After each week of positional coverage, we will wrap things up here on Sunday with our 2016 dynasty/keeper rankings.
Players are ranked with the next five years of production in mind, so when you see Anthony Rendon ranked ahead of a player like Adrian Beltre – that does not mean that we believe Rendon will be the superior short-term option.
Also, we ranked players at what we believe will be their primary position moving forward, so you will not see players like Yasmany Tomas or Brandon Drury despite their eligibility. Those players will be included at whichever positions they may qualify for in our 2017 rankings which come out in January.
Taking part in our dynasty rankings will be Paul Hartman, Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Ron Vackar, Josh Coleman and Mike Sheehan. Our six experts each ranked their top 20 third basemen. Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 20 by that particular person.
Is Nolan Arenado better than Kris Bryant? That is the question. Our panel is divided here, as I’m sure the rest of the fantasy community will be. They represent the top-two third baseman in dynasty leagues, followed closely by Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson. All four players received top-four votes across the board. Rank them in whichever order you choose, and consider yourself extremely fortunate if you happen to own one of these third base sluggers.
As for the remaining players, our panel shares their thoughts on each below.
5. Kyle Seager – Seattle Mariners
- Mike: Overshadowed by his little brother, Kyle Seager has still managed to become a 3B staple. He hit 30 bombs for the first time, and I think there’s still room for improvement. It’s not much of a stretch to say that he is the new Adrian Beltre for fantasy. I’ll take him anywhere I can and be excited about it considering his generally reasonable price tag.
- Josh: Power has increased each of the past 5 seasons. More importantly, he’s appeared in 155 games or more every year during that span. I don’t see an MVP type season in Seager, but he’s as good of bet at .270 AVG and 25 HR as anyone.
6. Matt Carpenter – Cardinals
- Ron: Carpenter keeps getting better with age. In 2015 he altered his game to add more power. In 2016 saw Carpenter do more of the same but he lowered his K% and upped his rate of making hard contact. Expect more of the same for at least a few more years before he slowly tapers off in his mid-30’s.
- Jim: The past two years he has sacrificed contact and batting average for an increase in fly balls and hard hit rate. The strikeouts and swinging strikeout rate has also gone up compared to previous seasons. You’ll want to trade him now before the poor contact starts affecting his counting stats.
6. Alex Bregman – Astros
- Paul: If you take out his first ten games in the majors, Bregman hit .313/.354/.577 – that’s an OPS .001 off of my top choice Nolan Arenado. I’m not saying he can keep that up, but it’s not like he doesn’t have the talent to.
- Kevin: I’m always reluctant to hype up young players, but he likely has a bright future. Check with me after a full season. His contact, walk, and hard hit rates weren’t amazing in 2016, and he had a BABIP near .400 in September. Power isn’t off the charts, but it’s above average. I won’t put him in Arenado or Bryant territory, but dynasty leagues have to gamble on him.
8. Miguel Sano – Twins
- Jim: Sano’s contact is worse than Carpenter, and his strikeout rate is right up there with Chris Davis, but so is his power. If he can make minimal improvements in the contact, enough to be a .240 hitter, those 30+ home runs each year will negate any shortcomings.
- Paul: In a somewhat disappointing second season, Sano still hit 25 home runs while missing a month of playing time. Even more importantly, he kept his third base eligibility alive. I’d still like him in the outfield, but I love him at third.
9. Anthony Rendon – Nationals
- Kevin: The hype period is over, and though he may have one truly elite season in the future, we can’t expect much more than .275, 20/10 in any given year. For more on Rendon, see my 3B Keeper Stock Watch article.
- Ron: 2016 seems like a best case scenario for Rendon. He offered the kind of power/speed blend we hoped for when selecting him inside of the top 80 or so overall picks. Injury issues are always lingering, but hopefully he’s moved past those problems and can continue producing going forward.
10. Evan Longoria – Rays
- Josh: Four consecutive seasons of 160 games or more has silenced the injury talk of years past. Excellent season last year may mask a 5 year decline in BB%, and last seasons 6.1% was the lowest mark of his career. May have a higher ceiling than a player like Kyle Seager, but he also has a lower floor.
- Mike: He just had his best season in years and was still at the back-end of the top-10 in most formats. He plays in a pitcher’s park with a dreadful lineup. It’s probably safer to project him for .270/25 HR/80 RBI than last year’s resurgent stats. That’s pretty solid if you get him in late rounds or a cheap auction. Don’t pay for the name or last year’s numbers. It’s important not to overpay because if he is your starter then you are giving up a lot at 3B to teams with a top option.
11. Todd Frazier – White Sox
- Kevin: Call me crazy, but 40 HR is worth targeting, and it wasn’t a fluke for him. I believe the average will bounce back, so you may get to buy low for 2017. For more on Frazier, see my 3B Keeper Stock Watch article.
- Mike: I know, how can I rank the pride of Tom’s River, NJ so low? He is a Little League WS hero! Frazier hit 40 bombs and stole 15 bags last year, but he also batted .225 and struck out 163 times. Some will point to the .236 BABIP as reason to hope for better average. Pull-happy fly ballers generally have a low BABIP, though. I still really like Frazier, but 3B is a treasure trove and he’s older and more flawed than the players in front of him.
