The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Third Basemen, Nos. 1-20
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The hot corner has lost some valuable commodities in recent years, as the like of Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion no longer qualify, and it’s yet to gain ascendant talent like Anthony Rendon. Still, The Bringer of Rain proved he was more than a one-time wonder with a second straight dominant season that pushed him to the top of the third base rankings, and there’s plenty of promising prospect talent behind him:
1) Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Age 29, Previous Rank: 7)
Donaldson has established himself as one of the best players in baseball over the past two years, and even more so in the fantasy world. His .840 OPS ranks second-highest among qualified third basemen over that span (third if you include no longer eligible Miguel Cabrera). This winter’s trade that sent him north of the border will do him a favour as it allows him to escape from pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum to hitter-friendly Rogers Centre. Additionally, hitting in the middle of the intimidating Toronto lineup will help him collect more runs and RBI. He also steals five to 10 bases a year. Although steep drops he saw in his average (.301 to .255), BABIP (.333 to .278), and LD rate (20.6 percent to 13.5 percent) are a tad concerning.
2) Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (Age 23, Previous Rank: 8)
Slotting in someone with zero MLB experience this high may seem aggressive and bold. But for a 22-year-old who crushed a minor league-leading 43 long balls and slashed .325/.438/.661 between Double-A and Triple-A in his first full season, this is a proper ranking. He’s ready to flash immediate impact at the MLB level in 2015. The former USD Torero’s enormous potential should stand out for a long time in this era of ever-declining offense. He strikes out a lot, and there’s a little uncertainty if he can stick at third base. Wherever he ends up on the field, you’ll struggle not to fall in love with a guy who provides 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI on the regular.
3) Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (Age 22, Previous Rank: 4)
Machado’s injury-plagued 2014 won’t hurt his value by much as he’s just entering his age-22 season. Yes, he’s even younger than heralded top prospect Kris Bryant. Though the devastating knee injuries he had may cost him some mobility, there’s a plenty of room for him to improve his offensive value. In limited playing time, he did show more over-the-fence power on a per at-bat basis. On the other hand, it seems like he’ll never walk enough to be an OBP machine. If he keeps up with his power game, he’ll be much more valuable than he was in 2013 for further into the future.
4) Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (Age 29, Previous Rank: 2)
The former ROY had a mediocre campaign by his standards in 2014. He posted a career-low in walk rate (8.1) and ISO (.151), as well as OBP (.320) and SLG (.404), hence his OPS was a career-worst by more than one hundred points. What caused his offensive collapse is also career-low BABIP (.285) and HR/FB ratio (10.8 percent). So if these numbers get back to the levels they used to be at, so does his production. Meanwhile, his loss in average fly ball distance (291.1 in 2013 to 279.5 in 2014) is worrisome. In a worst case scenario, he’ll be a third base playing Mark Teixeira in his 30s.
5) Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (Age 35, Previous Rank: 5)
He’s entering his age-36 season, but Beltre has shown very few signs of decline. He’s been the most fearsome offensive threat at the hot corner (if you don’t count Miguel Cabrera) in the past three years, as his .320 average, 85 HR, and 271 RBI totals in that span rank higher than any other third baseman. Another encouraging factor is that he’s gotten more patient as he ages. His walk ratio has improved over the last 4 seasons, last year it was nearly a double of what it was in 2011. His bad legs might cause him missing some playing time though. Beltre will give you another superior fantasy season in 2015, unless you try to touch his head.
6) Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (Age 27, Previous Rank: 11)
The UNC product has turned the page and quietly evolved himself into one of the better third basemen in the game, earning a huge contract extension in the process. In each of his 3 full seasons, Seager cleared the 20 HR threshold and hit around .260. His RBI total since 2012 (251) ranks second most behind only Beltre and runs scored (212) ranks 5th most among guys manning the hot corner. He’s also stolen 29 bases over the same time span. As the older Seager stepping into his prime, you can expect him to repeat his 2014 numbers, with a 30-home run campaign not seeming out of reach.
