Fantasy Baseball: Third Base Rankings – Roto

Manny Machado

Up next in my 2016 roto rankings preview is third base. The top tier at this position is perhaps the best in all of fantasy baseball, as four players currently hold first round ADP’s. That said, I don’t see the overall group as being particularly deep. Assuming I don’t have a top three pick I would certainly look to target one of the elite options with my first selection and at the very least ensure that I take someone from the first three tiers. Once you get outside of the top 10-12 players in this group many of the remaining choices will also have multi-position eligibility and that obviously creates a new context for evaluation. Based on the depth concerns I mentioned earlier I would argue that in several cases these players are actually more appealing options at third base than some of the other infield positions. So with all that in mind, here are my rankings. (Note: as always all rankings are based on Yahoo position eligibility and tiers indicate players with comparable values).

C    1B    2B    SS    3B    OF    SP    RP

Tier 1 (The Elite)

  1. Josh Donaldson (TOR)
  2. Manny Machado (BAL)
  3. Nolan Arenado (COL)
  4. Kris Bryant (CHC)

As I mentioned in the intro, this is perhaps the single strongest tier at any position. Donaldson and Arenado are premier home run hitters and were the only two players in all of baseball last year to drive in 120-plus runs. The strength of Toronto’s lineup makes Donaldson my clear number one option, although each of these players is in an extremely favorable hitting environment.

Machado’s steals should compensate for his decreased run production so I have no qualms about ranking him second here. Bryant could similarly increase his value if he runs as much as he did last year, but as an overall hitter he’s not as developed as the other players in this group.

Tier 2 (The Next Up)

  1. Todd Frazier (CWS)
  2. Miguel Sano (MIN)
  3. Matt Carpenter (STL)
  4. Kyle Seager (SEA)

Similar to shortstop, the drop off from the first tier at third base is significant. Frazier stands out the most in this group as he actually has elite power and should contribute double digit steals. He’s struggled mightily in the second half over the past couple seasons, but that’s not a major concern in roto formats. Sano will be an enticing option as he very well might have the most raw power of anyone at the position. That said, he likely won’t hit above .260 or score very many runs. I don’t mind gambling on his upside, but make sure you’re aware of the risk he brings.

I discussed Carpenter in detail in my second base preview and in short, his ability to finish in the top tiers will be contingent on him delivering another 20-plus home run season. Seager is without question one of the most consistent yet underrated options at the position. He’s easy to overlook because he’s never had that one monster year, but his average stat line over the past three seasons is a .265 average with 24 homers, 80 RBI and seven steals. Like I said, it’s not overwhelming, but it’s great production from a player who’s currently going in the 9th round of most drafts according to FantasyPros ADP data.

Tier 3 (The Solid Starters)

  1. Adrian Beltre (TEX)
  2. Anthony Rendon (WAS)
  3. Maikel Franco (PHI)
  4. Evan Longoria (TB)

Beltre is very similar to Seager in terms of consistent production and I view the difference between the two as minimal. My biggest concern with him is age, as he’s going to be 37 at the start of the season and hasn’t hit 20 home runs since 2013. That said, he’s very strong in batting average and should have at least one more season of solid production left in the tank. Rendon is another guy I discussed in the second base preview, and I actually have him ranked in virtually the same spot at both positions.

I have Franco and Longoria projected for very similar seasons, but I’d much rather take a chance on the younger player in the better ballpark. I still believe Longoria can be a productive hitter, though I don’t think he’s considerably better than the next couple of players I have ranked behind him. Further, his name recognition is clearly inflating his ADP and that makes me unlikely to draft him in any of my leagues.

Tier 4 (The Fringe Starters)

  1. Matt Duffy (SF)
  2. Mike Moustakas (KC)
  3. Daniel Murphy (WAS)
  4. Justin Turner (LAD)
  5. Jung-Ho Kang (PIT)
  6. Trevor Plouffe (MIN)
  7. Nick Castellanos (DET)

While this “fringe” tier lacks flashy names, it has several players that can be valuable commodities in leagues with 12 or more teams. Moustakas for instance outperformed Longoria last season and is going on average four to five rounds later in drafts. Meanwhile Murphy, Turner and Kang are balanced contributors who all have multi-position eligibility. Plouffe has obvious limitations, but he’s a decent late round option if you need home runs and RBI. Similarly, Castellanos should benefit from a strong Tigers lineup and could be a top 12-15 option if he continues to develop.

Tier 5 (The Corner Infielders)

  1. David Wright (NYM)
  2. Josh Harrison (PIT)
  3. Brett Lawrie (CWS)
  4. Danny Valencia (OAK)
  5. Yasmany Tomas (ARZ)
  6. Chase Headley (NYY)
  7. Martin Prado (MIA)

Considering the comparable options at first base, this group essentially makes up the back end of the corner infield tier. As a lifelong Mets fan it really hurts to see how far David Wright has fallen, but he’s a major injury risk nowadays and no longer offers any power or speed upside. I view the specific rankings within this tier as largely interchangeable, though I think Lawrie and Tomas are two guys worth mentioning in more detail. Lawrie is still only 26 and moving out of Oakland should certainly help his power numbers. Tomas, on the other hand, is intriguing because he largely defied his scouting report in his first major league season. If he can become a more viable home run threat like many predicted it will significantly increase his value.

Tier 6 (The Backups)

  1. Pablo Sandoval (BOS)
  2. Joey Gallo (TEX)
  3. Jake Lamb (ARZ)
  4. Yunel Escobar (LAA)
  5. Hector Olivera (ATL)
  6. Yangervis Solarte (SD)
  7. Javier Baez (CHC)

As you may have expected, there’s not really anything appealing about this tier. Gallo and Baez have potential based on the fact that they’re both top prospects, but neither has a clear path to everyday at-bats. Olivera has only played 24 career games in the majors so it’s difficult to accurately assess his abilities. That said, the fact that he’s already 30 years old should limit his upside in terms of development.

Tier 7 (The Leftovers)

  1. Eduardo Escobar (MIN)
  2. Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE)
  3. Luis Valbuena (HOU)
  4. Brock Holt (BOS)
  5. Aaron Hill (MIL)
  6. Jonathan Villar (MIL)
  7. Mark Reynolds (COL)

There’s very little for me to say about this last tier, as the majority of these players are not even starters for their respective teams. I suppose Villar could run his way into 20-30 steals if he somehow remains an everyday player, though I certainly wouldn’t project it. Chisenhall and Hill will have relevance in AL/NL only formats, but in the majority of mixed leagues few if any of these players will be worth rostering.

And if you’re looking for points rankings, you can find those here

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