Third Base has bulked up some since last season with the emergence of players like Todd Frazier and Josh Harrison. Anthony Rendon and Nolan Arenado have both taken positive steps and Manny Machado is hoping to stay healthy and join the ranks of the new blood. We also add Carlos Santana to the mix now that he has moved from behind the plate. Then there are the old reliable names like Seager, Donaldson, Beltre, Wright, Longoria, Zimmerman, Sandoval and Carpenter. There are some quality names available in the top 10; if you miss out, have no fear as there are a good number of names below that you can take a chance on that could perform just as well. There are some risks involved with some of the top names, but overall, you should not have to reach at this position unless you have your heart set on a specific player.
Joining me again for these early rankings (along with where you can find them) are:
Seth Klein (@SethDaSportsMan) from Fantasy Pros and contributor at RazzBall
Doug Anderson (@rotodaddy) from Fantasy Sports Network
Timothy King (@TKing978) from The Sports Script and host of Fantasy Forecaster on Blog Talk Radio.
Chris Meyers (@FantsyChillpony) from David Gonos and contributor for Fake Teams.
David Kerr (@AskROTObaseball) from Fantasy Squads and host of the Ask ROTO baseball Livecast
Each week we will be bringing you our top (and bottom) players at each position for those baseball junkies who crave fantasy baseball all year round. Before we get to the rankings, lets take a look at this years free agent class. Alberto Callaspo, Kelly Johnson, Donnie Murphy, Chris Nelson, Mark Reynolds, Chase Headley and Pablo Sandoval. Jack Hannahan has a 4 million dollar club option with a 2 Million dollar buyout and Aramis Ramirez has a 14 million dollar mutual option with a 4 million dollar buyout. I expect the Reds to buy out the option for the 35-year-old Hannahan’s; for fantasy purposes, there is nothing to see here. Ramirez should want to return; question is, do the Brewers have mutual feelings about Ramirez being brought back? Either way, expect Ramirez to be a starting third baseman next year, somewhere.
The interesting name here is Pablo Sandoval. You would have to think his fate is tied to how the Giants do in the World Series and how much Panda contributes to their success (or failure). Just like Ramirez, I’m sure Pablo would love to stay with his current team, but at the end of the day he will go where the money is. Headley should be able to find work as there are several teams in need of a third baseman, but his asking price will be the determining factor in his final destination. Kelly Johnson should also find work, but odds are he will have to fight for a starting job on his new team. The remaining names you can view on the waiver wire as there is nothing fantasy relevant to look at.
The rankings below represent the top 20 Third Basemen for the 2015 season. We used a 20 game minimum for games played to qualify. If by chance you see a name omitted from our rankings that you feel we overlooked or was under the 20 game threshold, feel free to inquire in the comments below or hit us up on twitter. On with the rankings.
The top 15 are the guys you want here (obviously). For the most part, the players in the top 5 are the unanimous choices. Players ranked 6-10 there are more discrepancies on as far as placement, but overall some solid guys to choose from if you don’t get one of the top five. This is where things get dicey for fantasy owners. While we all agree that players 11-15 should be in the top 20, there are risks involved with a few of these guys so you may want to hedge your best by grabbing an alternative once you’ve selected your man for third.
After the top 15, there are a number of players to choose from, but little to no guarantee with any of them. Seth didn’t think enough of Aramis Ramirez to rank him. Kris Bryant was originally on David’s list until a forgotten player pushed him off. Xander Bogaerts missed the cut for David and Chris as did Pedro Alvarez for Jim and Doug. Mike Moustakas was the final player, but he didn’t win any popularity contests and was left off by Jim, Tim and David. If you’re taking one of these players, you’re hoping for a bounce back or betting on potential.
So who received a top 20 vote over the men above? Here are the final 7 players who received at least one vote of confidence. Most (if not all) of them should be available late in the draft or on waivers to start the season.
Trevor won’t go plouffe without a fight, but his time is limited with Miguel Sano returning from injury. Nick Castellanos could improve and has a nice supporting cast. Martin Prado puts up acceptable numbers for a second baseman; as a third basemen, he will keep things afloat in a pinch. Lonnie Chisenhall started to produce like the player we thought he could be, but it’s unclear if he’s ready to take that next step. Brett Lawrie might stay healthy and produce fantasy worthy numbers, and he may qualify for second in some leagues. Chase Headley is a lost cause in my eyes and I’ve told that to anyone who will listen, but stranger things have happened. As for A-Rod, I’ll reserve judgement until spring time and we see what kind of shape he shows up in. Unless you are in a deep league, none of these guys should be on your radar.
