Previous articles in this series:
As you’re all aware by this point, a couple interesting third base options—such as Yasmany Tomas and Brett Lawrie—won’t appear on this list. For sake of continuity, Lawrie is considered a second baseman for this exercise, and Tomas will be featured in the outfield rankings because he hasn’t played a single game at third to this point. If you’re wondering where Cody Asche is, however, I can confidently assert that I left him off this list and I won’t apologize for it.
Note: This three-year ranking is not a staff consensus; rather, this is my personal three-year ranking at the third base position. I just don’t want you whining to Bret Sayre that BP ruined your keeper/dynasty league, when it was really me. And when I help you win your various leagues, I expect monetary rewards. I’m on that grad-school budget and could use a fancy night out at Chipotle.
Dreams, man. We all have to have ‘em.
Three-year rankings disclaimer: Most of the weight is placed upon projected 2015 performance, with a substantial drop in weighting potential 2016 performance and then another drop in how 2017 output is valued. Finally, remember these are themed around positions, so losing eligibility is a big deal within the confines of this particular exercise.
1. Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
At only 29 years old and moving into a bandbox of a stadium in Toronto, Donaldson stands above his peers. He’s in his prime, and offers 30-plus homer potential and great contextual statistics. He even stole eight bases a year ago. If his BABIP rebounds a bit to near .300, he could be a true five-category producer for the next few years.
This second grouping of players is intriguing because it offers a steady middle-of-the-order bat in his prime (Seager), an aging stud whose power may finally be slipping (Beltre), and a 22-year-old hotshot who mashed in July and August before succumbing to a knee injury. In many ways, this trio is about preference. It’s reasonable to assume their overall production will be similar—do you prefer the “boring” option, the mid-30s potential Hall of Famer, or the alluring upside pick?
Over the past half-decade, Wright and Longoria have been mainstays atop fantasy rankings. They were once both true five-category producers in their careers, and due to injury or decreased performance in 2014, their value is suddenly questionable. If Wright remains healthy the next three years, he’ll deserve to be bumped up a notch. If Longoria can compile a .280-.300 batting average, he’ll similarly be more valuable than the no. 7 position. The question marks, though, keep them in Group 3, for me. As for Arenado, I recently wrote about him in the Players To Target article this week. I’m a fan.
Here’s the man fantasy owners will be drooling over on draft day: Kris Bryant. He hit 43 homers last year, hit over .300, and stole 15 bases. The 23-year-old appears to be a bona fide superstar and he could be in the big leagues in April. Of course, people don’t much talk about the legit swing-and-miss in his game. I think Bryant will transition nicely to the majors, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. He could stutter-step before catching his stride.
I don’t love Sandoval, but the move to Boston should improve his fantasy production—even if he did hit better at AT&T Park than away from it. Frazier is a nice player with 20-homer power, but I’m not sold on the batting average remaining palatable. His stolen-base numbers will likely fall, too. I concede that reasonable people can suggest that I’m too low on Frazier, but a fantasy analyst has to take a stand somewhere, ya know?
Carpenter is a two-trick pony, but the pair of tricks can still attract a crowd. Given the construction of your team, grabbing a guy with massive run totals and a good batting average isn’t bad business, even if he’ll be mediocre elsewhere. It’s just tough to rely on the former 13th-round pick to anchor your offense. Zimmerman could be good value on draft day, but given his sudden injury questions and his likely move away from third base, he drops in the rankings. Finally, a lot of people have begun to look past Castellanos due to his pedestrian rookie campaign; however, he could still hit for average and post good run/RBI numbers with modest power. Of course, he’s brutal at third base and isn’t assured to have long-term positional value.
Alvarez and Davis are huge power guys with batting average issues and may not have third-base eligibility after the 2015 season. Aramis Ramirez is a wonderful hitter and has been for years, but age and injuries have cast a shadow on his fantasy shine. Our second prospect checks in on the list, too, as Miguel Sano could make a cameo in Minneapolis this year before assuming the everyday role in 2016. He hit 83 homers between 2011 and 2013, before needing Tommy John surgery. That level power is rare in today’s game. An optimist wonders if he’ll even hit for average, too.
The BABIP will fall for Harrison next year, but he could still offer double-digit production in homers and stolen bases with decent contextual stats. The question surrounds his long-term value. His defensive position remains unclear. His track record is also miniscule. Too many question marks here to place him too high over the next three years. Chris Johnson is unexciting, but has an everyday job and could be solid if the BABIP gods smile down on him.
Joey Gallo possesses 80 raw power and clubbed 42 homers a year ago. The transition to Double-A exploited his currently below-average hit tool, but that’s unlikely to ever be his calling card. For fantasy owners, though, he could be a middle-of-the-order bat with massive power, .240-.250 batting average, and gaudy contextual stats.
I really like D.J. Peterson. He could offer power, average, and runs. The problem, however, is that Kyle Seager is entrenched at third base in Seattle, and he may have to move to first base, regardless, due to his glove. Moustakas enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the postseason and benefits from the Royals’ lack of depth at the position. Chisenhall isn’t the guy who hit .332/.396/.519 in the first half last year, but he could be nice strong side of the platoon for Cleveland over the next few years. And for Franco, the power and proximity to the big leagues are enticing; however, the severe holes in his approach and the defensive question marks that may have him moving across the diamond limit his three-year value profile.
It seems Middlebrooks is going to see regular playing time in San Diego—unless A.J. Preller makes another half-dozen moves and winds up with a blocked prospect, such as Garin Cecchini, who is on the cusp of the majors. While Plouffe receives nothing but scoffs in fantasy circles, he’s a good bet for 15-ish homers and always is red-hot for a couple months during the year. The trick is figuring out which months those are, I guess.
Alex Rodriguez rounds out the list. The King of Darkness will be born again in New York.
Notable Omissions: David Freese, Angels; Casey McGehee, Giants; Juan Uribe, Dodgers; Conor Gillaspie, White Sox; Cody Asche, Phillies; Brock Holt, Red Sox; Jake Lamb, Diamondbacks; Matt Davidson, White Sox; Cheslor Cuthbert, Royals; Hunter Dozier, Royals; and Ryan Rua, Rangers.