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J.J. Jansons and I are taking turns doing the three-year rankings, and with catchers, first basemen, and second basemen in the rearview it’s time to focus on the hot corner.

These rankings function best as something like a cross between keeper preferences and dynasty rankings for those whose window of contention is open in the immediate future. Crucially, these rankings are mine alone. They no doubt vary from the opinions of other smart evaluators on this site, and that’s okay. Good, even. This wouldn’t be much fun if we all thought the same thing about every player and couldn’t learn from each other in the cases where we diverge.

On to a list that’s as impressive at the top as it is ugly the bottom:

1. Manny Machado

2. Josh Donaldson

3. Kris Bryant

4. Nolan Arenado

As J.P. Breen and George Bissell have already covered in the tiered re-draft rankings and early ADP analysis, the collection of premium young talent at the top of this position is staggering. While I wouldn’t quibble too much with any permutation of these four names, Machado is my top choice because of the five-category production and outrageously high baseline. The reigning American League MVP gets the nod over the young Cub despite a six-year age gap. If there’s a knock on Bryant, it’s the contact rate that lags the league average by nearly 12 percentage points, and the resulting strikeout rate that eclipsed 30 percent in 2015. I’m not saying Bryant can’t or won’t improve on those metrics in his sophomore season, but I want to see that development realized before I switch the two. Arenado’s 42-home-run, 130-RBI season was eye opening, but I’ll wager that they both finish as career highs. The RBI production especially is due for a backslide, even if Arenado’s underlying game stays just as strong as it was in 2015. Only 13 players got to triple-digit RBI last season and only three of those cleared 115. He’ll drive in plenty in 2016, but the comparative advantage will shrink substantially.

5. Kyle Seager

I loved Jeff Quinton’s observation earlier this week that the second tier of third basemen are being undervalued because they don’t measure up to the incredibly high bar set by the top four. If that trend holds as we get closer to the season, I’ll own Seager everywhere. He hasn’t played fewer than 155 games or hit fewer than 20 home runs since he became a full-time starter in 2012, and most amazingly, no annual batting average has finished outside the nine-point range from .259 to .268. Add in a handful of steals and a bankable 150 R+RBI with upside for more if the Mariners offense improves, and you have steady production from a player who still has two years left on the right side of 30.

6. Maikel Franco

I think people are sleeping on Franco a little, which seems odd given his recent top prospect status and the productive rookie season he turned in at age 22. You can’t simply extrapolate the 14 home runs, 45 runs, and 50 RBI he tallied over 80 games to arrive at a would-be full-season line, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Franco has a top-five finish or two over the next three seasons. There’s a higher floor here than most non-superstar young players can offer, with upside in the power department.

7. Todd Frazier

8. Matt Carpenter

Frazier landed in a good spot given the inevitability of a trade this winter, but 2015’s second-half fade is somewhat worrisome. Despite that hesitation, I think he’s good for 25 home runs and double-digit steals, the latter of which is a total likely to taper off sooner rather than later. I’m not buying Carpenter as a repeat 20 home run bat despite the drastic change in approach. I am buying a repeat of triple-digit run-scoring atop the Cardinals lineup.

9. Mike Moustakas

10. Evan Longoria

Moustakas had a breakout year at age 26, delivering on some of the promise he showed as at top-20 prospect once upon a time. He’s not quite going to be the guy we thought he’d be after a 36 home run 2010 in the upper levels of the minors, but I do believe he can continue to be the player we saw in 2015. I surprised myself by dropping Longoria into the top ten and perhaps his placement says more about the players behind him than it does about Longo. There’s playing time certainty and with it, opportunity to compile counting stats. At 30 years old, Longoria is younger than you might think. It’s too early to regress his output significantly based on the aging curve alone.

11. Nick Castellanos

12. Matt Duffy

13. Yasmany Tomas

Castellanos has been disappointing relative to expectations bestowed upon him as a prospect, but he has two full major league seasons under his belt and hasn’t turned 24 yet. If we’re docking Frazier for his second half decline, we should at least be cognizant that Castellanos’ second-half OPS bettered his first half by 150 points. The context in Detroit is extremely strong and if you’re looking for RBI upside, Castellanos is as good a bet as anyone in this range. The leash is getting shorter but there’s still some left. If you know what to expect from Duffy or Tomas, you’re better than I am. I don’t think Duffy is as good as he was in 2015, and likewise, I don’t think Tomas is as bad. Tomas is only 25 and still has plenty of raw power to tap into.

