Third base is a very interesting position from a fantasy standpoint. There are a few elite bats at the top with varying degrees of risk, a few solid bats who lack high end upside and then a bunch of players who could either be top 10 options or total busts. As a result, you will find a lot of variance within these rankings. We agreed for the most part on who the top 24 3Bs were, but not so much with the order, especially at the low end.
Whether you are fortunate enough to land a top notch slugger to man the hot corner for your fantasy squad, hopefully these rankings help you formulate your draft day strategy. There are plenty of potential values here.
Before we get into the ranks, we need to go over a couple assumptions that we made in determining eligibility.
In order to be eligible, a player needs to meet 1 of the following criteria:
A) 10 appearances at the position in 2013
B) The expectation that the player will be used primarily at a given position in 2014 (example: Miguel Cabrera will appear on our 1B list)
These rankings will focus on 2014, and are geared toward traditional 5 x 5 formats. Without further ado, here are the assembly’s rankings:
1. Miguel Cabrera, DET-
Paul: Enjoy this last hurrah at 3B for the yearly Triple Crown threat.
Peter: Insert modern day Babe Ruth comps here.
2. Adrian Beltre, TEX-
Jeff: A down September is the only thing you could possibly nitpick, but far less of a concern than the injury risk of the other guys who were in consideration for this ranking (Wright and Longoria).
Kevin: He may start slipping a bit, and 30 HR isn’t a guarantee, but I have full faith that with a strong lineup around him, he’ll be a top 3B for 2014.
3. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR-
Jim: 40+ Home runs 90 runs & 100 RBIs at 3rd? sign me up.
Paul: What he’s done with his BB/K rate is outstanding…along with 30+ HR.
4. David Wright, NYM-
Jeff: To me, Wright and Longoria are a coin flip. Wright’s 5 category contribution and the nature of lists put him in this spot.
Tommy: Wright is a great hitter able to produce in all 5 categories. Injury risk prevents him from being a first round pick.
5. Evan Longoria, TB-
Jim: The overall package outweighs any potential injury risks he comes with.
Peter: Average will be just that, but 30 homers, 90+ runs and 90+ RBI.
6. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS-
Kevin: He’s settled into a known quantity: mostly healthy for 500+ AB, an okay BA (though it’s on a 4-year decline), and 20+ HR power. He’s the safest option outside the top-5 3B.
Tommy: Zim was 6th in the majors in fly ball distance last year. Could 30 HRs be on the horizon?
7. Manny Machado, BAL-
Jeff: Machado will be a fantasy stud for many years, but I do not think it is this year. I would be surprised to see Machado get to either 20 HR or 10 SB.
Peter: I already talked about how much I like him (Click here for more).
8. Matt Carpenter, STL-
Jim: He should supply good numbers in 3 categories with double digit power and is a safe option if you don’t get a top 10 third baseman.
Kevin: If he develops more power, he could jump up the ranks even at 3B. As it is, buy into his breakout with the caveat that 100 R is more likely than 120.
9. Josh Donaldson, OAK-
Peter: Creeping up my ranks, may pass Longo by Draft Day.
Tommy: Donaldson does not have the batted ball profile of a .300 hitter. He will be a low end fantasy option this year, but owners expecting a repeat will be disappointed. A .270 average and 20 HRs would be a reasonable projection.
10. Pedro Alvarez, PIT-
Paul: Yes, 30+ home runs are great, but floor is low and really could bottom out.
Tommy: Alvarez is an elite HR hitter, but the K rate will doom him to a low BA. 40 HRs is a distinct possibility.
11. Kyle Seager, SEA-
Kevin: Another Seattle player who flew under the radar but may not do so in 2014 due to spotlight on Cano. I don’t expect more growth from his previous years, but he’s still a valuable asset.
Paul: I don’t like the K rate or the fact that he lacks any significant upside. 20 HR 70 RBI .260.
12. Carlos Santana, CLE-
Jim: The added pressure of playing third combined with errors (4 in his first 8 games at 3rd during Dominican Winter League) could mentally hamper him at the plate.
Peter: It looks like the move to 3B is happening, but he still has more value as a catcher for 2014.
13. Xander Bogaerts, BOS-
Paul: While his ceiling may be a couple of years away, can go 70/20/85/7/.280 in 2014
Peter: More value at SS in fantasy.
14. Jedd Gyorko, SD-
Jim: He has less power than Alvarez but his batting average should improve. A better play for second but an acceptable option for third.
