THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE THIRD BASEMEN, #11-30
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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2021 consensus rankings by looking at the 11-30 third basemen in dynasty leagues.
11. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 7)
The free-agent-to-be may not even make it through the season in a Cubs uniform but for fantasy purposes, it does not matter as much. The entire Cubs team was bad in 2020, and Bryant was no different, though he also dealt with injuries (back, sprained finger, elbow, and a Covid-19 scare) that limited to 34 games. To end the season, he injured his oblique on September 22. But he did not go on the DL, oh no, Bryant returned for the final two games of the season versus the cross-town White Sox, and went 0-8 with 8 Ks…oh wait, that’s not true, he actually went 3-9 with two home runs, four runs, and six RBI. Bryant was beaten up all 2020 and still came back to help the team in the last days of the season. In 2020, Bryant walked less and struck out more than his career numbers, which can very easily be attributed to pressing while injured (and make up for his teammates lack of production as well).
We should also talk about what David Ross is doing as Cubs manager. Did you know that Bryant batted leadoff the first 16 games of the season, and then second the next 14 games, and only in the last four games of the season did he hit third, fourth, or fifth in the lineup? Is he a leadoff hitter? Absolutely not. The Cubs cheaped out with the Ross hire so he is not going anywhere but let us hope Jed Hoyer sits him down and makes him write, in pen, Bryant in the three or four spot, if the Cubs want any hope to trade Bryant for more than Single-A prospects (a la the Darvish deal).
His MVP season of 2016 was more a career year for a very good slugger, as his 2015, 2017 and 2019 were also very productive for Fantasy purposes. He was also limited to 102 games in 2018 due to injuries. If healthy, Bryant’s floor should be 170 Runs + RBI, 28+ home runs, a .270 batting average and .875 OPS. If he can improve on those by 10%-15% which is possible he vaults to the top three third basemen next season at only age 30. An ADP of 136 in NFBC leagues shows that many do not see Bryant as a third base starter. Savvy managers will wait and take Bryant at that ADP and send out feelers in Dynasty leagues. (Phil Barrington)
12. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 24)
Did any other prospect gain more on ranking lists (besides Randy Arozerena) based on their 2020 performance? Seen as a defense-first third baseman, Hayes came on in a big way in 2020 with five home runs, 28 Runs + RBI, a .376 batting average, and 1.124 OPS in only 24 games. The walk rate of 9.5% and a strikeout rate of 21.1% were also very nice. Hayes showed a good batting eye in the minors with a strikeout rate of just under 20% and a walk rate of just under 10%, right in line with what he did in 2020 in the bigs.
The power was the biggest improvement from his minor league seasons; here are his home run totals from 2015-2019 in the minors: 0, 6, 2, 7, 10. Hayes is trending upward, but expecting more than 20 home runs in his first few big-league seasons may be asking too much. Hayes did steal 27 bases in 2017 at High-A ball and has minor league seasons of 12 and 13, respectively, so his floor should be around a dozen steals.
Currently the 16th third baseman off the board in NFBC leagues with an ADP of 136, it appears most are betting on his floor, as opposed to his ceiling. That makes him a valuable third baseman heading into 2020 and beyond. With the trade of first baseman Josh Bell to Washington, Hayes is slotted into the two-hole in the Pirates lineup, buffered by Adam Frazier and Colin Moran. The opportunity for counting stats is low, and with his power developing his managers should maintain patience if Hayes starts slow out of the gate in 2021. (Phil Barrington)
13. Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 13)
Signed through 2023 with a club option for 2024, Donaldson should be the third baseman and eventual DH for the Twins (if Nelson Cruz ever decides to retire) for the next three seasons, which increase his Dynasty value while he enters the twilight of his career. He only appeared in 28 games for the Twins in 2020 missing the entire month of August due to a lingering calf injury. Once he returned in September over 21 games Donaldson scored 19 Runs + RBI, five home runs, with a .237 average. The five home runs were nice and a 17.6% walk rate (compared to his prior season of 15.2%) is a good sign, but aside from those a lost 2020 season.
