Both in real life and fantasy, it's a joy to watch the current crop of third basemen play. The position most neglected historically is having maybe its best era, with great peak talents, future Hall of Famers exiting their prime, and a few youngsters getting ready to approach greatness. What's more, this list doesn't even contain Kris Bryant yet.
As ever, our house rules for these rankings. The keeper rankings assume that your team is in a 10-team continuing league with 13 hard keepers, including up to two crossovers, operating under standard Scoresheet rules. The more your league differs from normal, the more your lists may vary.
Machado caused some internal dissension among the Outcomes, centered mostly on his overall potential. He's young and talented to a degree unmatched even in this heady crowd, but his defense doesn't stand out in Scoresheet to the degree it does in real life, and he may not return the top end hitting available at the position. Very few Scoresheet owners are trading Machado this offseason, however, so consider this an academic exercise.
3. Xander Bogaerts (5)
This is mostly for reference when compared to the shortstop lists next week. We'd be curious to find the team that would play Bogaerts at third, considering the relative strength of each position.
We assume you know this already, but more than most, Beltre's position on this list is contingent on team strength. If you're not one of the best teams in the league, trade Beltre to someone who is to fill other needs. Even if you have to draft your third baseman, you should probably be okay.
Scoresheet moderates extreme defense, and Santana is a beneficiary. He should be paired with a strong defensive player elsewhere on your team, or your pitchers may get punished, but having a true first baseman's bat at the position for a year is worth some roster manipulation.
8. Kyle Seager (11)
It's a simulation, not real life. Kyle Seager is increasingly acknowledged as one of the better players in baseball, but here, Safeco continues to eat into his value. Once the park effects are factored in, he isn't the same caliber of hitter as anyone ahead of him on the list, and he's not a true standout defender.
9. Brett Lawrie (13)
Third base is a deep position made even deeper by players who'll likely be stationed elsewhere. We plum forgot Lawrie in the second-base rankings last week; he'd rank as high as third in the AL.
10. Chase Headley (15)
A surprisingly controversial player, Headley was not a universal keeper when polling the Outcomes. We're generally expecting a mild bounceback in Yankee Stadium, buffeted by a major park boost. Even the Headley of 2014 gives you a solid lineup extender.
11. Chris Davis (17)
Should you play Chris Davis at third base next year? It's tough to draw a bright line below which a player is worthless, especially considering he only rates slightly behind Carlos Santana and some real-life third basemen, but a 2.55 range ranking requires strong balancing defense at multiple positions. With third base being a relatively deep field, it's hard to imagine the relative offensive boost being worth it.
This whole crowd could easily be listed in the next section, and owners of these players should consider their options. Castellanos is worth particular mention. He's young, and he has prospect sheen, but his defense is at the Santana line and his hitting reputation is bolstered by a fluky BABIP year in the minors. It's hard to throw back players who you've protected and nurtured, but Castellanos is probably not worth the trouble in a deep field.
Below the Keeper Line
Mike Moustakas had a fine October, platoons well, and is heading into his traditional prime years. That makes him a mid-round draft target, but not a keeper. David Freese no longer hits well enough to offset the poor defense and perennial injury risk. Conor Gillaspie is a worst-case scenario in most AL leagues. That worst case is "fine."
1. Nolan Arenado (3)
One of the most appealing growth assets in Scoresheet. Arenado brings with him great (if still underrated) defense, a long-term home in the best ballpark of the Scoresheet era, and the potential to unlock further power. He may be overpraised in real life, but he's the kind of fantasy player you can build your team around.
Wright's rankings show the depth of the mixed-league, or BL, format, relative to that of the NL. Wright owners can't be happy with his plummeting worth, but his perceived value may have finally fallen below what he can actually bring to a team.
5. Todd Frazier (14)
The National League's answer to Kyle Seager. Frazier isn't quite the star that he seemed to be at times last year. Now aging past his peak, he's more likely to be solid than he is to be a first division star.
6. Josh Harrison (16)
Congratulations on your 25th-round pick paying off. Harrison isn't nearly as versatile in Scoresheet as he is in real life, but he should be able to hit well enough to be a league-average third baseman anyway.
7. Ryan Zimmerman (18)
The move across the diamond should reduce Zimmerman's error rate, but we remain slightly skeptical that he'll stay healthy over there. As a first baseman, he's a fine player, but more of a back-end keeper in the long run.
Alvarez is only a keeper in the right circumstance (perhaps as a poor man's Ryan ZImmerman). He shouldn't hold any value beyond 2015, but the move across the diamond will keep his error rate down, and he's one of the better platoon options in the game.
Below the Keeper Line
It may be tempting to keep Cody Asche into his peak years, but it's hard to envision him ever being in the top half of players at his position, and he's holding you back now. Casey McGehee is a neat comeback story who is more of a late-round flier.
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