Fantasy Baseball 2018: Third Base Rankings

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 01: Nolan Arenado

Third base will arguably be the most fun position to watch with all of the power hitters. There is depth at this position unlike any other.

If you look at the stats, the majority of the third basemen have the same batter profile. They hit for a lot of power, most have low batting averages and very few steal bases. This is the position you want to rely on for power.

Only four third basemen stole 10 or more bases. However, 19 third basemen hit at least 20 home runs with another 11 hitting at least 10. Only four hit over .300. So, like I said, this is a power-hitting position.

Most owners should strive to draft at least two third basemen. With the depth at this position, I would look to have a third just in case. The benefit is, based on your league’s roster settings, you can start two or all three at the same time, getting the most value out of your lineup.

If possible, I would like to have at least one of the top six players before the fourth round. Then, add some depth in the late teens and maybe get a third one with one of my last picks. If you want to stock up at another position, you could get by with a Justin Turner or Travis Shaw as your starter and get a backup a few rounds later.

Here are some players worth mentioning for those in deeper leagues.

Matt Chapman (OAK) – Chapman got the call to the majors on June 15. He played in 84 games, hitting .234 with 14 home runs and 40 RBI. He’s one of those hitters that you draft for the boost in power. Just make sure you have a nice cushion in batting average.

Yangervis Solarte (TOR) – The Blue Jays traded for the utility infielder last month. With the improved lineup, Solarte and company will look to compete for a division title. You can read more of my thoughts about the trade at the link provided.

JP Crawford (PHI) – Crawford enters the 2018 season as the Phillies starting shortstop. But, he enters fantasy drafts with only third base eligibility, playing 13 games there last season. Crawford played in just 23 games and hit .214 with eight RBI and six runs scored. That is a small sample size, so looking at his Triple-A numbers last season tell the story. He hit 15 home runs, 63 RBI and .243 in 127 games.

Jedd Gyorko (STL) – Gyorko is a career utility player. He usually enters the season with multi-position eligibility. However, that all changes this year. He played in 107 games at third base and didn’t reach even 10 at any other position. While he may not be the starter, Matt Carpenter is listed as the starting third baseman, Gyorko will still get playing time.

Matt Davidson (CWS) – Davidson was a third baseman fantasy owners added for his power. In 118 games, he hit 26 home runs and 68 RBI. He, like many other third basemen, hit for a low batting average. Davidson hit .220 with a .260 batting average. The White Sox may be rebuilding but Davidson should be able to contribute with another 20-plus home runs.

Before we get into the rankings, I took out players I already talked about in another position like Jose Ramirez, Marwin Gonzalez and Joey Gallo. They fit better in those positions more than they would here for different reasons.

Now, here are my top-20 third basemen for 2018.

CINCINNATI, OH – MAY 19: Eugenio Suarez

Maikel Franco (PHI) – As his playing time’s increase, Franco’s power increased but his batting average tanked. He hit 14 HR/50 RBI/.280 in 2015, 25/88/.255 in 2016 and 24/76/.230 last season. Despite that, Franco has improved at the plate, swinging at fewer pitches and making more contact when he does swing.

Todd Frazier – After waiting months for a team to sign him, the Mets signed their new third baseman in Frazier. My colleague Brad Kelly goes over the pros and cons of the deal for fantasy owners.

Ryon Healy (SEA) – Kelly wrote about Healy joining the Seattle Mariners. He was Oakland’s third baseman in 2016 but played both first and third last season and will carry both positions into 2018. Healy will be Seattle’s starting first baseman but with the depth at the position, he may be more draftable as a third baseman in most leagues.

Nicholas Castellanos (DET) – Castellanos had a breakout season last year. He hit 26 homers, 101 RBI and .272 in 157 games. He even hit 10 triples, which led all third basemen. Kelly questions if we should believe in it or was this a one-year wonder. Roster Resource lists Castellanos as the starting right fielder but you would rather have him as your corner infielder than you OF4.

