(WTNH)–Here at SportzEdge.com, we love fantasy baseball.
Your boy started playing it back in 2000, when I was talking trash to my eighth-grade friends and declining trade requests for Preston Wilson. Ah, the good old days.
We can’t wait for the season to get here, but when it does, we know you’ve got to be prepared. That’s why we’re ranking the best players in the major leagues at each position. Next up, it’s third base:
1. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (.297 BA, 41 HR, 123 RBI, .371 OBP)
The reigning A.L. MVP is a good bet to have another spectacular season, as he hit a career-high 41 home runs last season and drove in a career-high 123 runs. He also racked up a career-best 184 hits, and was no doubt helped by the presence of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the lineup. At 30 years old, there’s no reason to think Donaldson is in anything other than his prime, and we think he’s the best third baseman on the board this season.
2. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies (.287 BA, 42 HR, 130 RBI, .323 OBP)
Arenado came out of nowhere to post one of the best offensive seasons in the game last year, more than doubling his home run total from 2014 (42) and racking up a major league-leading 130 RBI. Was that for real? We’re going to bet that it was. The 24-year-old looks like the next breakout Coors Field star, a guy who’s going to put up video-game numbers like he’s the Steph Curry of baseball.
3. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs (.275 BA, 26 HR, 99 RBI, .369 OBP)
How’s 26 homers and 99 RBI in 151 games for living up to the rookie hype? The 24-year-old former superprospect is capable of even bigger things this year, assuming he doesn’t get swallowed up by a sophomore slump. He’s got the potential to hit 40 homers and drive in 125 runs, especially in that Cubs lineup, which looks to be pretty special. We’d bet on him, for sure.
4. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles (.286 BA, 35 HR, 86 RBI, .359 OBP, 20 SB)
It’s scary to think that this kid is only 23 years old. He’s gone under the radar since injuries derailed his 2014 campaign, but Machado quietly smashed a career-high 35 homers in 2015, and stole a career-high 20 bases. If he can keep that kind of upward projectory going, he’s got the potential to be one of the best players in baseball.
5. Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox (.255 BA, 35 HR, 89 RBI, .309 OBP)
Last year’s home run derby champion moves from Cincinnati to Chicago, another hitter-friendly park in the more hitter-friendly American League. You’d expect his numbers to only get better, as he’s got the potential to hit another 30-plus homers and drive in close to 100 runs. He’s got to improve the batting average and on-base percentage in order to move up this list, but he’s a nice second-tier option if you can’t get one of the top four guys.
6. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners (.266 BA, 26 HR, 74 RBI, .328 OBP)
He had a terrific on-base percentage and an amazing 26 homers (for playing at Safeco Field) in 2015, giving a lot of fantasy owners reason for optimism. Seager has hit 20-plus homers in four straight years, so he’s going to give you solid production there. Fantasy guru and former News 8 editor Cody Contois calls him the “ultimate 3B sleeper guy.”
7. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins (.269 BA, 18 HR, 52 RBI, .385 OBP)
Sano is like an old-school, raw power hitter: able to muscle even bad pitches out of spacious Target Field with his sheer strength alone. He’s going to draw obvious comparisons to David Ortiz, as both are from the Dominican Republic and Twins fans want to make sure they don’t lose their promising young power hitter this time. He’s a little streaky, which scares you, but we think he’s worth the risk.
8. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (.270 BA, 21 HR, 73 RBI, .328 OBP)
Has he plateaued? Back in 2008-09, it looked like the sky was the limit for Longoria, but in an abysmal Rays lineup, he’s come down to Earth statistically–hitting just 43 homers in his last two seasons. In a different lineup, Longoria would be capable of hitting 30 bombs and driving in 100 runs, but it’s just not going to happen in Tampa Bay. Don’t get us wrong–he’s solid, but a lot of people were expecting more than that when the 30-year-old first splashed onto the baseball scene.
9. Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies (.280 BA, 14 HR, 50 RBI, .343 OBP)
There are a lot of reasons to believe that Franco can become a star in Philadelphia–including the fact that he raked his way through June, hitting .352 with 8 homers and 24 RBI, which nearly earned him an All-Star bid. The greatest Phillies third baseman of all-time thinks he’s a future MVP, and we’re not going to disagree with him. One thing to worry about is a wrist injury that ended the 23-year-old’s season last August, though it appears he’s fully recovered now.
10. Jung Ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates (.287, 15 HR, 58 RBI, .355 OBP)
The Pirates’ fan favorite (who also qualifies at SS) saw a very promising season derailed after he was run into at second base by Chris Coghlan of the Cubs in September. He suffered a knee injury and was done for the season. The 28-year-old had been one of the pleasant surprises in baseball, and his injury demoralized the Pirates. It’s possible that he suffers a setback year, but we wouldn’t bet against him.
11. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals (.284 BA, 22 HR, 82 RBI, .348 OBP)
Though he might not get as much pub as some of the other world champs, Moustakas is one of the Royals’ best hitters. He posted career highs across the board last season (batting average, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage), and he’s only 27, so he could just be entering his prime. You’d have to think that a World Series title would add to his confidence, too.
12. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals (.264 BA, 5 HR, 25 RBI, .344 OBP)
Rendon was hurt for much of 2015 and only played in 80 games. But his 2014 production is enough to give you hope that he can produce this season, and he might be a better gamble than the Mets’ David Wright. He hit .287 with 21 homers and 83 RBI in 2014. You can also play him at second base.
13. Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (.281 BA, 14 HR, 73 RBI, .322 OBP)
In our second baseman column, we detailed why Murph could struggle this year: a new team, a $35 million contract, higher expectations than ever before. But we all saw what he could do when he turned into Lou Gehrig in the postseason. He’s a solid hitter.
14. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (.287 BA, 18 HR, 83 RBI, .334 OBP)
The 36-year-old may be approaching his career sunset, but he’s still putting up numbers like it’s 2004. Count on him for another 17-18 homers and 80-plus RBI. No doubt.
15. Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers (.294 BA, 16 HR, 60 RBI, .370 OBP)
Manager Dave Roberts told reporters Turner is locked in at third base, and if he gets consistent at-bats, he could end up having a breakout year. He’s always been a very good on-base guy, and he knows how to hit.
16. Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers (.255 BA, 15 HR, 73 RBI, .303 OBP)
The highly-touted third baseman was mildly disappointing last year, hitting just .255. But he’s only 23, and at this time last season, a lot of people were expecting a breakout season from Castellanos. He’s got All-Star potential. Don’t be surprised if he starts raking.
17. Matt Duffy, San Francisco Giants (.295 BA, 12 HR, 77 RBI, .334 OBP)
Good batting average, decent power and a nice OBP from the 25-year-old, who isn’t going to drive in 100 but will do just fine as a starter in a deep league.
18. Pablo Sandoval, Boston Red Sox (.245 BA, 10 HR, 47 RBI, .292 OBP)
He has to be better this year, right? He couldn’t be much worse. 2016 is an even year, so we think Pablo could get back to being the hitting machine who led the Giants to three World Series titles–in even-numbered years, of course. One thing we know for sure: if the Red Sox make it to the playoffs, no one is going to take Sandoval lightly.
19. Trevor Plouffe, Minnesota Twins (.244 BA, 22 HR, 86 RBI, .307 OBP)
You’ll get good power numbers from Plouffe, even if he doesn’t get on base as often as you might like. Still, he’s a solid option in a deep league.
20. David Wright, New York Mets (.289 BA, 5 HR, 17 RBI, .379 OBP)
The degenerative back issues are a major concern for Wright, who hasn’t looked 100 percent since 2010. He can still give you some decent numbers, but don’t count on him.