After each week of positional coverage, we will wrap things up here with our 2016 dynasty/keeper rankings. Players are ranked with the next five years of production in mind, which means the higher ranked player may not always be the best short-term solution. Also, players are ranked at their primary position, so someone like Kang who qualifies at both SS and 3B will only be listed at shortstop in our dynasty rankings. Our 2016 rankings will reflect both qualifying positions.
Third base is the deepest in talent that we’ve seen in years. While everybody wants one of the top guys, the top nine players ranked below are names that any fantasy owner would be happy to own. Every one of them is capable of delivering a 20 home run season with above average counting stats. Below that are close to a dozen names who could easily step up and challenge some of those in the top half. You’ve got aging veterans who can still produce, young upstarts who will attempt to make a name for themselves and 2015 breakouts looking to take that next step.
If you are just starting a dynasty league then you picked a perfect time. In a 12 team league, unless you are one of the final teams to select a third baseman, there is no reason you cannot land a solid bat who can hold down the corner spot for years. Even if you are one of the last, there are plenty of names you can roll the dice on – a number of whom may actually turn out to be long-term solutions. And these rankings only represent our top 20; there are a number of prospects who have not even made their major league debut yet so don’t fret if you end up with an older player. Most of you didn’t even bother to read this far and skipped right down to the rankings (impatience is not a virtue) so we’re not gonna make the rest of you wait.
Taking part in our dynasty rankings will be Paul Hartman, Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Will Emerson, Ron Vackar and Michael Zakhar. 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, Here are the results along with last year’s rankings.
There is no argument over who the top four players to own are ; the only issue is what order to put them in. All four have a favorable home parks, enough power to hit 30+ home runs annually, and hit in a prime spot in the batting order giving them ample run and RBI opportunities. Machado flashed some speed in 2015 giving him a slight edge in value. Donaldson has three straight years of improvement giving him the reliability factor. Arenado showed improved power on the road making him a complete hitter. Finally there’s Bryant who has the upside to be a five category player with some improvements. Dynasty (and redraft) owners really can’t go wrong with any of these men, and arguments can be made for each of them to be ranked first. Realistically it’s all a matter of preference; there is no wrong pick here.
As for the remaining players, our panel shares their thoughts on each below.
5. Todd Frazier –
Reds: Traded to White Sox
- Ron: The 20 stolen bases from 2014 was never something I believed Frazier could repeat, and he took a step down to 13 in 2015. Expect another dip after getting caught 8 times. The power is what you want Frazier for, and the man launches them in bunches. His second half this past season left some reason for concern, but perhaps it was just an after effect of an insane All-Star weekend.
- Jim: Frazier will only be 30 in February so age is on his side. Comparing 2014 to 2015, he lost a few points of average and a few steals, but increased his power. Everything else stayed the same. With the exception of batting average, Frazier can give you everything the top 4 third basemen will.
6. Anthony Rendon – Nationals
- Kevin: The only thing holding him back is health. Injuries likely impacted his stats this year, but he still managed to help his team in half a season. He didn’t hit any homers in the first half (June/July) and made weaker contact, but that half was bookended by coming back from an oblique injury and quad issues. In the second half his hard contact rate was above league average, and he got back to his HR/FB rate from 2014. The injury keeps him out of some top-5 lists, but he has age and ceiling on his side. He can repeat 2014, minus the SB.
- Paul: Rendon loses some of his fantasy value with the move to third base next year. The substantial injury history is obviously a huge concern for a player this young, but I’m not quite ready to give up on him yet. He obviously can put together some big numbers (evident by his 2014), but I think it’s reasonable to look at them as a best-case scenario as opposed to something he can build upon.
7. Miguel Sano – Twins
- Zak: I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it. Ranking him fifth was a statement on my part, but by the end of next year I think you’ll all be with me. He adjusted to the bigs just fine, maintained his batting eye and delivering prodigious power in half a season. Feel confident using him on your team because he’s a cornerstone in dynasty leagues going forward, there’s “Sano Doubt About It!”
- Will: Sano could be in for an in-Sano career, but I want to see him put up a full season of fantasy goodness before I jump on the bandwagon. Admittedly I am probably way too low on Sano, and probably should have him at least in the top ten, but I am holding out for some full season data.
8. Kyle Seager – Mariners
- Ron: Seager may be one of the more boring picks in the 2016 drafts. Simply put, you know what his floor and ceiling look like and they are not separated by much. He should be good for more of the same over the next five years.
- Jim: Seager is the unsexy consistent choice for third. On average you’ll get 80 or so runs and RBIs, 20+ home runs, an average in the .260 range and a handful of steals – basically a poor mans Todd Frazier. There is not much upside here, but there is zero downside.
