2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Prep: Third base preview, top-12 ranking, sleepers, breakouts, busts, prospects

Third base is what first base used to be for Fantasy. Four of the top-10 players in Fantasy in 2019 are third base eligible for 2020, with a whopping 19 of the top 100 coming from the position. That means it's not necessarily a position you have to go into the draft with one strategy.

If you pick in the second half of the first round, you could build your offense around Alex Bregman and Nolan Arenado, or you could take an ace pitcher and settle for Anthony Rendon, Jose Ramirez or Rafael Devers. Any one of those six could finish as a top-five hitter for 2020 and you wouldn't bat an eye.

But you don't have to make one of those players the centerpiece to be solid at third base. In the fifth-round range you've got elite potential in Kris Bryant, Manny Machado and Vladimir Guerrero; around 100 overall, Matt Chapman, Eduardo Escobar, Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas have all proven to be strong hitters with upside; and even outside of the top 150, you've got interesting young guys like Scott Kingery, Hunter Dozier, Miguel Andujar or Austin Riley with the potential to turn into difference-makers.

You probably need to get high-level production from third base to keep up with the competition in your league, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to pay full freight for it. This is one position where you've got the luxury to wait if that's the way the draft falls. 

2020 Draft Prep
Third Base Preview
Scott White's Top 12
HOU Houston • #2 • Age: 25
2019 Stats
AVG
0.296
HR
41
R
122
RBI
112
SB
5
SO
83
The last time Bregman had more strikeouts than walks in a month was June of 2018. The last time he had an OPS below .854 for a month was April of 2018. If he still stole bases, we'd be talking about Bregman as a contender for the No. 1 pick. And no, I'm not worried about the Astros no longer stealing signs.
LAA L.A. Angels • #6 • Age: 29
2019 Stats
AVG
0.319
HR
34
R
117
RBI
126
SB
5
SO
86
Flip a coin on which you prefer of Rendon vs. Bregman. Bregman will hit for more power, but Rendon should be a more reliable source of average, and hitting behind Mike Trout in Anaheim should help him avoid a big fall off from his career-high RBI total. The fact that he goes off the board an average of around 10 picks later than Bregman or Arenado makes him a great option if you go ace in the first round.
COL Colorado • #28 • Age: 28
2019 Stats
AVG
0.315
HR
41
R
102
RBI
118
SB
3
SO
93
Got a three-sided coin? Arenado won't score as many runs as Bregman or Arenado, but he's been a more reliable source of power and RBI, while hitting .300 every year. Concerns about a trade away from Coors Field have pushed his price down, but go check out Matt Holliday's post-Rockies career before you pass on Arenado.
CLE Cleveland • #11 • Age: 27
2019 Stats
AVG
0.255
HR
23
R
68
RBI
83
SB
24
SO
74
Whatever was wrong with Ramirez, he fixed it in the second half, hitting .321/.356/.722 from July 1 on. He seemed to be trying to go the other way more often earlier in the season to beat the shift, and it robbed him of the power spike he saw in recent years. If the adjustments he made in the second half are for real, Ramirez is going to be a steal in the late second as a five-category stud.
BOS Boston • #11 • Age: 23
2019 Stats
AVG
0.311
HR
32
R
129
RBI
115
SB
8
SO
119
Sometimes, it pays to bet on pedigree. There wasn't much reason to think a breakout was coming from Devers, except for the fact that he was a 22-year-old former elite prospect. Devers became an even more aggressive swinger in 2019, and he tightened up his launch angle, hitting fewer weak dribblers and pop ups, and it allowed him to become one of the league's best hitters.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #17 • Age: 28
2019 Stats
AVG
0.282
HR
31
R
108
RBI
77
SB
4
SO
145
Bryant isn't the elite bat he once was, and it's still not clear if he'll be back in Chicago next season, but he had a nice bounceback in 2019. Those hoping for even better in 2020 will be concerned by his well below average exit velocity and hard-hit rate.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #26 • Age: 31
2019 Stats
AVG
0.327
HR
26
R
109
RBI
102
SB
5
SO
90
A rare hitter who got better upon leaving Coors Field, LeMahieu's all-fields approach played up in Yankee Stadium. I'm a bit wary of buying in on such a massive breakout season, but the peripherals mostly back it up.
CIN Cincinnati • #7 • Age: 28
2019 Stats
AVG
0.271
HR
49
R
87
RBI
103
SB
3
SO
189
Selling out for power isn't always a bad thing. Suarez probably won't hit 49 homers again, but he's become a legitimate plus power hitter thanks to his combination of above-average exit-velocity and plenty of balls in the air. There are reasons to be concerned -- unsustainable HR/FB rate, career-high infield flyball rate -- but you're not going to have to pay a 49-homer cost, either.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #13 • Age: 29
2019 Stats
AVG
0.251
HR
35
R
101
RBI
98
SB
4
SO
149
In one of three positions Muncy appears in the top 12, he proved his 2018 breakout was no fluke and proved he can more than hold his own against lefties. This is no mere platoon bat anymore.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #6 • Age: 27
2019 Stats
AVG
0.318
HR
23
R
83
RBI
75
SB
5
SO
75
