Fantasy Baseball Rankings Tiers, Draft Strategy: Third Base | Fantasy
Third base looks absolutely stacked, so you might be thinking you don’t really need a draft strategy for the position. Even if you don’t get one of the top studs — which you might not since all but one are eligible at another position in many leagues — there are plenty of solid “consolation prizes” a little further down in the 3B rankings. Even dropping a tier or two on your cheat sheet could yield 30-plus HRs or 25/25 production (or top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who could outproduce even the most generous projections).
But any seasoned fantasy owner knows it’s not just about production — it’s about the type of production. Third base is a position where a lot of the production seems the same, but because of multi-position-eligible players, you can shake it up a bit if you’re really hurting in steals or another specific category. Regardless of what you’re looking for, there will be viable options throughout the draft — the key is knowing who to target and when to target them.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: 2019 ultimate cheat sheet
As we’re doing with every position, we’re breaking down our 3B rankings into what we call “True Tiers”, which group players based on their type of production. If you’re looking to draft a 3B in the seventh round but you already have a bunch of sluggers, that could change your target to more of a power-speed threat than just another low-average masher.
Fortunately, this is a position with options, so let’s look at how you should approach it depending on your overall draft philosophy.
Who are the best fantasy baseball 3Bs?
You can make a strong argument that all of the players in Tier 1 should be first-round picks, but at least a couple will likely fall to at least the second round. Manny Machado might be the biggest worry because of his new home park and sub-par career splits away from Baltimore, but his talent and age make him tough to write off as anything less than a top-tier talent.
As we always note, Tier 1B is not “worse” than Tier 1A — it’s just different. In this case, we’ve put Jose Ramirez and Javier Baez in their own group because they’re likely to steal 20-plus bases. Kris Bryant, Alex Bregman, and even Machado could steal 10-15 bases themselves, but their overall SB upside is below that of Ramirez and Baez.
Overall, all are good fits as cornerstones of your team. Obviously, we’re expecting a bounce-back in the power department from Bryant, and you know what you’re getting there from Nolan Arenado. Baez won’t give you the average of the rest of these guys, but his eligibility at three premium infield positions gives you invaluable roster flexibility. The real question is if you’d actually play any other than Arenado and Bryant as your primary 3B. Even if you target and nab one in the first two rounds, you might still be looking for someone to man the hot corner. That’s a good problem to have.
Jose Ramirez, Indians (also eligible at 2B)
Javier Baez, Cubs (2B, SS)
Noland Arenado, Rockies
Kris Bryant, Cubs (OF)
Alex Bregman, Astros (SS)
Manny Machado, Padres (SS)
2019 Fantasy Baseball 3B Rankings: Tier 2
This is a relatively small tier, and whether that speaks to the abilities of these players or the uncertainty of the players in Tier 3 is open for interpretation. Anthony Rendon seems to be the consensus No. 7 3B, and while he doesn’t really steal bases anymore, he’s arguably the best bet after the top six to hit .300. That will likely come with around 25 HRs, 90-plus runs and 90-plus RBIs. He’s a solid player to target in the early middle rounds, as he’ll help balance out any type of team, but he’s not the type of player you need to reach for. There are a couple “middle-class versions” of Rendon available several rounds later.
If you’re low on steals, then Myers is a solid target, though early mock draft trends suggest you can wait a bit. Health and batting average are concerns, but you’re not going to find any other legit 25/25 candidates at 3B. We seem to be alone in ranking Myers ahead of all the players in Tier 2B, but, again, if you have steals already and are looking for power, then Travis Shaw, Miguel Andujar, and Eugenio Suarez probably make more sense.
Admittedly, we’re higher on Shaw than most — and he’ll likely be drafted as a 2B anyway — but he still fits the bill as a consistent medium-average slugger. Andujar hit .297 last year and Suarez posted a respectable .282 mark, so it’s possible both exceed our expectations in that category, though Andujar seems like a better bet. Because of his relative lack of experience, we’re grouping him in this tier for now, but his upside is undeniable.
Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Travis Shaw, Brewers (1B, 2B)
Miguel Andujar, Yankees
Eugenio Suarez, Reds
Wil Myers, Padres (OF)
Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Middle-round 3Bs to target
Let’s just get this out of the way right now — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. isn’t going to be available in the “middle rounds”, or perhaps even the “early middle rounds”. We’ll get back to him in minute.
Matt Carpenter will also likely be gone, but the rest of these guys are targets to come off the board around the ninth or 10th round of a 12-team draft. We’ve broken these players down by low- to mid-average power hitters (with question marks), mid-average power hitters who score a lot of runs, and higher-average, medium-power hitters. Just to reiterate: The players in Tier 3C aren’t “worse” than those in Tier 3A, just different.
The sluggers in Tier 3A all offer production but with questions: Can Josh Donaldson stay healthy? Is Mike Moustakas guaranteed to play every day? Will Rafael Devers take the next step? Was Max Muncy a one-year wonder? Moustakas won’t be eligible at 2B on draft day, but if he plays there like Milwaukee is saying, both he and Muncy could get scooped up as 2Bs, further limiting the 3B player pool. Watch for that as you’re tracking 3Bs and who needs them during your draft.
Carpenter seems like a “sure thing”, but his 36 HRs last year were by far a career high. At 33, it’s tough to expect him to do that again, but he’ll get on base and score a bunch of runs while at least hitting around 25 HRs. Chapman looks to be built in the same mold, though he still has some HR upside in him. Both make for solid additions to teams that have loaded up on big-time RBI producers early. We think Carpenter is going off the board a little early, but given his versatility, it’s easy to see why he’s coveted.
