What a difference two years can make. Looking back at 2014 rankings we see a top five of Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, David Wright, Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman. Cabrera is the only top player left on the list, although he has shifted to first base. Zimmerman also moved to first, but you can’t pay people to buy his stock these days. The same goes for David Wright with injuries decimating his value. Longoria and Beltre are still productive, but both are now borderline top 10 options.
Replacing these men in the top slots are Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado and Kris Bryant, all of which are going in the first round of NFBC drafts. That means you’ll have zero chance of rostering a top first baseman like Goldschmidt or Rizzo with an elite third base option so make a decision which is more important to you. If you go with another position early there is still some worthy talent with Todd Frazier, Kyle Seager, Adrian Beltre, Matt Carpenter Maikel Franco and Evan Longoria – all top 100 talents. There is some risk once you venture outside the top 10 so plan your draft strategy accordingly. Guys like Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and Matt Duffy could be productive players, but they can just as easily flop and leave you with a big hole to fill. Now onto our rankings
Taking part in our rankings will be Tommy Landseadel, Kevin Jebens, Jim Finch, Ron Vackar, Michael Zakhar and Neil (Mister DFS). Our six experts each ranked their top 25 Third Basemen for the 2016 season. Players marked N/R were not ranked inside the top 25 by that particular person. We used a 10 games started minimum requirement for eligibility so you may need to check your league settings for some players.
If you feel we overlooked someone or would like to debate a player’s ranking, feel free to do so in the comment section below.
With the exception of the final few players, we all basically agree who belongs in the top 25 – even if we don’t agree on the order. Valencia was left off half the rankings; Solarte and Olivera only made it on to two of them and tied for the final player. Chase Headley also received two rankings and just missed out. Players who were ranked once that could make interesting waiver claims at some point (or late round flyers in larger or deeper leagues) are Jake Lamb, Luis Valbuena, David Freese, Jed Lowrie and Yunel Escobar.
Players that you would Reach for
Tommy: I love all of the top 4 studs! I would gladly draft any of them in the top 15. Bryant is the riskiest of the group, but he may actually have the highest ceiling, which is a little scary considering what the others did in 2015.
Kevin: Josh Donaldson and Nolan Arenado both have the ability to hit for high batting average with a big HR total. You want them on your fantasy team.
Jim: If I don’t grab a third basemen in the first round, I’ll probably reach a round early to get Kyle Seager. Four straight seasons of 20 or more homers; three straight seasons with 71 or more runs scored; 74 or more RBIs in three of the past four seasons. Seager will even chip in a few stolen bases. He will not hit .300, but he will not hit lower than .260 and is a virtual guarantee when it comes to his counting stats. Seager is not sexy, but he is consistent.
Ron: Todd Frazier is an appealing candidate to make a slight reach for. Though Frazier had a poor second half of 2015, his batted ball profile is quite similar to that of Kris Bryant, making a similar percentage of medium and hard contact, hitting the ball to all fields at about the same clip, and featuring a nearly identical HR/FB%. Frazier’s batting average was brought down by a low .271 BABIP. Bryant’s BABIP by comparison checked in at a difficult to sustain .378. One more thing to like about Frazier is that he struck out 10% less than Bryant did a season ago.
Zak: I don’t think it’s a reach to say I’d take the top 4 third basemen in the first round, probably over an outfielder of similar talent. The quality of the position falls off drastically, so I would grab Adrian Beltre or Maikel Franco just be sure I have a decent source of power before the choices really thin out.
Neil: Nolan Arenado. The young buck had a .575 slugging percentage and 42 homers in his age 25 season, and he plays in Colorado. If Arenado stays healthy, he is just entering his prime and could be poised to add 15-20% to those numbers. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Arenado is a top 2-3 fantasy player overall in 2016.
Players you will avoid drafting
Tommy: I always try to avoid the over the hill vets who used to be stars. They tend to be overdrafted because of their name value. Pablo Sandoval has reportedly lost some weight and will surely improve upon his disappointing 2015 season, but I don’t think he will be productive enough to be more than a mediocre CI. David Wright is still a fantastic hitter, but can you count on him playing more than 80 games? Also, I am not sure I buy that Danny Valencia is suddenly ready to take on an everyday role at age 31.
Kevin: Veterans who have their best years behind them: Evan Longoria, David Wright and Pablo Sandoval all may work at CI but not as your primary 3B.
