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This is the third-base edition of Welcome to Splitsville, where we discuss players at the position from both a daily and seasonal perspective. For an introduction and catcher week, click here. For first-base week, click here. For second-base week, click here.

Last week, we discussed how second basemen had a surge in production to unprecedented levels in 2016. Third basemen experienced a similar surge. Power output from the position was at an all time high, with third basemen producing a .178 ISO in 2016, the highest in baseball history at the position. By wRC+, 2016 was tied for the second best offensive season at third base in the live ball era, which dates back to 1920. League average wRC+ for a third baseman rose to 106, up from a below average 98 from 2011-2015.

Ten third baseman had an ISO over .200 in 2016, which is as many as they had from 2013-2015 combined. Leading the charge were players like Nolan Arenado (.275), Josh Donaldson (.265) and Kris Bryant (.262), all who produced an ISO that ranks in the top 65 all time at the position for a single season.

Donaldson, who often is referred to as “Dongaldson” in the daily fantasy circle, is one of the better-known third basemen with splits to take advantage of in daily leagues. Since 2013, Donaldson has a 175 wRC+ (1.005 OPS) and .306 ISO vs. LHP, the best in baseball in that time. He has historically been one of the most elite plays against average to below average left handed pitching in hitter friendly AL East parks, especially at home in Rogers Centre. Last year, Donaldson’s production against lefties dropped 25 points lower, to a 150 wRC+, along with a .240 ISO. Digging deeper into his production against lefties last season, LHP threw Donaldson noticeably less pitches in the strike zone, probably because of increasing awareness of his reputation as a lefty killer. In 2015, LHP threw 60.5% of their pitches outside of the strike zone against Donaldson. In 2016, they threw 65% of their pitches outside of the strike zone against Donaldson. There’s some evidence there that Donaldson was getting less pitches to hit, and that might explain some of the production drop. His 150 wRC+ against LHP still ranked in the top five in baseball, though, and he remains a top play against most left handed pitchers in daily formats.

Here are the best performers vs. RHP and LHP with third base eligibility over the last two seasons, sorted by wRC+. MLB average is 100, with third base average at 104 vs. RHP and 109 vs. LHP.

Table1: Vs. RHP (min 200 PA)

Player

wRC+

ISO

BB%

K%

Josh Donaldson

152

.264

12.1%

18.5%

Justin Turner

149

.238

6.3%

16.2%

Matt Carpenter

148

.255

13.8%

20.2%

Kris Bryant

140

.227

10.7%

25.9%

Jung Ho Kang

137

.221

6.4%

20.2%

Manny Machado

134

.242

7.9%

16.5%

Ryon Healy

131

.213

4.7%

22.4%

Nolan Arenado

131

.304

5.9%

15.5%

Kyle Seager

129

.199

11.1%

13.4%

Luis Valbuena

125

.229

11.5%

22.4%

Miguel Sano

124

.238

13.0%

35.8%

David Wright

119

.162

Mike Moustakas

119

.192

8.2%

13.5%

Danny Valencia

118

.189

6.5%

23.9%

Yangervis Solarte

117

.172

6.2%

11.6%

Jake Lamb

115

.217

9.7%

24.4%

Greg Garcia

113

.116

14.8%

15.5%

Andres Blanco

112

.187

6.9%

18.6%

Evan Longoria

112

.206

6.5%

20.9%

Yunel Escobar

111

.089

6.7%

11.6%

Jonathan Villar

109

.140

11.7%

25.1%

Matt Duffy

108

.129

4.7%

16.3%

Eduardo Nunez

107

.129

5.5%

14.8%

Jhonny Peralta

107

.126

7.8%

15.8%

Adrian Beltre

106

.172

5.6%

10.5%

Jose Ramirez

105

.141

7.7%

9.9%

Table 2: Vs. LHP (min 150 PA)

Player

wRC+

ISO

BB%

K%

Josh Donaldson

161

.285

15.8%

15.4%

Martin Prado

161

.142

11.7%

6.9%

Adrian Beltre

154

.251

10.7%

10.2%

Kris Bryant

152

.273

13.0%

26.9%

Danny Valencia

141

.188

10.6%

17.4%

Jonathan Villar

134

.217

9.7%

25.2%

Javier Baez

133

.170

7.7%

19.2%

Evan Longoria

129

.213

7.9%

18.8%

David Freese

129

.200

11.7%

23.0%

Eugenio Suarez

128

.229

9.0%

25.6%

Todd Frazier

127

.317

7.8%

25.9%

Miguel Sano

126

.247

12.7%

35.6%

Maikel Franco

125

.236

8.6%

18.2%

Manny Machado

124

.183

9.8%

16.1%

Yunel Escobar

124

.112

9.3%

12.6%

Brett Lawrie

123

.196

5.4%

23.1%

Mike Moustakas

123

.207

5.1%

9.9%

Adonis Garcia

122

.162

6.1%

14.6%

Jose Reyes

118

.180

7.6%

10.0%

Nick Castellanos

117

.213

6.4%

26.1%

Anthony Rendon

117

.114

14.4%

14.4%

Josh Harrison

115

.122

4.7%

14.5%

Kyle Seager

115

.209

5.2%

18.3%

Jed Lowrie

115

.132

9.3%

14.8%

Matt Carpenter

113

.190

11.7%

22.9%

Trevor Plouffe

111

.199

11.3%

18.0%

Some thoughts on various third basemen:

