The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League 3rd Basemen, Nos. 21-50
It’s been over two months since the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, ending the 2016 baseball season. But if you’re like most fantasy baseball owners, those two months probably feel like two years. Considering it’s still another month until Spring Training even starts, late January has to be the worst time to be a baseball fan. It’s too late to reflect on last year, but next season is too far ahead to look forward to. Luckily, with a little help from The Dynasty Guru, the next month is survivable, as we’ll be ranking and commenting on a whole lot of players over the next six weeks.
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You can view our rankings for previous positions, and the dates future rankings will come out, by clicking the link to TDG’s 2017 Consensus Dynasty Baseball Rankings splash page. With that, let’s take a look at the back-half of our third basemen rankings, starting with one of the many breakout Brewers of 2016.
21) Hernan Perez, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR)
One season removed from being a waiver claim, Perez basically came out of nowhere last season, swiping 34 bases while also popping 13 homers. He is allergic to walks, with a 4.2 percent walk rate that will make him hard to play in OBP leagues, but his .272 batting average looks fairly sustainable. In a climate where stolen bases are becoming harder to come by, Perez should be a solid, young speed option moving forward.
22) Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 17th at 2B )
The former number one prospect in all of baseball finally stayed healthy in 2016, and played basically a full season for the first time since 2013. Profar’s numbers weren’t great (.239/.321/.338), but he showed solid plate discipline with a 10% walk rate. If he can stay healthy, which is a big if, the next step will be finding the lost power Profar once had while an elite prospect. If he does, Profar will likely shoot up the ranks of this list with positional flexibility reminiscent of Gumby doing the downward dog.
23) Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 32nd at SS )
A converted shortstop, Suarez enjoyed his first season as a full time regular in 2016 at the hot corner and was…fine. Actually he was probably a little better than fine, decent even, launching 21 homers and stealing 11 bases. His .248/.317/.411 line isn’t awe-inspiring, but there’s reason to believe in progress. Suarez nearly doubled his walk rate from 2015 and hit .272 with a .765 OPS in the second half.
24) Yuliesky Gurriel, Houston Astros (Age: 32, Previous Rank: NR)
We admittedly don’t know much about what Gurriel is capable of in the big leagues, and his .262/.292/.385 in a limited role last season wasn’t exactly mouth watering. He dealt with the difficult transition from Cuba to Houston in the middle of the season though, something he obviously won’t have to put up with in the future. While we can’t draw many conclusions from his 2016 season, he did hit .335/.417/.580 in his Cuban career. Obviously those numbers don’t translate exactly, and he’s a little older than most guys in this range, but dare to dream.
25) Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 28th at 2B )
Drury served as a Swiss Army knife for the D-backs in 2016, spending time at second and third base, as well as in both corner outfield spots. He was pretty good in 499 plate appearances, hitting 16 dingers while slugging .458 in the process. There may not be a ton of growth in his bat, however, as he carried a .327 BABIP and has never been able to put the ball in the air with any consistency. That said, he’s plenty useful, and will be eligible at multiple spots.
26) Matt Duffy, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 16 )
Duffy had a breakout 2015 season with the Giants, hitting .295/.334/.428 in 612 plate appearances. He even added 12 homers and 12 steals for good measure. Injuries cost him the opportunity to avoid the sophomore slump however, and Duffy’s 2016 ended not with a bang, but with a whimper after being traded to Tampa Bay. Off-season heel surgery and a move to shortstop will give him a fresh start, but if he repeats his 2016 blunders, there’s not much there.
27) Ryon Healy, Oakland Athletics (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Healy hits. In four minor league seasons, the former Oregon Duck slashed .293/.332/.452. Upon his promotion in July 2016, Healy, well, kept hitting. In 283 plate appearances, he hit .305 and launched 13 homers. He doesn’t walk quite enough to be a premium asset in OBP leagues (4.2 percent walk rate), and his .352 BABIP might bring the average down to earth a bit, but it’s very likely that Healy will continue to do what he’s always done: hit.
28) Wilmer Flores, New York Mets (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 29th at SS )
There are two ways to look at Flores. On one hand, four seasons into his big league career, he is what he is, an extremely high contact (13.5 percent career strikeout rate), low walk player that has yet to eclipse a .270 batting average or hit more than 16 homers. On the other hand, somehow Flores is still only 25 years old and has improved his batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, and ISO in each of his four seasons. Choose wisely.
29) Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 34 )
Chapman has huge power. However, at times, it also seems as though he has a huge hole in his bat. He popped 36 homers in 2016 between Double-A and Triple-A , but with a strikeout rate tiptoeing near 30% and a .235 batting average, there’s understandable concern surround that hit tool. Chapman shows a good eye, but he’ll need to cut down on the whiffs to reach his full potential.
30) Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 26, Previous Rank: NR )
It was a tale of two halves for Shaw in 2016. The first half saw a potential breakout, with a line of .269/.332/.456. Boston fans even clamored for Shaw’s inclusion on the All-Star team as the franchise’s third baseman of the future. In the second half, Shaw hit .194/.259/.360 and was shipped out of town during the offseason. Needless to say, the Brewers are hoping for more of “First Half Shaw,” and he might be able to deliver something close to that for them.
31) Jeimer Candelario, Chicago Cubs (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 49 )
Thank goodness, finally the Cubs have an interesting position player prospect. Candelario got a little taste of the big leagues in 2016, getting the call mid-season as a short term injury replacement. He looked a little overmatched, however, striking out five times in 14 plate appearances. The smallest of small samples aside, he took huge steps forward in 2016, hitting .333/.417/.549 in 309 Triple-A plate appearances. His lofty 12.7 percent walk rate and moderate 17.9 percent strikeout rate also bode well for future success.
32) Danny Valencia, Seattle Mariners (Age: 32, Previous Ranks: 28 )
After signing with the Mariners earlier this offseason, Valencia is on his seventh team since 2011 despite having a track record of pretty good success. Last season, he hit .287 with 17 homers in 517 plate appearances in Oakland, and for his career he’s been a lefty masher en route to a line of .321/.373/.500. While Valencia has been productive, he has also shown a willingness to punch teammates in the face, which could explain his closet full of different jerseys. Still, the belligerent infielder is a good bet to hit, though his power may be somewhat sapped by Safeco Field.
33) Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 18, Previous Ranks: NR )
We don’t know a whole lot about Guerrero, as he is only 18-years-old and has logged just 276 professional plate appearances in the Appalachian League. What we do know, however, is pretty exciting. He has shown an excellent bat (and plate discipline) to go with great pop, and there’s easy top-10 3B upside here. Snag the upside-laden Vlad Jr. before it’s too late, just keep in mind the lead time and the floor/ceiling combination that’s enough to give you vertigo.
34) Martin Prado, Miami Marlins (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 27 )
Prado has been a beacon of consistency throughout his big league career, dipping below a .280 batting average only once since 2006. He isn’t likely to make any waves in the home run category anymore, but in a league where batting averages are dropping like it’s proverbially hot, Prado’s career .293 average should always be useful.
35) Jose Reyes, New York Mets (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 10th at SS )
After coming off a lengthy suspension for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy, Reyes was decent in 2016, hitting .267 with a .443 slugging percentage. He struck out nearly six percent more last season than any other year in career, which is slightly troubling for his batting average moving forward. Pair that with only nine stolen bases and it becomes more likely that the years of Reyes being a relevant fantasy asset are probably over.
36) Yangervis Solarte, San Diego Padres (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 36)
If you are expecting to wait to grab a third baseman, you could do a lot worse than to end up with Solarte. He batted cleanup for much of last season (though that doesn’t make a big difference, considering it was the Padres) and saw his isolated power rise 22 points to .180. Yangervis certainly isn’t seen as a valuable fantasy asset, but 15-20 home runs with solid counting stats and decent ratios are attainable.
37) Pablo Sandoval, Boston Red Sox (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 13)
Have you seen the off-season photos of Sandoval? The ‘best shape of his life’ hyperbole is certainly coming this spring, but it might not be an exaggeration in this case. There’s a reason why Sandoval was 13th on this list last offseason, and while a poor 2015 and lost 2016 (due to a shoulder injury) has quickly sank his stock, Panda’s upside is still intact.
38) Chase Headley, New York Yankees (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 25)
Headley represents the ultimate in low risk and low reward. While his counting stats took a hit last season as a result of hitting in the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup, you can safely expect Headley to be the same boring guy going forward. That’s not a riveting fantasy asset to have, but, well, yeah.