McNeil is a bit of a throwback as a contact-oriented line drive hitter, but he has enough pop to hit 23 homers in fewer than 600 plate appearances in 2019. Expect more consistent playing time and one of the best bets to hit .300.
SD San Diego • #13 • Age: 27
2019 Stats
AVG
0.256
HR
32
R
81
RBI
85
SB
5
SO
128
Machado may never return to the truly elite tier outside of Camden Yards, but he's better than his first year in San Diego made him appear. He still has elite exit velocity and hard-hit rates, so an average more in the .270-.280 range makes his profile look a lot more promising.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #10 • Age: 24
2019 Stats
AVG
0.315
HR
25
R
83
RBI
79
SB
10
SO
154
Moncada has always had elite tools, and he figured out how to put them into use in games in 2019. He cut his strikeout rate and improved against left-handed pitching, and if he can hang on to those gains, he'll continue to be a strong Fantasy option — even if he'll likely never hit anywhere close to .300 again. One big question remaining is whether he'll ever turn his speed — 72nd percentile in sprint speed, per Statcast — into stolen bases.
2020 Draft Prep
Don't forget about ...
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #10 • Age: 35
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
166
Roto
139
Roto (3B)
21
H2H
143
H2H (3B)
20
2019 Stats
AVG
0.290
HR
27
R
80
RBI
67
SB
2
SO
88
All Turner does when he's healthy is hit. You'll never get gaudy counting stats because Turner just doesn't play as much as you'd like to see, but he's one of the most reliable source of average in the game and he'll come at a discount at this point.
PHI Philadelphia • #4 • Age: 25
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
304
Roto
212
Roto (OF)
59
H2H
295
H2H (OF)
72
2019 Stats
AVG
0.258
HR
19
R
64
RBI
55
SB
15
SO
147
There's still a bit too much swing-and-miss in his game, but Kingery's combination of pop, speed and versatility make him a potentially very useful Fantasy option. And if he shaves a few ticks off that strikeout rate, a significant breakout could be coming.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #41 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
221
Roto
187
Roto (DH)
NR
H2H
203
H2H (DH)
NR
2018 Stats (played 12 games in 2019)
AVG
0.297
HR
27
R
83
RBI
92
SB
2
SO
97
Unfortunately, Andujar is coming back from a serious shoulder injury and we can't quite know what he's going to look like when he gets back. Add in concerns about his playing time and it makes sense his ADP is sinking, but if he's right, he's a high-average player with 30-homer potential in a great lineup.
2020 Draft Prep
Third Base Sleeper, Breakout & Bust
Sleeper
Projections powered by Sportsline
TOR Toronto • #6 • Age: 29
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
NR
Roto
NR
Roto (3B)
34
H2H
NR
H2H (3B)
33
2019 Stats
AVG
0.157
HR
7
R
22
RBI
16
SB
0
SO
89
Not all swing changes are made equally. Shaw tweaked his swing last offseason and then ditched the change midway through spring training, but the damage was done: Shaw had 25 strikeouts and no walks in 18 spring games, and then struck out in one-third of his plate appearances en route to his worst season ever, including two trips back to Triple-A. Shaw told reporters he is back to the swing that saw him hit 63 homers between 2017 and 2018, and should get plenty of playing time in Toronto. There's no guarantee he gets back to his pre-2019 levels, but we've seen strong production from him before, and with an ADP well north of 300 right now, there's no risk in trying to find out if he can bounce back.
Breakout
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIN Minnesota • #22 • Age: 26
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
238
Roto
101
Roto (3B)
16
H2H
108
H2H (3B)
16
2019 Stats
AVG
0.247
HR
34
R
76
RBI
79
SB
0
SO
159
There really isn't that much difference between Sano and Joey Gallo, but Gallo will likely come off the board five rounds earlier on Draft Day. Sure, Sano has had more issues staying healthy and doesn't provide the moderate stolen base potential Gallo does, but the profiles are strikingly similar otherwise: Big batting average downside and best-in-league power potential. Sano scuffled in 2018 but showed us his upside in 2019, clubbing his 34 homers in just 105 games. Sano could hit .200 next year, sure; he could also be the premier power hitter in baseball by the time 2021 rolls around. For an 11th or 12th round pick, you'll take that.
Bust
Projections powered by Sportsline
TOR Toronto • #27 • Age: 20
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
121
Roto
79
Roto (3B)
12
H2H
77
H2H (3B)
12
2019 Stats
AVG
0.272
HR
15
R
52
RBI
69
SB
0
SO
91
As with Devers, eventually, there's going to be value in betting on Guerrero's pedigree, but I'm not sure 2020 is the year. Despite a wholly disappointing rookie season, Guerrero's ADP sits at 60th overall in early drafts, solidly in the top 10 at the position. Guerrero may blow away that value, but he has some work to do after a rookie season that saw him hit the ball on the ground too often while not hitting the ball with authority nearly often enough. Guerrero ranked in the 58th percentile in average exit velocity and 46th percentile in hard-hit rate, despite leading the majors in batted balls over 115 mph, with eight. The issue isn't one of talent; it's of consistency and approach. Guerrero is going to be a Fantasy stud someday, but you'll have to pay a high price to find out if he got there in one offseason.
2020 Draft Prep
Third Base Top Prospects

