Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league-dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever and owners have minor league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.
The hot corner isn’t quite as hot anymore after losing Miguel Cabrera to the other side of the diamond, but the top tier of third basemen still remain relatively strong as a group, even if some of the names have shifted around. Power still remains the name of the game at third base even in this offensive environment, and that’s not going to change when some of the top prospects at the position graduate. However, after the first and second waves of major leaguers, the talent dries up relatively quickly—leaving us scrambling to grab from a pile of once-was and never-have-been players. The lack of depth at the position does lead to a greater prospect population on this list, which is an exciting proposition—especially when compared to the lack of minor leaguers on the previous three lists.
And now, your top 50 third basemen in dynasty formats:
Even with the sexiness of some of the names following him in the top-five of this list, there’s little doubt that Donaldson is the top dog here—so long as you count Anthony Rendon as a second baseman. The move from Oakland to Toronto has been well documented, but the potential for his power, average, and counting stats to all go up in lockstep is an exciting proposition.
What, you were expecting to see someone else here? The AL East is really quite a hot bed for third basemen these days, featuring the top two names on this list, and a few more not too far behind. Machado’s knees have kept him off the field more than we’d like to see, but he is still a 22-year-old with a career 104 OPS+. He’s also younger than the uber-prospect we’ll get to shortly. Okay fine, now.
Speaking of the uber-prospect, Bryant is the top fantasy prospect in the game right now and the only one who winds up this high on a positional list. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that we’re likely only 25 regular-season baseball games away from his major league debut, and he’s absolutely killed the minors. The pedigree, performance and proximity all scream fantasy superstar, and while we need to temper our excitement some (he’s not perfect, yes I’m talking to you), he’s as safe of a fantasy prospect as you’ll see.
They may be separated by a blurb, but Longoria and Bryant are awfully close in value, and a strong argument could be made for either. The argument for Longoria is that he’s paced for over 30 homers in all but two years of his career, is a career .271 hitter and has put some of those injury concerns in the rearview by only missing two games over the last two seasons. The case against Longoria is that even with great health the past two seasons, he hasn’t been a top-five fantasy third baseman either season, and he doesn’t quite rack up enough counting stats in a down lineup to reach that elite status he is often mistaken for. Meanwhile, Seager marches on trying to convince baseball fans that he’s better than his younger brother, who still hasn’t even made his major league debut. The elder’s steadiness is greatly appreciated in this age of scattered performance at the hot corner.
Both Wright and Beltre graces the top-five at this position last year, and Davis carried the same designation at a tougher position to crack. So what went wrong here? For Wright, it was a comparative disaster of a season marred by a shoulder injury that led to missed time and poor performance. He’ll look to bounce back to his 2012-13 levels in his age-32 season. Beltre doesn’t seem to age, but Baseball Reference tells us that he’ll be 36 just after Opening Day. As much as I love him in redraft leagues, he gets the age tax pretty hard here, even coming off another very strong season. Davis was a mess last year, and the natural conclusion is either that his 2013 was a fluke or his 2014 was unlucky medically, judicially and BABIPically. Realistically, it’s probably somewhere in between, so don’t be shocked if he goes out and hits 40 homers again this year. Sandwiched between the fallers is Arenado, who had a nice boost in power over his rookie season. If he ends up as a .300 hitter with 20 homers, as was hinted at during his prospect days (and in 2014), he’ll be quite the fantasy stalwart in Coors.
The payoff and the struggles are very similar for these two, and while Gallo is the exciting newcomer to high-end prospectdom, Sano still bests him in value for now. Sano will return in 2015, after missing all of last year due to Tommy John surgery and has a spot in the middle of the Twins order waiting for him when he’s ready. Gallo absolutely murdered High-A, but saw some of his old struggles return when he crossed the gauntlet in Frisco. These two, plus Bryant, could make the hot corner a hot bed for power during the second half of this decade and beyond.