Kevin: He has the power potential for 30 HR, and if he makes any BA gains, he’ll be a solid enough value at the power-heavy 3B slot.
15. Aramis Ramirez, MIL-
Jeff: If he can show health in spring training, and that is a big if, I would want to bump him up a couple spots.
Tommy: His underlying numbers suggest a subtle decline, but he is still a mixed league fantasy play when he is in the line-up. The question here is how many games will he miss in 2014?
16. Pablo Sandoval, SF-
Jim: He’s lost over 40 pounds and in a contract year, get ready for the return of Big Panda.
Tommy: Nothing in his numbers suggests a bounce back, but the Panda is coming into a contract year. He is worth a look given his ability when motivated and in playing shape.
17. Chase Headley, SD-
Jeff: With 2012 looking more like an outlier, I’m betting on his 2014 being much closer to his 2013 line.
Kevin: I expect a rebound from 2013, but obviously you can’t bank on 20+ HR. For redraft leagues, he’d be a good risk-reward buy for CI.
18. Brett Lawrie, TOR-
Jeff: The post-hype sleeper talk has already begun (including by yours truly), so Lawrie’s value will depend on how much the hype grows.
Peter: Don’t forget he will only be 24 next season, certainly capable of 15/15.
19. Todd Frazier, CIN-
Paul: Not a lot of upside, but even in disappointing 2013 he hit 19 HR with 73 RBI. Some BABIP correction and he’s a .250 hitter.
Tommy: Frazier hit too many grounders to take advantage of his power last season. If he can return closer to the batted ball profile he displayed in 2012, he can be a top 10 3B.
20. Nolan Arenado, COL-
Jeff: Not exciting, but not scary
Paul: Second half line .298/.323/.419. Power is still lacking, but hard contact from a young batter shows potential for more.
21. Will Middlebrooks, BOS-
Jeff: I like his talent more than this ranking suggests, but the return of Drew is looking more and more likely.
Kevin: He may not impress in BA, but it’s possible he puts up solid power numbers with good RBI in the Red Sox lineup.
22. Martin Prado, ARZ-
Jim: He’s a better play for second, but the average, runs and RBI could make for a decent CI player if need be.
Peter: His real fantasy value is his flexibility in eligibility.
23. Chris Johnson, ATL-
Jeff: Boring, but useful.
Paul: More likely an empty .280 hitter, but there’s some value if he hits .300.
24. Mike Moustakas, KC-
Jim: Just like Brett Lawrie he’s a post hype sleeper that hasn’t lived up to the hype of his initial call up.
Peter: His power decreased in 2013, but a 0.257 BABIP indicate some bad luck may have hindered him last year. A 4% reduction in his K-rate shows increased plate discipline, I smell bounceback.
25. Nick Castellanos, DET-
Paul: Not ready to show power, but he is a good hard contact hitter in a great line up
Peter: He should be playing 3B most days in Detroit.
26. Matt Dominguez, HOU-
Jeff: I think 2013 will be his career year from a fantasy perspective.
Tommy: Dominguez has legitimate 20 HR pop. He could be a low end CI if his BABIP improves some and if the guys batting in front of him can get on base more efficiently. .
27. Cody Asche, PHI-
Jim: He’s similar to Chris Johnson but can maybe steal 10 bases. He’s a late option for your CI slot.
Tommy: The Phillies view Asche as a stopgap until Franco is ready. You can safely ignore Asche in standard formats, but he could make for a solid NL only option.
28. David Freese, LAA-
Kevin: A change to the AL won’t help Freese at all. He didn’t hit well in a great STL lineup, and now he’s facing new pitchers. Don’t take him as more than a DL replacement player on your team — and that’s assuming he’s not on the DL himself.
Paul: Remember when Freese used to be avoided because of injury concerns? Ahh, good times.
29. Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE-
Kevin: He still flashes some signs of power, and the BA could be at least average in the long run. Moderate risk, but moderate reward based on his ADP.
Tommy: Chisenhall has shown flashes of living up to his elite prospect billing, but if Carlos Santana moves to 3B, then Chisenhall will need a change of scenery to have any relevance at all.
30. Matt Davidson, CHW-
Jim: He’s got a starting job with the White Sox, but it will be a year or two before the BA is at an acceptable level.
Kevin: He profiles as a typical power hitter who may struggle with BA. Full-time AB could net a profit, but nothing amazing.
Check out the rest of our 2014 rankings.