Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Fantasy Baseball Third Base Late Round Targets & Value Plays
Published: Feb 23, 2023
Updated: Mar 01, 2023
We are only three days away from MLB Spring Training games and that only means one thing – the 2023 fantasy baseball draft season is now underway! There is no better way to get ready for your draft day than with the FREE Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide. Tuesday will be Third Base Day all season and over the last two weeks, we broke down fantasy baseball rankings and preseason 2023 MLB projections with the Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen (Tiers 1-2) and Third Base Position Depth (Tiers 3-4). Third base has historically been a stacked position in fantasy baseball, but we have seen a much thinner group over the last two seasons. If you don’t grab a top-five bat from the hot corner in the first two rounds, you can still find a diamond in the rough later in your drafts. So, who are some of these players that may make you look like a fantasy genius in September? Below, we'll characterize some MLB third baseman into Tier 5, my Tier 6 “Gut Calls,” and then some fantasy baseball sleepers in Tier 6 and beyond. Here we go with the 2023 Third Base Late-Round Targets and Value Plays.
Fantasy Baseball Late-Round Targets & Value Plays
Third Base Tier 5
Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks (200.50 ADP)
2022 Stats: .269/.349/.391 with 9 HR, 56 RBI, and .740 OPS
Rojas finally displayed the speed he showed in the minor leagues with 20 stolen bases last year and finished with the second most steals, and 17th most runs among all third basemen. He put up these numbers even though he missed 33 games in April and May due to an oblique injury. Rojas is a nice later-round pick-up if steals are still needed to round out your fantasy lineup.
Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies (215.43 ADP)
2022 Stats: .246/.327/.414 with 20 HR, 67 RBI, and .741 OPS
McMahon homered 12 times in his final 52 games and finished with advanced stats that suggest more power and run production may be in his future. His average exit velocity (91.7 mph) and Max EV (113.7 mph) put him in the top 10% among MLB players, and his 46% Hard Hit rate puts him in the top 20%. Oh yeah and the Coors Field factor! Check out McMahon's 2022 Statcast rankings:
Justin Turner, Boston Red Sox (276.27 ADP)
2022 Stats: .278/.350/.438 with 13 HR, 81 RBI, and .788 OPS
Turner should see time at 1B, 3B, and DH this year and should see an upgrade in his offensive output due to the change in ballpark and league. He has only gone over 500 at-bats twice in his career but still can be a .280 hitter with 75 runs, 20 home runs, and 80 RBI.
Luis Urías, Milwaukee Brewers (243.01 ADP)
2022 Stats: .239/.335/.404 with 16 HR, 47 RBI, and .739 OPS
Urias was injured in spring training (quad) and did not make his first 2022 appearance until early May. Even with the late start, Urias still finished with 16 home runs (sixth-most on the team) and a 110 OPS+ – the second-best OPS+ of his career. Urias has just enough pop in his bat and multi-position eligibility to make him a solid addition to the end of your roster.
Tier 5 “Gut Call”
Yandy Díaz, Tampa Bay Rays (281.46 ADP)
2022 Stats: .296/.401/.423 with 9 HR, 57 RBI, and .824 OPS
Diaz is one of my favorite “gut calls” of the entire fantasy draft this season. He just signed a three-year extension with the Rays which will all but assure him as the Rays' starting third baseman and leadoff hitter for the next few seasons. Diaz was one of only three players (Myles Straw and Steven Kwan) that were Top 10 in chase%, contact%, and SwStr% and he was only one of six qualified batters that had a higher BB% than K% (14.0% BB/10.8% K). It’s a well-known fact that the Rays like to platoon their players which makes most of the lineup a fantasy nightmare, but Diaz was one of only two Rays players (Randy Arozarena is the other) to register 500-plus plate appearances over the last two seasons.
