The third base position is one of the deepest in fantasy baseball this year. Besides first base, it’s probably the deepest one player position. The one thing about it, is that there isn’t a clear cut number one and none of the top third baseman are clear cut top 15 players. Overall the talent 1-10 on this list isn’t very far apart. Please keep in mind I’m ranking these guys based on where they played the most in 2014, so there’s no Miguel Cabrera even though he’d obviously be number one.
- Anthony Rendon. If Rendon can steal 15 bases again, this spot is his to keep as he’s basically the only five-tool guy at third. The main reason he’s here is because of all these guys, he’s the best hitter and has the fewest question marks. You know you’re getting a guy who is only getting better and was a top 5 player in the NL last year. His 39 doubles suggest that he could add to his 21 homers and he can definitely maintain his batting average. Even though you should never really “chase” after any stats besides maybe stolen bases, Rendon figures to get many RBI opportunities if he hits around Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond and a healthy Ryan Zimmerman. His second base eligibility also helps his value, as none of the other guys in my top 5 will have that extra position.
- David Wright. I’ve always liked Wright, and while some of you may be scratching your head, as he just came off of a .269/.324/.535 season, keep in mind that Wright is the best pure hitter at this position and a healthy shoulder and fences moved in could provide you with a ceiling of a .310/30/100 season. He’s probably going to be a little below that, but he’s a guy who will be undervalued in many leagues, and you might be able to snatch him for a low price. Even despite the injury, Wright has been one of the best third basemen during the past three seasons.
- Adrian Beltre. Beltre’s biggest concern is age, but he doesn’t seem like he will lose his hitting ability all at once and he plays in Texas, so he can keep pumping out 20 homers a year. Beltre has been the king of third base as far as value since 2014 (if you don’t count Miggy). A line-up where he hits by Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo and those two guys are healthy could make a big difference in his fantasy value, as he will have more protection and more chances to get RBIs. You don’t get speed value, but at this point Beltre is the most consistent guy you can see play third base every day.
- Evan Longoria. He’s now 29 and has settled in as .260 hitter who gets you 20-30 bombs a year. If his average was where everyone thought it could be, Longoria is back in the top 3, but if he continues to falter he’s going to keep moving down. The bright side is that he’s still only 29 and everything points to a rebound from his disappointing 2014. His power should creep back up and hopefully his average and productions will too. He’s still a solid pick, but don’t overdraft him just because of the name.
- Josh Donaldson. I always thought he was kind of fluky as a fantasy player. In real life, he’s going to provide the Jays with defensive value and good OBP among other things, but fantasy-wise I still think he’s overrated. You can count me in on the over for 30 homers in the Rogers Centre, but his average isn’t a ton better than Longoria’s, and even though his wOBA outshined Longo, I don’t expect Donaldson’s average to keep rising as there are concerns about his swing and strikeouts. So draft him expecting a decent sized year in Toronto, but don’t expect him to hit over .260.
- Kyle Seager. The most underrated player in baseball will be able to shine on my list. Seager can hit them out in Seattle and has maintained a steady enough average. He’s no Beltre or Rendon, but take a look at this:
HR wOBA OBP XBH OPS+ SB Player A 29 0.351 0.342 62 126 8 Player B 25 0.346 0.334 56 127 7
I’ll let you in on a secret. Player B is Kyle Seager. Willing to guess Player A? The man I’ve seen ranked number one by some fantasy experts this year: Josh Donaldson. While it’s safe to say you can’t really say Seager is a better, he’s definitely not much worse than Donaldson and can do all the same things for a lower pick or cheaper price.
- Todd Frazier. Frazier went from a decent prospect, to a guy with no big future because he was blocked, to an All-Star third baseman from the course of 2010 to 2014. Now that he’s settled in he’s going to be a 30 homer threat every year at the GABP. The biggest question mark is whether he’s a .230 hitter, a ,270 guy or somewhere in between. He went from .273 to .234 and back to .273. .273 is something fantasy owners can live with from a third baseman, but .234 can really kill you. His BABIP of .309 suggests that he wasn’t super lucky and my guess is that he can be at least a .260 hitter for you. He’s also not a ton worse than Donaldson in the fantasy sense. All three guys are the same type of player, so get the best value.
- Pablo Sandoval. Despite going to Fenway, I don’t expect this huge power surge from Sandoval. I expect him to be around what he’s been, a .280 hitter with 20 bombs. Hitting in a line-up with Napoli, Ramirez, Ortiz, and Pedroia could certainly give him a few more RBI opportunities, but once again don’t chase RBIs. As long as his weight holds up (and for this year I’m positive it will), he’s going to consistently give you those numbers. He’s a solid hitter and solid fantasy option, especially if you miss out on the first tier guys.
- Ryan Zimmerman. This was the guy I thought you could really put anywhere from seventh to fourteenth on this list, as he’s a huge question mark. He will gain first base eligibility but chances are that you will have at least one, maybe even two better first baseman drafted by the chance you get to Zimmerman. He’s been an injury risk, but at no point when healthy has he shown that he’s slowing down. All of his indicator stats are at great levels and watching him play, you can still see what a great, powerful hitter he is. If he’s healthy you found yourself a steal, which is why I settled on a higher ranking.
- Manny Machado. Machado was compared to Alex Rodriguez, a guy who ruled fantasy baseball numerous different seasons. Machado may never have that impact, but here we have another great hitter and a guy who is developing power and hits at Camden Yards. He’s also an injury risk, which hurts him, but he can provide you with a solid all-around season and won’t hurt your team by any means. If you’re in a keeper league, he’s a top 5 3B.
But, wait … where is Kris Bryant? I love Bryant; in my opinion he’s the top prospect in baseball and could quickly become one of the top 5 players in a few years, but I doubt he starts 2015 in the MLB, and if he doesn’t you won’t see him until June because of Super Two status. If you get him at a good value in a non-keeper, hold on to him because I’m sure he could help you out a LOT down the stretch, but if he’s not going to be up until July and he’s a rookie, it’s hard to just throw him in the top 10, even if he’s a top 10 talent. There’s too many unknowns about how he will adjust (keep in mind, even Mike Trout hit .220 in 123 ABs in 2011).