12. Maikel Franco – Phillies
- Jim: Franco swung at a few too many bad pitches outside the zone, and his batting average paid the price. Overall, though, he show a steady bat with a few modest improvements in 2016. I can see him slowly morphing into a Kyle Seager type third baseman – nothing sexy, just solid top-10 numbers annually.
- Josh: For me, Franco’s a miscast middle of the order bat. While this plays well to the counting numbers, I also believe it may add to the mental aspect of the game and prevent him from reaching his potential. Franco’s .260 AVG and 20+ HR potential makes him relevant, but his production will ultimately be determined by the Phillies supporting cast.
13. Nick Castellanos – Tigers
- Paul: At 24 years old, Castellanos is trending in the right direction; three-year increases in SLG, ISO, FB%, and HR/FB%. This line drive machine (6th in bigs over last 3 years) is coming into his power. At #10 I might be low, but I am trying to hide my Tigers bias.
- Ron: We now get to see if Castellanos can sustain the gains he made in 2016, and perhaps continue to build on them moving forward. For a guy who will have just turned 25 years old when the 2017 season begins, I like his chances!
14. Jake Lamb – Diamondbacks
- Mike: I honestly don’t know what to do with Lamb. I could have him five spots higher or convince myself not rank him. I loved the power potential going into 2016 and was lucky enough to own him almost everywhere. Then he batted below the “Mendoza line” for the entire second half and found himself on waivers in plenty of leagues. This ranking is a bit of a hedge, but I still like him plenty.
- Kevin: I may be selling Lamb a bit short after his breakout. He hit more fly balls, which helps his homer count, but it’s often hard to buy into a hitter tripling his HR/FB from 7% in 2015 to 21% in 2016 (though it was 14% in 2014). His first half HR/FB was 28% and dropped to a more pedestrian 14% in the second half. There’s a little more risk here compared to other potential top-15 bats.
15. Adrian Beltre – Rangers
- Josh: Beltre will turn 38 next season. He has played in more than 2,700 games over his career. Beltre’s 2016 likely silenced any whispers of decline that 2014 and 2015 may have generated. I may not sign-off on another 30 HR season but .290+ with 23 HR and 100 RBI really seem to be in play even into his 40’s.
- Jim: He’ll be 38 on April 7; not that many players age well statistically like David Ortiz. His 2014/15 season represent a ceiling for 2017, and I can see things going down quickly from there.
16. Jung-ho Kang – Pirates
- Ron: It seemed as though Kang might have caught the league by surprise when he arrived in 2015. As it turns out he’s for real! I would expect his HR/FB rate to come back to Earth a bit, but otherwise he looks more than capable of productive seasons in the near future.
- Paul: I like Kang an awful lot – he’s got a lot of power and could quite easily slip in to the top-ten third basemen multiple times over the next five years. He upped his FB % and his average flyball distance to over 305 feet. He’s a little streaky, but he sure closed things off nicely in 2016.
17. Jose Ramirez – Indians
- Josh: Really showcased his talents in his first season in a full-time role. Doesn’t offer plus power, but the 20+ SB is a novelty at the position and it is accompanied by double digit HR power. Solid contact rates, GB profile, and good legs make me believe a .280-.300 AVG can be the norm.
- Ron: Josh Harrison. That’s who I think of when I evaluate what Jose Ramirez can do moving forward. The Josh Harrison comparison is both uninspiring and yet also makes Jose Ramirez someone who will continue to have value if you’re looking for sneaky speed from the hot corner.
18. Justin Turner – Free Agent
- Paul: I don’t know what this guy has to do to get respect. Over the past three years, he ranks as the 4th best third basemen in terms of OPS. Nothing at all looks flukey as far as his 27 home runs in 2016 either.
- Mike: I’m a Yankee fan but I live in Queens, so I saw my share of Justin Turner as a Met. Watching on as he looked like a helpless scrub at the plate. He is 31, has only had 2 seasons that were remotely fantasy relevant, and he has some recent bad health history. On the other hand, he was arguably the best hitter in the league for the better part of 2 months in 2016. I could look silly leaving him off my rankings, but I don’t trust him enough to put him in over old man Beltre or anyone else on my list.
19. Mike Moustakas – Royals
- Jim: Seven home runs with a .273 average in April gives me the confidence to trust in his 2015 breakout, but an injury cloud what might have been. I’ll need to actually see him do it again before moving him up any in the rankings.
- Kevin: He was constantly improving his game before the injury. Health makes him a risk if you need a full-time starting 3B, but for a CI or long-term play, I like his chances. For more on Moustakas, see my 3B Keeper Stock Watch article.
20. Ryon Healy – Athletics
- Jim: The batted ball profile and plate discipline numbers were fairly neutral. Healy hit .285 or higher from High-A on up through the majors so he can hit, and he showed some pop at every level. He’s at least a top-20 third baseman, but it will be tough to move up at a deep position.
- Kevin: A young player with some risk, but good reward due to 20+ HR power with a decent batting average floor. For more on Healy, see my 3B Keeper Stock Watch article.
Surprisingly there was a lot of consensus in the names that ranked inside the top-20. Only four ranked players did not make the cut. Eugenio Suarez made it onto three sets of rankings making him a bottom tier CI option. Hernan Perez appeared on two lists as I’m sure most are skeptical of him. Yangervis Solarte and Yulieski Gurriel are the final two, each appearing on one list.
That wraps up our third base rankings. Next week begins our shortstop coverage which will wrap up next Sunday with the top 20 shortstops.
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