With Diaz’s plate discipline, we will always get a high fantasy floor and the lowest wRC+ he has posted since 2018 is a solid .111. His advanced metrics at the plate are near elite with a Top 5% in all of baseball MaxEV (114.2 mph); XBA (.288); K% (10.8) and BB% (14.0) and Top 10% wOBA (.366); XwOBA (.366) and Hard Hit% (49.0). He may not be a household name but consistent run and RBI totals and elite metrics at the plate make Yandy Díaz one of the safest plays on the board when you get into the 200-300 ADP area. Check out Diaz's impressive 2022 Statcast Rankings:
Tier 5 Player Spotlight
Josh Jung, Texas Rangers (217.63 ADP)
2022 Stats: .204/.235/.418 with 5 HR, 14 RBI, and .653 OPS
Jung was named the 2019 Big 12 co-player of the year and the Big 12 Player of the decade by D1 Baseball after a memorable career at Texas Tech. The eighth overall pick in the 2019 MLB is currently listed as the 34th MLB prospect for 2023. A power breakout in 2021 had Jung on a fast track before a torn left labrum delayed his start to the 2022 season. His 2022 MLB numbers after his September call-up are nothing to write home about but Jung hits the ball hard to all fields and should offer a nice blend of batting average and power. We can expect Jung to post a batting average in the high .200’s and if he can get his strikeout rate down to the 20s from 38.2% and walk rate to at league average we will have a 25+ home run hitter. As the Rangers continue to focus on competing in the next couple of years, Jung will undoubtedly be a big part of those plans as a high-floor bat that will make fantasy managers smile as a Tier 5 draft pick this spring.
Third Base Fantasy Baseball Sleepers (Tier 6 and beyond)
Ha-Seong Kim, San Diego Padres (258.66 ADP)
2022 Stats: .251/.325/.383 with 11 HR, 59 RBI, and .708 OPS
Kim filled in for Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop for the Padres and posted a career year in 2022. This comes as no surprise for us KBO DFS players that watched him on an almost daily basis on the early morning ESPN Korean Baseball games during the 2021 Covid year. With league-wide offensive numbers dropping significantly from 2021 to 2022, Kim was the opposite and saw his statistics shoot up the board. After adjusting to major league pitching velocity Kim’s strikeout rate went from 23.8% in 2021 to 17.2% in 2022 as did his walk rate (7.4% to 8.8%), wOBA (.270 to .313, XwOBA (.265 to .309), xSLG (.309 to .368) and XBA (.209 to .250). Kim will be moved off shortstop in 2023 for the newly added Xander Bogaerts but he will find plenty of at-bats at second and third base. With a paltry .202 BA and even more disappointing .270 OBP in 2021 Kim saw those numbers rise significantly last season to .251 and .325, respectively while hitting line drives 2% more often while cutting down on his ground balls. It gets even better as Kim’s BABIP went from .241 in 2021 up to .290 last year which suggests that the 2022 success is sustainable. Without injury, Kim is capable of producing another year like 2022 or even better which will make him extremely valuable as a multi-positional player in your fantasy baseball league.
Brendan Donovan, St. Louis Cardinals (347.24 ADP)
2022 Stats: .281/.394/.379 with 5 HR, 45 RBI, and a .773 OPS
The Spring Training battle between Tommy Edman and Donovan for the top spot in the 2023 Cardinals batting lineup is huge. Donovan is the early favorite to be their everyday leadoff hitter and when you hit in front of the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolen Arenado, and Willson Contreras there are easily 100 runs built into your statistical profile.
Only eight players joined Donovan as part of the group that ended 2022 in the 90th percentile in both chase rate and whiff rate which is a sign of a player that produces through supreme plate discipline and contact ability. Even better, Donovan also slashed .222/.352/.285/.637 with an incredible .352 OBP with two strikes (.312 OBP was the league average starting with a 0-0 count!). As a comparison, the league slashed .168/.242/.263/.505 with two strikes and that is what you want in your top-of-the-lineup table setter. With Donovan’s current ADP at 347, he is essentially free in fantasy baseball drafts and if he can add a little pop this year then we have a new Cardinals star in the making.
Jeimer Candelario, Washington Nationals (497.32 ADP)
.2022 Stats: 217/.272/.361 with 13 HR, 50 RBI, and .633 OPS
The Nationals and Candelario are hoping for a turnaround in Washington, D.C., following a dreadful 2022 season where he hit .217 with 13 home runs, 50 RBI, and 19 doubles. I have a feeling that Candelario may be one of those former Tigers that benefits greatly in the power department by fleeing Comerica Park for the confines of a National League stadium like Nationals Park. The switch-hitter could very well tap back into what made him such a successful extra base hitter in 2021 when hit a league-high-tying 42 doubles and 67 RBI as well as ranking third among all third basemen in fWAR and bWAR from ‘20-21, behind only José Ramírez and Manny Machado. If Candelario becomes more consistent and controls the strike zone, he can return to being a gap-to-gap guy and the doubles and home runs are going to come. With a 20-25 home run season and a .265 batting average in his range of outcomes, Candelaria’s name may just pop up in Comeback Player of the Year conversations next fall.
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