses, as it projected Burnett to have one of the 10 largest declines in 2014. It projected his ERA to be 4.24, which, considering the drop in leaguewide offense in 2014, would have been adjusted to 4.14. His FIP in 2014? 4.14. Projections for Bryce Harper and B.J. Upton, tabbed as “(maybe) surprising” in the Deadspin article, proved prescient.. Remember the reaction when Chris Davis had a .289 TAv projection (again March 22)? That number ended up being optimistic (he posted a .271), even though when he was coming off a .358 TAv season virtually everyone thought PECOTA hated the guy.
Seriously, though, PECOTA doesn’t hate any player or anyone’s team. There are no biases in it based on anything but historical track records. For completeness, it should be noted that results such as the examples herein are not just “shrugged off” – both accurate and inaccurate results are processed. So, while some projections are going to be surprising, it’s important to keep in mind that all-in-all, the results have been very accurate over the years (thank you, Nate Silver!).
Everyone who follows baseball at all has probably dabbled in the Baseball Prospectus Team Tracker—the most powerful tool of its kind available. For a reminder of some of the various things Team Tracker can do, both on the Team Tracker pages and elsewhere on the site, please refer back to Feature Focus articles on Team Tracker, Basics and Team Tracker, Advanced. The primary reason it’s being mentioned here is that 2015 PECOTA forecasts are now available. Shown is an actual portion of the Team Tracker page for the hitters on my Scoresheet team. (A team which was much better last season than it had any right to be. I had the second-best record among 24 teams entering the final week of the season and then, um, moving on… ) It can be seen that even for a 24-team league, hard times are likely ahead in 2015, based on PECOTA projections. The excerpt from my Team Tracker display is truncated on the right side as a reminder that there are many other stats which can be selected for the reports—allowing them to be tailored to each owner’s needs.
Which of these two third basemen is likely to be more valuable over the long haul?
It's a battle for the future of your CI spot today, as we're pitting Maikel Franco and D.J. Peterson against each other in this Tale of the Tape. Will Franco ever stop swinging at garbage? Will Peterson ever play third base? Will rhetorical questions as literary devices ever work? The Answers May Surprise You:
At first glance, the NL third-base pool looks a little thin, primarily based on last year’s production. There are concerns about veterans coming off injury-plagued seasons (David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, and Aramis Ramirez) that leave us unsure if they will be able to return to fantasy star status, along with uncertainty about the roles and fantasy relevance of younger players like Kris Bryant, Maikel Franco, and Yasmany Tomas. Despite the question marks and lack of fantasy studs at the position, the hot corner in the NL is deeper than you might think. Based on how last year played out and the landscape of the position heading into 2015 drafts, this player pool has the potential to provide the biggest fantasy impact of all the NL infield positions from a value perspective.
We start at the top, and by far the fantasy standouts are Anthony Rendon and Todd Frazier. Not only did both surpass $30 in earnings a year ago in standard NL-Only 5x5 formats and utilize the power/speed combo we yearn for at the hot corner, they also qualify at two positions, which increases their value. Rendon’s 2B/3B and Frazier’s 3B/1B eligibility will allow for flexibility in constructing your rosters, which can prove to be critical when putting together a balanced offense. Both players will go for a premium, and deservedly so, and once they are off the table, it’ll be time to study those sheets you agonized over for months for your preferred targets. This decision could prove crucial, as the next tier of players is where the potential for value sits.