If we remove his injury shorted 2018 season and write off 2020, Donaldson looks to continue hitting 30+ home runs with a .260-ish average and lots of counting stats for a stacked Twins roster. On NFBC as of this writing, he is being drafted as the 19th third baseman off the board with an ADP of 191 and in first-year Dynasties he will probably go even lower. We here at the Dynasty Guru see his relative consistency, job security, and opportunity for high counting stats as reasons to rank him here. (Phil Barrington)
14. J.D. Davis, New York Mets (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 61 at OF)
Jonathan Gregory Davis enters the 2021 season as the Mets third baseman after splitting time between third base, left field, and DH in 2020. Davis had a productive 2019 in which he hit .307 with 22 home runs, 65 runs, 57 RBI, and three steals to boot. Currently penciled in as the five-hole hitter in a Mets lineup that continues to improve, RBI opportunities should come a plenty while his Runs may decline slightly. Davis had three seasons of 23+ home runs in the minors so while his floor is 20+ home runs, 30+ would not be a surprise. Davis also has hit well against both left- and right-handed pitchers, so a platoon should not be in order. His 2020 was pretty pedestrian with only six home runs in 56 games with a .247 batting average; bright side was the highest walk rate of his career at 13.5%. As of this writing, Davis is being drafted in NFBC leagues as the 23rd third baseman off the board with an ADP of 213. Like a lot of the third basemen in this group of #11-20, these guys are starters at backup prices, as such you may want to fade the top ten and dive into this group. (Phil Barrington)
15. Jordan Groshans, Toronto Blue Jays (AGE: 21, Previous Rank: 36 at SS)
Drafted 12th overall back in 2018, Groshans should be on simmer for 2021 and ready to eat come 2022. With MLB teams shifting to cheaper, cost-controlled, younger players in order to maximize net income the time will come sooner rather than later for a lot of these prospects. Some will come up and wash out too soon, and the fallout of that in five seasons and onward will be interesting to watch. Combined with the contracting of the minor leagues I see many of these prospects finding their ways overseas and possibly returning later on, especially those from Latin America, a la Alfonso Soriano.
But I digress, we are here to talk about Jordan Groshans, who simply does not have a large enough body of work for me to buy fully into. In 71 Minor league games at Rookie ball and Single-A Groshans hit seven home runs with a .309 batting average and .833 OPS until a left foot injury ended his 2019 four months prematurely. There was surprisingly little detail about the nature of the injury beyond “hurt left foot,” but further digging had the Blue Jays classify it as a “per-existing navicular injury” and he also missed a game in high school due to a foul ball off his foot. His recovery was abnormally long, so hopefully the foot injuries are behind him, but it is a (tiny) red flag for me.
Gorshans was invited to Spring training back in March 2020, and was part of the Blue Jays 60-man roster in 2020. He can play shortstop but the Blue Jays already have Bo Bichette there, so third base is his ticket to the majors. He has the height (6’3″) and has gained 25 pounds since being drafted (180 lbs to 205 lbs) to man the keystone in Toronto once he is ready. Not having played above Single-A ball makes his estimated time of arrival in the majors 2022 at the earliest. But the hype behind Groshans already has him within many top-50 prospect lists (and some top-25), so if he has a strong 2021 season at Double-A watch him jump into the top-10. Better to be too early than too late, so if he is available in your Dynasty or Keeper league it is worth an inquiry if he looks healthy in spring training. (Phil Barrington)
16. Nolan Jones, Cleveland Baseball Team (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 19)
Jones is slowly climbing the third base ranks and with a productive 2021 at Triple-A (most likely) he should move into the top-ten next season. With one of the best (set of) eyes in the minors, Jones is truly a three-outcome player, with a career minor league walk rate of 17.8% and a strikeout rate of 26.9% with 70-grade raw power. His BABIP has never been lower than .346 which should yield an average of .260 at the low end. Jones even stole seven bases in 2019, so he may chip in a few of those at the big-league level as well. A large caveat, and especially important to his Dynasty league managers, is that he needs to do better against left-handed pitching (sub .600 OPS in the minors) or a platoon role is in his future at the big-league level. If that occurs Jones would be more suited to leagues that allow daily roster moves. (Phil Barrington)
17. Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 20 at SS)
Currently penciled in as the eight-hole hitter and starting at third base for the 2021 Nationals, one has to assume that the leash will be short on Kieboom’s playing time if he starts slowly out of the gate. Starlin Castro is the current second base starter but can play third base and future star Luis Garcia was the starter at second base in his age-20 season while Castro was on the shelf. A career minor league walk rate of 12% and a strikeout rate of 20% in 329 games point to a good hitter; however, while Kieboom has been given a raw power grade of 60, he has yet to show it, not posting an ISO above .200 since Single-A in 2017, and bottomed out with an ISO of .010 in his 33 games for the Nationals in 2020. With a total of 18 steals (eight in his minor league career) to expect more than a handful at the big-league level is not wise. There is an opportunity to add Kieboom as his current managers may be ready to move on, as he was a top-twenty prospect as recent as 2019. (Phil Barrington)