Player(s) that you would reach for in the draft
Seth: Nolan Arenado – Nothing beats owning Rockies’ batters on your fantasy team. As a team, Colorado was second in batting average (.277) and third in runs scored (755). Arenado was a big part of that, and may have pushed them over the top in runs had he played a full season. The second-year pro hit .287 with 18 HR, 61 RBI and 58 runs scored, and did so despite missing 37 games after suffering a mallet finger injury in late May. At just 23 years old, Arenado is only going to continue to get better and playing at Coors makes him a top target at 3B once the big boys come off the board.
Also considered: Manny Machado, Evan Longoria
Doug: Nolan Arenado – The power was up when he returned from injury and I expect another jump this year. Think 25-30 HR is not out of the question.
Tim: Kyle Seager is a player I will likely own many shares of in 2015. I have him ranked at 5, but he’ll likely go quite a bit later in the majority of drafts. I’d take the Mariner over the declining David Wright, always-injured Ryan Zimmerman and Todd Frazier, who is likely to regress. Seager has hit 20 home runs three-straight seasons and will turn just 27 years of age in November. Seager is once again likely to return plenty of value on investment next season. I’m also intrigued at the thought of owning shares of Josh Donaldson. Power and run production abilities are real and batting average could come up.
Chris: Manny Machado – Talent, age and health (hopefully) point to a great season for the young fella.
Jim: Anthony Rendon and Todd Frazier – I hate drafting one trick ponies just for speed so I like players that are capable of giving me both. Rendon is still young and growing and Frazier may be a late bloomer due to lack of opportunity (I hate you Dusty Baker), but the upside and 20/20 potential for both men give me that warm and fuzzy feeling. There are a number of guys who I would be happy to settle for (as you’ll see below), but I’d prefer one of these two men first.
Player(s) you will avoid drafting
Seth: David Wright – The Mets clearly view Wright as a franchise cornerstone, having signed him to a $140M extension, but he won’t be part of any of my franchises in fantasy baseball this year. Wright will be 32 at the start of next season, and his stats – and health – aren’t on the upswing. Over the past four years, Wright has missed 144 games, nearly the equivalent of a full MLB season. A rotator cuff injury abruptly ended his 2014 campaign, and although he won’t need surgery, it’s definitely something to monitor for next season. All these nagging injuries have sapped him of his power. In the four seasons following his rookie year (2005-08), Wright hit 116 HR, but in the six years since, he’s only managed 97 dingers, including just 26 in the past two years combined. He’s also no longer the base-stealing threat that he used to be, which was one of the things that made him so valuable in fantasy baseball. With third base being one of the shallower positions, there’s a good chance Wright will still be a hot commodity in the earlier rounds, but I’d rather use my pick elsewhere.
Also considered: Ryan Zimmerman, Chase Headley, Casey McGehee
Doug: Adrian Beltre – You cannot argue with the numbers, but his health scares me to death. So far the injuries have been nagging. As he gets older they may turn season-ending.
Tim: Evan Longoria thoroughly disappointed in 2014 and is unlikely to be on many of my fake teams next season. The 29-year-old third baseman swung and missed a lot last season and when he did make contact, it was of the weak variety more than we like. I want to see him get back to form before I burn a top 30 pick for his services. I’m also not likely to invest an early round selection on David Wright.
Chris: Ryan Zimmerman – Injury plagued, bum shoulder outweigh his talent for me.
Jim: I have a number of guys I’ll avoid for numerous reasons. Aramis Ramirez I’m avoiding for his age, declining numbers and first half slumps. Xander Bogaerts has loads of potential, but I see lots of growing pains in 2015 so cross him off my list. Brett Lawrie because I can find an injured third baseman anywhere (but I might gamble with one of my final two picks if he were there). Josh Harrison only because I’m not fully convinced he will repeat and he will go earlier that I would take him. Most of all, above all others, I’m avoiding Chase Headley. Never liked him, didn’t buy him after his “breakout year” and don’t think he is worthy of a roster spot regardless of the size of the league.
Average Joe, the player that you would wait on and settle for.
