2016 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Third Base (January)

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Welcome back RotoBallers to our second round of 2016 fantasy baseball rankings. This edition focuses on the hot corner, third base.

If you haven't caught on by now, third base is a stacked position. The top four third basemen (Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado) all have a legitimate claim to the No. 1 spot, while players who used to fight for that right (Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Todd Frazier) serve as excellent contingency plans on draft day. And we haven't even brought up young guns Miguel Sano and Maikel Franco. This is gonna be fun.

This round of rankings features seven of our experts. They are Brad Johnson, Max Petrie, Kyle Bishop, Harris Yudin, Jeff Kahntroff, Bill Dubiel, and Nick Mariano. Assume a standard 5x5 redraft league when reading. Don't forget to also read the rest of our 2016 fantasy baseball rankings articles and analysis. In case you missed it, we've been churning out dynasty rankings, keeper values, and top MLB prospect rankings for the 2016 fantasy baseball season. Let's get to it.

 

2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Third Base

Tier One

Let's start with the heavyweights. Choosing a "best" player among this group is no easy task, and I spent a good deal of time deliberating this decision. Four of the seven writers chose Donaldson as No. 1, making him the majority pick. I was the only writer to selectArenado, a fact that surprised me somewhat. Arenado led baseball with 130 RBI and was tops among 3B with 42 HR. He gets to call Coors Field home and, as I love to mention, he hit more HR on the road (22) than at home (20). Not to say he didn't love Coors; he had a higher OPS (.960) and ISO (.294) at home.

Another player I considered for No. 1 did get some love from Brad, and that's Machado. He led all 3B with 20 SB and was one of two players (Paul Goldschmidt) to put up a 30/20 campaign. He'll also have Chris Davis back in the fold and the addition of Mark Trumbo will only boost the Orioles offensive output.

The only player in this tier that gives me pause is Bryant; his 30.6% K rate was the worst among qualified 3B. Regardless, he's still an offensive force in an upgraded Cubs lineup and should not slip past the first few picks in the second round.

Tier Two

Here we find some young bombers and old vets. The youngins, Sano and Franco, have oodles of potential and have already put it on display. Sano hit 18 HR in 279 at-bats and his .260 ISO would have ranked third among 3B if he qualified. He should be a lock for 30 HR this season. The average won't be pretty (35.5% K rate) but the power is real. Franco's 2015 numbers are inflated by an outstanding run in June (.355, 8 HR, 24 RBI) but there's plenty of room for growth in the 23-year old. His ranking would be higher if the Phillies had a real offense around him.

If there's a player who couldn't wait for 2015 to end, it was Frazier. After a 25 HR first-half, Frazier only hit 10 HR with a .220 AVG to end the year. I'd hazard that's the last time we see Frazier participate in a home-run derby. He should see plenty of RBI opportunities protecting Jose Abreu in the White Sox lineup, and the departure from a sandbox aka Great American Ballpark shouldn't hinder his HR potential drastically; he hit only three more HR at home versus the road in 2015.

Word for the wise: don't let Beltre and Longoria slip past the 8th round. Are they "sexy" picks? No. Are they consistent? You betcha.

Tier Three

Here's where we really get to see the value available at third base. What does Matt Carpenter need to do to get some love? His 28 HR were fourth among 3B and his .505 SLG was third, ahead of Machado. I'm pessimistic about him repeating these numbers (hence my ranking), but he's still averaging just under 109 runs per season over the last three years. The loss of Jason Heyward will hurt but count me a believer in Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk to keep the offense moving.

Anthony Rendon was a top-25 player in 2014 until the injury bug caught back up. The player to keep an eye on in this sector is Josh Harrison. Harrison is in line for an everyday role now that Neil Walker is in New York, and he's proven capable of stepping into the role already. In 2014, he hit .318 with a 13/18 HR/SB split in 550 PA. As long as he remains atop the order, he should exceed his value.

People who have been predicting a Mike Moustakas breakout for the past four years can finally come out of their hole and say "I told you so!" The biggest adjustment for Moose was shedding his pull-happy tendencies and hitting to all fields. I'm still not sold he's for real; his .294 BABIP was 26 points higher than his career average and his improved OBP was inflated by getting hit 13 times!

If you could promise me Justin Turner and David Wright will stay healthy, they'd move up our rankings a few spots. Alas, know the risk involved with drafting either on draft day (that's code for grab a backup 3B).

Tier Four

Call this our "Potential Tier." Only two names are included (Nick Castellanos, Jake Lamb). Tigers fans have been clamoring for Castellanos to put it all together. If things go south this year, it may be the final straw. There's plenty to like here; his 23.3% LD rate was fourth among 3B and he hits to all fields (29.3% oppo rate was third). He just needs to dial back on the strikeouts (25.5% K rate). There's a 20-HR campaign in him, somewhere.

Lamb has a similar makeup. Hits all fields but strikes out too much. He does provide a sounder plate approach and hit over .300 in his minor-league career with the D-backs. His ranking hinges on his slot in the batting order. If he cleans up for Goldschmidt, he's got a great chance to crack the top-15. If he struggles with his consistency at the plate and lands sixth behind Wellington Castillo, he'll end up in our next tier.

