The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Third Basemen, #1-20
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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2018 consensus rankings by looking at the league’s top-50 third baseman in dynasty leagues, kicking off with the baseball’s version of Ol’ (young) Blue Eyes.
1) Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 1)
While the rest of major league hitters are striking out more every year, Kris Bryant has made huge progress in his strikeout rate. He debuted north of 30%, which made fantasy owners concerned he would be a long-term batting average liability. Then, Bryant cut it down to 22% in 2016 and 19% in 2017. He’s now a legitimate .290+ hitter. Bryant’s power numbers were down a bit in 2017, with 29 home runs and just 73 RBIs, but the .295/.409/.537 slash line suggests that he’s just as good of a bet for counting stats going forward. The only reason for concern is that spent most of the 2017 season batting second; fantasy owners should cross their fingers that he gets moved back to third or fourth in the order going forward. (EJ Fagan)
2) Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 2)
Arenado’s three-year average production: .297 average/131 RBI/104 R/40 HR/2 SB. His strikeout rate hovers right around 15%. He’s consistent. He’s elite. He gets to hit in Coors. Arenado might be the safest pick for first round production next year. However, he becomes a free agent in just over two years. Outside of Coors Field, he is a career .266/.317/.473 hitter. If the Rockies drop out of contention, they could trade him and significantly knock down his fantasy value. I’d recommend treating Arenado more like an aging superstar than a 27 year-old unless he gets signed to an extension; his value could drop from elite to merely good quickly. (EJ Fagan)
3) Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 25, Previous Rank: n/a)
Manny Machado is two months younger than Miguel Sano, two and half years younger than Anthony Rendon, a year younger than Kris Bryant, and barely a year older than Joey Gallo, yet he has over 3,300 major league plate appearances under his belt. As good as Machado has been over the last five and a half seasons, he may not have peaked yet. He’s a safe 35 home run, 95 RBI, and 100 run producer for the next decade, and there’s a good chance he regains shortstop eligibility at some point over that time. (EJ Fagan)
4) Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 5)
Prior to the 2017 season, Anthony Rendon was a solid all-around third baseman who was probably a little overrated. Then he had a career year. Rendon was downright elite in 2017, hitting .301/.403/.533 with 81 runs, 100 RBI, 25 home runs and 7 stolen bases. He cut his strikeout rate from 19.7% to a stellar 13.6% and raised his walk rate from 10% to 13.9%. However, Statcast thinks that, despite improving his performance considerably in 2017, he benefitted from great batted ball luck; his xwOBA was .368 against a .403 wOBA. Even so, Rendon doesn’t turn 28 until June and benefits from one of the best lineup situations in baseball. Hitting somewhere in the middle of Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton and Ryan Zimmerman isn’t half bad. (EJ Fagan)
5) Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 3)
Josh Donaldson is about to enter his age-32 season, but Father Time hasn’t slowed him down one bit. His 155-game pace last year: .289/45 HR/107 RBI/89R/3 SB. Of course, he didn’t play 155 games; Donaldson missed six weeks with a calf injury. Donaldson is aging well thus far, but the soft tissue injury could be a bad sign for the future. In the short-term, Donaldson owners should be a little worried about the Blue Jays lineup as well. Donaldson’s RBI and runs could take a hit next season. (EJ Fagan)
6) Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox (Age: 21, Previous rank: 16)
Rafael Devers turned 21 on October 24th. Before he could legally drink, Devers hit .284/.338/.482 with a .355 wOBA and 10 home runs. He’s locked in at third base for the Boston Red Sox, and may get to bat behind Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts in Fenway Park. There are a few red flags, such as Statcast tagging him with an ugly .296 xwOBA on his major league debut, and he likely has some development to go; the league will adjust, and it’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts back. It’s worth being cautious in re-draft leagues, but he’s a great investment in dynasty. (EJ Fagan)
7) Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 9)
