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This time last season, third base was viewed as arguably one of the most shallow positions in Fantasy Baseball, but that isn't the case in 2024. Jose Ramirez is still a borderline first-round pick, Austin Riley and Rafael Devers remain two of the best hitters in the game, and young guys like Elly De La Cruz, Gunnar Henderson, and Royce Lewis have shot into the top 50 in ADP in NFBC leagues as of early February, changing the way we view the position. 

All told, there are 10 3B-eligible players being drafted inside the top 100 right now, compared to eight 1B and 2B -- shortstop is still king here, with 12 inside the first 85 picks. And third base is starting to feel pretty deep, too, with Josh Jung and Spencer Steer just outside of the top 100, and a whole slew of intriguing breakout candidates in the 150-and-up range of drafts. 

Of course, whenever we have players changing their value in a significant way from one season to the next, there's always risk of a boomerang effect, and there's no shortage of risky options here, starting with De La Cruz, who goes off the board in those NFBC drafts in the second round. There's tremendous upside there, to be sure, but we could also look back on that as one of the worst decisions a Fantasy manager could have made this time next year. 

One nice thing about De La Cruz's presence, however, is that he represents something of a sea change in how the third base position looks. It used to be a position made up mostly of sluggers, with the likes of Nolan Arenado serving as a good example of what you could expect -- a ton of home runs, exceptional run production, and about as many stolen bases as you might get from me. 

That's not the case anymore. Jose Ramirez isn't the only base stealer at third base these days. You've got De La Cruz, who might just lead the majors in steals this season, but we also might get 15-plus steals from Henderson, Lewis, Ha-Seong Kim, Spencer Steer, Noelvi Marte, and Ke'Bryan Hayes. A bunch of those guys are multi-eligible, so you might not use them at third base, but they could give you a nice little edge on the competition if you do. 

The point is, you can find a whole lot more than just one-dimension sluggers at third base these days. And, if some of those breakout candidates back up the hype, we could be looking at arguably the strong position in Fantasy in 2024. We've come a long way in a year. 