Tier Five

We're getting into choppy waters, but there's still value to be had. Pablo Sandoval has reported to have lost 20 pounds over the offseason and was having a respectable 2015 until a disastrous second half (.210, 3 HR, 17 RBI). Trevor Plouffe finished ninth in HR and sixth in RBI among third basemen, albeit it comes with an average under .250. Luis Valbuena's 25 HR were eighth among 3B, but that comes with an even worse average (.224).

Brett Lawrie will be given another chance to live up to the hype in Chicago, even if he's too stubborn to draw walks (.299 OBP). Danny Valencia will find himself getting ample at-bats for Oakland and should see time in the cleanup spot after hitting 18 HR in 345 AB. His 22.2 HR/FB% and .229 ISO were first and third, respectively, among third basemen with 350 PA. Yasmany Tomas will be given a full-time playing opportunity with Ender Inciarte shipped out and is a candidate to bat fourth in Arizona. Keep an eye on these guys in the latter half of your draft.

Tier Six

If any of these players is your starting third basemen or CI slot in a shallow league, I hope you're stacked elsewhere. There's still some diamonds in the rough. Yunel Escobar is terrible with the glove but who cares? He led all third basemen with a .375 OBP. He's expected to bat leadoff for the Angels ahead of a Kole Calhoun-Mike Trout-Albert Pujols trio. That's code for tons of runs.

Yangervis Solarte will be the everyday third basemen for San Diego and had a strong finish to 2015 (.292, 39 R, 9 HR, 31 RBI). There's plenty of mystery surrounding Hector Olivera, but I would advise to be bearish with projections. His plate patience will make it up a struggle to hit over .280 and his swing makeup is more likely to conduce doubles than home runs. An over/under of 15 HR sounds reasonable.

Tier Seven

Nothing to see here for mixed-league folks. The only players in this tier who are expected to start Opening Day are Adonis Garcia and Tyler Saladino. Garcia is an interesting NL-Only option. He had a solid winter ball campaign according to Braves' coaches and will be given a shot at everyday playing time unless they decide to shift Hector Olivera back to third base. Still, try not to let your roster come to this.

 

Third Base Rankings for 2016 Fantasy Baseball

Rank Tier Name Brad Max Kyle Nick Harris Jeff Bill
1 1 Josh Donaldson 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
2 1 Manny Machado 1 3 3 2 2 3 4
3 1 Nolan Arenado 4 1 4 3 4 2 2
4 1 Kris Bryant 3 4 1 4 3 4 3
5 2 Miguel Sano 5 5 5 5 5 7 7
6 2 Todd Frazier 7 7 7 6 6 5 5
7 2 Kyle Seager 8 6 8 8 7 8 6
8 2 Adrian Beltre 6 9 6 7 15 6 8
9 2 Evan Longoria 9 8 9 10 8 9 9
10 2 Maikel Franco 11 10 10 9 13 11 10
11 3 Matt Carpenter 10 12 12 12 10 10 12
12 3 Anthony Rendon 12 11 11 11 11 13 11
13 3 Mike Moustakas 13 17 13 13 9 16 13
14 3 David Wright 14 13 14 14 17 15 16
15 3 Jung Ho Kang - 16 - - 12 17 -
16 3 Matt Duffy 17 14 19 16 16 14 15
17 3 Justin Turner 15 18 15 15 14 22 14
18 3 Josh Harrison 20 15 20 18 19 12 18
19 4 Jake Lamb 24 19 16 17 26 18 17
20 4 Nick Castellanos 16 22 17 21 21 21 20
21 5 Pablo Sandoval 19 20 29 19 18 19 19
22 5 Trevor Plouffe 21 23 18 20 27 20 22
23 5 Luis Valbuena 22 25 21 23 20 26 23
24 5 Chase Headley 25 24 22 22 31 23 21
25 5 Danny Valencia 18 21 25 28 24 28
26 5 Brett Lawrie 29 26 27 26 22 25 25
27 5 Yasmany Tomas 27 30 25 23 24 27
28 6 Martin Prado 27 30 26 27 32 24
29 6 Jed Lowrie 28 32 28 30 25 29 26
30 6 Derek Dietrich 23 33 23 24 40 27 30
31 6 Yangervis Solarte 26 31 24 29 33 28 31
32 6 Joey Gallo - - - - 28 30 -
33 6 Yunel Escobar - 28 - - 30 32 -
34 6 Cory Spangenberg - - - - 29 31 -
35 6 David Freese 30 34 - - 36 - 33
36 6 Hector Olivera - 29 - - 38 - -
37 7 Juan Uribe - - - - 39 - 29
38 7 Will Middlebrooks - - - - 34 - -
39 7 Adonis Garcia - 35 - - - - -
40 7 Brock Holt - - - - 35 - -
41 7 Lonnie Chisenhall - 36 - - 38 - 32
42 7 Cody Asche - - - - 42 - -

 

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