Third base is a polarizing position for 2018, as some fantasy analysts say it’s extremely deep and others say it falls off tremendously after the top 10.
It all comes down to roster structure and your league size.
Outside of Mike Trout and Jose Altuve, the safest player in fantasy baseball is Nolan Arenado. And quite honestly, safety is what you want from your first-round pick. You want someone who will put up elite numbers, but doesn’t have a lot of risk attached. Over the past three years, Arenado has averaged a .297 batting average, 40 home runs, 131 RBIs and 104 runs for the Rockies. If you want Arenado, you’ll have to pay an early first-round price for him, but is he the only third baseman that deserves to be a first-round pick in fantasy this year?
Kris Bryant, Manny Machado and Jose Ramirez all make the case, but they are a tier below Arenado, typically falling in the middle of the second round.
Is it worth grabbing Arenado in the first round or one of the other aforementioned second-tier third basemen in the second round? Sure, they’ll all return value on the selection. You will, however, be forfeiting one of the top four ace pitchers and elite-level first basemen — a much thinner position — in favor of the third baseman.
If you opt to go in a different direction early on, fear not. There are useful contributors in the third and fourth rounds, as well as the middle of the draft.
Players like Anthony Rendon and Alex Bregman don’t excel in one category, but they are five-category contributors. Josh Donaldson and Justin Turner are both in their 30s now and have dealt with injuries, but they both offer a relatively high floor in terms of power (Donaldson) and average (Turner), and are good backup options to the higher price guys in the early rounds.
The middle of the draft is where the players with a high ceiling replace those who are more proven.
Rafael Devers has a high ceiling as a high-end prospect and impressed in his rookie stint last year, hitting .284 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 50 big league games. Nick Castellanos can be had in this range, too, as his underlying numbers showed that he was really better than his year-end numbers last year with how hard he hit.
The middle rounds allow you to address needs, too, as power stalwarts Joey Gallo and Miguel Sano are there for the taking. They both can hit 40-50 home runs, but they come with extreme swing-and-miss and batting average risks.
Need speed? Eduardo Nunez and his multi-position eligibility can get you back on track in the steals category, as he’ll be filling in as the starting second baseman for the Red Sox to start the season and will be used as a super-utility man throughout the year.
Adrian Beltre‘s average draft position has slipped this year and he might be the best value out of any player at any position in the draft. Sure, he’ll be 39 in April, but he still has an impressive hard-hit rate, is good for 20-plus home runs and a near-.300 average. As the 20th third baseman off the board based on ADP, he’s a low-risk investment that could net huge returns.
On the subject of returning value, late-round fliers with upside include Eugenio Suarez, Maikel Franco, Jeimer Candelario, Todd Frazier, Matt Chapman and J.P. Crawford.
TOP 20 THIRD BASEMEN
1.Nolan Arenado, Rockies
2.Kris Bryant, Cubs
3.Manny Machado, Orioles
4.Jose Ramirez, Indians
5.Anthony Rendon, Nationals
6.Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
7.Justin Turner, Dodgers
8.Alex Bregman, Astros
9.Rafael Devers, Red Sox
10.Travis Shaw, Brewers
11.Nick Castellanos, Tigers
12.Joey Gallo, Rangers
13.Miguel Sano, Twins
14.Adrian Beltre, Rangers
15.Kyle Seager, Mariners
16.Mike Moustakas, Royals
17.Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox
18.Eugenio Suarez, Reds
19.Jake Lamb, Diamondbacks
20.Todd Frazier, Mets