Eugenio Suarez (CIN) – I recently wrote about Suarez and how he needs more love in the fantasy world. He hit 26 homers, 82 RBI and .260 in 156 games. Check out the article for more of my thoughts on Suarez in 2018.

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman

Evan Longoria (SF) – It felt weird typing “SF” next to Longoria’s name. It’ll be even weirder seeing him in a Giants uniform on Opening Day. Longoria has been reliable over the last five years, averaging 26 home runs, 87 RBI and .265 per season. He joins a better offense in San Francisco. The downside is that AT&T is a pitcher’s park.

Kyle Seager (SEA) – Seager hit for a career-low .249 with respectable 27 home runs and 88 RBI. With the improvements the Mariners front office made, can Seager bounce back and hit his normal .268?

Rafael Devers (BOS) – In his short stint with the Red Sox in 2017, Devers lit up the stat sheets. In 222 at-bats, he hit 10 home runs, 30 RBI and .284. Devers will hit sixth, giving him chances to drive home Mitch Moreland and Hanley Ramirez. He just missed the top 10 in my rankings. But can he finish the season among the elite?

Jake Lamb (ARI) – Lamb’s 2017 season was a tale of two halves as he ended the season on a bad note. It also didn’t help that his righty/lefty splits were atrocious. If Lamb doesn’t improve against southpaws, is he rosterable?

Alex Bregman (HOU) – On the flip side, Bregman improved in the second half of the season. Is that something he can carry into this season?

HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 28: Justin Turner

Mike Moustakas (FA) – I wrote an early outlook piece on Moustakas back in November. Three months later and he’s still a free agent. The number of teams needing a third baseman is shrinking. He hit a career-high 38 home runs and 85 RBI with a .272 average. His value will depend some on where he signs. As your starter in a deeper league, Moustakas will be just fine.

Adrian Beltre (TEX) – Back in October, I wrote that Beltre is no longer a top-10 third baseman. Based on my rankings here, I had a change of heart. He had his lowest home run and RBI totals since 2009, 17 and 71, respectively. He did miss significant time with injuries. Soon-to-be 39 years old, Beltre will hit in the heart of the Rangers lineup, giving him plenty of chances hit bounce back and be the ageless wonder we all know.

Justin Turner (LAD) – As the oldest member of the Dodgers, Turner had a down season last year. He played in 130 games and hit 21 home runs, 71 RBI and .322. The batting average was great to have but the decline in power hurt. With the breakouts of both Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, Turner will benefit and be worth drafting as your starting third baseman.

Travis Shaw (MIL) – As I mentioned in the Jonathan Villar section of my second base rankings, the Brewers lineup looks good on paper. Shaw will hit in the No. 3 spot, behind Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain and in front of Ryan Braun. That is a sweet spot for him to drive in and score runs. He hit 31 home runs and 101 RBI with a .273 average last season. I believe we can see a repeat performance from Shaw this season if he lowers his ground ball rate.

Miguel Sano (MIN) – Sano is your prototypical power hitter. He crushes the ball and drives in runs but has a hard time making contact otherwise. Sano hit 28 home runs and 77 RBI but struck out 173 times with a .264 average. He struck out 178 times in 2016. If your league penalizes for that, you better make sure you don’t have another high-strikeout hitter.

TORONTO, ON – AUGUST 15: Josh Donaldson

Josh Donaldson is still an elite third baseman. I know, going out on a limb there. But, he isn’t being ranked as one. With the top four basemen likely getting drafted within the first two rounds, Donaldson could fall to the middle of the third round.

Two seasons removed from his 41-home run MVP season, Donaldson hit another 33 home runs, 78 RBI and .270 in 113 games. He missed 38 games while dealing with a calf injury early in the season.

The Blue Jays added Curtis Granderson, Yangervis Solarte and Randal Grichuk in the offseason. While the team seems to be getting older, those additions will help Donaldson get close to his 2015 season.