In December, Miguel Sano was accused of sexual assault by a Minnesota Twins photographer. While he denies the allegations, Sano could still be sanctioned by Major League Baseball. Even ignoring the heinous moral implications of the allegations, they present a serious threat to Sano’s playing time in 2018. Still, we’re ranking him this high because of his elite performance while on the field in 2017: his 155-game pace was .264/105 RBI/102 R/38 HR/3 SB with a .370 wOBA. Furthermore, the Twins lineup continues to improve. However, Sano remains a huge threat to kill your batting average with a 36% strikeout rate. He hits the ball as hard as anyone in baseball not in the Yankees outfield, so he can survive with an elevated strikeout rate, but Statcast’s .348 xwOBA is bad news for Sano owners. Consider him a high-risk, very high reward player. (EJ Fagan)
8) Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Vlad Guerrero Jr. is probably not the best dynasty prospect in baseball, but the fact that there is even an argument that an 18-year-old with 48 games at High-A could be more valuable than Ronald Acuna is pretty amazing. Guerrero hit .323/.425/.485 with a strikeout rate below 13% in his full-season debut. More than one analyst has put an 80 on his hit tool, which is almost unheard of for a teenager or, well, any prospect. His power tool is a potential 70 as well. Guerrero might be the best hitter in the minor leagues right now. If there is downside, it is his defense. We’ve got him listed a third, but he could very well end up at first base or designated hitter by the time he reaches the majors. He’ll still be worth investing in if he comes anywhere close to his ceiling. (EJ Fagan)
9) Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 19)
People call Nick Senzel a “safe” prospect, as if he were cruising toward Kyle Seager’s career. Nick Senzel was the top college hitter in the 2016 class because he has truly elite potential. He hit .314/.391/.514 between High-A and Double-A in his first full season with solid plate discipline. Once he makes the majors, he’ll enjoy one of the best home ballparks for a right-handed hitter. Senzel is safe in the sense that he’s as close to a lock to become a major league regular as anyone in the league, but he could also end up hitting .290/30/100/100 for the next decade and should make the majors as soon as late 2018. (EJ Fagan)
10) Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 18)
Joey Gallo is the opposite of Nick Senzel. Gallo hit 41 home runs in 145 games in his debut. He also hit .209 and has a career 39.7% strikeout rate. In an OBP league, Gallo gets saved by a 14% walk rate, but he’s a massive risk in a batting average league. Gallo is also a poor defensive third baseman, though he grades out decent enough in the outfield. There are three scenarios for Gallo moving forward: he could cut his strikeout rate down to a reasonable 30% and be Aaron Judge, he could hit .120 in April and never play in the majors again, or he could muddle through and be Adam Dunn. The upside is tantalizing and justifies his #10 ranking at a strong position. Just be sure to have a backup plan. (EJ Fagan)
11) Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 11)
Justin Turner is really good at baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a really good baseball team. No doubt, a match made in fantasy heaven.
Leading off a range of established hot corners (and Matt Chapman), it is hard to believe a guy nearly locked in for a .300+ batting average, 20 HR and 70s or 80s in both runs and RBIs fails to crack the top 10. With the mix of young studs and top prospects filling the first few 3B tiers, Turner is as good of a backup plan as one can find. At 33, he may only give a couple more seasons of elite contribution, but it is hard to pass up an opportunity to draft a guy hitting between the likes of Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager. (Mitch Bannon)
12) Nicholas Castellanos, Detroit Tigers (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 12)
Seemingly in the opposite position of Turner, Nick Castellanos may be a lone bright spot in the otherwise gloomy Detroit Tigers near future. After finally taking the step forward many predicted, Castellanos accrued over 100 RBI and 70 runs for the first time in his career to go along with 26 bombs. With Miguel Cabrera potentially representing the only other projectable offensive contributor in the Tigers lineup, those counting stats could be set to take a hit in 2018. If the rumors of a potential Castellanos trade fail to come to fruition, it could be tough sledding for the next couple years. But, at 25 years old, Castellanos has the potential to anchor the next iteration of Tigers lineup and is a rare ‘current and future’ option in dynasty formats. (Mitch Bannon)
13) Mike Moustakas, Free Agent (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 17)
After coming off an impressive season in which he collected 38 home runs while playing half his games in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium, Mike Moustakas was set to pencil in quite the payday in free agency. However, it’s early February and Moustakas is as unsigned as any of us.