Jim: Two players I’ll avoid like the plague are David Wright and Adrian Beltre. Beltre is (will be) 37 and has already seen his numbers decline. I don’t know if it will be a steady decline from here on out or a sharp drop, but I am not going to find out first hand. Wright isn’t old so there is a chance for a bounce back year, but after three years of injuries I’m not going to risk it unless he falls really far. As a bench guy I’ll roster him, but I have zero faith in him as a starter.
Ron: Anthony Rendon is not a player I want to invest in at his expected draft day cost. Sure, he will be available quite a bit later than his late first/early second round status of a year ago, but there’s only a certain amount of risk I like to attach my team to in the early going of a draft. His injury history is enough to scare me away until he proves he can handle the grind of a full season again.
Zak: I would hate to be in the position to be choosing from among David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley and the like. Don’t wait on this position! You’ll be at a disadvantage all year long.
Neil: Evan Longoria. Longoria hasn’t had a wRC+ over 110 since the 2013 season as he has gone from being a fantasy beast to a middling player. People may reach for Evan due to name recognition alone. Don’t be fooled into paying for the 2011 version of this player. I’ll pass.
Top CI target once your Second base slot is filled
Tommy: I think Josh Harrison bounces back and will make a good value at an affordable price. He has the speed to steal double digit bases, his batted ball profile supports a high batting average and he was extremely unlucky with a 3.4% HR/FB rate last season. Moustakas, Castellanos, Lawrie and Plouffe are all solid options as well.
Kevin: Justin Turner and Matt Duffy don’t have big power like we covet at the corner, but their high BA is handy. Health is all Turner needs.
Jim: I’ll probably look to first base for my CI slot, but I do like Jung-Ho Kang‘s duel eligibility and he should slide given he probably won’t be ready to start the season.
Ron: Nick Castellanos is a name I like here, but since I have him listed below as my late round target, I’ll go a different direction. I would consider a run at Danny Valencia just to see if he can carry over his 2015 success.
Zak: I very much doubt that I will be looking for a CI option from this player pool. First base offers plenty of cheap power options, like Adam Lind or Mitch Moreland. Vets like Wright or Headley are risky by comparison, and even the younger players don’t offer much power upside.
Neil: Mike Moustakas. You know who had more homers and a better wRC+ than Longoria last season? One Mike “Moose” Moustakas. I like for Moustakas’ career resurgence to continue. He is a late bloomer and just entering his age 28 season. His new approach of hitting to the opposite field has led to a better batting average, and his power numbers should hold steady or even increase a tick. I like him as a middle rounder.
Late round picks that could make an impact
Tommy: Yasmany Tomas hit way too many grounders and struck out far too often in 2015, but he has a lot of fantasy friendly tools. I like him as a late round flier. Yunel Escobar and Yangervis Solarte have very little upside, but should offer decent 3 category production at a cheap cost (BA, RBI, Runs).
Kevin: Lots of potential bargains here: Jung-Ho Kang, Brett Lawrie, Danny Valbuena, Brandon Drury, Hector Olivera.
Jim: Danny Valencia will be overlooked and could be a bargain if he repeats last season. Pablo Sandoval (my dark horse) can also be had for pennies on the dollar. If he can repeat his 2014 numbers (not out of the question) he will be worth one of your final picks.
Ron: Nick Castellanos stands out to me as a player who can have a breakout on the level of what Mike Moustakas gave us at the third base position in 2015.
Zak: I don’t know how late he will fall, but Nick Castellanos hits the ball hard, is in a good lineup, and played really well in stretches last year. Unlike many of the options at the position, he could be worth his draft day price if he puts it all together.
Neil: Justin Turner. One year might be a fluke, but two years is a trend. Turner has had an OPS over .860, a slugging percentage over .490 and a wRC+ over 140 for two straight years. Yes – he is now going on 32 years old, but Justin Turner is not getting enough respect in either fantasy or real life baseball. Turner is going off the board pretty late in drafts. Grab him and reap the reward.
Defend Your Rankings
Players ranked higher or lower than the rest of the group that weren’t covered above.
Zak: Brett Lawrie (Ranked 13th overall): I can understand why the rest of the crew has tired of Lawrie, a perpetual tease in the fantasy world who has developed a lousy reputation in the real one. But moving to the White Sox will be a big help; he has a good park for home runs and will settle in to a more talented lineup. We haven’t seen much speed recently, but he is capable of chipping in there. He’s been injured, but so are a lot of the third basemen being taken around the same time so it’s not as if his floor is dire compared to someone like David Wright. Meanwhile a 20/10 season with good counting stars seems possible.
That Wraps up our Third Base rankings. Check back next week as we bring you our top 25 Shortstop options for the 2016 season.
Still need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose has been compiling rankings for the 2016 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.