2016-Top 15 at Third base-Under 30

Third Base is pretty deep this season. Well, as long as you get one of the top 7 or 8. The top 3 may be gone by the end of the first round in your draft. In the age of pitching being as deep as it is now a power hitting infielder is so much harder to find in season.

  1. Nolan Arenado 24, COL – Coming off a big time season in 2015 can he get better? Hitting stats like .287/97/42/130/2 and playing half his games at Coors Field can’t hurt. When I dig a little deeper I noticed that his BABIP last season was .284 this is low for someone with a 35.8% hard hit rate. If things start to level off there then that would give him about a .300 average along with more runs and RBI’s. Then there is his K/BB rate 16.5% k rate and a 5.1% for walks. Not bad for a strike out rate but the walk rate should start working its way up at the very least he should see an uptick for added intentional walks. Nolan will turn 25 in April yet he is already a force. My projections for 2016 are .307/105/36/125/1.
  2. Manny Machado 23, BAL – After a couple seasons of terrible injuries some had him written off as a player that would never be on the field enough to realize his full potential. Well, after a 2015 season that saw him bat .286/102/35/102/20 we now see what he  is capable of. There is always the possibility that he could improve on these numbers as he is only 23. The injury bug is always a concern with Manny so there is some risk attached to him. There are not too many people who would need to think twice about having him on their team.My projections for 2016 are .280/90/32/95/18.
  3. Kris Bryant 24, CHC – I feel like it took forever for Kris to get the call up. I know i had him in my 5 man keeper league at the end of 2014. He sat on my bench for what seemed to be forever till he hit the “magic” day of eligibility. From there he jumped right into the deep end of the pool with the big kids.  After a season that saw him produce 26 home runs with 99 RBI’s while batting .275. What can we expect in his sophomore season? Looking at his BABIP of .378 leads one to believe that his batting average should regress. I would not say regress to the leagues average though.  Looking at his hard hit rate of 37.5% it shows why he has such a high BABIP. Big body, big swing will bring big strikeouts especially when the book comes out on him (it probably already  has). My projections for 2016 are .272/95/29/125/11.
  4. Todd Fraizer 29, CHW –  Seems like every season Fraizer is in the MVP discussions and then comes the second half of the season. I’m sure the White Sox answered the phone from the Reds and said “Ok, I guess we’ll take Todd Fraizer but, you owe us one” As bad as his numbers were in the second half last year he still managed 10 home runs during that time for 35 HR;s total. Todd makes hard contact to the tune of 36.9%. He definitely hit better while at the great American Ballpark in Cincinnati  I think he will get over that with the good hitting parks in the AL + being in a lineup with more protection around him will lead to a big year. My projections for 2016 are .264/75/33/94/10.
  5. Miguel Sano 22, MIN – Miguel was a top prospect for a few years in the Twins systems with lots of big time power at all his stops along the way. When he got the call to join Minnesota he did more then impress, he excelled. Sano has been known for immense natural power and the ability to be placed in the middle of the lineup to be a  big time RBI machine. in 80 games last year he hit .269/46/18/52/1. Talk is that GM Terry Ryan has hinted that they plan to move Sano to RF in Spring Training this may be true but, until i see him out there during the regular season i am going to continue treating him as a third basemen. A BABIP of .396 is unsustainable so his average should be lower. The strikeouts rate of 35.5% is worrisome in points leagues but the power in his swing (49.2% hard hit) and the way the ball jumps off his bat will make him a force in the batters box. My projections for 2016 are .250/80/35/99/2.
  6. Kyle Seager 28, SEA – So many people are talking about Corey Seager, Kyle’s little brother. Thing is Kyle is a reliable productive hitter who you can pencil in for a .265 batting average and about 25 HR’s with 70+ RBI’s. He had trouble getting going from the start of last season but really turned things around in the second half. The reason i feel this was “unlucky” was due to his BABIP of .278 when it is normally like the previous year a healthy .296. Assuming all is good and he starts the year  well, he may be in for a bounce back season that yields more production. Taking a look at his hard hit rate last season of 32.9% and a line drive rate  of 24% he makes good contact with some pop. his SO to BB ratio is 2/1 not bad at all. This could be the year Seager breaks out for a big season. My projections for 2016 are .282/95/34/91/7.
  7. Maikel Franco 23, PHI –  After being called up by the Phillies in September of 2014 Maikel like most rookies starting out did not impress with his 56 ab’s & 10 hits. Fast forward to 2015 and the Phillies decided to go into full rebuilding mode after the all star break. The Phils sent Cody Ashe to AAA to learn how to play the OF. That opened up a spot at 3B for 80 games. This time he he did not disappoint. With a .280/45/14/50/1 line over those 80 games shows his capabilities. Now to temper things a bit. While he shows a very healthy wOBA (.370) his hard hit rate of 28.5% is average at best and i am not seeing this much production in the years he spent in the Minor leagues. My gut is making me think he had some isolated success . While he will be a very serviceable Third baseman. Pitchers are going to make some adjustments on how they pitch to him and it may take him a while to figure things out. My projections for 2016 are .250/53/18/62/2.
  8. Anthony Rendon 25, WSH –  After 2014 Rendon was in consideration for a top 5 spot on this list. Today there are some major concerns over his durability moving forward. Since his days playing college ball at Rice he has battled severe ankle and knee injuries. For two years we saw a healthy Rendon and the 2014 production returned was excellent .287/111/21/83/17. Moving forward its going to be tough devoting your trust in a guy who cant support the top of his body with the bottom. Especially while he is just reaching his prime years. The talent has always been there but he is going to have to stay healthy to prove his worth. My projections for 2016 are .273/60/12/50/5.
