Loading scores...
Magazine Content

Player Showdowns: Third Base

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Often in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2015 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?

 

Josh Donaldson vs. Adrian Beltre

 

Donaldson

 

If Donaldson still played for Oakland, I’d go Beltre here. However, with Donaldson in Toronto, a much more favorable environment for right-handed power hitters, he gets the edge. Donaldson has hit 53 homers the last two years despite playing half of his games in the O.co Coliseum. He should top 30 this year with Rogers Centre helping him out, and he figures to be a big RBI guy hitting behind Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. I do expect Beltre to have the significantly better batting average -- I think Donaldson is much closer to the .255 guy he was in 2014 than the .301 hitter he was in 2013 -- but Donaldson is the superior bet everywhere else. As tremendously as the soon-to-be 36-year-old Beltre has aged, he’s still sustained dips in his isolated power three straight years (.265 to .240 to .194 to .168). – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)

 

Beltre

 

Choosing between Donaldson and Beltre really comes down to whether or not you think Beltre can stave off age-related decline and injury for at least one more season, as he will turn 36 on April 7. A potential ancillary concern for Donaldson is how Toronto’s turf will affect his knee and back. Otherwise, can be counted on to once again be elite performers at third base. In Yahoo leagues, Beltre is going 21st overall on average while Donaldson is going 31st. If forced to pick between the two for a standard roto league, I lean Beltre over Donaldson. Donaldson is a bit better in the power department, having hit 53 home runs over the last two seasons compared to Beltre’s 49 (including a 29 to 19 lead last season), but it’s not substantial enough to make up for the boost Beltre provides in the batting average department. Beltre has hit .315 or better in three consecutive seasons, while Donaldson followed up his .301 average in 2013 with a .255 average in 2014. Based on Donaldson’s batted ball splits, which don’t indicate a preternatural ability to hit line drives, I believe last year’s average is more in line with reality. Donaldson will likely give you somewhere in the neighborhood of five to 10 more home runs and 10 to 15 more RBI, but I’ll take Beltre’s batting average, which is likely to be around 50 points higher. – Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill)

 

David Wright vs. Kyle Seager

 

Wright

 

The caveat with Wright, like with Troy Tulowitzki, is that he's a top performer at his position "when healthy." The difference between the two is that, where Tulo requires an owner to gamble with a first- or second-round pick, Wright is much less costly, especially this year. The 32-year-old currently has a 103.7 ADP per NFBC data, making him the ninth third baseman off the board. He's going just two picks higher than Kris Bryant, who doesn't have a single major league at-bat. The hate's officially gone too far, and given the upside -- our projections have Wright at .282/.359/.455 with 20 homers and nine steals -- Wright is actually shaping up as a bargain on draft day. Compare that to Seager, who is being drafted 43 spots higher this spring while offering a similar skillset and projection. Seager has a sexy name -- he signed a $100 million extension with the Mariners this winter after hitting 25 homers and collecting 96 RBI last season -- and may be perceived as having a higher ceiling because he's five years younger than Wright, but a gap of that size isn't justified. Take the similar production at a discounted price. Take Wright. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)

 

Seager

 

This is the case of a former star that is trending downward versus a potential budding star whose arrow is pointing up. Their values for 2015 are in the same realm, but I’m siding with the guy who has fewer question marks. Seager has seen his numbers climb steadily over his three full seasons, producing an uptick in average, home runs, OPS and OPS+ each year. He also put up a career-high 96 RBI in 2014 and is a threat to reach triple-digits in that department in 2015 with the Mariners adding Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith to the lineup over the offseason. It also must be noted that Seager has proven to be extremely durable, averaging 158 games played over his three full seasons. Wright, on the other hand, has averaged just 123 games over the last two years and has ligament damage in his left shoulder that he decided to treat without surgery. The way I look at it, Wright is a better bet in the average department and maybe the stolen base department, but Seager looks to have a big edge in power and an even bigger edge with his odds of staying healthy. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)

 

Nick Castellanos vs. Pedro Alvarez

 

Castellanos

 

I’m pretty much always going to argue in the favor of upside and opportunity, and Castellanos beats Alvarez handily in both of those categories. Alvarez lost his starting third base job last season to Josh Harrison due to dreadful defensive play and his continuing struggles with offensive consistency. Pittsburgh has moved the left-handed-hitting Alvarez to first base, where he’ll be in a platoon this season with the right-handed-hitting Corey Hart. Castellanos has the third base job all to himself in Detroit and wears a long leash as one of the Tigers’ few respectable prospects. Castellanos batted just .259/.306/.394 in 148 games last season as a 22-year-old rookie, but he still managed to tally 11 home runs and 66 RBI. The raw tools are there, and his minor league numbers suggest that his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage will all be on the rise in 2015. Alvarez, meanwhile, owns a .235 batting average and .307 OBP in 2,293 career plate appearances. His poor offensive profile is set in stone. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)

 

Alvarez

 

Not much went right for Alvarez last season. He struggled both offensively and defensively before losing his starting job at third base and was a non-factor down the stretch due to a stress reaction in the fourth metatarsal in his left foot. His stock is down at the moment, but the chance for redemption is there in 2015 as he makes the transition to full-time first baseman. Alvarez amassed 66 homers from 2012-2013 (tied for fifth in the majors in that time), so I'll happily take my chances on his power. And while his batting average didn't show it last season, his strikeout rate dropped by five percent and he brought his walk rate over 10 percent for the first time in his career. Yes, there were some positives to take away from what was largely a disappointing year. Castellanos made lots of solid contact as a rookie last season, but it didn't result in much fantasy value, as he hit just .259 with 11 home runs and a .700 OPS while posting an ugly 140/36 K/BB ratio. Of course, it was just his age-22 season, so it wasn't bad under the circumstances. There's reason to be patient with him, but I'm not convinced a major leap forward will happen in 2015, especially since he's due to hit in the bottom-third of the Tigers' lineup again. - D.J. Short (@djshort)

 

PREVIOUS SHOWDOWNS:

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Shortstop