14. Pablo Sandoval

15. Adrian Beltre

16. Chase Headley

I think this might make me the high guy on both Panda and Headley. Sandoval was an abject disaster in 2015 but he was a top 125 pick in 2015 and is barely inside the top 300 now. You might not think he’s going to revert to the player he was in San Francisco, but a 175-pick slip overstates the level to which his true talent level deteriorated in one year. I like the odds of a rebound to fringy mixed-league starter status. This Beltre ranking might look foolish if he continues to play and produce through injuries, but he’ll turn 37 shortly after Opening Day and I can’t shake the image of Beltre hobbling off the field in game one of the ALDS. I like Headley here as a known quantity with three years left in Yankee Stadium and no imminent challengers for his playing time. I think we all know he won’t sniff the 31-homer output he gave us in 2012, but a total in the mid-teens is in play and he won’t kill you elsewhere.

17. Justin Turner

18. Danny Valencia

19. Trevor Plouffe

20. Yangervis Solarte

Here’s a veteran group for those of you who want to emphasize year one of this three year look. Turner has been far better than people probably realize, turning in a TAv of .340 in 2014 and .321 in 2015. He’d be higher if I felt more strongly that he’ll eclipse 400 plate appearances in 2015. Valencia and Plouffe are nice power options for deeper leagues, while Solarte is mostly here because the Padres have few alternatives and he’s a top-third-of-the-order hitter and an acceptable all-around contributor.

21. Jake Lamb

22. Hector Olivera

23. Colin Moran

Lamb was not special in his rookie season, but he showed enough to earn the bulk of the time at third base in the desert. Then again, it’s Arizona, so who knows how they’ll deploy their stable of 25-year-old infielders. I’m not sure what to do with Olivera. “30-year-old who has played one season of competitive baseball in the past five years” isn’t my favorite profile. I’m a bigger Moran supporter than most because I think his hit tool will play at the major league level even if his power isn’t ideal from the hot corner. This ranking also reflects my belief that Luis Valbuena won’t make it through 2016 as Houston’s everyday third baseman…

24. Martin Prado

25. Yunel Escobar

26. Luis Valbuena

27. David Wright

..but he will there on Opening Day doing the same big power/low average thing we’re used to. I am really not a fan of batting average drains no matter what else the player brings to counterbalance that anchor, so Prado and Escobar rank higher than Valbuena here. Prado gets the edge because his recent history suggests a .280 hitter while Escobar is more like a .260 guy, despite the surprising .314 he achieved in 2015. “33-year-old with a degenerative spinal condition” outranks “30-year-old who has played one season of competitive baseball in the past five years” on my list of least-favorite fantasy descriptors.

28. Tyler Saladino

29. Renato Nunez

Saladino is one of my favorite sneaky endgame or deep league targets for 2016. Tim Anderson isn’t quite ready and with Alexei Ramirez departed, the Opening Day assignment looks like it’s Saladino’s to lose. Which he very well might. If he can hit enough to stay in the lineup, Saladino will run enough to make an impact. He swiped eight bags in 68 major-league games after stealing 25 in just 52 Triple-A contests in 2015. As has been well documented this offseason, league-wide stolen-base output is on the decline. You could do worse than to take a flier on a potential 20-bag player with a job, especially since he’ll gain eligibility up the defensive spectrum. Nunez launched 18 bombs in fewer than 100 Double-A games in 2015 while also trimming his strikeout rate to 15.9 percent, a new career low. With another productive season, Nunez could put himself in a position to contribute in Oakland in 2017.

30. David Freese

31. Lonnie Chisenhall

32. Adonis Garcia

33. Giovanny Urshela

34. Mark Reynolds

35. Derek Dietrich

36. Jed Lowrie

37. Will Middlebrooks

My only goal in making this list was to find enough names to leave Will Middlebrooks off. I failed.

38. Eric Jagielo

39. D.J. Peterson

40. Ryan McMahon

I included one overhyped Red Sox prospect from the early 2010s but I draw the line at Garin Cecchini, so I’ll conclude with a trio of prospects who are unlikely to have any kind of impact until 2017 at the earliest. Jagielo was in the middle of an excellent Double-A season when knee surgery ended it. He should be fully healthy to start 2016 and could conceivably reach Cincinnati for a September trial if he picks up where he left off. Peterson is probably the closest to the majors but was heinous in Double-A in 2015, slashing .223/.290/.346. The near certainty of a move across the diamond will take third-base eligibility away before we can even use it. McMahon added to his impressive professional resume in 2015, but he hasn’t played in Double-A yet and is blocked by the fourth best option on this list. I expect he’ll rank significantly higher on Bret’s proper dynasty rankings tomorrow.

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digiderek
2/03
You include D.J. Peterson but leave off Devers completely? Really?
huztlers
2/03
Devers is not going to make much impact over the next three years. These aren't keeper rankings.
zwsmith17
2/03
I'm just curious, why isn't Manny Machado getting more love as something like a top 5 pick instead of just a top 10 pick?
GeorgeBissell
2/03
That's really splitting hairs...He's going eighth overall according to current NFBC ADP and you can absolutely make the case for Machado over Correa or Arenado which would vault him up a few spots. However, I can't see him getting into the top five overall ahead of Donaldson and Kershaw.
nicholj
2/03
To state the obvious, Eric Jagielo was traded to the Reds in the Aroldis Chapman deal, unless that trade was rescinded and it is me who is living under a rock.
gregwellemeyer
2/03
Yep. I (obviously) forgot about the trade when I wrote this up. Thanks for pointing out. The GBAP isn't quite Yankee Stadium in terms of favorability for LH power, but it's a pretty nice place to hit. There's probably less standing between Jagielo and a big league debut too, so you could make an argument to bump him up a few spots.
lyricalkiller
2/03
Fixed
adrock
2/03
Devers has negligible value over at least 2 of the next 3 years, and possibly all 3. He would presumably appear on a true Dynasty list.
bhart408
2/03
Eric Jagielo was traded to the Reds
bhacking
2/03
Joey Gallo was listed as the #8 overall prospect but isn't mentioned on this list? Is this because he's not likely to stick at 3B? Enquiring minds want to know :-)
gregwellemeyer
2/03
Gallo will be included in our OF coverage.
AlexTheGreat
2/03
Seems like he should get enough starts to qualify at 3B for the next 3 years, is there any reason you doubt that?
GeorgeBissell
2/03
The most likely scenario is that Adrian Beltre isn't going anywhere (they're reportedly even discussing an extension with him). Gallo is far more likely to end up as a corner outfielder (he was fine defensively there last year) than at third base. It's possible if Beltre were to get hurt he could garner enough playing time to qualify at third, but it's looking more likely he ends up as an outfielder or at first base long-term.
gregwellemeyer
2/03
That very well could be true, but our methodology for rankings players with limited major league experience is to place them in the position where they played the most at the big league level. Gallo appeared 17 times in the OF and 13 at 3B. For what it's worth, I'd probably find Gallo a spot at the end of the top ten.
mattstupp
2/03
Sad to see David Wright listed between Luis Valbuena and Tyler Saladino. Not arguing with the placement- just sad. Here's hoping he and the Mets find a way to squeeze out some above-average production for just a few more years.
huztlers
2/03
Moran doesn't belong on the list, let alone where he is placed.
gregwellemeyer
2/03
Yeah...well...that's just, like...your opinion, man.
cracker73
2/03
What about Anthony Rendon?
gregwellemeyer
2/03
He's with the 2B.
DeathSpeculum
2/03
WHERE'S CHRIS DAVIS?!?!?!? (j/k)
chrisw
2/03
Where would Anthony Rendon fall on this list. I know he's listed with the 2B, but in reality, he will be a 3B this year and beyond.
mjuslivin
3/02
I was just wondering that exact same thing, as in my case--if he doesn't play enough 2B THIS year, he loses eligibility .