9. Evan Longoria – Rays
- Will: Longo is still only 30 years old. He increased his ISO, OBP, SLG, and wOBA from 2014 to 2015 showing he still has plenty of good hitting in him. Longoria should remain a consistent 25-80-80 guy for the next several years.
- Kevin: I went from being extra high on Longoria to being low on him. Not a ton changed in 2015, except my optimism and expectations. He had injuries in 2012-13 that cut short his years, and I assumed that hid his evolution into a top-3 guy at the hot corner. As it turns out, his HR/FB% has been lower for two straight years, and the team around him isn’t as good, reducing his run and RBI opportunities. A repeat of 2015 is likely, which is valuable; I have been left wanting more for years though. There are so many potential star 3B breakouts that I’d pass on Longo for a higher ceiling.
10. Matt Carpenter – Cardinals
- Zak: I initially ranked him higher, but I pondered where he might be at this time next year versus some players with more upside and I kept dinging him down. I know the Cardinals work ground ball to fly ball magic with everyone, but this kind of step forward (power-wise) is not sustainable. He is a nice player, but at the corner I want bankable power potential and I don’t see it here.
- Paul: The home runs from 2015 aren’t likely sustainable, but only Josh Donaldson has a better wOBA over the past three years among third basemen. His upside may not be as high as some ranked lower, but his consistent performance makes him a great player to own. He’s even more valuable in points leagues, and I’ll take my chances on him hitting close to 20 HR again.
11. Maikel Franco – Phillies
- Kevin: He was a top prospect with huge power potential. Despite a tendency to swing a lot, he had a good contact rate and a 8% walk rate. Franco had a strong HR/FB rate (16%) that may get better, and he hit his 14 home runs with only a 35% fly ball rate. If he hits more fly balls, he’ll jump to 30+ HR sooner rather than later. After 2016, we may be ranking him in the top-5 at third.
- Ron: Not as exciting as Kris Bryant and not as risky as Joey Gallo. Maikel Franco looks to become a fixture in the Philly lineup for the next five years. Nothing about Franco’s 2015 performance seems odd to me. Expect him to compete for 25 homers with a chance at 90 RBI along with an average you can tolerate going forward.
12. Mike Moustakas – Royals
- Zak: He didn’t look too graceful tumbling around during game 2 of the World Series, but we don’t care about defense. After some brutal seasons Moustakas finally became a true fantasy asset this year. While he will continue to be useful, I would not expect much growth from here. I will mention there is a pretty steep drop off from his tier to the Matt Duffy’s of the world, so if he is the best on the board it is getting time to pounce.
- Jim: At age 26 Moustakas finally put it all together. People forget how young he was when he made his debut in 2011. His season totals were very similar to what you’d get from Kyle Seager (minus a few steals). Whether he can repeat is another question, but I’m cautiously optimistic about his chances.
13. Adrian Beltre – Rangers:
- Paul: The future Hall of Famer will be 37 in April and we are slowly seeing his numbers decline. He’ll still provide a good batting average and 17-20 home runs for the next couple of years, but he won’t be around in five years, hurting his value in these rankings.
- Will: Guess I am not too concerned with Beltre’s age and think he can still put up some decent fantasy goodness for a few more years.
14. Nick Castellanos – Tigers
- Paul: Castellanos is a line-drive machine, ranking 2nd overall in LD% in his rookie year, and 5th overall in last year’s 2nd half. As he continues to improve elevating the ball, you can expect his 15 HR to turn into 20. Castellanos is not a stud, but he’ll be a solid option for a long time.
- Will: There’s nothing too flashy about Castellanos, and I don’t see a ton of upside at this time. Could be a nice bench play to use with the right matchups, but a 15-70-70 line is not all that appetizing for your top third baseman.
15. Yasmani Tomas – Diamondbacks
- Kevin: I actually like Tomas. However, he needs to find a position (and he’s less valuable in the OF). A 55% ground ball rate stunts his power production, his contact rate and walk rate are a bit low for my liking, and the only reason he reached a .270 average was due to an inflated BABIP that may or may not be sustainable. There are so many other young third basemen with high ceilings and fewer warts, and who are less likely to be moved off of the hot corner. Expecting more than .260/15/10 is risky for 2016, but maybe he’ll develop quickly and prove me wrong.