  9. Mike Moustakas 27, KC – 2015 saw this second overall pick in the 2007 draft finally breakout. After 5 seasons of not being very impressive it seemed like 2015 would be his last chance to put it all together. So instead of trying to pull everything we saw, Moustakas started to hit the ball the other way. Whatever the pitcher gives him over the plate he has simply gone with it. Driving the ball to all fields with a 31.3% hard hit rate allowed his batting average to reach .284. Also, it helped him to have  a career low of a 12.4%K rate. My projections for 2016 are .275/69/25/85/1.
  10. Nick Castellanos  23, DET **Alert! Sleeper Alert!**– It seems like it’s  taken forever but, this will be the year that Castellanos breaks out. Everyone was so excited when he won the third base job in Detroit. The Tigers management took a look at what Castellanos accomplished in 2013 when he opened some eyes in AAA with a line of .276/81/18/76/4 along with 37 doubles. Since then he has played 2 full seasons with the Tigers and has held his own to keep his starting job. Borderline ownable in mixed fantasy leagues. Not a guy people were sprinting to the waiver wire to pick up. The biggest difference between his success in AAA and his last couple in the MLB has been his BB and K rates. Last season his k rate was at 25.5% and in that last year in AAA it was 16.8% the missing link to being ownable in all formats is his ability to drive down those K’s. Success waits for him this year! My projections for 2016 are .285/79/20/82/2
  11. Matt Duffy 24, SF –  2015 was a magical season for Duffy and it was not easy. He was replacing Pablo Sandoval who left the Giants for the money flashed by the Boston Red Sox. This after he helped the Giants win the World Series every other year.  Matt Duffy stepped in and showed that he is a good ball player. At the start of the season there was some, but not much Intel on him concerning his strengths and weaknesses. He used the unfamiliarity to his advantage and sat and waited for his pitch then turned on it. After the book got out on how to pitch him the pitchers made an adjustment leaving him at a disadvantage. The reason for the sophomore slump is usually it takes these kids a while until they make the right adjustments for renewed success. Matt did not take long at all. He started using the entire field and would not miss many of the chances a pitcher might give you. He is going to be in the middle of a very productive lineup again. The only warning I will advise people of is his BABIP from last year (.336) was about 20 points higher then the norm. A batting average regression should be expected. My projections for 2016 are .280/60/12/65/14.
  12. Pablo Sandoval 29, BOS – After a disastrous first season i n Boston, Pablo is trying to hit that reset button and start again. Word is he has dropped 20-22 Lbs this off season. After John Farrell was a guest on on a Boston Radio show the other day he said that he is hoping Sandoval can get back to the production he had in 2014. If he cant he said “we have guys who can step in and help” Yikes, that sounds like a short leash. This is a guy that is only 29 years old and has flashed a very impressive hitting tool in the past. If you take a close look at Pablo’s numbers from last year compared to those in 2014. The only difference was due to a 30 point drop in BABIP and Batting Average. He struck out less then he did in 2014. He did however have the lowest hard hit rate and % of line drives in a log time. Was he injured? Out of shape? Not sure but it sounds like he is going to be slimmer and in better shape coming into Spring Training this year. Possible bargain in your drafts/auctions. My projections for 2016 are .275/65/15/64/0
  13. Yasmany Tomas 25, ARI – A talented and powerful hitter from Cuba. Tomas is going to have a difficult time playing 3B unless Jake Lamb falls flat on his face returning from an injury that interrupted what was becoming a huge breakout. That would put Tomas in the outfield where  there seems to be one spot open along side A.J. Pollock & David Peralta. An interesting stat i came across for Tomas would be his appearance on the top 10 list for how often he hits the ball hard to the opposite field  32.9%. Also with that oppo field power comes a very healthy percentage of base hits the other way 29.3. These stats are so impressive because of the players who appear there with him to the likes of Ozuna, Harper, Kemp, Pollock, Braun & Yelich. This may lead to a player who has the tools to bat for a high average in the near future. My projections for 2016 are .270/60/16/58/7
  14. Derek Dietrich, 26 MIA – Last season Derek hit 10 home runs and had an excellent hard hit rate of 34% in 250 at bats. Only problem is that  was all the playing time he could get being blocked from the starting lineup. Derek can now play 2nd base 3rd base and outfield. The outlook for more playing time don’t look much better with Dee Gordon at 2nd, Stanton, Ozuna & Yelich in the Outfield. Third base may be his chance that is if he beats out Martin Prado. The Marlins have been fielding a lot of calls concerning teams that want to trade for him but, they have yet to get an offer they cant refuse.My projection for 2016 are .255/45/15/37/0.
  15. Brett Lawrie 25, CWS – It seems that Brett will have most of his playing time at second base that is assuming that Todd Fraiser has dibs on Third. Since he is still eligible at Third base in most formats why not rank him as such? He has not yet lived up to the numbers that his talent level showed in  Toronto. Last season in Oakland Brett played in 149 games which is basically a full season. His hitting line was .260/64/16/60/5. He is now playing in a better hitters park but, we cant forget about that whole playing time thing right? My projections for 2016 are .265/40/10/45/7.
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