1. Alec BohmPhillies

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: low Class A, high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .305 BA (475 AB), 21 HR, 30 2B, .896 OPS, 57 BB, 73 K  

The third overall pick in 2018 looked the part in his first full professional season, laying waste to the lower minors before settling in at Double-A. There's power to all fields, and the bat control is especially impressive given his 6-foot-5 frame. That awkward size makes it likely he ends up at first base, though.

2. Nolan JonesIndians

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .272 BA (430 AB), 15 HR, 22 2B, .851 OPS, 96 BB, 148 K  

Jones' on-base skills alone are enough to earn him some prospect love, but his success will depend on him reducing the strikeouts or increasing the home runs, both of which seem possible given his plate discipline and ability to impact the ball. He's pretty far along for his age, so it stands to reason he'd be a little over matched at this stage.

3. Nolan GormanCardinals

Age (on opening day): 19
Where he played in 2019: low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .248 BA (456 AB), 15 HR, 30 2B, .765 OPS, 45 BB, 152 K

Though he has a claim to being maybe the best pure power hitter in all the minors, Gorman's contact issues may become a hindrance. And though I'll reserve judgment seeing as he's still only a teenager, the fact he struggled to actualize all that power once he reached a more competitive level, homering five times over his final 73 games, is at least a little concerning.

4. Josh JungRangers

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2019: Rookie, low Class A
Minor-league stats: .316 BA (174 AB), 2 HR, 14 2B, .831 OPS, 18 BB, 32 K

With a well-rounded offensive skill set highlighted by strike-zone judgment and an ability to drive the ball the opposite way, Jung finds himself in the same spot as Bohm was a year ago -- a high draft pick who underwhelmed in his taste of the lower minors but whose backers remain fully confident he has the goods to take off.

5. Jonathan IndiaReds

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .259 BA (428 AB), 11 HR, 11 SB, .767 OPS, 59 BB, 110 K

The fifth overall pick of 2018 continued his steady climb up the minor-league ladder, putting him within striking distance of the majors, but again without the sort of fireworks you might expect for a prospect of his ilk. One area where he never falls short, though, is plate discipline, which is so advanced that most evaluators remain bullish on him developing into an impact bat (though possibly at second base).

6. Isaac Paredes, Tigers
7. Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox
8. Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates
9. Abraham Toro-Hernandez, Astros
10. Kody Hoese, Dodgers

So which sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which undervalued first baseman can help you win a championship? Visit SportsLine now to get rankings for every single position, all from the model that called Kenta Maeda's huge breakout last season, and find out.

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