Fantasy Ballevski: 3B Rankings
You’ll have to just take my word for it, but I’m pretty good at fantasy baseball. Here are my catcher rankings for redraft leagues.
For hitters, my rankings are made for leagues that include OBP and SLG. Think of a 7×7 league with traditional 5×5 stats plus OBP and SLG for batters.
For (almost) each player I’ve included rough estimations of what to expect statistically, what the upside might be, and what their CC projection by Chris Carruthers is for 2014. CC projections are listed as AVG/OBP/SLG/HR/RBI/R/SB. You can find all of Chris’ projections here!
(Note: CC Projections may differ slightly from what is listed in this article. Chris found a stray zero in his computer math formulalgorithm and had to tame it.)
In an ideal world I’d have already rolled out these fantasy articles for every position. Time constraints haven’t made that possible, but I’m going to try to write and publish articles for every position along with a big board in the next week or so. I might not get to everything, but I’m going to try.
General notes on 3B: The position is surprisingly deep this year. You can get good hitters and near 20+ HR locks in the 20’s of my rankings. Once you get to Pedro Alvarez, don’t be too scared of drafting a power only player – a ton of guys at the hot corner fit that mold from Pedro down, especially after you hop the five young guys that I have at #16-20.
1. Miguel Cabrera
What to expect: .320/.400 with 35+ HR and 110 RBI, 95 Runs
CC Projection: .316/.398/.580/40/117/96/3
Upside: .340/.440 with 45 bombs and infinity RBI
You’d be justified in taking Cabrera at 1-1 over Mike Trout, since 3B is a much thinner fantasy position than the OF. This guy can carry an entire fantasy team on his back. It’s also nice that he’ll pick up 1B eligibility about a week into the season, because that gives you a bit of flexibility in your lineup and later on in the draft. At 31 years old you start to worry a little bit about injuries when a guy is 240+ pounds and he’s experienced the wear and tear of 1660 regular season games, but it shouldn’t make you consider taking him any lower than #2 overall, behind Mike Fish.
2. Edwin Encarnacion
What to expect: .270/.360 with 30+ HR and 90 RBI/Runs
CC Projection: .272/.360/.516/35/102/92/8
Upside: .290/.380 with 40+ HR, 100+ RBI, and a sprinkling of SB
After two straight seasons of seeing him crush baseballs and put up excellent peripherals, we have to be fully convinced that Edwin is 100% legit. There might even be a bit more AVG in the tank, since it’s pretty hard to be a true talent ~.250 BABIP player. He’s got more pop than Wright and he hits in a better lineup; he walks more than Beltre and he’s four years younger; he’s got a bit more offensive upside than Longo and he’s probably a better bet to stay healthy. That’s why he’s the 2nd best 3B option for 2014, and the fact that he’s 1B eligible helps in the same way it does with Miggy.
3. David Wright
What to expect: .280/.370, 20/20 with ~80 RBI/Runs
CC Projection: .273/.358/.453/22/76/85/17
Upside: .310/.390, 30 HR and 20 SB, 90+ RBI/Runs
The best power/speed combo on the 3B board this year, Wright is probably the best bet on this list to go 20/20, and if he can stay healthy he’s got 25+ HR power. His walk rate also plays up huge in OBP leagues and he’s a true talent .300 hitter. The biggest drawbacks here are injury risk and the Mets meek lineup, which will limit some of the counting stat opportunities for Wright.
4. Adrian Beltre
What to expect: .290/.340, 25 HR, ~90 RBI/Runs
CC Projection: .291/.334/.503/30/100/81/1
Upside: .320/.370 and another 30/100 season
Despite being 35 years old, Beltre remains a top tier 3B option in redraft leagues. He’s almost gone .300/30/100 in four straight seasons so you can rest easy with his AVG skills and his traditional production numbers. The lineup he’s in is good, and the ballpark he plays in is excellent. The relatively low walk rate means that in OBP leagues his a bit of a risky top tier commodity, since a BABIP swing can have him looking like the Seattle version of himself in any given season, but the great hit tool means that he can still conceivably out OBP a guy like Longo in any given season (as he did in 2013).
