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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 2016 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?



Adrian Beltre vs. Kyle Seager




Some will look at Beltre's dip in home run production over the past two years and make inferences about his bat speed. After all, he's 36 years old, so A plus B equals C, right? Well, not so fast. Using Seager as an arbitrary -- but relevant for this discussion -- reference point, it may surprise some to find out that the elder statesman actually had a higher average exit velocity last season per Baseball Savant, 89.88 miles per hour to 89.25 mph for Seager. The two were also separated by just six spots in average home run distance. Given that information, it's difficult to draw any real conclusions from the numbers both players have put up in recent years. Here's what we do know: Beltre plays in a park more favorable for right-handed power hitters than Seager does for lefties, according to Fangraphs' park factors. More subjectively, Beltre hits in the middle of a lineup that should score more runs than Seager's in 2016. And Beltre, for what it's worth, is in the last year of his deal, so he'll be motivated to perform for a new contract. When two players are as similar as Beltre and Seager, those small differences are what end up separating them at the end of the season. And Beltre checks more boxes than Seager this year. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)




Seager has certainly proven his bona fides as a power threat now, edging out his previous career highs with 26 homers and 37 doubles last season. What he hasn’t done is hit for average, which is really surprising considering that he came in at .328 in his 269 minor league games before reaching the majors. Seager’s strikeout rate has always been good, but it hit a new low last year, as he fanned a full 25 percent less than the league average. Still, he hit in the .260s for the third straight year, thanks to his poor .278 BABIP. One would think his luck would turn one of these years, and he’d come through with a .280-.290 average. But even if this isn’t the one, he’s still a pretty good bet, especially since he’s likely to bat second ahead of Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano in the Mariners lineup. He also steals a handful of bases each year. I’d say he’s the best value pick behind the big four (Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant) at third base. – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)


Maikel Franco vs. Evan Longoria




It’s patently obvious that Franco lacks Longoria’s pedigree, which makes him a speculative pick for fantasy baseball purposes. But before his season was ended due to a non-displaced fracture on his left wrist last year, Franco had better numbers than Longoria, rate-wise. In 335 plate appearances, he hit .280/.343/.497 with 14 home runs, 50 RBI, and 45 runs scored. If you prorate over Longoria’s 670 plate appearances, Franco’s counting stats come out to 28 home runs, 100 RBI, and 90 runs scored. Longoria hit 21 homers, knocked in 73 runs, and scored 74 runs. And that was in a better lineup. It was the second season in which Longoria’s were a clear step down from his usual numbers, as he posted a meager .724 OPS in 2014. Now 30 years old, Longoria’s best days are most likely behind him while the 23-year-old Franco has plenty of time to grow. Personally, I like to gamble on upside and Franco has more of it than Longoria. – Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill)




I'm a total sucker for any young slugger and Franco is in a perfect spot to shine with the rebuilding Phillies in 2016, but we've seen superstar-like numbers from Longoria in the past and I don't think Franco is yet ready to climb into that realm. Longoria is obviously a little older in the tooth now and his numbers over the last two years haven't been all that great, but he is simply a more proven commodity than Franco as we enter the 2016 season. Only one of these players has generated multiple 30-homer and 100-RBI years at the major league level. 2016 will be Longoria's age-30 season, so it's not like he's ordering a walker and adult diapers. Franco is younger and plays in a more power-friendly home park, but Longoria feels like a much safer pick on draft day. If the Rays are going to surprise some people in the AL East race, they need Longo to recall some of those vintage stretches. The pitching looks great, but somebody is going to have to drive that offense. Combine the past numbers and the pressure to produce in 2016 -- it all slants toward Longoria for me. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)


David Wright vs. Matt Duffy




I will fully admit from the jump that I’m not overly eager to be in Wright’s corner here. His back issue is obviously a major concern, and there’s a distinct possibility that he’ll fall on his face and provide next-to-nothing for fantasy owners. Thankfully the price is reflecting the uncertainty with Wright, as his current ADP in NFBC leagues is 225.5, which nestles him right in between Brett Lawrie and Danny Valencia. That’s not much to pay for a guy who could easily still be a top-10 fantasy third baseman if he can stay healthy. Duffy’s rookie season with the Giants was a very good one, as he batted .295/.334/.428 with 12 home runs, 77 RBI, and 12 steals. The 25-year-old makes a lot of contact, giving him a chance to maintain a solid average. He can also run a bit. But, I have doubts that he’ll be able to duplicate his power output and his .336 BABIP will probably come down a bit. As I already noted, I’m far from confident in Wright’s back holding up. However, he unquestionably has more upside than Duffy and I’d rather take a shot on him as opposed to a guy who I think is ultimately a replaceable talent. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)




As the resident Mets fan at Rotoworld, it might seem odd for me to be on the opposite side here, but I just don’t trust the 33-year-old Wright to stay on the field as he attempts to manage his spinal stenosis. And based on how the Mets built and maintained depth over the winter by acquiring Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker while keeping Ruben Tejada, it’s safe to say they aren’t counting on him for a full workload. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson recently said that his goal for Wright is to play 130 games this season, so the team is publicly trying to lower expectations for him. With Duffy, we obviously don’t get someone who is anywhere near as proven. The Giants weren’t expecting him to be a big factor at the start of last season, but he ended up batting .295/.334/.428 with 12 home runs, 77 RBI, and 12 steals over 149 games. It was good enough to finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting behind Kris Bryant. He’s not a power guy, which isn’t ideal for a corner infielder, but always hit for average in the minors and makes up for the modest pop with his speed. He’s also eligible at second base in some leagues, which makes him even more valuable. I’ll concede that Wright has more upside than Duffy if he stays healthy, so I understand those who might want to chase after that, but I’m just not expecting it to happen. - D.J. Short (@djshort)




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Second Base