7) David Wright, New York Mets (Age 32, Previous Rank: 3)
Wright is in quite the same circumstance as Longoria. The difference is that Wright is three years older. He’s coming off of his worst campaign where he had a career low OBP (.324), SLG (.374), and ISO (.105). Last year, he failed to top 10 home runs in a season for the first time since reached the bigs. He walked at a 7.2 percent clip, the lowest since his rookie year. With so much negativity surrounding him, you can count on him for a comeback season in 2015. He may not hit .300 again, but a guy who can put up a .280 average, smash 15 HR, drive in and score 70+ runs while swiping 10 bases is a valuable asset in the fantasy world.
8) Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (Age 23, Previous Rank: 13)
In his sophomore season, Arenado showed improvement on the offensive side of his game, putting up an average 20 points higher and trotting around the diamond eight more times than in 2013 even though he played less due to a fractured finger. The average jump wasn’t fueled by luck, as his BABIP actually dropped a bit from .296 to .294. In his prime, he’ll hit 25 bombs and drive in somewhere around 85 runs yearly while hitting near .300. Furthermore, hitting in the middle of the Rockies lineup and playing half of his games at Coors Field won’t cost him anything.
9) Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds (Age 29, Previous Rank: 19)
After a somewhat disappointing 2013 campaign, Frazier put up the numbers everyone who saw his breakout 2012 expected, and made the National League all-star team. He probably won’t hit 29 home runs again, but his .273/.336/.459 slash line last year is repeatable. He stole 20 bases in 2014, most by a third baseman. This trend is likely to continue as he’ll get the green light from Bryan Price. For the next few years, he could be a rare multi-time 20-20 guy for the hot corner, with 80 runs and RBI annually. Even if he falls short in stolen bases, the overall package is quite attractive.
10) Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (Age 21, Previous Rank: 6)
His 2014 was lost to a torn UCL in his throwing arm that pushed his timetable back a year, but it had nothing to do with his Brobdingnagian power potential. Even after losing a year of development, the San Pedro de Macoris native is still a couple years younger than his peers at AA, where he’s likely to start 2015. Moreover, for the second straight year, Sano is the youngest player in the top 10 of this TDG ranking. Like Kris Bryant, he strikes out at a more-than-acceptable rate and his enormous frame may force him to move over to first base or corner outfield. No matter where his future home is though, he should be the powerhouse of your offense for years to come.
11) Pablo Sandoval, Boston Red Sox (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 12)
Kung Fu Panda is moving from a brutal hitters’ park in San Francisco to a hitting paradise in Boston, so it would not be surprising to see a significant boost from his .279/.324/.415 2014 slash line. Sandoval hasn’t broken the 20 homer barrier since 2011, but he stands a good chance of doing it this year. He should also see gains in runs and RBI as part of a more potent Red Sox lineup. One potential snag is motivation, which has been a problem in the past. Will his fat new contract trigger some complacency? Sandoval is still in his prime but his size and aggressive style of play could lead to increased risk of injury and perhaps an early decline.
12) Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 9)
He missed more than half the 2014 season with a leg injury, but still hit close to his career averages at .280/.343/.449. Zimmerman is expected to be fully healthy entering the new season and will be moved to first base, which should help him stay on the field every day. Now 30 years old, we have not seen any drop off at the plate. The move across the diamond puts a little more pressure on his bat but it won’t be a problem. We should expect about 25 home runs, a .280 average, 90 runs and 90 RBI. Zimmerman is a very solid 4 category fantasy producer and should remain so for several more seasons.
13) Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 2 at 1B)
Davis followed up his MVP-caliber 2013 season with a hugely-disappointing .196/.300/.404 slash line that ruined the seasons of many fantasy owners. He managed to whack 26 lovely long balls, but that was less than half the 53 homers from the previous season. He was suspended 25 games for Adderall usage and missed the stretch run, meaning he wasn’t available in fantasy playoffs if an owner somehow survived him. Some say a lack of Adderall was the reason why Davis had a poor year in 2014. If so, then maybe good things are in store for 2015 as Davis has received permission to use the ADHD drug next year. Davis is a risky player to own simply because it is impossible to know what to expect from him. His fantastic 2013 season won his owners a lot of championships but given what happened the following year you can’t safely invest a ton of resources into him hoping for another MVP-caliber season. Even in a down year, Davis can still be relied upon for big power numbers but his batting average and strikeouts can kill you.
14) Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 27)
Gallo’s stock soared more than any other prospect last year. Entering the season he was a fringe top 100 prospect, but he started blasting homers so hot and heavy that he shot his way into the top 10 picture with lightning speed. He cooled off a bit in the 2nd half after a promotion to AA, but still finished the season with 42 dingers and cemented himself as an elite prospect to watch in 2015. He may struggle to hit for average, but this kid will hit a LOT of home runs in the warm air of Arlington. When he appears is likely tied to his ability to make adjustments, as his 39 percent strikeout rate in Double-A, isn’t going to propel him to the big leagues.
15) Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 6 at 2B)
Carpenter benefitted from some flukishly high BABIP and RISP rates in 2013 to garner MVP consideration for his 126 runs scored and .318/.392/.481 slash line. Predictably, he suffered a large regression last year that saw his slugging fall by more than 100 points, bringing his slash line to .272/.375/.375. He still managed 99 runs, but only 59 RBI despite amassing more than 700 plate appearances. Those are good but not great numbers. Moving forward we should not expect to see anything approaching his mammoth 2013 totals again. Carpenter’s best attribute is his batting average, which is an especially valuable and often overlooked fantasy commodity in this day and age of rapidly dwindling averages around the league. Carpenter’s build and skillset bode well for his ability to maintain his fantasy value well into his 30s.
16) Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 2 at C)
Santana’s fantasy value depends a lot on his positional eligibility in your league. If he still qualifies at catcher he has tremendous value because he plays 150+ games and hits a lot of home runs. If he has lost his catcher eligibility and is limited to corner infield his value takes a big hit but he is still a valuable commodity, especially in OBP leagues. Santana suffered from a very unlucky BABIP last year, dropping his average all the way down to .231. You may remember it was well below .200 for most of the season. That horrific average may have obscured the fact he hit 27 home runs and 85 RBI, which is fantastic production for pretty much any position. Santana’s 132 wRC+ over the last two seasons ranks him as one of the top 20 hitters in baseball. The guy can hit no matter what position he plays. He is an under-appreciated player.
17) Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 16)
His numbers were not very sexy (.259 AVG, 11 homers, 50 Runs, 66 RBI, 2 Steals), but that is not a bad start to a career for a 22 year old third baseman. His .700 OPS was essentially league average at a very young age. We should see steady improvement from Castellanos over the next few years. Expect him to develop into a perennial top-10 three-bagger with the potential to be in the top five.
18) Chase Headley, New York Yankees (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 14)
Few players have been as up-and-down over the course of their career more than Headley. He has finally escaped the confines of Petco Park and landed in the hitter’s haven of Yankee Stadium. His inconsistency will likely continue but we should see a nice uptick in his stats across the board, especially runs and RBI. Headley is sneaky on the basepaths too. He can net you 10+ steals per year. He’s gotten up to 17 twice.
19) Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 17)
The only thing that can keep Ramirez from hitting is the injury bug, which has caused him to miss chunks of time the last two seasons. His age is rapidly advancing, but he is just one of those guys who was born to hit. If he is on the field he will produce good numbers for your team. His production likely outweighs his trade value at this stage. Ride him as long as you can but you better get a backup plan ready.
20) Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 23)
Franco’s prospect stock has yo-yo’d quite a bit in recent years. His excellent 2013 campaign got a lot of people excited, but he began the 2014 season very poorly, causing many to lose faith. He turned it on as the season progressed and ended up with a decent overall stat line. His 2014 OPS of .727 in Triple-A was 200 points lower than his .926 OPS in Hi-A and AA in 2013. Opinions are split on this guy. Despite disparate numbers over the last two seasons, Franco remains very much the same player. He was likely overvalued in 2013 and will likely be undervalued in 2014. If you believed last year, hold tight.
Commentary by Kazuto Yamazaki and Nick Doran