Previewing 2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Josh Donaldson down but far from out at third base
Josh Donaldson's strong finish wasn't enough to keep him in the first-round discussion, but he's still part of a growing elite tier, according to Scott White, who looks at the top 20 at third base.
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First base may be the mother of all positions in Fantasy, but third base isn't far behind, offering three potential first-round picks and 19 players who I outright expect to be drafted in all formats.
Just imagine if Freddie Freeman was still eligible there.
There is a notable drop-off after the top seven, so while the position isn't lacking in depth (like every other infield position, it seems), I wouldn't advise waiting too long. Nobody says you can't draft a third baseman to fill your utility spot, after all.
Note: These rankings are intended to be just a first glimpse and aren't tailored for any specific format. In cases where the format would make a big difference, that difference is noted.
Nolan Arenado Colorado Rockies 3B
|Nolan Arenado doesn't get the same adulation as Mike Trout or Paul Goldschmidt, but he's as safe of a first-rounder as anyone because his unusually high contact rate for a big-time power hitter making him virtually bust-proof in the thin air of Coors Field.|
Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs 3B
|Anything short of a second MVP season would have been a disappointment for Kris Bryant , but while his overall production took a step back, his contact rate improved to the point it's now one of his greatest strengths , as unbelievable as it would have seemed two years ago.|
Manny Machado Baltimore Orioles 3B
|Though he looked like the biggest bust of 2017 at the midway point, Manny Machado's batted-ball tendencies suggested he was more or less the same player, and he showed it by almost fully redeeming his numbers in the second half. Even losing shortstop eligibility isn't enough to remove this 25-year-old from the first-round conversation.|
Jose Ramirez Cleveland Indians 3B
|Jose Ramirez ranked up there with Arenado in Head-to-Head points per game, and his eligibility at second base (widely considered to be the weaker position) gives him a leg up on the top three as well. But seeing as Arenado, Bryant and Machado have all done it three years in a row now, they're the higher-probability picks even if the upside is comparable.|
Anthony Rendon Washington Nationals 3B
|The home runs, while nice, don't tell the whole story for Anthony Rendon , whose OPS spiked in 2017 mostly because he became one of the most disciplined hitters in the game. The impact is most evident in points leagues, where he may go off the board as early as Round 2, but getting on base so often in a lineup as deep as the Nationals still matters in categories formats. His batting average potential has improved as well.|
Josh Donaldson Toronto Blue Jays 3B
|Machado's second-half turnaround was a relief but ultimately expected because of his youth and batted-ball tendencies. Josh Donaldson , though, had us genuinely worried at the end of July, but then he went on a two-month rampage that more or less restored his standing. Still, with the emergence of Ramirez and Rendon, you can afford to take a more cautious approach with the soon-to-be 32-year-old.|
Justin Turner Los Angeles Dodgers 3B
|Though he only recently emerged as a Fantasy standout, Justin Turner is actually a year older than Donaldson, and the little injuries we normally associate with players in their mid-30s are beginning to pile up. Apart from that, he just keeps getting better, elevating the ball even more in 2017 while making a Rendon-like leap in plate discipline.|
Alex Bregman Houston Astros 3B
|Alex Bregman's shortstop eligibility is the biggest thing he brings to the table, but the former second overall pick found another gear over the final four months, emerging as the sort of hitter who could factor at any position. With emerging power and advanced plate discipline, he may well have Rendon numbers in his future. |
Mike Moustakas Kansas City Royals 3B
|It's a bit of a leap to rank Mike Moustakas this high (which is saying something considering he just set a Royals record for home runs in a season -- that's the juiced-ball era for you), but he's free to sign anywhere now. And with the way he sells out for power -- not in terms of strikeouts, which are fine, but exaggerated pull and fly-ball tendencies -- he'd benefit from playing just about anywhere else (here's hoping Yankee Stadium). |
Travis Shaw Milwaukee Brewers 3B
|If nothing else in 2017, Travis Shaw proved he's an everyday player after an uneven showing with the Red Sox in 2016. But he again stumbled to the finish line and doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well in an environment where a lofty home run total is sort of the minimum requirement for Fantasy greatness. He and Moustakas are a tier below the top seven. |
Rafael Devers Boston Red Sox 3B
|Rafael Devers ' first stint in the majors wasn't perfect, but considering he did it at all of 20 years old, it might as well have been. He wasn't overmatched by major-league pitching and showed the kind of all-fields approach that should yield a high BABIP long-term. Plus, he's only beginning to grow into his power. I'm not entirely comfortable ranking him this low , to be honest.|
Adrian Beltre Texas Rangers 3B
|At-bat for at-bat, Adrian Beltre is still as good as anyone on this list, but well, he's ancient. And the image of him trying to play without the use of his legs because of a nagging hamstring the final two weeks is a lasting one. Just because none of the underlying numbers reflect his advanced age doesn't mean his production won't drop off a cliff next year. This ranking reflects my better-safe-than-sorry approach. |
Miguel Sano Minnesota Twins 3B
|Miguel Sano ranks up there with Aaron Judge in terms of making hard contact -- or at least he did in 2017 -- but the trick for him, even more than for Judge, is making contact in the first place. His strikeouts were slowly pulling down his batting average before a shin injury ended his season in August. He has the ceiling of Judge himself, but the floor of maybe Chris Carter.|
Jake Lamb Arizona Diamondbacks 3B
|For the second straight year, Jake Lamb faked us out with a monster first half before succumbing to his high strikeout rate and miserable platoon splits in the second. He makes hard contact, which gives him some hope of overcoming the former -- or at least hitting for average in spite of it -- but his vulnerability to lefties may ultimately render him a part-time player.|
Eduardo Nunez Boston Red Sox 2B
|Eduardo Nunez is sort of an odd fit in today's offensive environment, excelling at putting the ball in play and taking the extra base, but he's not devoid of power and has put up start-him-in-all-leagues kind of numbers two years in a row now. If he still had shortstop eligibility, he might be in the top 12 here.|
Kyle Seager Seattle Mariners 3B
|Kyle Seager might have sold out a little too much for power in 2017, compromising his line-drive rate and, with it, his batting average. But the end result wasn't so different from the previous five years when he became entrenched as a top-10 third baseman. He's plenty safe, but in today's offensive environment, he lacks the upside of a difference-maker.|
Eugenio Suarez Cincinnati Reds 3B
|If you look at the overall numbers, you'd swear Eugenio Suarez was the breakout nobody talked about in 2017, but if you actually owned him in Fantasy, you'd know he was only startable in April and August. Still, the escalating walk rate should tell you he's a work in progress offensively and somebody to draft for your utility spot, particularly in points leagues.|
Joey Gallo Texas Rangers 3B
|Joey Gallo is like Sano in terms of how hard he hits the ball and how often he strikes out, but his batting average suffers twice over because of how often he puts the ball in the air. Those tendencies weren't as extreme in the second half, though, giving him some hope of becoming a present-day Adam Dunn (in a good way, I mean).|
Nicholas Castellanos Detroit Tigers 3B
|Nicholas Castellanos is like a better version of what Evan Longoria has become, offering similar power and plate discipline but with a much higher line-drive rate -- one that actually suggests he may have gotten cheated in the batting average department.|
Evan Longoria Tampa Bay Rays 3B
|Once considered Fantasy royalty, Evan Longoria is barely hanging on to mixed-league relevance, offering only modest power in an era when it's all too easy to come by. His 36-homer 2016 earned him a reprieve last spring, but it's hardly the most likely scenario for the 32-year-old.|
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