39) Cheslor Cuthbert, Kansas City Royals (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
This Nicaraguan prospect got his first major audition with the Royals last season after Mike Moustakas went down with a torn ACL. Cuthbert is a guy with great minor league numbers and a high contact rate, and he was solid in the big leagues with 12 home runs and a .274 average in 128 games. The Royals will give him the DH job in 2017 after letting Kendrys Morales walk, and Cuthbert could hit 15 home runs with a respectable average in 2017.
40) Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 20)
McMahon was one of the few players on this list I had a chance to see in person last season, and man did he look lost at the plate. Double-A pitching proved confounding for the young power hitter, leading some to doubt his major league viability. When a power guy can’t slug over .400 in the minor leagues, it’s time to ask some questions about his bat. McMahon’s upside is still there, and so is his potential future home at Coors Field, so it’s not time to jump ship yet, even if his risk is much higher this year than it was in the 2016 offseason.
41) Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
After a poor 2015 season at Double-A, Dozier was written off by many. Luckily, he was able to bounce back in a big way last season by slashing .294/.357/.506 with 15 taters in 103 games at Triple-A. At 6’4”, 220 pounds, he was moved off of 3B and put in the outfield, playing both outfield corners. Dozier will likely be the first called up when Jorge Soler gets injured/stops producing again, and he shows intriguing power potential.
42) Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 39)
Austin Riley likes to swing the bat……a lot……at everything. The power is there, and he hit 20 home runs in the Sally league last season, but he certainly has some holes in that swing. Adonis Garcia is the incumbent so the roadblocks to his success are not many, but the risk is high enough that Riley isn’t the best investment in fantasy leagues just yet.
43) Trevor Plouffe, Oakland Athletics (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 21)
It was thought that Plouffe would sign as a utility player for the 2017 season, but then Billy Beane gave him a contract and made him the starting third baseman for his Oakland Athletics! I imagine he was as surprised as the rest of us. Plouffe is limited as a guy who hits southpaws better than righties, but the power is enough for him to contribute 20+ homers while playing every day.
44) Luis Valbuena, Anaheim Angels (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 30)
A recent Angels signing, Valbuena was one of the last players off the board this offseason and may not have a starting job on Opening Day. That said, he has power in spades and played first, second, and third base last year, so if the noted bat-flipped can find his way into 400+ at bats, he represents a cheap power option for 2017.
45) Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 48)
Third base isn’t a very deep position for prospects, and while Hayes may be one of the better ones, he still has more questions than he does answers. The defense will likely get him to the majors, but his offensive profile limits his relevance. A present lack of power and below average speed means Hayes will really have to hit to be fantasy relevant, and while there’s a potential plus hit tool here, the lack of other skills makes him a better real-life prospect than fantasy one.
46) Joshua Lowe, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
The Rays liked Lowe so much that they selected him with the 13th overall pick in last year’s amateur draft. While currently a third basemen, his large frame could push him to first. Still, the bat speed and power potential make any prospective fantasy owner drool, and if he can refine his approach at the plate, there’s plenty of upside here.
47) Jomar Reyes, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 26)
Ben Carley at Baseball Prospectus has placed two comps on Reyes: best case being Maikel Franco, likely comp Luis Valbuena. Given the lack of game power and bad body, I think it’s far more likely he ends up in the latter mold, though there’s plenty more time for the 20-year-old to develop.
48) David Wright, New York Mets (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 19)
It’s debatable at this point whether or not David Wright even belongs on this list. After sneaking into the top-20 of our ranks last season, Wright put up yet another injury plagued season in 2016. At 34, I have very little faith he has anything left in the tank, and the chances of him literally disintegrating on the field may be higher than that of a full season of work. We will always have the memories of Captain America’s 30/30 season in 2007, but 2014 was evidence that even if he enjoys relative health, those days are not coming back.
49) Yunel Escobar, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 29)
In 16-20 team leagues, you could do worse than filling a corner infield spot with Escobar. While the power will probably top out at seven or so and the speed is nonexistent, Yunel puts up respectable average and OBP numbers that provide some value. Boring, but mildly effective.
50) Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Andujar shows intriguing pop to go with some speed, but his bat has lagged behind. He could continue to slowly climb in these rankings over the next couple years, but there’s a better chance he stalls in the high minors.
Comments by Mark Barry and Jake Devereaux