The top two players at third base in 2020 were José Ramírez (.292 / 45/17/46/10) and Manny Machado (.304 / 44/16/46/6). Both players were on track for 40+ home runs and 120+ RBIs.
In 2019, 15 players hit 30 home runs or more at third base, and eight of these players qualified elsewhere. Eugenio Suárez led the way with 49 homers and 103 RBIs, while Nolan Arenado (.315 / 102/41/118/3) remained a rock at the top of the third base group.
Eight players scored more than 100 runs and eight players delivered more than 100 RBIs.
Anthony Rendon (.319 / 117/34/126/5) and Rafael Devers (.311 / 129/32/115/8) had the most significant step forward at third base.
In 2018, five third basemen had 100 or more runs, and five players drove in more than 100 runs. Ten batters had more than 30 home runs.
Here’s a grid showing the final 2019 stats for the top 12 players at each position and their SIscore ranked value (I didn’t use the 2020 stats due to a small sample size):
In 2019, the top 12 third basemen hit .289 with 92 runs, 32 home runs, 92 RBIs and six stolen bases in 512 at-bats. The third base position ranked third in overall hitting value by SIscore.
For comparison, here are the projections (15/3) for the top 12 third basemen in Sports Illustrated ranked by SIscore:
Statistics highlighted by the yellow line show the average projections (.282 with 97 runs, 30 home runs, 97 RBIs and seven steals in 558 at-bats) for the top 12 third basemen in 2021.
Here’s a look at the top 12 third basemen for 2021 NFBC ADP (March 8 – March 15):
A fantasy owner can argue for owning any of the top 12 third basemen by adding ADP and overall skill set.
José Ramírez brings a base of five tools to a fantasy team. His ability to steal bases for third base sets him apart from most of the group of players at his position. He hits a ton of flyovers, leading to some easy outs and limiting the ceiling on batting average.
The Padres offense is on the move and Manny Machado is a big part of the driving forces. San Diego wants to run, adding additional value to its already 30/100 skill set. Machado is not a lock to help move the needle on a fantasy team’s batting average. His floor remains high in home runs and RBIs.
The next group of third basemen tends to be a coin toss, and each fantasy owner has a different option.
The single stud theory should give Anthony Rendon the upper hand. He’s hitting high, and Mike Trout will be on base more than 200 times in front of him in batting order. His power is improving but not elite, while his running prowess falls at the backend of the Angels’ lineup.
Rafael Devers tends to the runner-up option at the big four level. His bat exploded on the fantasy scene in 2019, but his strikeout rate regressed during last year’s short season. Devers has more than 40 home runs on the rise with a chip on stolen bases. He will hit the ball hard when it is in play.
The home / road splits for Nolan Arenado make some fancy owners creep out after the St. Louis trade. The same could have been said of DJ LeMahieu before signing with the Yankees. Arenado is not a type of high-volume strikeout. It has a long history of being a clutch with base runners with a lot of power. Ignore background noise and take the .280 / 30/100 floor with confidence.
Alex Bregman has two strikes heading into 2021. Houston’s pre-2020 scandal remains a question many Astros hitters must answer for a long season. The second is a battle with a hamstring problem last season and early in spring training. Bregman has one of the best approaches in the game. He’ll hit the average while he hopes to deliver an advantage in runs, home runs and RBIs. If he regains his previous form in steals, Bregman will be a steal based on his sliding ADP.
Eugenio Suárez continues to improve as a powerful impact hitter. The Reds will give up time at shortstop in 2021, which also adds to his fantasy value. Batting average can be a concern in your quest to get the ball out of the park.
The wild card at third base in 2021 appears to be Yoan Moncada. He has yet to unlock his minor league résumé on steals, while strikeouts remain a problem. In 2020, Moncada had an elite batting average when putting the ball in play, which was not repeated last year. He claims that Covid was his downfall. I say I need to see him on the field before I take his batting average risk.
Next season of the draft, I expect Alec Bohm to be selected as one of the top 60 players. If he looks at the top two in the Phillies’ batting order and adds more loft to his swing, Bohm will reward fantasy owners handsomely in 2021. His approach scores well and adds a handful of steals.
I recently debated with a high-risk partner about the value and benefits of Ke’Bryan Hayes this season. I understand how well he did last September, and I had him on some draft championship teams in 2020. His speed will be an advantage, but Hayes isn’t there to rely on power. I think it’s a year away from making an impact. At best .270 with 15/75/15.
For anyone who cheats at third base in 2021, it can be a challenge to hit an option that makes a difference. I see several complementary players with only a couple of possible breakups.
Based on his career resume, Josh Donaldson stands out in the second group at third base. Injuries have been a problem in three of the last four seasons. It tends to slip into drafts since no one wants to fight for Donaldson. When healthy, he walks and hits home runs.
Justin Turner offers a positive batting average with a 20/80 skill set. His blow to me is that he tends to lose time every season. Turner has fewer than 480 at-bats in four consecutive years and only surpasses that number once during an entire season.
The Braves don’t need Austin Riley to be an impact player to win. He will hit in the back half of his lineup, which will take the pressure off him to lead the offense. His power projects well, but Riley needs to make better contact to remove batting average drag from his expected profile.
Willie Castro shone last September for the Tigers, but his shorter résumé suggests his journey may not be as exciting in 2021. I expect more speed with just a home run lead in his mid-teens.
The player kicked to the curb at third base in many drafts is JD Davis. I see 25+ home runs with a reasonable probability of being at least a neutral player on batting average. His hit is the Mets’ potential extra starting hitter after signing Jonathan Villar.
The Nationals have a couple of young bats in development, which points to Carter Kieboom not being locked out of winning at-bats every day early on. You will have to work your way into the starting lineup, which may take some time.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.