5. Evan Longoria
What to expect: .270/.350 with 25-30 HR, ~90 Runs/RBI
CC Projection: .257/.340/.474/30/90/82/2
Upside: .300/.370, 35 HR, 110 RBI, a few SB
Longo’s not really as injury prone as you might think. Take away his 74 G 2012 and he’s never really missed any significant time. This is a stud at a relatively thin fantasy position. Specifics of his statistical contributions have me ranking him fifth, but he could represent better value in a draft than guys like Beltre or Encarnacion, depending how much later on you can nab him.
6. Ryan Zimmerman
What to expect: .275/.340, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 5 SB.
CC Projection: .272/.341/.455/21/72/71/4
Upside: .300/.380, 30 HR and 100 ribeyes
Zimmerman is basically Longo with a bit less pop, since he’s more of a 25/90 guy than a consistent 30/100 thumper, and both guys seem to miss a little bit of time every year with nagging injuries. If you’re making positional tiers for your draft, this is where tier #2 starts for 3B. Expect 2011-2013 Zimmerman if you draft him, but cross your fingers for the 2009-2010 version. In the Nats lineup, 100+ Runs and RBI are possible if Zimm can stay healthy all year.
7. Josh Donaldson
What to expect: .270/.345 with ~20 bombs, ~80 Runs/RBI, a few swipes.
CC Projection: .264/.335/.435/20/72/74/4
Upside: .300/.380 with 25 HR, ~100 RBI, 10 swipes
He probably won’t hit .300 again and the Oakland Coliseum might hold his HR total to the late teens this year, but I’m a believer in Donaldson and his peripherals. The walk and strikeout rates were excellent and you don’t fluke a .200 ISO in Oakland. I think there’s some potential value here too, since Yahoo has him below four guys that I like less.
7. Matt Carpenter
What to expect: .300/.370 with 10 HR, more Runs than your grandma.
CC Projection: .279/.351/.406/9/52/71/2
Upside: His 2013, repeated.
Aside from Miggy, Matt Carpenter might be the best “hitter” on this list of 3B. He’s got an unreal approach at the dish and he should slash at an elite level for OBP leagues, it’s just too bad that he doesn’t run and his little bit of pop is mostly of the doubles variety. He counteracts those deficiencies by hitting at the top of a stacked Cardinals lineup, so he has another chance to post gaudy run numbers this year, like the 126! times he crossed the plate in 2013. And he’s 2B eligible too, which is pretty sweet.
9. Pablo Sandoval
What to expect: .280/.340, 15 HR, 75 RBI
CC Projection: .274/.331/.425/18/77/74/1
Upside: .300/.360 with 15 HR, 90 RBI, 80 Runs.
Sandoval apparently got ripped over the offseason, but we can’t give him bonus points for that. If he didn’t play in San Francisco then he’d probably be up near Zimmerman (his career wRC+ is a bit better than Zimm’s), but he does and that’s a thing that matters. What you get with Pablo is a guy who can really hit, which an extended track record of fantasy relevant production from the hot corner. He’s a safe pick that probably won’t go ape-shit in that home ballpark. The well rounded 3B options also start to fall off the table after the next handful of dudes.
10. Kyle Seager
What to expect: .260/.325; 20 HR, 75 RBI, 10 SB
CC Projection: .259/.324/.422/19/71/72/8
Upside: .275/.345 with ~25 HR, a SB total in the low teens, and 80/90 in the other counting stats.
Seager is good at everything, but awesome at nothing. He’s not a .300 hitter but he’s hit .260 with such consistency that his AVG floor seems pretty solid. His walk rate is good but not amazing. The pop isn’t phenomenal but he’s still poked 20+ in two straight years, and the wheels are just enough for him to hit double digits in steals. This is a good middle of the pack 3B option that could put up surprising counting stats in an improved lineup.
11. Chase Headley
What to expect: .250/.340 with almost 20 HR, 70 RBI, 10 SB.
CC Projection: .258/.341/.407/18/71/74/11
Upside: He’s only two years removed from a mammoth 2012 season, so let’s go with that. David Wright numbers.
