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2016 Fantasy Baseball Tiered Rankings: Third Base (February)


We are so close to fantasy baseball, you guys...and yet so far. I have to imagine my friends don't want to talk to me anymore - it's like dealing with a junkie. "I'll buy your beer if you'll talk sleepers with me, bro...come on, man, gimme ten minutes." Just a few more weeks. Get it together.

This round of rankings features seven of our experts. They are Brad Johnson, Max Petrie, Kyle Bishop, Harris Yudin, Jeff Kahntroff, Nick Mariano and myself. Today we'll cover third base. Assume a standard 5x5 redraft league when reading.

Editor's note: Just in case you've been living under a rock, be sure to also check out our 2016 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2016, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.

 

2016 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Analysis: Third Base

Third base is an interesting position this year because it boasts some of the top hitters in the game. Unfortunately, the pool gets pretty shallow after those first few guys are gone.

 

The Cream of the Crop

I have a giant man-crush on Josh Donaldson, and with good reason. The late-bloomer exploded in 2015 to the tune of a .297/41/123 line, chipping in an MLB-leading 122 runs scored. Based purely on probability Donaldson is due for some regression, but even if he drops 1o batting average points, five homers, and 10 RBIs and runs scored, you're still looking at a top-five draft pick. The same goes for Nolan Arenado, who still calls Coors Field home and has not yet reached the peak of his potential at age 24.

I was the lowest on Manny Machado, but that's not because I think he's not a first-round talent. There's no denying that he played at an MVP level last year, but I'm just far more excited about Kris Bryant in a roto format. I fear that Machado's power numbers represent the peak of his ability (35 homers and 86 RBIs), whereas Bryant has a much higher ceiling. He'll have nearly a full season under his belt and a full season of at-bats ahead of him, and I think he's a lock for 40 homers and 110 RBIs in what is widely regarded as one of the best lineups in baseball.

 

A Cut Below

There isn't much disagreement among our experts in the second tier, but it looks like Jeff and I are lower on Miguel Sano than the others. The Twins slugger is going to continue to drop bombs (career .247 ISO among all professional levels), but he won't have the batting average, speed or RBI totals that many of his fellow second-tier guys will put up. His .396 BABIP from 2015 means that his .269 batting average will probably be closer to .250, and he's got absolutely no speed to speak of.

I'm still rooting for Adrian Beltre, and after a slow start he sprang to life in the second half of 2015. The elite power is a thing of the past, but if he remains healthy he should still pop 25 homers (half from on a knee, probably) and approach a .300 batting average. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the year he falls out of the top 10 at the position, though.

 

The Playable Options

There are actually a bunch of underrated names in the third tier of our rankings. I'll point out Mike Moustakas, who Harris is far-and-away higher on than anyone else. His .284 batting average was an amazing improvement over his .212 from a year before, and just watching "Moose" at the plate you could tell he had a better approach. His 12.4% K-rate indicates that the batting average increase is the real deal instead of an outlier, and the fact that he'll likely chip in 20 homers and 80 RBIs is nothing to sneeze at. I like Moustakas a lot, but not enough to put him in my top ten. Bold call, Harris!

I'm highest on Justin Turner, and when I redo these ranks again next week, I'll probably drop him down a bit. He broke out in a huge way in 2015, and I'm banking on him maintaining some of that form in 2016. The most significant stride he took was in hit type--he dropped his ground ball percentage by a full 12 points while his line drive and fly ball rates rose significantly. To me, that indicates a much better approach, and it should be sustainable going forward. 15 homers, 80 RBIs and a .280 batting average is well within his grasp.

 

Late Lotto Tickets

Anybody outside of the top 20 in our rankings shouldn't be considered a fantasy starter, but there is some value to be found. I'm still not ready to give up on Jed Lowrie, and he's back in Oakland after the most recent round of Hot Potato the Astros and A's have played with him. As a switch-hitter with pop and multi-positional eligibility, he'll be a useful backup for any format.

Adonis Garcia is a nice late-round lottery pick, as he could be starting at third base for a rebuilding Braves team in 2016. The Cuban defector has always sported a high batting average at every level he's played in, and he did smack 10 homers in 191 at-bats for the Braves last season. I don't see him evolving into a superstar in the MLB, but he could be a sneaky source of roto value in the last rounds.

 

Third Base Tiered Fantasy Baseball Rankings (February)

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

 

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