Seth: Aramis Ramirez – If you look up the word “reliable” in the dictionary, it might have Aramis Ramirez’s face next to it. To go along with a .285 BA over his 17-year career, Ramirez has hit at least 15 HR in 13 of his last 14 seasons and has driven in 100+ runs in seven of those. In fact, Ramirez’s 369 career homers are sixth all-time for third basemen. The power shouldn’t increase – he hit 15 HR this past year – but it will be steady, and so will his slash line. If you don’t wanna pay up early, Ramirez is a great guy to wait for later on in your draft.
Also considered: Justin Turner, Juan Uribe, Matt Dominguez
Doug: Pablo Sandoval – Can hit for a nice average. Can hit for good power. Some years he even does both.If he ends up in a better offensive environment his numbers could get a boost.
Tim: Pablo Sandoval always provides solid production from the hot corner. Although he’s probably never going to become an elite option, he’s proven to be a productive middle of the order bat in San Francisco. I believe there is also a little more power upside in his bat. It will be interesting to see where he lands this winter. Other players I’d be completely fine with selecting are Nolan Arenado and Many Machado.
Chris: Aramis Ramirez – Old, but consistent as they come. I would gladly roster him, with another 3B (Like Castellanos/Moustakas) to plug-in when he misses time. He WILL miss time.
Jim: Kyle Seager – He’s ranked a little high to be considered average, but every year people pass him over for the potential of the next big thing or a guy with upside. Normally I’d like someone with a better batting average, but 22 home runs, 70 runs and 80 RBIs are enough to make me ignore that. I can see players like Arenado and Machado getting taken before him again despite his ranking. I’d settle for Ryan Zimmerman though. The move to first base is inevitable and if that happens, half the stress that causes his shoulder issues are gone. That gives him a better than average chance of not only staying healthy, but producing numbers good enough to put him in the top 5. Best part is, he will come at a major discount as most people will avoid him like the plague.
Late round pick that could make an impact
Seth: Kris Bryant – If you’re not on the Kris Bryant hype train now, you will be come next summer. Don’t miss getting on board by dismissing him because he is a rookie. This guy is a phenom with unique fantasy potential. I won’t go overboard and put him in the Mike Trout category just yet, but the dude can mash. Since being drafted last June, the Cubs’ 2013 first round pick went all the way from Single-A to Triple-A, hitting bombs every step of the way – 44 in 2014 to be exact. The promotion from Double-A to Triple-A didn’t seem to have any effect on him in the power department either, though his batting average dropped from .355 to a “so-so” .295 (gotta quell the flames somehow, right?). Bryant has out-of-this-world power, can take a walk, and with rumors that the Cubs may attempt to move him to the outfield, he could garner additional position eligibility. A rookie with 35-homer potential? Those don’t come around every day.
Also considered: Mike Moustakas, Marcus Semien, Miguel Sano, Joey Gallo
Doug: I imagine I’ll have Miguel Sano in every mixed league I’m in. Rather stash a player with his upside than roster a Trevor Plouffe type.
Tim: It’s obviously Chicago’s stud prospect Kris Bryant. The kid combined to hit 43 dingers between AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa in 2014. Once he gets the call, he’s going to be worth using in all formats. Also, Pedro Alvarez is not nearly as bad as he performed last season and should provide a considerable amount of power for a small price in 2015 drafts.
Chris: Maikel Franco – Franco should see time in 2015 and his power is real enough to make an impact.
Jim: I’m sure someone else will name him, but I’ll throw Kris Bryant out there. The upside and potential are too much to pass on so if my league has a deep enough bench, I’ll gamble here. I should have mentioned Marcus Semien when we did second basemen, but since I didn’t I’ll throw his name here. The Sox had planned on him as their every day third baseman in 2014 but he didn’t impress enough to win the job going into 2015. He’ll have to battle for the second base job this spring, but if he wins I’ll take his potential third base numbers up the middle. Nick Castellanos deserves a mention as well. He has some quality bats protecting him in the lineup; while I’m not a fan of his personally, I won’t ignore the potential for improvement.
Early 2015 Rankings
Want to hear more about the players ranked here, listen to David, Seth, Doug, Tim, Chris and Jim discuss their rankings every Wednesday on FantasySquads Radio – AskROTObaseball Livecast hosted by David Kerr.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2015 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.