Headley is a classic risk-reward pick. The 31 HR 2012 looks like a blip on his baseball card, but it’s so recent that it’s tempting to dream of him rediscovering that .212 ISO Petco pop. He’s already battling some minor injuries this spring, and the RBI/Run stats might be sub-par in a weak Padres lineup, but the nice thing about Headley in an OBP league is that a stellar walk rate and a bit of speed mitigates some of the risk. He’s got more upside than Seager or the Panda, but those two might offer a bit more production security.
12. Aramis Ramirez
CC Projection: .270/.329/.468/22/74/59/3
Upside: .300/.360 with 25+ HR, 100 RBI.
Aramis Ramirez missed a big chunk of time last year, a big chunk in 2009, and a small chunk in 2010. He’ll be 36 years old this season too, so a precipitous decline has to be both expected and feared at some point. Still, if you ignore his down 2010 year, the guy has been a .300/.360 type of hitter with ~25 homer pop for essentially a decade. This also might be the last well-rounded, multi-category 3B on the board in your draft.
13. Manny Machado
What to expect: .280/.320 with 15 HR, 5 SB, 75 Runs/RBI, and a decent doubles heavy SLG
CC Projection: .255/.285/.380/8/41/42/3
Upside: .300/.350 with 20+ HR, 10 SB, 90 Runs/RBI
Unless you’re in a newfangled UZR/DRS league, or a deep dynasty setup, let someone else draft Machado this year. He’s better in real life than he is in OBP leagues. Manny is so young and so talented, but his demonstrated walk rate and power level just do not justify a high draft spot, not with a dozen or so well rounded 3B options out there this year. Yeah, nobody would be shocked if Machado’s frame and innate hitting skills added up to a .300 AVG, 20+ homer year in 2014, where he’ll still be just 21 years old, but the downside vs. probable draft position is so palpable with Machado, especially considering that he didn’t exactly destroy any minor league level on his way up. His knee injury might affect his XBH rate and his SB potential (not that he even ran in 2013), and he’s a miniscule bit of BABIP luck away from an OBP below .300. I’d prefer to get a guy like Aramis Ramirez 60 draft spots later, rather than a recovering youngster who’s 95th percentile projection for 2014 might barely equal what A.Ram has done for almost 10 straight years.
14. Pedro Alvarez
CC Projection: .237/.302/.448/29/83/70/1
Upside: .245/.320 with 40 bombs, 110 RBI.
Don’t be too scared of the AVG/OBP with Pedro – a lot of the 3B options from here on down are one-trick power ponies, and few 3B in baseball have Alvarez’ HR/RBI production potential. If you can counteract a likely .230/.300 hitter with a few slashline horses, then a piece like Alvarez can make your team a counting stat powerhouse.
15. Martin Prado
CC Projection: .285/.337/.415/14/73/78/6
Upside: .300/.350 with 15+ HR, 10 SB, 90 runs.
Prado is a boring 3B option, but he’s good enough to fill the position on a championship fantasy team, especially in deep leagues. He can really hit, but AVG might be his only “plus” fantasy tool, and there’s a lot riding on the batted ball with Prado. If you lean towards bankable veteran production, then pop Prado later on in your draft (think mid-round value). But if you’d rather take a kid with more upside, look at the next four names.
16. Nolan Arenado
What to expect: .275/.310 with 15+ HR, 75+ RBI
CC Projection: .272/.303/.394/7/49/53/2
Upside: .290/.330 with 20+ HR, 85+ RBI
Coors Field will supply the power; always hit for AVG in the minors with good age vs. level. RBI opportunities should be abundant in a lineup with Tulo, CarGo, Cuddyer, Rosario, and Morneau. He turns 23 in a few weeks though, so struggles have a decent chance of happening, but at least he has that home ballpark safety net.
17. Xander Bogaerts
What to expect: .260/.310 with 15 HR and 60-70 RBI/Runs. A few SB.
CC Projection: Not projected due to limited MLB sample
Upside: .280/.360 with 20+ HR, ~80 RBI/Runs, and 10 swipes
Bigtime upside here. Boogers is a stud. Arenado gets the edge for #16 because he has a year under his belt, but Bogaerts has more true talent upside. If you take him though, you should be slotting him in at shortstop. And because he’s SS eligible and such a big name prospect, he could go higher in your draft than we’d like.
18. Brett Lawrie
What to expect: .265/. 325 with ~15 HR, ~15 SB.