18. Giovanny Urshela, New York Yankees (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 30)
Yours truly was lucky enough to write about Gio last season, and I will quote what I ended with last season “Urshela should provide great value for this ranking and at his age could continue to be productive for the next few seasons as well.” Urshela followed his breakout 2019 season of 21 home runs, .314 batting average, and .889 OPS in only 132 games with a 2020 season where he hit six home runs with a .298 average and .858 OPS in 43 games. An elbow injury that eventually required surgery on December 4th ended his 2020 season prematurely; he should be back by the start of spring training. Even though 2020 was a small sample, Urshela’s walk rate was 10.3% (compared to his career 6.2%) and a strikeout rate of 14.4% (compared to his career 17.6%) makes one feel 2021 may be an even bigger breakout. His ADP on NFBC is currently 155 and Urshela is the 18th third baseman off the board. A fine option at third base, with a floor of his 2019 stats to be expected for the next couple of seasons. (Phil Barrington)
19. Nolan Gorman, St Louis Cardinals (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 16)
Our own Taylor Case wrote up a good piece on Gorman back in November that you can read here. I agree with almost all except I do not expect to see Gorman in the majors anytime soon. While he was at the Cardinals training complex in 2020, he played at Single-A for his first two seasons, and his profile is not one of those that skips Double-A and Triple-A and gets to the majors quickly. In 188 minor league games, Gorman has hit 32 home runs, 43 doubles, 114 Runs, 106 RBI with a .263 average and .828 OPS. Those are some shiny numbers, and even a walk rate of 10.6% looks nice, but it is the 29.4% strikeout rate that is the most concerning. In OPS leagues Gorman gets a bump and less so in batting average ones. (Phil Barrington)
20. Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 51 at OF)
Where Nolan Gorman wants to be, Austin Riley is currently. On an island among the writers here on Riley’s value, I see a whole bunch. Another guy I wrote about last season when he was ranked as an outfielder, the 2021 Atlanta third base job is his exclusively. The good in 2020 was eight home runs and 51 Runs + RBI, a strikeout rate of 23.8% (down from 36.4% in 2019), and an improved walk rate of 7.8% (up from 5.4% in 2019) in 51 games. The bad in 2020 was a 41% groundball rate, a .239 batting average, .301 on-base percentage, and .716 OPS. Combined with a rough end of 2019, many are passing on Riley, but here is what I said during our internal debate: “I’ll take Zips 2021 line of 70 Runs, 28 home runs, 85 RBI, a .252 Batting average, and .825 OPS all day, just have to accept the poorer avg/obp and bask in the homers and RBI.”
Riley was the 41st overall choice back in 2015 so is not a low-round pick made good; he was known right out of the gate. In 473 minor league games, Riley had a 9% walk rate and 26% strikeout rate in his minor league career, so that appears to be the best he may be able to do at the big-league level, which is in line with the league average walk rate and 3% above the league average strikeout rate. At his current NFBC ADP of 229 as the 26th third baseman off the board, drafting him as a bench bat is possible in many leagues, especially 12-team and fewer. In Dynasty leagues (where he may also qualify at outfield and first base depending on your league) if the price is right I recommend pouncing. (Phil Barrington)
21. Josh Jung, Texas Rangers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 25)
We saw him briefly in 2019 as a pro. He definitely has the glove to stay at third, but I’m not sure about his power for a corner infielder. He hasn’t shown big time power either in college or in the minors. Anyway, he has more power potential than Isiah Kiner-Falefa. (Marino Martinez)
22. Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 21)
After a career year in 2019, he regressed last year lowering his exit velocity by almost five clips, from 91.1 to 86.4, also his WOBA/XWOBA(321/319) backs up the fact that last year was a mess by itself without bad luck considerations. Dozier only played 3 innings as a third baseman last year, pushing him to first baseman territory where he has even less value and will fade away. Personal Projections: .240/.340/.400/15/50. (Marino Martinez)
23. Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 31)
I’ve been waiting for a true breakout season for three years or so; he is pretty decent, but I’m definitely not comfortable with Anderson being my primary third baseman (at least for a 14 team league). He is a good bench bat for any fantasy format: he can deliver some bombs, good OBP, and his batting average will not hurt your team. Last year was his best season by WRC+(121) ranked 4th among all MLB qualified third baseman, so I think the moment has come to be comfortable with Anderson as your primary third baseman. Personal Projections: .270/.355/.490/25/85 (Marino Martinez).
24. Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 36, Previous Rank: 23)
He continues to hit the ball hard (44 Hard Hit %, 90.3 Exit Velocity) while maintaining his good plate discipline with a K% less than 15 and took more than 10% free passes, which looks pretty good. In fact, it is pretty good, but Turner turns 37 in November, and we have to wonder how long will Turner perform like this? Maybe one, two years? We don’t know, but what we know is that the Father Time club is so cruel and he can fall suddenly, so, you can stay with him and squeeze all the juice left or you can be smart and sell him now. Personal Projections .290/.360/.490/23/87. (Marino Martinez)
25. Brett Baty, New York Mets (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 35)
Baty is carried entirely by his offensive potential; his raw power is one of the best from 2019 class. An advanced hitter, which I visualize as a potential Hoskyns-esque type of player (first baseman projection included), he may not have the athleticism to stick at the hot corner. Low average, high OBP/ISO combo, a must to own prospect in OBP leagues. (Marino Martinez)
26. Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 20)
When Tommy Edman reached the MLB in 2019, he opened some eyes with his half-season performance, but his next steps were in the wrong direction. If 2020 doesn’t mean anything to you, great, but he doesn’t have the power nor the plate discipline nor the speed nor (insert whatever exciting here) to justify a roster spot beside a bench bat role. Edman’s 2019 season isn’t gonna happen again, for sure, but even so, he remains relevant for NL only leagues for his positional flexibility. Personal Projections .255/.320/.415/14/45. (Marino Martinez)
27. Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 26)
While he is not the most athletic third baseman, Paredes has the potential to be an above-average hitter at the major league level. He has a great feel of the strike zone and even in a poor major league debut in 2020, he only had a 6.2 SwStr%. As I said before, he made his major league debut when the Tigers called him (along with Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize) up this summer. It was a small sample size (only 108 PAs) but it was the worst offensive performance of his professional career. His .220/.278/.290 with zero steals and one homerun is a fantasy manager’s worst nightmare- no average, no power, and no stolen bases. That being said, I’m giving him a pass for 2020. Since 2017, he has shown the ability to make contact and should be a great late-round flyer in an AVG league. While he might never be an All-Star, he shouldn’t destroy your team either. (Shelly Verougstraete)
28. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (Age: 33, Previous Rank: 34)
Now that Felix Hernandez is not on the Mariners, Seager is the only face that remains from when the team was a bit more competitive. Also, outside of 2018, Seager has consistently been an above-average hitter. He played in all 60 games this past season and his .241/.355/.433 slash line with nine home runs and five (?!?) stolen bases definitely helped your fantasy team. So what should we expect for Corey’s brother going forward? I think pretty much what he has always done. His exit velocity and strikeout rates have hovered around 89 MPH and 18% respectively. The lineup around him should begin to improve this season so until I see some decline, he makes an excellent buy-low in a dynasty league. (Shelly Verougstraete)
29. Kody Hoese, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 39)
Hoese parlayed an excellent junior season at Tulane moving from a 35th round draft pick to being selected 25th overall. Hoese is an advanced college hitter with a great batter’s eye and patient approach. He has above-average power with his more upper-cut swing should hit plenty of home runs in Dodgers Stadium. After being drafted, he spent most of his time in the DH role because of a sore elbow, but he has the instincts to remain at third base. He should move through the system quickly, not only because of his polished hitting ability but also because he will be 24 in July. (Shelly Verougstraete)
30. Eduardo Escobar, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 17)
Escobar has been on a roller coaster ride when it comes to rankings here at TDG. He went from 29th in 2019, 17th in 2020, and now back down to 30th in this year. It is easy to see why as he was absolutely dreadful in 2020. His .212/.270/.335 with four home runs and one stolen base was the worst of his career. Taking a quick glance at his batted ball profile and we are looking at the 2016 Twins version of Escobar. His GB% jumped from 32% to 36% and his hard hit% dropped from 41% to 30%. To be fair, I’ll give him a pass for the season but with this drastic regression plus his age, I’m not sure what you are buying here. Those days of 20+ homeruns are long gone. (Shelly Verougstraete)