With the likely potential of finally leaving the confines of Kauffman, Moustakas’ destination may be well worth the wait. Moose boasts a perfect batting profile for the MLB’s recent ‘Home Run Revolution,’ including a fly ball percentage 10% higher than league average and an astounding .249 ISO (good for 23rd in baseball). Leaving one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball will do nothing but help Moustakas’ power flourish, and the 29-year-old should reach 35+ HR seasons for years to come. (Mitch Bannon)
14) Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 18)
At 27 years old, by most modern metrics, Jake Lamb should be entering his peak. And given the near identical seasons Lamb had in 2016 and 2017, it isn’t hard to imagine we can pencil Jake Lamb in as the 30 HR, .250 hitter he has shown himself to be. Playing in a potent Diamondbacks offense, Lamb will almost certainly be good for 80+ runs and 90+ RBI once again, even without a half season of slugging machine J.D. Martinez, and the hitters haven that is Chase field. Though the strikeouts and heavy fly ball percentage knock down Lamb’s batting average, he is a must buy in OBP leagues, which sits nearly 100 points higher than his AVG. While the lineup thins out after Pollock, Peralta, Goldschmidt and Lamb, there will still be ample opportunity for counting stats once again for the 27 year old third basemen. (Mitch Bannon)
15) Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 4)
The fact that a 30 year old with SIX straight seasons of 20+ HR and above average run and RBI numbers is ranked 15th at his position is a testament to the depth and talent available at third base. Kyle Seager is the pinnacle of consistency: a lock for around 25 HR, 80 runs, and 90 RBIs to go along with a .260 average. Kyle Seager is by no means flashy, but he is boringly reliable. Though an uncharacteristically low babip led to slightly lowered average and counting stats total last season, all projection systems point to a normalization in 2018 and the near future. With still several good seasons at third base left for Seager, and an upgraded Mariners offense, Seager is a great acquisition for fantasy owners who miss out on the top tier talent, or are looking for an elite CI option. (Mitch Bannon)
16) Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 30)
With age and upside very clearly on his side, Travis Shaw is yet another enticing option in the third base market. The question mark is to what extent fans and potential fantasy owners can trust Shaw’s 2017. After an unimpressive tenure with the Red Sox, Shaw was one of 2017’s biggest fantasy breakouts after a move to Milwaukee last offseason (slashing an impressive .273/.348/.513 to go along with 31 home runs, 84 runs and 101 RBI). Many have rightfully surmised that Shaw took steps forward and tweaked his hitting profile to inspire this progression. Cutting strikeouts, improving walks, rising power metrics, and all with a sustainable babip, Shaw has everything one would look for to justify his step forward. It is important to note, however, that if Shaw were to show any early signs of regression in 2016 the contending Brewers seem to have ample in-house options that could squeeze him out of playing time, including Jonathan Villar, Hernan Perez, Eric Sogard and even potentially Ryan Braun. (Mitch Bannon)
17) Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 23)
The 2018 third base pool seems filled with 25 HR, 80 RBI, 80 run, .250 hitters. Eugenio Suarez does nothing to separate himself from that tier. Suarez is another boringly predictable commodity, but he does have the advantage of a being only 26 years old. I will be honest, Suarez does not boast anything to justify him ranking above those ahead, but he should be considered right there with them. Hitting in front of one of the league’s best hitters in Joey Votto for the foreseeable future should give fantasy owners confidence in waiting this long to take their third baseman. There is no reason to assume the power numbers will shrink hitting in Great American Ball Park, and there is room for improvement as Suarez should only now be entering his prime. (Mitch Bannon)
18) Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 29)
With all the similarities the previous few third basemen share, Matt Chapman is a breath of fresh air. After playing his first 84 major league games in 2017, Chapman represents the wildcard amongst a tier of a near sure things. If you are the gambling type, steer clear of the Evan Longorias and Kyle Seagers; the A’s hot corner is probably for you. Chapman will not be winning you batting average titles, but the 24 year old has the potential to be the next 40 home run hitter (even with home games in pitcher friendly Oakland). It is clear the Athletics are buying in on Chapman after dealing corner infielder Ryon Healy to Seattle. Projection systems seem to think the youngster will crush around 30 HR and provide decent counting stats, to balance out a subpar .234 average. Chapman has the potential to be a top 10 3B in the future, but comes with risk and a hefty K% that could leave you searching the waiver wire for a replacement. (Mitch Bannon)
19) Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 7)
After seemingly fighting back against the aging curve in 2016, Longoria took a step back to earth in 2017. The 32 year old perennial life-time Ray will finally suit up for another team in 2018 and it will be interesting to see what Longoria we will get. Longoria is obviously not a long term solution at third base for fantasy owners, but a .270 average with 25 HR and serviceable counting stats is nothing to scoff at. Moving to AT&T should rob Longo of some fantasy value, but the improved (though aging) Giants lineup should counteract any negative affects in the short term. Longoria’s drop from 36 to 20 homers last season was likely due to a 10 point drop in fly ball%, but if Longoria decides he will join the fly ball (and thus home run) revolution sweeping the league, we could see his fantasy value drift closer to his 2016 ‘re-breakout’. (Mitch Bannon)
20) Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (Age: 39, Previous Rank: 10)
If 32 year old Longoria is considered short term value, then drafting Adrian Beltre, at 38, may as well be instant term value. However, for years people have been claiming that Adrian Beltre’s days as a fantasy relevant 3B were numbered, and for years he has been proving people wrong. Though injuries hampered Beltre’s 2017 fantasy campaign, he was still spectacular while on the field. A 30 HR, 100+ RBI, 100+ run pace while batting an astounding .312 is why you should look past Beltre’s age if you are looking to win now. Obviously, the Rangers’ third basemen will not be roaming the field for much longer, but until he decides to hang up the batting gloves he is a great asset for any fantasy manager. It could be wise to pair Beltre with some of the higher ranking 3B prospects in order to obtain solid production both now and down the road. (Mitch Bannon)