Rogers Centre may not be a hitter-friendly park, he will play some games at Yankee Stadium and Camden Yards, both ranked in the top three for home runs.

My colleague Gavin Tramps wrote about Donaldson being the steal of 2018 fantasy drafts. If you can get a 30-plus home run-hitting third baseman in the third round, you do it. No questions.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 07: Anthony Rendon

Anthony Rendon posted career highs in home runs, RBI and batting average, yet continues to fly under the radar in fantasy. After a breakout season, is this the year Rendon is drafted as a top-20 player? I think so.

He hit 25 home runs, 100 RBI and .301 in 147 games. The Nationals suffered two big injuries last season, losing Adam Eaton for the season and Trea Turner missed 51 games in the summer.

Rendon displayed great plate discipline, walking 84 times and struck out 82 times. He had a 5.1 swinging strike, 40.4 swinging and 57.0 first-pitch strike rates. If you’re in a league with OBP, Rendon’s value certainly increases.

Tramps wrote a comparison piece between Rendon and my No. 2 third baseman. The results are closer than you may think.

BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 01: Manny Machado

Manny Machado is an Oriole for now. If that changes by the trade deadline, who knows. What we do know is that Machado will not be third base eligible next season, so take advantage of that this year.

CBS Sports, along with many other news outlets, reported that Machado will move back to shortstop this season. In standard leagues, he will gain shortstop eligibility after his 10th game played. Until then, he’s third base only.

I don’t care where he plays as long as Machado crushes the ball like we’re used to seeing. His batting average dropped from 2016 (.294) to 2017 (.259). Machado struggled out of the gate, posting a .205 average with 10 home runs and 25 RBI at the end of May.

For the rest of the season, though, he hit .284 with 23 homers and 70 RBI. He also ran some, stealing for nine bases after not recording a single steal the season prior.

Machado will hit just fine wherever he plays. You just have to hope that his average last season was a one-time thing and not the new norm.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 15: Kris Bryant

Kris Bryant had a down year in some categories last season. He hit fewer home runs and drove in fewer runs in four fewer games. There were some positives, though.

Bryant walked 20 more times while striking out 26 fewer times and increased his batting average by 3 points. His on-base percentage also went up 24 points. Regardless, Bryant was still a valuable fantasy third baseman.

He hit 29 home runs, 73 RBI and .295 in 151 games. He added 111 runs and seven steals to the mix, helping owners in all five major categories.

With Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber hitting behind him, Bryant will definitely be one of the best No. 2 hitters in the game. If you want him, you have to spend a high second-round pick on him.

The 26-year-old is entering the prime of his career and is an anchor to anyone’s team, re-draft of dynasty. He should hit around .286 with 33 home runs and 105 RBI.

DENVER, CO – JULY 19: Nolan Arenado

Nolan Arenado has been on a tear over the last three seasons. He averaged 40 home runs, 131 RBI, 104 runs, 40 doubles and a .297 average in that span.

Consistency is key in fantasy and it doesn’t get more consistent than that. He had a modest walk rate last year at 9.1 percent with a 15.6 strikeout rate.

In a park like Coors Field, it’s hard to keep the ball on the ground and Arenado didn’t have any problems. He posted a 44.9 fly ball rate and 16.3 HR/FB rate, seventh and sixth among third basemen.

The Rockies seem set on keeping both Arenado and Charlie Blackmon for the immediate future and that helps both players. Plus, DJ LeMahieu, Trevor Story and Ian Desmond back this a dangerous top of the lineup.

Arenado will undoubtedly cost you a first-round pick. He is the best third baseman in the league and a top-five overall player.

SAN DIEGO, CA – AUGUST 2: Miguel Sano

Third base provides a lot of power for fantasy. The top players in my rankings help you in other categories. Though, if you decide to go elsewhere with your first couple of picks, there are plenty of options available between rounds nine and 13.

You can’t make a wrong pick for your starting third baseman.