Consensus Rankings
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #11 • Age: 31
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
11
Roto
13
Roto (3B)
1
H2H
11
H2H (3B)
1
2023 Stats
AVG
0.282
HR
24
R
87
RBI
80
SB
28
SO
73
Ramirez is no longer in the discussion for the No. 1 overall pick like he was for a few years, but don't let that fool you into think he isn't a significant difference maker anymore. In fact, after he combined for just 167 runs-plus RBI a year ago, there's plenty of room for profit as a late-first-round pick if he experiences some regression there -- in 2021 and 2022, he averaged 215 runs-plus-RBI.
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
13
Roto
19
Roto (3B)
2
H2H
20
H2H (3B)
2
2023 Stats
AVG
0.281
HR
37
R
117
RBI
97
SB
3
SO
172
Riley won't provide much in the way of speed, and when you're talking about potential first-round picks, that is probably enough to knock him out of the conversation. However, he'll be just 27 a few days after Opening Day and is averaging 36 homers, 99 runs, and 99 RBI with a .286 average over the past three seasons and is one of the best four-category contributors in the sport.
BOS Boston • #11 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
16
Roto
20
Roto (3B)
3
H2H
19
H2H (3B)
3
2023 Stats
AVG
0.271
HR
33
R
90
RBI
100
SB
5
SO
126
Riley has surpassed Devers in the eyes of the Fantasy community, but there's really very little separating them at this point: Devers is averaging 33 homers, 100 RBI, and 92 runs with a .282 average over the past three seasons. Devers has also underperformed his expected metrics in two of those three seasons (including 2023), so there could be room for growth here, with a 40-homer ceiling and .300 average both still in play -- though Fenway's deep right field makes the 40-homer part of that probably a bit tougher to get to.
BAL Baltimore • #2 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
79
Roto
32
Roto (3B)
4
H2H
33
H2H (3B)
4
2023 Stats
AVG
0.255
HR
28
R
100
RBI
82
SB
10
SO
159
Henderson looked like one of the bigger disappointments in Fantasy through the first couple of months, sporting just a .201/.332/.370 line through the end of May. However, his underlying numbers were quite a bit stronger than that, and he turned things around in a major way, hitting .276/.322/.535 with a 37-homer, 227-R-plus-RBI pace over his final 100 games. Henderson's home park isn't necessarily doing him any favors, but there's upside in all five categories for an elite young talent in an improving lineup. He should be a third-round pick in all category formats.
CIN Cincinnati • #44 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
53
Roto
30
Roto (SS)
7
H2H
45
H2H (SS)
7
2023 Stats
AVG
0.235
HR
13
R
67
RBI
44
SB
35
SO
144
If all De La Cruz does is repeats his rookie season 162-game pace, he's going to be a pretty terrific pick for Fantasy. He was on pace for 111 runs, 21 homers, 73 RBI, and 58 steals. So, why is he such a controversial player? Well, partially, it's because he was on pace for 238 strikeouts, which would break the MLB record by 15. He also kind of fell apart after a hot start, hitting .191/.272/.355 over his final 68 games. And then, of course, there's the fact that he hit just .184/.231/.263 with a 40% strikeout rate against lefties. There's first-round upside here, but there are also a ton of red flags in his profile. The risk is obvious, but he might also be the only player in baseball who might match Ronald Acuña's combination of power and speed -- he had the third-hardest hit ball in the majors last season while also being the fastest baserunner in the game.
MIN Minnesota • #23 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
50
Roto
44
Roto (3B)
6
H2H
59
H2H (3B)
8
2023 Stats
AVG
0.309
HR
15
R
36
RBI
52
SB
6
SO
55
Here's Lewis' 162-game pace based on what he's done in the majors so far: 39 homers, 95 runs, 132 RBI, and 14 steals with a .307 batting average. Yeah, that'll play. The underlying numbers don't quite back it up, but they do suggest he's been a well-above-average hitter so far -- and that doesn't account for the four homers he hit in six games in the postseason either.
SD San Diego • #13 • Age: 31
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
36
Roto
47
Roto (3B)
6
H2H
48
H2H (3B)
7
2023 Stats
AVG
0.258
HR
30
R
75
RBI
91
SB
3
SO
109
2023 was definitely a down season for Machado, and it was especially disappointing that he only stole three bases despite the new rules in place. However, when your down seasons see you hitting 30 homers and driving in 91 runs in 138 games, it's hard to complain too much. I'm not sure you can or should expect a return to the elite levels we've seen from Machado in the past, but he's still obviously a high-end Fantasy option these days -- though his slow recovery from offseason elbow surgery will limit him to DH for at least the start of the season, if you're looking for a red flag in the profile.
HOU Houston • #2 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
30
Roto
83
Roto (3B)
9
H2H
39
H2H (3B)
5
2023 Stats
AVG
0.262
HR
25
R
103
RBI
98
SB
3
SO
87
It doesn't seem likely we're ever going to get a return to Bregman's MVP-level days, but he's settled in as a strong four-category contributor, averaging 24 homers, 96 RBI, 98 runs and a .261 average over the past two seasons. Unlike Devers or Henderson, Bregman's home park is perfectly suited to maximize his production, and you can make a pretty decent argument he's probably at least a little underrated these days.
STL St. Louis • #28 • Age: 32
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
59
Roto
70
Roto (3B)
8
H2H
64
H2H (3B)
8
2023 Stats
AVG
0.266
HR
26
R
71
RBI
93
SB
3
SO
101
Arenado, like Machado, has been one of the stalwarts of the position for about a decade, and like Machado, 2023 was a frustrating, disappointing season. And if you look at the underlying metrics for Arenado, you might be inclined to think that step back was a deserved one, with his .320 expected wOBA the lowest of his career outside of the shortened 2020 season. Except, it wasn't that much lower than his 2022 mark of .329, so I'm not sure how worried we should be. Arenado's pull-heavy approach is still in tact, and I would bet on last year's groundball rate regressing. If it does, he should be good for 30-plus homers, plenty of RBI, and a decent batting average, though Arenado is at the age where any decline in skill set could be permanent.
SD San Diego • #7 • Age: 28
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
143
Roto
90
Roto (2B)
7
H2H
104
H2H (2B)
9
2023 Stats
AVG
0.26
HR
17
R
84
RBI
60
SB
38
SO
124
Kim's multi-position eligibility is super useful, but if you've been following along with the position preview series, you know I'm pretty skeptical of his chances of repeating last year's success. He established career highs pretty much across the board, including 38 steals, 26 more than he had in 2022. If he avoids regressing too hard on the stolen base front, he should still be pretty good, even if he regresses as a hitter. But the margin for error feels pretty slim here.
TEX Texas • #6 • Age: 26
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
162
Roto
116
Roto (3B)
11
H2H
111
H2H (3B)
13
2023 Stats
AVG
0.266
HR
23
R
75
RBI
70
SB
1
SO
151