Justin Turner morphed himself from a utility journeyman to a top 20 (real life, not fantasy) hitter by improving his swing load with Marlon Byrd during the winter before the 2014 season. Turner started crashing his momentum into the incoming pitch rather than waiting on the ball. In 3 seasons since then, he has a 138 wRC+, 18th-best in baseball in that time, and .196 ISO in 1400 PA. His extra base hit power has slowly climbed by season, rising from .153 in 2014 to .197 in 2015 to .218 in 2016. Turner had microfracture surgery on his knee before 2016, and got off to a really rocky start. In his first two months, Turner hit .235/.335/.343 with a 90 wRC+ and a paltry .108 ISO. It looks like he needed some adjustment time post surgery to get comfortable again, because after June 1, Turner hit .292/.341/.556 with a 139 wRC+, .264 ISO, and 24 HR in 430 PA. He’s hitting for more power than ever before, and with his early ADP at 131, he looks like a bargain in seasonal drafts at the moment.

Manny Machado ran out of gas for most of the second half. Through the end of June, Machado hit .334/.392/.609 with a 163 wRC+ and .275 ISO in 332 PA–as a 23 year old–and looked something like the second coming of Alex Rodriguez, which is not an exaggeration. After July 1, Machado hit .257/.299/.464 with a below league average 98 wRC+, and his drop in production was supported by worse contact quality. Machado’s expected OPS based on his batted-ball exit velocities and angles fell by 144 points in the second half. His second half wRC+ was 83rd among qualified hitters and 14th among third basemen. Baseball is random, regression happens, and even the best players can go through slumps, but I was surprised to see Machado’s production fall this much after looking so incredible for the first thee months of the season. Machado is still only 24, and won’t turn 25 until July. His best days are still ahead, and he’s in the small handful of players that I value most in keeper or dynasty formats.

A player with splits that I often find to be undervalued in a lot of pricing in daily formats is Adrian Beltre against lefties. Beltre has been one of the biggest lefty mashers in the game over the last three seasons. Beltre’s 159 wRC+ against LHP since the start of 2014 ranks eighth-best in baseball and third-best at his position. While Arlington isn’t exactly the same extreme offensive environment it used to be, possibly because construction changed the wind patterns, it’s still a strong park for run scoring.

Kris Bryant made some swing adjustments in 2016 and cut the swing and miss in his game down by a lot. Bryant dropped his strikeout rate from 31% in 2015 to 22% in 2016, and increased his contact rate from 66% to 73%. He looks like he has a chance to be a gigantic lefty masher and showed signs of it last year by posting a wRC+ of 176 (1.060 OPS) with an ISO of .327 vs. LHP. He also massively cut his strikeout rate down vs. LHP, from 37% in 2015 to 19% in 2016. Bryant hits in a potent offense in a high run scoring environment and is going to be a fantasy stud for a large part of the next decade. In daily leagues, he is best used against lefties.

Alex Bregman is a player I am high on in seasonal leagues. Bregman will likely be hitting second in the Astros order, sandwiched between George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. After a very slow start, Bregman recovered to post a 112 wRC+ and .214 ISO in his rookie season, including an incredible 167 wRC+ over his final 130 PA. He is one of the most talented young hitters in baseball and is in a good situation in Houston.

Kyle Seager had an explosion in production against RHP last season. Seager had a 152 wRC+ and .231 ISO in 440 PA. His 152 wRC+ ranked 12th-best in baseball last year against RHP and second best at the position. I prefer using Seager on the road in a more hitter friendly park than SafeCo in daily leagues.

David Wright has often been one of my go to plays against most left handed pitchers in daily leagues. He’s historically crushed them throughout his career. But Wright is not only dealing with spinal stenosis, a back condition that might end his career sooner than later, he’s recovering from neck surgery. Wright lost a ton of muscle and strength after the neck procedure and I have serious doubts that he’ll be a productive player even when used sparingly in a daily format. Wright’s seasonal value is close to nothing at the moment, which makes me sad.

Evan Longoria had a big rebound season in the power department. Longoria’s ISO bounced back to .248 after falling to .158 in 2014-2015, which is reminiscent of his peak days. He slugged over .500 for the first time since 2012 and hit 36 HR, only seven less than he had it in the previous two seasons combined.

Anthony Rendon resembled more of his 2014 self in the second half of 2016, hitting .283/.358/.500 with a 125 wRC+ and .217 ISO over his final 300 PA. Whether this carries over into 2017 is not clear. Rendon will always be an injury risk. Part of the reason he fell to the Nationals in the 2011 draft was because of injury concerns, and I suspect the reason he struggled in 2015 was because of the knee and oblique injuries he suffered earlier that spring. The top of the Nationals lineup looks very good, especially if Bryce Harper can get healthy and rebound from his shoulder/neck injury. I am guessing Rendon will hit fifth in the order, behind Turner, Eaton, Harper and Murph, so RBI opportunities will be there.