- Zak: While his full-season stat line is underwhelming, I saw enough flashes from Tomas to think he will be a solid addition to any fantasy team in the coming years. His first half was very solid, albeit with less power than we might have expected, but more average. Maybe he tired out, maybe he couldn’t keep it up without regular playing time, but the Diamondbacks lineup won’t be crowded forever. In the long run, this is a good lineup and hitting environment to be in so I expect Tomas to thrive.
16. David Wright – Mets
- Zak: I am the first person to chastise people for jumping off of a proven talent too soon, but in some cases we keep holding out hope for too long. Because of injuries or performance, Wright has let down owners in four of the past five years. As he enters his mid-thirties, I don’t see a rebound coming.
- Jim: Wright hit a wall in 2014 and injuries played a part in the low counting stats in 2015. There is reason for some hope though. His numbers in 2015 weren’t bad, and extrapolated over 450 at bats would give you 15 homers and a few steals. Not the David Wright numbers we’ve come to expect, but still better than average. He’ll be 33 in December so the clock is ticking, but he still has some years left in him (health permitting).
17. Matt Duffy – Giants
- Kevin: He’s a good example of someone who will give you a little bit of everything in 5×5 leagues. A decent LD% and contact rate will sustain an above average BA. He has even more speed potential and could reach 20 SB. Duffy sports a league average HR/FB%, and if he can reduce his GB% he will reach 15+ HR soon. The Giants are perennial (or biennial) contenders. Invest now before you have to pay full price.
- Ron: The 12 stolen bases in 12 attempts were completely legit for Duffy’s skill set. The power (even at just 12 homers) is not something I believe in at all – not with his thin frame and not in that home ballpark. He seems like an intelligent player who takes what is given to him. A better real baseball player than fantasy asset.
18. Joey Gallo – Rangers
- Will: The raw power is legit, but unfortunately so is the K-rate. Right now Gallo doesn’t have a clear path to every day at bats, but if he cuts down on the strikeouts and taps in to the power, that is not far away.
- Ron: Gallo has Quad-A flop written all over him. Something is going to have to change for him to really break through, but his upside is worth taking a shot on if he can be had dirt cheap.
19. Justin Turner – Dodgers
- Kevin: Numerous leg issues derailed his August and slowed his second half, which is the only thing that stopped him from producing a .300 batting average two years in a row. Despite that, this season saw his best HR/FB, FB, and LD percentages. After all the moving part-timers in LA moved on, Turner is the one left standing. With a full season of at bats, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a .300 BA and 20+ HR.
- Jim: His bottom line in 2015 looks nice, but most of that was a result of strong first half; his average and power dipped in the second half. Turner will be 31 in November, and has spent his time in the majors as a backup for a reason. His breakout reminds me of Josh Harrison in 2014; everyone bought into that and look how 2015 turned out for him. I’m not buying it, and neither should you.
20. Hector Olivera – Braves
- Paul: At 30 years old, Olivera is not your typical prospect heading into 2015. He’s all but guaranteed the starting third base job in Atlanta, and if he’s healthy should produce right away. He had huge numbers in Cuba, with good plate discipline and power. I like him for 20 HR with a good average.
- Will: The Cuban is already 30 years old and has only 87 plate appearances in his major league career so it’s tough to really get a read on him. There is All-Star potential here, but the age, and potential injury risks because of that, push him down my list.
20. Josh Harrison – Pirates
- Jim: It appears the power we saw in 2014 was a fluke (if you want to call 13 homers power). Harrison is a good hitter (average wise), but with the lack of power and limited speed his numbers are more suited for second base, not third. I like him as a bench option because of his versatility (OF-22 games, 2B-37 games), but if he loses that eligibility and becomes strictly a third base guy he has zero appeal to me.
- Ron: Harrison is built in the mold of Ben Zobrist. Maybe I am a little high on him, but for deeper formats Harrison is a useful player to have on your roster. He does nothing special, but does a little bit of everything with decent position flexibility.
Outside of the top 20 there are very few players worthy of considering. Pablo Sandoval just missed making the cut with rankings on three out of six lists, but 15 was his best rank. Trevor Plouffe made it onto two lists, but both were 19 making him a very low-end option. Yangervis Solarte was the final player not to make the top 20, and with only one person ranking him it’s safe to say he is waiver wire material in most leagues.
Speaking of waivers, Chase Headley, Danny Valencia, Martin Prado, Lonnie Chisenhall, Aramis Ramirez and David Freese did not even receive a mention. In standard size leagues these players are your emergency waiver wire fill-ins. You may get a good week or so stretch from one of them every so often, but they are not worth holding for the long haul.
That wraps up the third base rankings. Tomorrow begins our shortstop coverage which will conclude next Sunday with the top 20 shortstops.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2016 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.