How you feel about Jung may depend on how much you blame his late-season slide on the fractured thumb he suffered in August. Prior to the injury, Jung was on pace for 33 homers, 100 RBI, and 104 while hitting .274. There's a lot of swing and miss to his game, and I'm not sure that's going away, so he might struggle to hit better than .260. However, Jung is a line drive machine with plus power, and I think a repeat of last year's pre-injury pace isn't asking too much -- though the lingering calf injury he's dealt with this spring has his Opening Day availability in question, which has been enough to knock him out of the first 10 rounds of drafts more often than not.
CIN Cincinnati • #7 • Age: 26
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
76
Roto
124
Roto (1B)
13
H2H
121
H2H (1B)
13
2023 Stats
AVG
0.271
HR
23
R
74
RBI
86
SB
15
SO
139
It might not be fair to say about a second-year player, but I think the general consensus among Fantasy analysts is that Steer played pretty close to his ceiling in 2023. He was an older rookie who posted decent underlying quality of contact metrics, but might not have much room to grow beyond it. Playing in Cincy should help him continue to maximize his skills, but the Reds are also a crowded roster, so any trade could really hurt Steer. I don't mind him at his cost, but he's not a high priority target either.
Don't Forget About ...
Projections powered by Sportsline
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #13 • Age: 33
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
117
Roto
156
Roto (3B)
16
H2H
95
H2H (3B)
11
2023 Stats
AVG
0.212
HR
36
R
95
RBI
105
SB
1
SO
153
It feels like Muncy's profile has a lot of risk to it, partially because he's such a batting average liability, and partially because of how tough his 2022 season was. But that 2022 was when he was coming back from Tommy John surgery, and he hit .247 with an .858 OPS over the final two months, so I'm not sure how much of a concern that actually should be. The batting average? Yeah, he's a liability there, hitting .216 over the past four seasons, and that's a tough profile to fit onto most teams. However, if you can manage it, you should get 30 homers and close to 200 runs and RBI, if you want to focus on the positives.
MIA Miami • #36 • Age: 28
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
258
Roto
155
Roto (3B)
13
H2H
160
H2H (3B)
14
2023 Stats
AVG
0.25
HR
34
R
71
RBI
80
SB
1
SO
149
Burger is going to hit the ball hard. He's going to hit for a lot of power. The question is whether he'll make enough contact for all that to matter. After a trade to Miami, he suddenly started making a lot more contact, cutting his strikeout rate to 21.7%, and while there was a tradeoff in power, he still had plenty to spare. Burger's average exit velocity fell from 92.4 mph in Chicago to 91.2 in Miami, while his barrel rate fell from 19.6% to 13.1%, but it was a trade well worth making, as his expected wOBA climbed from .356 to .363 after the trade. There's a legitimate 30-homer, .270-average player here if those gains were real, which would make him a must-start 3B even in a poor park and lineup.
PIT Pittsburgh • #13 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
287
Roto
161
Roto (3B)
15
H2H
172
H2H (3B)
15
2023 Stats
AVG
0.271
HR
15
R
65
RBI
61
SB
10
SO
104
Hayes has always hit the ball hard, but too often, he's hit it on the ground, up the middle, or to the opposite field, where it's hardest to get extra bases. That started to change in the second half of last season, as he upped his flyball rate to 41.5% and pulled the ball 35.4% of the time over his final two seasons, significant increases in both categories. He added a toe-tap to his swing to bring about those changes and hit .299/.335/.539 with 10 homers over those final two months, earning a spot on Scott White's breakouts list for 2024. There's legit five-category upside here if those chances were real.
PHI Philadelphia • #28 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
189
Roto
169
Roto (3B)
17
H2H
173
H2H (3B)
16
2023 Stats
AVG
0.274
HR
20
R
74
RBI
97
SB
4
SO
94
Bohm has some similarities to Hayes, in that he makes a lot of contact and tends to hit the ball pretty hard, but just doesn't have a swing optimized to take advantage of it. He did start hitting the ball in the air more often last season, leading to a career-high 20 homers, but I just don't know how much room there is to grow beyond that without some changes. 20 homers, a useful batting average, and a bunch of RBI in a very good lineup is nothing to scoff at, of course, but he probably doesn't have a star-level outcome here without some improvement coming along in his age-27 season.
Sleeper
Projections powered by Sportsline
CHC Chi. Cubs • #29 • Age: 26
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
288
Roto
286
Roto (3B)
25
H2H
NR
H2H (3B)
30
2023 Stats
AVG
0.167
HR
2
R
9
RBI
7
SB
1
SO
27
I'm always wary of the older prospects the Fantasy community falls in love with whose real-life team doesn't seem quite as enamored of, and Busch definitely fits the bill. It doesn't help that he mostly flopped when called upon last season, though it's also worth noting that he never really got a fair shot at an everyday role -- his longest stint in the majors was less than a month toward the end of the season, and he wasn't playing everyday anyways. He'll presumably get the chance after an offseason trade to the Cubs, and it's kind of sink-or-swim time for the 26-year-old. The good news is, he's a .293/.385/.544 career hitter at Triple-A, so there's certainly talent here, and there's little cost to drafting him after his struggles in 2023. I'll make the bet one more time.
Breakout
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIN Minnesota • #23 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
96
Roto
51
Roto (3B)
7
H2H
63
H2H (3B)
9
2023 Stats
AVG
0.309
HR
15
R
36
RBI
52
SB
6
SO
55
You can poke holes in Lewis' breakout candidacy, if you want to be a curmudgeon. He has, of course, struggled mightily to stay healthy as a professional, and his underlying metrics don't quite match up to his top-line numbers at the MLB level. Of course, how could they -- Lewis has hit .307/.364/.549 with a 39-homer pace in his career, which is MVP-level production. But here's why I'm not skeptical: The degree of difficulty for what Lewis has accomplished is just off the charts. He's played just 118 games since the 2019 season thanks to two torn ACLs as well as the 2020 season where no minor-league games. So, yes, we're dealing with small sample sizes for his high-level production. He's also a 24-year-old who has dominated the highest levels despite overcoming huge odds to get there. Are you really going to keep betting against him?
Bust
Projections powered by Sportsline
SD San Diego • #7 • Age: 28
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
149
Roto
90
Roto (2B)
7
H2H
104
H2H (2B)
9
2023 Stats
AVG
0.26
HR
17
R
84
RBI
60
SB
38
SO
124
Kim took a big step forward as a hitter and a base stealer last season, and at least one of those is much easier to buy -- thanks to the changes to the rules, stealing bases was easier than ever in 2023, and he was fast enough to take advantage. However, it's a lot harder to buy the improvements as a hitter, as his actual wOBA was 17 points higher than his expected mark. There's probably going to be some regression for Kim as a hitter, and that's going to put even more pressure for the steals to be there. It's not impossible for Kim to be worth his Draft Day price, but ... well, there's a reason he was being drafted around 200 spots later this time last year.
2023 Draft Prep
Third Base Top Prospects