CC Projection: .247/.299/.376/13/56/61/10
Upside: .280/.340; 20/20 with 75+ Runs/RBI
He has the raw talent to do big things in real life and in fantasy land, but it’s been two straight seasons of underperformance for Lawrie. If something clicks for him in his age 24 season then he could be a monster, but even if it doesn’t click he shouldn’t sink your team, because his bat to ball skills are pretty good and he has some power and speed. It’s nice that he’ll be 2B eligible this year too. I’d almost prefer a post-hype guy like Lawrie over a hype-train youngster like Bogaerts.
19. Anthony Rendon
What to expect: .260/.330; ~15 HR, 60+ RBI/Runs
CC Projection: .257/.314/.376/6/42/49/1
Upside: .285/.370, 15-20 HR, 80 RBI/Runs
Judging from his (small sample) minor league pedigree and his reputation, I think Rendon has some bigtime slashline upside. He’ll probably hit 8th to start the year, so the counting stats might not be excellent, and his power might not be super impressive in 2014. But he’s also a guy that you might be able to get towards the end of your draft. 2B eligible too.
20. Jedd Gyorko
CC Projection: .250/.297/.440/20/71/63/1
Upside: .270/.335 with ~30 HR, 90 RBI
Jedd Gyorko is a much better hitter in real life than he’ll play at in fantasy, but unfortunately we have to consider that ballpark and that lineup. He should be a lock for 20+ bombs, but everything else could disappoint. Any Padre should struggle to post sexy RBI/Run numbers, and Gyorko doesn’t look like a slashline monkey, not does he run at all. Jerk can hit baseballs though, and if this is our #20 3B, then shit, 3B isn’t really all that thin this year. You can play him at second base too, if you want.
21. David Freese
CC Projection: .266/.331./393/12/55/54/1
Upside: .290/.360 with ~20 HR, 70+ RBI
2010-2012 (1200 PA) say that he’s a .290/.360 hitter with some pop; 2013 (521 PA) says that he’s nearly a replacement level MLB player. At 31 year sold, don’t expect him to be that World Series MVP type of hitter, but give him a bit more credit than his 2013 would warrant. Freese can still hit, I think, even if the counting stats might not be superb in Los Angeles.
22. Will Middlebrooks
CC Projection: .244/.282/.433/17/60/50/3
Upside: .275/.320 with 25+ HR and a fair chunk of RBI
Middlebrooks has easy 25 HR pop, but he plugged it up with a .271 OBP last year and the leash might not be exceptionally long for him this year, especially if Garin Cecchini has a strong start in the minors. He probably won’t hit for a great AVG or post a decent OBP, but if he keeps getting playing time then the power numbers should make him a poor man’s Pedro Alvarez.
23. Mike Moustakas
CC Projection: .235/.281/.371/12/50/45/2
Upside: .260/.310 with 25+ HR, some RBIs and stuff.
Moose has way more power in that body than the 12 HR showing he gave us in 2013, but is he a much better hitter than the .242 and .233 marks he’s posted in his first two full seasons? If he plays like he did in 2013 then he’ll be droppable, but this could still be a guy. Don’t let Matt Dominguez out-hit you, Moose.
24. Todd Frazier
CC Projection: .237/.299/.405/17/58/59/4
Upside: .260/.330 with 25 HR, ~10 SB, 70+ RBI
Not much to see here, just another power-only third baseman. Frazier doesn’t have other-worldly pop, but his ballpark makes him a decent bet for 20+.
25. Chris Johnson
CC Projection: .270/.309/.398/12/59/57/1
The CC projection nails it here. Chris Johnson is not a .320 hitter. He’s the guy that unprepared drafters might take when they sort available 3B by AVG in their draft windows. Let someone else expect a viable fantasy 3B starter.
26. Matt Davidson
CC Projection: Not projected due to limited MLB sample size
Upside: .250/.340 with 25 HR
Not exactly a sure thing to be given a full season, but if he is, the good minor league power and gaudy K rates have him looking like a Todd Frazier or Will Middlebrooks type of 3B. Another power-only 3B.
