Third Base Position Preview - Hot/Cold Springs
Colby Conway takes a look at a few players who are having hot or cold springs and how to value them.
The third base position is rather deep this year, and there’s a lot of enticing options, headlined by Nolan Arenado and Alex Bregman . The guys that come after these two are enticing as well, notably Cleveland’s José Ramírez, Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and San Diego’s Manny Machado . Each week, we will take a dive into this position in particular and figure out what to do with the position, whether it’s examining producers at different categories, overvalued players, undervalued players, etc.
For the fourth installment of the third base positional previews, let’s take a look at some guys and determine whether or not their early spring numbers are making us buy today or shy away! Some of these guys have playing time concerns, upside questions, or simply are just peaking in spring training, only to flame out as the season wears on.
We are going to take a quick look at four players in particular and determine what exactly we are doing with the early spring results.
Kiner-Falefa burned my 2019 TGFBI team, as I was hoping to get a steal with my second catcher, but instead I got a .238 average, with one home run, 21 RBI and three stolen bases in 65 games played. Kiner-Falefa can play a few different positions, giving him ample opportunities to break into the starting lineup. Through 14 spring training games, he’s hitting .389 with four home runs, 11 RBI, one stolen base and a whopping 1.199 OPS.
I’m not buying this spring power, as he has a whopping 0.9 percent barrel rate since the stat of 2018, not to mention an average of 84.8 miles per hour on his exit velocity. Also, a launch angle of 6.5 percent isn’t enticing.
His current NFBC ADP is 709, making him essentially a free play. There’s a way for him to crack the lineup with regularity, but a full-time role doesn’t seem available, at least at the beginning of 2020. However, he has experience at numerous positions, making him widely available for the Rangers.
VERDICT: Buy [late] Today
Rumor has it that Hayes may be signing a team-friendly deal, perhaps getting him up to the majors as soon as Opening Day. As a supporter of the Pittsburgh Pirates, I sure hope that happens. Colin Moran is a stopgap at best, and Hayes is hitting .292 with one home run and a 3:5 K/BB ratio through 24 at-bats. Hayes is a former first round pick, so the pedigree is there, and he could be a guy that hits about .265-270 with 20+ home runs at the big league level, if things pan out. He’s moving through the minors, and is a guy that while he will take some lumps early on in his career, he’s a talented corner infielder worthy of some fantasy consideration.
If the Pirates don’t get him to a deal, he likely opens the year in the minors, but if he does ink an extension, expect him to be the team’s starting third baseman on Opening Day.
VERDICT: Buy Today
Camargo is hitting .308 this spring with one home run and six RBI and appears to be in a positional battle with Austin Riley to serve as the team’s third baseman. Riley has performed well this spring as well, but he’s a home run or strikeout kind of bat, where as Camargo figures to be more of an average kind of guy. However, in 134 games back in 2018, he did hit 19 home runs with 76 RBI to go along with that .272 average. In 2019, he struggled, hitting just .233 across 98 games. Riley has the bigger power profile, but it will come down to what the Braves value at third base.
Do they want more power? Do they want a better glove? Do they want someone to get on-base with consistency?
I can’t answer that question, but if you’re asking me today, Riley is going to be the team’ starting third baseman, relegating Camargo to a bench/super-utility role. He’s excelled there in the past, and remains an integral part of the Braves’ 2020 plans, but not as a starter. Despite the strong spring, Camargo isn’t a guy I’m targeting.
VERDICT: Shy Away
Nunez is going before everyone else in this article, but he’s the one performing the worst here in spring training. Through his first 11 games, he’s hitting just .161 with one home run and 10 strikeouts. Ouch. He’s one of just five players at the position to have double-digit strikeouts already. The strikeouts were a bit of an issue last year (23.9%) but he’s taken it to a new level this spring.
He’s a nice value, considering the fact that he hit 31 home runs and drove in 90 runs for the lowly Baltimore Orioles, but the early spring numbers haven’t been enticing. Popular projection systems are expecting a home run total in the high-20s, which is encouraging, considering his playing time in the lineup should be safe for the most part. He can move around if the team decides to bring up Ryan Mountcastle , so that shouldn’t be a major concern.
He’s better than what he’s shown this spring, but his numbers last year are best case-scenario for 2020.