Before I sat down to rank the Top 25 Third Basemen for 2014 fantasy faseball, I thought I'd have a tough time coming up with twenty-five players at the position who I would consider drafting in 2014.
I thought I might have to cut this list to twenty, but even after losing hot-corner mainstays such as Chipper Jones (retired after the 2012 season), Alex Rodriguez (suspensions in 2013 and 2014), and Edwin Encarnacion (lost eligibility at the position) in recent years - plenty of third basemen remain to fill out the full twenty-five.
Looking at the rankings below, I think you'll agree that third base is very top-heavy in 2014. There are plenty of decent options in the top 25, but the elite third basemen are few and far between. After Matt Carpenter at #6, there isn't one third baseman that I would be 100-perecent comfortable with in my lineup. That's not to say that there aren't useful players, but I shudder at the thought of having to start Aramis Ramirez or Mark Reynolds at my 3B or CI (Corner Infield) spot. Third base stands to get even weaker in 2015 with Miguel Cabrera likely losing eligibility at the position with the shift over to first. Of course, the additions of Miguel Sano, Maikel Franco and perhaps even Carlos Santana could make up for that loss... at least somewhat.
Top 25 Third Base (3B) Rankings for 2014
As I've done for my Catcher and First Base rankings, I used Mike Podhorzer's Projecting X system to forecast player performance. Here are my Top 25 Third Basemen for 2014 Fantasy Baseball with Tier and Player commentary below:
Yes, Miguel Cabrera get his own tier. He's had his own tier for the past several years now, and until he loses eligibility at third base, it will stay that way.
After Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria, I had a tough time ranking David Wright, Josh Donaldson and Matt Carpenter. Wright could be ranked even higher than I have him at #5, but he has left a bad taste in my mouth over recent years. Donaldson was remarkably consistent from month to month last season after seemingly coming out of nowhere to surprise fantasy owners. The same could be said for Carpenter, who was a multi-hit machine in 2013. He's due for some regression, in the batting average and run department, but should still contribute solid all-around fantasy numbers.
The player that intrigues me most in Tier 3 is Brett Lawrie. If he stays healthy, he could be a five category stud -- but that's a big "if." By now, we know what we're getting with Pedro Alvarez. The low batting average and high strikeout totals are unappealing, but his power makes him a valuable player in fantasy, especially when home runs have been trending downward in recent years. Kyle Seager and Ryan Zimmerman probably don't get as much credit as they deserve, but I'll likely shy away from the latter due to his injury history.
I expect a lot of movement in this tier throughout the 2014 season. Will Middlebrooks could be a monster this year, or he could lose his job multiple times like he did in 2013. Whatever the case, his power is legit. Kelly Johnson might surprise you at #12. I'll admit I surprised myself with that ranking, but he's penciled in as the everyday third baseman for the Yankees this season. The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium should benefit him. Don't sleep on Matt Dominguez. He'll likely fly under-the-radar in 2014 drafts, but he'll be a great HR/RBI pickup for your team in the late rounds. He won't offer much in terms of batting average or stolen bases though. Manny Machado could be one of the biggest risk/reward picks in 2014 drafts.
Tiers 5 and 6
These tiers are filled with up-and-comers and aging veterans. I've seen Chase Headley ranked much higher than I have him at #19. He's a solid player and is one of the few third basemen who contribute steals, but his 2012 season looks like an outlier among a handful of solid, but unspectacular seasons. Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon should take a step forward in their development, but I don't see a huge breakout season from either of them in 2014. It will be interesting to see if David Freese and Mike Moustakas rebound after disappointing fantasy owners last year.
Ryan Rufe booked his first fantasy sports win at age eleven. He’s a RotoBaller through and through and also contributes as an MLB Beat Writer for RotoWire.com. For more from him, follow him on Twitter @RyanRufe.