Frazier is an awfully tough guy to peg here, since the steals were a big part of his additional value, and while there was a tangible reason or it (at least according to Frazier), banking on that to continue at that level is a tough sell. Also, despite only having three full seasons under his belt, Frazier will turn 28 later this month. If he’s a .260 hitter with 20-25 homers and 10 steals going forward, that’s great, but it doesn’t get him into the top-10 on this strong list. Sandoval analysis always starts and ends with the ballpark switch. Of course, it’s a great ballpark switch. If you’re into that sort of thing, Sandoval has a career TAv just a thousandth of a point lower than Evan Longoria (.297 versus .298).
The hits roll on at third base as Zimmerman takes his farewell tour at the position due to a shoulder that is the joint equivalent of Amanda Bynes’ twitter usage. With that said, the talent at the plate is still there, and he will continue to be a fantasy asset at first base for years to come. Carpenter and Santana have been downgraded eligibility-wise, and this won’t even be Santana’s final destination. Regardless, both will continue to contribute in the two categories they do best—for Carpenter, it’s runs and average; for Santana, it’s homers and RBI.
Another pair of prospects with similar talents, at least once park effects are taken into account. Were they both going to be in equivalent ballparks at the major league level, Peterson would get the edge, but Citizens Bank Park is just one big gift to right-handed hitters with power than Franco takes it here. Both guys could hit .280 with 25 homers in their given situations though.
21) Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
22) Josh Harrison, Pittsburgh Pirates
23) Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies
24) Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates
25) Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland Indians
26) Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
27) Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins
28) Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks
29) Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals
As much affinity as I have for Ramirez, it’s hard to admit that the end is likely near. However, he’s not without value so long as he’s in Milwaukee. McMahon and Devers are very exciting prospects, and they are on their way up towards two years of very high rankings on prospect lists. However, don’t sleep on Drury, who will get to the majors faster than either of them and has a nice big opening in front of him with the Diamondbacks (not to mention a very strong home park situation). Dozier also carries plenty of upside, but was greatly exposed at Double-A this year. If you know what to expect out of Harrison or Chisenhall this year, let alone beyond that, you’re a smarter man/woman than any of us. That said, their owners likely don’t believe, so if you want to take a small chance that their strong seasons can carry forward, it won’t cost much.
30) Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
31) David Freese, Los Angeles Angels
32) Garin Cecchini, Boston Red Sox
33) Luis Valbuena, Houston Astros
34) Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox
35) Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks
36) Juan Uribe, Los Angeles Dodgers
37) Will Middlebrooks, San Diego Padres
Now that we’re three months removed from the playoffs, we’ll see if the Moustakas hype train slows down a little. There’s too much of a track record that suggests he’s not good to jump back in based on a couple of weeks. Cecchini and Valbuena found themselves in opposite situations this offseason—the former was buried under a pile of money on the Red Sox depth chart and the latter was staring at extinction in the Cubs org with all of the prospect talent on the way, but could have all the playing time he wants if he continues to be solid in Houston.
Sometimes rankings just work out in funny ways. Less than a month ago, Ruiz was sent from Houston to Atlanta in the Evan Gattis deal, meaning that Moran is now their third baseman of the future. Of course, even if he hadn’t made the deal, there was a pretty good chance that neither would have carried that designation.
40) Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
41) Yangervis Solarte, San Diego Padres
42) Casey McGehee, Miami Marlins
43) Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
44) Mike Olt, Chicago Cubs
45) Jhoan Urena, New York Mets
46) Ti’Quan Forbes, Texas Rangers
47) Matt Dominguez, Houston Astros
48) Brock Holt, Boston Red Sox
49) Gilbert Lara, Milwaukee Brewers
50) Gavin LaValley, Cincinnati Reds
This tier is a fun combination of retread major leaguers and prospects with upside who are forever away. No one is going to miss A-Rod when he’s gone, but he’s not gone yet. Olt keeps drifting further and further out to sea, but the Valbuena trade could get him another month to prove he’s not worthless in dynasty leagues. It makes my heart happy to squeeze Lara and LaValley into this list, and while they both won’t make an impact for at least four years, even if things go swimmingly.
It’s not a pretty group down here, but then again, that’s why they didn’t make the list.