Guerrero is even more coveted, and his minor league track record speaks for itself. While he figures to make an instant splash, there are two reasons we’re not ranking him quite as highly as many: He could easily miss more time than you think in the minors (i.e. a month as opposed to two weeks), and he’s only played 30 games above Double-A. An adjustment period is to be expected. It’s tough to rank him ahead of such proven producers at the position, but we don’t blame anyone for jumping on him early.
Justin Turner is one of those “middle-class man’s” Rendons we mentioned earlier. He’s older and has injury issues, but he’s going to hit .300 and have similar counting stats if he stays healthy. You get a four-round discount because of the extra risk, but that might be worth it if you get good value on another position earlier in the draft.
Ultimately, you can live with anyone from Tier 3 as your starting 3B, and there’s a case to be made it’s a better strategy than splurging on Rendon, Andujar, or Suarez.
Josh Donaldson, Braves
Mike Moustakas, Brewers (2B*)
Rafael Devers, Red Sox
Max Muncy, Dodgers (1B, 2B)
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals (1B, 2B)
Matt Chapman, A’s
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
Justin Turner, Dodgers
Fantasy baseball breakouts and bounce-backs
The difference between some of the players in this tier compared to those in the tier above is negligible in many ways. Those in Tier 4A are very similar to those in Tier 3A — low-average, 25-plus-HR upside. They come with even more questions, though, namely age (Carlos Santana is almost 33, Kyle Seager is 31), injuries (Jake Lamb missed most last season because of a bum shoulder, Miguel Sano will miss at least the first month of this year because of a heel injury), and limited upside (Maikel Franco, Eduardo Escobar). You’re better off with these guys as backups or CIs, but if you really want to wait at 3B, you can get good value with these players in the middle rounds.
Tier 4B is the better group to mine from if you’re looking for a backup. All four players can steal some bases, which is tough to find at 3B, while also giving you 20 HRs. Yoan Moncada has the most upside, but he won’t be eligible at 3B at the start of the year. Nick Senzel likely won’t have a starting job on opening day, making him more of a long-term investment (but one that could really pay off). Ian Happ will also be a utility player, but he has major power and could finish 30/10, albeit with a low average. Jurickson Profar has post-hype appeal, but he struggled away from Texas last year, giving us a little pause, at least as a 3B.
Guriel is a high-average, low-power guy, but he should get everyday at-bats and can play three positions, so he’s not a bad guy to have around, especially in deep leagues.
Carlos Santana, Indians (1B)
Kyle Seager, Mariners
Jake Lamb, D-backs (1B*)
Miguel Sano, Twins (1B)
Maikel Franco, Phillies
Eduardo Escobar, D-backs
Yoan Moncada, White Sox* (2B)
Nick Senzel, Reds (OF*)
Ian Happ, Cubs (OF)
Jurickson Profar, A’s (1B, 2B, SS)
Yuli Gurriel, Astros (1B, 2B)
Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: 3B
Not all of these guys are “sleepers”, namely Evan Longoria, Jed Lowrie, Zack Cozart, and Todd Frazier, but all might be undervalued. Tier 5A features guys with 20-HR upside, with Wilmer Flores (new hitting environment) and Renato Nunez (32 HRs in Triple-A in 2017) standing out as the biggest breakout candidates.
Tier 5B is high-OBP guys who should score runs. Daniel Robertson will have to battle for at-bats, but he has more homer upside than Brian Anderson. Consider these guys poor-man’s Carpenters/Chapmans.
Tier 5C features guys who can steal bases and play all over the field. Hernan Perez and Joey Wendle aren’t guaranteed at-bats, but if they play, they’re not bad guys to have on your bench. All are capable of popping around 10 HRs, too.
A few guys in this tier might be worth investing in in the late-middle rounds, but for the most part, these are late-rounders in deep leagues.
Wilmer Flores, D-backs (1B, 2B)
Asdrubal Cabrera, Rangers (2B, SS)
Jeimer Candelario, Tigers
Evan Longoria, Giants
Jed Lowrie, Mets (2B)
Ryan McMahon, Rockies (1B, 2B)
Renato Nunez, Orioles
Zack Cozart, Angels
Johan Carmargo, Braves (SS)
Todd Frazier, Mets (1B*)
Brian Anderson, Marlins (OF)
Daniel Robertson, Rays (2B, SS)
Hernan Perez, Brewers (2B, SS, OF)
Joey Wendle, Rays (2B, SS, OF)
Niko Goodrum, Tigers (1B, 2B, SS, OF)
Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleepers: 3B
It’s going to take some injuries or surprise breakouts for any of these guys to be worthy of a fantasy roster spot, even in deep leagues, but Colin Moran and Hunter Dozier are still young, Jedd Gyorko has hit 30 HRs in a season before, and Eduardo Nunez is two years removed from an All-Star appearance, so don’t completely ignore them.
Cory Spangenberg, Brewers (2B)
Colin Moran, Pirates
Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox (2B)
Hunter Dozier, Royals (1B)
Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox (2B*)
Tim Beckham, Mariners (SS)
Martin Prado, Marlins
Jedd Gyorko, Cardinals (2B)
Matt Duffy, Giants (2B)
David Fletcher, Angels (2B)
* = Not eligible at that position on draft day but expected to play there throughout the season