Each week, the Assembly will put together their positional rankings for keeper/dynasty leagues.
Players are ranked with the next five years of 5 x 5 category production in mind, so when you see Manny Machado ranked ahead of Adrian Beltre that does not necessarily mean that we believe Machado will be the superior short-term option. Also, players are only ranked at what is projected to be their primary position heading into 2015.
This set of rankings is easily the most interesting we have done so far. All of the old reliables at the third base position are now more old than reliable. Since the up and comers have not quite arrived yet, there is much discord at the top of the list. You will not find a consensus number one here. Some of the players who missed the cut include free agent veterans like Aramis Ramirez and Chase Headley, post-season hero Mike Moustakas and 2014 sensation Brock Holt.
Our 6 experts, with over 100 years combined fantasy baseball experience, each ranked the third base position, and here are the results:
1. Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
Paul: Donaldson maintained his HR/FB rate from 2013, but started hitting even more fly balls. The result? 93/29/98/.255. Fantasy owners will gladly take the hit on the batting average to get near 30 HR production from the hot corner.
Will: Donaldson didn’t finish the 2014 campaign strong, but right now, he is still the #1 3B off the board and that slot is his for a few years.
2. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Paul: Developing power, elite contact rates and a great home park make Arenado one of the top 3B to own in dynasty leagues. If he can maintain that .500 SLG, he’s a perennial all-star. His 20 pt rise in AVG was to be expected, and there’s no reason to think he won’t have a few .300/.350/.500 years ahead.
Ron: The Colorado factor is strong. He may never reach the home run totals of some of his positional counterparts but should be a solid source of batting average and will continue to develop over the next few years.
3. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Kevin: He’s inconsistent every year with BA and HR fluctuations, but he’s 28 and definitely has that power potential you covet at the corners. Just beware the three-year drop in HR/FB.
Tommy: I wrote an article last fall detailing why you should not take Longoria in the second round. Hopefully you listened. He is still a solid fantasy bat, but his plate discipline is getting worse and he is no lock for 25+ HRs anymore either. Longoria is a classic example of the name being worth more than the game. There are many 3Bs I would rather own in keeper leagues.
4. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Jim: He hasn’t delivered that WOW season yet, but the talent is there. Worst case scenario, he only becomes a bottom half top 10 player.
Ron: Considering he will be just 23 in July 2015 and the other top-tier options have already peaked, I’m taking a leap of faith that Machado can ascend to the top of the 3B ranks within the next few years.
5. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
Jim: Now that Dusty Baker is gone, the Reds have a real manager that knows how to utilize Frazier’s 20/20 talents. I’m all in on this one.
Will: I am not completely buying the 2014 production numbers and remember Frazier will be 29 when he takes his first AB of 2015. You can still expect 20-70-70, but I think ’14 will be the exception not the rule, from here on out.
6. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
Kevin: He’s the oldest 3B in my top 10, and even though the power is down, you can’t deny that he knows how to hit. Texas as a team was horrible, so if they bounce back, so should his run production.
Tommy: I do not like ranking a 35-year-old this high, but he is one of the best pure hitters in baseball. Expect an average at or above .300 with about 20 HRs for the next couple seasons.
7. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Kevin: Maybe ranking him in the top-10 is ridiculous, but I’d like to think he’ll net 500 AB in 2015, and if so, he’ll outscore a lot of the blah, average options at 3B.
Tommy: There are some quality players at third base, but none that I can justify taking in the first two rounds on draft day. Bryant posted 43 HRs and 15 SBs over 2 levels in the minors last year and he is easily the best fantasy prospect in baseball. He has the talent to be a top 3 overall fantasy pick in a couple of years, so if you don’t get him now, you may never get another chance. Given the void at the top, Bryant is the guy to bet all your chips on.
8. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
Paul: While I knock Seager for his ceiling, there’s something to be said about consistent performance. 70/22/80/.265 won’t knock your socks off, but it’s safe.
Will: Hey, I’m as surprised as you are. Did you know that Kyle Seager has three consecutive seasons of 20 homers? Okay, but did you know his HR total, batting average, slugging percentage and weighted runs created have all gone up each of the past three seasons? Well, now you know and also know this, Seager is headed into his prime. Boom.
9. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Jim: I’d prefer his numbers at second, but he’s a good fallback option that will contribute everywhere without hurting your batting average.
Will: Have I mentioned third base is weird? Carpenter won’t get you power, but he will score a buttload of runs and stay strong on the non-counting categories.
10. David Wright, New York Mets
Kevin: The days of 30/30 are long gone, and after his health issues, it seems he may not return to 15/15. He’s not young anymore, and he makes a better real-life player than a fantasy option.
Will: While Wright is not the fantasy stud he once was, he should still be better than what he put up in 2014 and should be deemed fit to be reentered into the society of serviceable fantasy players.
11. Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
Kevin: He was a great story all season, but don’t assume he’s going to break out much further. He’s more a smart runner than a speedster, his HR/FB is okay but not indicative of more HR growth, and his BABIP was high (though maybe sustainable). Could be he’s capable of a repeat, but 2014 may have been a perfect storm.
Tommy: There are some risks for sure with the free swinging Harrison, but his contact skills and HR/SB potential make him worth the gamble. He is projected to be the third baseman of the future for the Pirates with Alvarez and his terrible defense likely moving to first.
12. Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers
Paul: Nick Castellanos had the second best LD% in all of baseball in 2014, trailing only Freddie Freeman. He had 46 extra base hits at 22 years old, manning third for a contending ball club. While the overall numbers don’t scream Top Ten third basemen yet, the bat is special. Look for a consistent 20 HR, .280 hitter.
Ron: Could be a poor man’s Arenado. At only 23 years old in March there’s still plenty of room for growth.
13. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants (Free Agent)
Tommy: Sandoval will get a qualifying offer this winter, so we will see how that affects his potential suitors. On the field, he is a consistent .270 -.280 hitter who can bring about 15 HRs. Owners can expect solid, but unspectacular production when he is in the lineup.
Will: You know what you’re getting with Panda. 2014’s numbers? Expect those for the next several years.
14. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
Jim: I love the overall package, but his body can’t handle the position. If he moves to first he becomes a decent CI play, but a move to the OF makes him a 3rd or 4th outfielder.
Ron: It’s really hard to make Zimmerman a part of your team’s plans going forward. Let him be someone else’s problem.
15. Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
Kevin: No one denies his power potential. It’s the ability to have a decent BA or avoid a huge strikeout rate that will determine his value.
Jim: Adrian Beltre is a free agent at the end of the 2015 season, that opens the door for Gallo and his monstrous power swing.
16. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins
Ron: Tommy John surgery stalled Sano’s arrival and has now bumped him down to third in the pecking order of super star 3Bs yet to take an MLB at bat. The 3B position has an exciting future and this young man will be a big part of it.
Will: Sano’s 2014 was derailed by injury, but he is the hot corner in the Land of 10,000 lakes for the foreseeable future (sorry Trevor Plouffe).
17. Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays
Paul: It’s hard to believe Lawrie will play all of 2015 at just 25 years old. He was on pace for 25 home runs before missing July, August and September. There are obvious injury concerns, but it is way too early to dismiss this young talent.
Tommy: It is way too early to write Lawrie off, but his sky-high ground ball rate and the fact that he stopped running in 2014 will be major obstacles impacting his future fantasy value.
18. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates
Paul: Just a year ago, Alvarez was the NL home run leader but his brutal contact rates of the past not only caught with him, but they beat him senseless in 2014. There is some room for a bounce back, but there is a lot of risk as well. I’m not sure the potential reward is worth it.
Ron: There’s still plenty of power in this bat. Maybe the Pirates have soured on Alvarez a bit yet he will be just 28 years old in February and is still a guy who’s already given us a 36 HR season.
18. Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians
Kevin: He was lucky early in 2014, and he showed flaws in the second half, but remember that he used to be a pretty big prospect name. At 26 he still has time to figure it out.
Tommy: Chisenhall has decent plate discipline and good enough contact skills to post a decent batting average, but he lacks the power necessary to be a reliable fantasy option. Barring an age 26 power surge, Chisenhall is a replacement level fantasy player.
20. Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies
Jim: Franco could struggle with his average upon arrival like he did in AAA. He has a bright future and only Cody Asche standing in his way.
Paul: Franco’s 2014 call-up did not go well, with a 13:1 strikeout/walk ratio in 56 at bats. At 22 years old, Franco is ready though to take the next step and claim the 3B job in Philadelphia. He has power and (generally) a good contact rate. Look for 20 home runs and a batting average of .260.
What a list! Amazingly, five different players earned votes for the top spot. Kris Bryant was the only player to earn two first place votes, yet he still finished 7th overall. Four of the players who received number one votes were also voted 8th or worse by another assembly member. Josh Donaldson earns the top overall spot by virtue of being the only player ranked in the top four by everyone. Nolan Arenado takes second, despite not getting any first place votes.
I am not sure there is any such thing as an elite player in this entire list, but the top-tier consists of 8 players. They are all at different stages of their careers. Some like Beltre are expected to deliver high-end numbers in 2015, while others like Machado and Bryant are still years away from their primes.
After the top 8 are gone, the second tier is just as large and equally difficult to project. Players ranked 9 to 16 are tightly bunched before another large drop off. This group is mostly composed of seasoned veterans, but there are a couple of prospects (Gallo and Sano) who have the potential to be elite power hitters in the future. After the second tier is exhausted, the remaining players are not likely to deliver much positive fantasy value.
In theory, there are enough quality players at third base for most teams to have a decent option, but there is not a lot of depth. If you end up with one of the old guys, it would be wise to try to pair them up with either Gallo, Sano or Bryant. None will come cheap, however.
In drafts, I don’t see anybody worth selecting in the first two rounds, but owners are advised not to wait too long to address the third base position. If you do, you could be chasing all season long. Be prepared to spend a mid round pick or use a keeper spot on third base.
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.