From Scott White's 2024 Top-100 prospects column.

1. Junior Caminero, 3B, Rays

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .324 BA (460 AB), 31 HR, .976 OPS, 42 BB, 100 K
Major-league stats: .235 BA (34 AB), 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 BB, 8 K
Caminero entered 2023 as a 19-year-old on the fringes of top-100 lists and ended it as a 20-year-old major-leaguer, earning late-season looks from a Rays organization that's known for moving its prospects at a deliberate pace. It's perhaps the greatest testament to how special of a prospect Caminero is, combining superlative exit velocities with the sort of approach that should yield high batting averages as well.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

2. Noelvi Marte, 3B, Reds

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .279 BA (348 AB), 11 HR, 18 SB, .812 OPS, 43 BB, 70 K
Majors-league stats: .316 BA (114 AB), 3 HR, 6 SB, .822 OPS, 8 BB, 25 K
Whatever prospect fatigue had begun to set in for Marte was quashed by his first stint in the majors, which saw him absolutely throttle the ball, hitting one nearly 116 mph, while going ballistic on the base paths. Too much of his contact was on the ground, but the number improved the longer he stayed, with all three of his home runs coming in his final 19 games.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: pencil him in

3. Coby Mayo, 3B, Orioles

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .290 BA (504 AB), 29 HR, 45 2B, .974 OPS, 93 BB, 148 K
Projections became reality last year for the 6-foot-5 Mayo, who finally developed the approach and swing characteristics to maximize his massive power potential, absolutely obliterating balls to his pull side in particular. He likely won't be a batting average standout but should walk enough to make up for it, with his peak being something between Pete Alonso and Max Muncy.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful

4. Colt Keith, 3B, Tigers

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .306 BA (507 AB), 27 HR, 38 2B, .932 OPS, 60 BB, 121 K
While it's tempting to categorize Keith as a prototypical slugger, his above-average strikeout and line-drive rates point to him being a more rounded hitter and help to justify his ranking here. In Fantasy terms, there's a big difference between a .255-hitting, 25-homer guy and a .285-hitting, 30-homer guy, which basically describes Keith's range of outcomes, but his 2023 offers hope for the latter if Comerica Park doesn't drag him down.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful

5. Michael Busch, 3B, Cubs

Age (on opening day): 26
Where he played in 2023: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .323 BA (390 AB), 27 HR, 1.049 OPS, 65 BB, 88 K
Major-league stats: .167 BA (72 AB), 2 HR, 3 2B, 8 BB, 27 K
Just when all hope for Busch seemed lost, God (or Jed Hoyer) intervened and brought him to Chicago, where he'll presumably slot at either third or first base. And he's long overdue for the opportunity, capping off a productive minor-league career with a .323/.431/.618 slash line at Triple-A and the exit velocities and plate discipline metrics to back it up.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring