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The league’s best player/weatherman leads the outfield, and there are young stars at shortstop, but it turns out that there’s no healthier position in baseball right now than at third base. In both leagues, in every format, you will likely be satisfied with your starter, and the stars at the position burn bright and hot. The downside to that depth, however, is that you may be compelled to throw back players who you may otherwise feel are worthy of a keeper slot. If you have two quality third basemen, you may be forced to make a tougher call than usual.

As always, these ratings are based upon a standard, ten team continuing league, and players who can play multiple positions are being evaluated as a third baseman alone.

American League

1. Manny Machado (Overall Ranking: 1)
2. Josh Donaldson (3)
3. Miguel Sano (5)

Sano was the target of much consternation in the offseason as to whether he would even qualify as a third baseman. (We’ve made our position clear on the topic.) He’s here, but with the depth at the position, he’s likely more valuable as a corner outfielder anyway, particularly since third base outhit the corners last year. Either way, owners should settle in for a fun ride.

4. Kyle Seager (7)
5. Mike Moustakas (10)
6. Todd Frazier (11, NL 6)
7. Evan Longoria (12)
8. Adrian Beltre (13)

These are all players who can push your team towards the playoffs. In our podcast this week, we go into more depth as to why we have Moustakas ahead of the more experienced players, but in short, we believe that he’ll hold enough of his leap forward last year to make him a slightly more exciting long-term option.

9. Luis Valbuena (22)
10. Trevor Plouffe (23)
11. Nick Castellanos (24)
12. Brett Lawrie (25)

There’s a significant gap between these tiers, to the degree that you may be able to float these players if you need to keep a starter elsewhere. Castellanos, in particular, shouldn’t be kept in many leagues, as his relative youth doesn’t make up for his deficiencies on both sides of the plate.

Below the Keeper Line

At this point in his career, Chase Headley is a singles hitter going steady, but it’s going to be tough to find a place for him in a ten team league. Pablo Sandoval has some bounceback potential as a hitter, but his range has degraded to the point where your team is better off panda-free. Without shortstop eligibility, Brock Holt isn’t quite versatile enough in this format to justify keeping. Giovanny Urshela still feels more like a placeholder than a future keeper.

National League

1. Kris Bryant (2)
2. Nolan Arenado (4)

It’s splitting hairs, but consider this ranking a reflection of Arenado’s more precarious home-field advantage. We rank the star third basemen as Machado, Bryant, Donaldson, and Arenado in continuing leagues, which is a fun and purely academic exercise.

3. Matt Carpenter (6)
4. Anthony Rendon (8)
5. Maikel Franco (9)

Rendon terrifies us with his lengthy injury history, but he simply can’t fall any lower. Franco excites us, but we can’t rank him higher than this. And voila! We’d still probably make that trade.

6. Justin Turner (14)
7. Jung-ho Kang (15)
8. Josh Harrison (16)
9. Daniel Murphy (17)
10. David Wright (18)
11. Jake Lamb (19)
12. Matt Duffy (20)
13. Derek Dietrich (21)

Astute readers and Count Von Count alike will realize that we listed more than ten keepers at the position, but these players are both relatively close in value, and likely stronger than some of your other keepers. To unpack this mess some, we believe in Lamb, would trade Duffy to a team who believes more strongly than we do, and would cut Dietrich and feel sad about it for a while.

Below the Keeper Line

Yasmany Tomas received a better fielding range rating than we would have anticipated, but the position crunch and his limited upside limit his potential. Speaking of disappointing Cuban national players, Hector Olivera has now gone several years without being better than replacement. Martin Prado is coming to the end of a great career. He still has the defense, but little else.

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