Way Too Early Rankings: Third Base

This is the fourth part of a continuing series. Catchersfirst basemen, and second basemen were already covered. Yesterday, we retrospectively evaluated third base values for the 2016 season. And if you click into that article, there are even more links for you to reference. Let’s continue with some disclaimers.

As a reminder, these rankings represent my first reactions rather than a truly rigorous approach. I’ve used an absolutely objective technique called mental math to compile the lists. I’m assuming a standard 5×5 format.

The purpose of this exercise is two-fold: to get an early start on 2017 rankings and to crowdsource missing or misranked players. That’s where you come in. Let your thoughts and feelings be known in the comments. As we’ve done in previous editions, we’ll break this into digestible chunks.

(please excuse the width of these tables)

Yesterday, I noted Arenado’s 2016 performance. By linear weights, he was roughly as valuable with the bat as Carpenter even though Carp missed part of the season. By fantasy standards, Arenado was the top ranked third baseman by a fairly wide margin. I’ve ranked him second, but I have no qualms with taking him before Bryant. Both the Cubs and Rockies offenses should be epic. Huge run production totals, 40 home run power, and bankable batting averages are in store for both sluggers.

Machado went from stealing 20 bases in 2015 to a big fat goose egg last season. He remained a valuable hitter in the midst of a volatile Orioles lineup. It seems obvious to me that the Orioles made a conscious decision to avoid making outs on the bases. It’s homer or bust. Machado is young enough to recover those steals, but I sure wouldn’t count on it.

This is a stacked position. Donaldson gets a downgrade because Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are liable to be replaced with the likes of Jon Jay and Adam Lind. Donaldson is still a first round caliber pick. If you’re a Villar believer, then he belongs in the first round too. That’s how valuable 62 stolen bases are when they come in a five category package. Villar probably should slip into the second round in most leagues due to regression concerns.

After the top five, there’s a big step down to the fantasy yeoman of the position. Rendon quietly returned to the standard he set in 2014. Seager had a power breakout after years of the exact same season. Carpenter is an OBP league darling. They’re all viable picks for the sixth third baseman.

Of the remaining trio, I prefer Beltre’s hitter friendly park and solid supporting cast to Longoria’s relative youth. Turner’s position in the rankings depends on where he signs.

I really hope Michael Brantley is healthy because it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch him and Ramirez work in the same lineup. Ramirez is a poor man’s Villar with an even better rounded skill set and more contact.

I was asked about Bregman yesterday. Here he is at number 13. For what it’s worth, this is the highest I can justify ranking him. A pessimistic view would put him somewhere between Reyes and Healy. I’m anticipating 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases to go with otherwise solid production. Like most young players, he’s a volatile pick. If he improves, he’s a Rendon clone or better.

Sano may have been the hardest player to rank. How did he only hit 20 home runs? Someday, Sano will go full Chris Davis and launch 50 or more homers. Maybe it’ll be 2017. Like Davis, he’ll also produce some very indifferent seasons. Perhaps Chris Carter is the better analogy.

I feel like I’m underselling Frazier, especially if the White Sox hang onto him. With his pull-happy approach and sky high infield fly rate (see what I did there), he’ll continue to post a painfully low batting average. The other four categories will be more than useful. As they say, boring veterans win championships.

I said Sano was the hardest to rank, but the last five guys in this tier were a challenge. Reyes was on a 25/25 pace, but it pains my soul to advocate on his behalf. Baez seemingly secured an everyday role as part of his solid postseason. The October experience should help too. Then again, the Cubs have to find playing time for their ridiculous depth. Franco looks like an excellent post-hype sleeper after he scuffled through most of 2016.

If you know what to do with Wright and Sandoval, by all means tell me. I sure don’t. I’m not even sure Wright will play, and Sandoval will need to prove himself during Spring Training.

We’re mostly looking at a cohort of veterany goodness. Moustakas didn’t get a chance to take part in the 2016 homer binge. He has a shot at 30 blasts. Solarte’s value is pinned to him remaining the Padres cleanup man. Gyorko has to beat out Kolten Wong to justify this ranking.

If Nunez is playing everyday and on a 40 steal pace, he’ll be a huge bargain at this price. However, I think he’ll play a three games per week utility role while running less frequently.

There are actually some interesting names in this group. Perez could be just like Nunez with enough playing time. Valencia is a favorite of mine when he starts, especially against southpaws. Flores is a perennial breakout candidate at the plate. Profar used to be compared to Mike Trout in terms of prospect status. Moncada is the current top prospect. Gurriel could gum up Bregman’s value. Jones is talked about as a potential center fielder for Detroit. Last but not least (well, maybe least), Gillaspie showed signs of a breakout. Many of the guys I didn’t mention have positive attributes too.



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Anon
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Anon

How deep is 3B? Donaldson just averaged .290 (approx), 39 HR, 111 RBI, 122 R and 6.5 SB over the last 2 years and he’s a justified #4 on your list.

The thing that would worry me about passing on Arenado in the 1st round is that a monster .340/50/150RBI/130R season is always a possibility for a great hitter in Colorado, especially with the quality of the surrounding cast. I mean, I know that the projections (already out) are .290/35/109/93, but Colorado just begets silly numbers.