27. Trevor Plouffe
CC Projection: .238/.291/.397/17/61/52/2
Ho-hum, just another power only 3B. Rest assured that even if you take a risky 3B, someone like Plouffe should be available in free agency. He’s a 20-ish HR bat that will post a somewhat frustrating slashline.
28. Matt Dominguez
CC Projection: .244/.281/.398/15/57/48/0
The CC projection nails this one too, I think. A .162 ISO seems a but shallow for 21 homers, so I don’t think Dominguez will hit quite that many in 2014. Think .250/.300 with 15 home runs, and a decent amount of RBI. Meh. Not helping you win much.
29. Emilio Bonifacio
CC Projection: .240/.298/.308/2/23/31/10 (300 PA)
Just a SB watch list guy here. If the Cubs end up giving Bonifacio a lot of reps, then you could be looking at a 30+ SB guy that’s eligible at 3B, 2B, and CF.
30. Marcus Semien
CC Projection: Not projected due to limited MLB sample size
Upside: .250/.340; 20-ish HR, 20-ish SB.
Semien is a sleeper for deep OBP leagues. He hit 23 HR and stole 26 bags across four levels in 2013, which is impressive due to the totals and also impressive due to the fact that he rose from A+ to the majors in one season. With Matt Davidson, Alexei Ramires, and Gordon Beckham on the 25 man roster, it doesn’t look like Semien has a direct line to playing time, but if something opens up he’s a very interesting guy that took a ton of walks in the minors in addition to displaying that power and speed. Keep your eye on him.
31. Kelly Johnson
CC Projection: .230/.309/.384/16/53/57/8
He might not play very much at all, or he might be an everyday infielder that takes his walks and yanks a fair number of balls over that short porch. Eligible at 2B, 3B, and OF, so Johnson could be a good bench piece with upside in deep leagues.
32. Wilmer Flores
CC Projection: Not projected due to limited MLB sample size
This guy is gonna be a star! Just ask a Mets fan. Seriously though, the 18 time back end top-100 prospect has the skills to hit for a bit of AVG and a bit of power, if he can stick at a position in New York and get the necessary playing time.
33. Cody Asche
CC Projection: Not projected
Hit ~.300/.360 with a ~.200 ISO in AA as a 22 year old, then hit about the same in AAA last year before posting not disgusting peripherals in 50 big league games (8.4 BB%, .154 ISO). Deep sleeper.
34. Mike Olt
CC Projection: NA
Who the fuck knows. Supposedly battled vision problems in 2013, and looked like a potential stud before that. The hurdle from AAA to playing time with Chicago shouldn’t be all that difficult for Olt, if he can avoid being sucky in 2014. Worth watching for the upside, I guess.
35. Casey McGehee
CC Projection: .247/.305/.376/7/32/30/0 (301 PA)
Penciled in as Miami’s starting 3B, soooo….. there’s that.
36. Juan Uribe
CC Projection: .237/.289/.379/15/60/60/4
Old; garbage slashlines in 2011 and 2012; lucky BABIP in 2013. Expect 10-ish HR and a sub-.300 OBP.
37. Maikel Franco
CC Projection: NA
I doubt he sees much big league time this year, if any, but he’s got legit pop if the Phillies do decide to call him up for some reason.
38. Lonnie Chisenhall
CC Projection: .244/.282/.404/10/42/39/1
Chisenhall might be the nominal 3B out of the gate and he’s a former highly regarded prospect, but he’s never hit at a fantasy relevant level in three partial MLB seasons and Carlos Santana is steadily increasing his 3B utility after Yan Gomes broke out and pushed him out from behind the plate. Chances are, Chisenhall is on the bench before summer.
39. Juan Francisco
CC Projection: .223/.281/.394/16/51/45
Could put up numbers similar to Pedro Alvarez if he gets the playing time, but it’s hard to see a guy who strikes out ~35% of the time getting the necessary reps. If Aramis Ramirez blows out his knee again and you have a gaping hole at 3B, then he might be worth a HR flyer.
40. Luis Valbuena
CC Projection: .233/.322/.372/3/15/16/0 *(152 PA)
Might start the year as the Cubs 3B since he put up 2.0 fWAR last year in 391 PA, but his career numbers aren’t good and I doubt he holds off Olt and Bonifacio for playing time on the infield.