On Monday, we published our Consensus Top 15 Fantasy Third Baseman for 2016, and today we bring you third baseman ranked 16-30. We used a points system for each of the 30 third baseman ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.
The writers who participated in this series are the following:
We feel that by providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than one writers' opinion, which inherently may include some bias. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.
Each of the position rankings will be split into two parts, rankings and player profiles for third basemen ranked 1 - 15 in part 1, and rankings and player profiles for third basemen ranked 16 - 30 in part 2 to be published on Tuesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.
In addition, our rankings are based on the standard 5 x 5 fantasy/roto baseball league scoring, including: batting average, runs scored, home runs, RBI and stolen bases for the hitters, and wins, saves, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts for the pitchers, relievers and closers.
Finally, we are using 5 games as our eligibility requirements to be ranked at a particular position. Your leagues may have more games played requirements to be eligible at a position, so keep that in mind when viewing our rankings.
Our Consensus Third Base Rankings for 2016:
16. Matt Duffy, Giants (Last Year: not ranked)
Few owners, I imagine, plan to target Matt Duffy as their starting third baseman. Depending on the configuration of your lineup, however, there might be reason to reconsider. Duffy's 12 HR in 2015 could prove to be an anomaly--he hit 13 combined homers in nearly 1,000 minor-league ABs--but his .295 average and 12 steals actually are on the conservative side of what we might expect from him. He was a career .304 hitter in the minors and twice stole more than 20 bases. Obviously this former 18th-round pick out of Long Beach State isn't going to post Machado-like numbers. But what if you have Brian Dozier at 2B and some power in your OF? Could you use Duffy's .300 average and 20-SB potential at the hot corner?
17. Jung-ho Kang, Pirates (LY: not ranked)
An $11 million bargain plucked from the Korean Baseball Organization, Kang arrived in Pittsburgh last spring with modest expectations, scuffled a bit at the outset, and then spent most of the summer raking in the middle of the Pirates' batting order. He finished the 2015 season with a .287 average, 15 HR, and 58 RBI in only 467 plate appearances. He also played a capable shortstop and a sparkling third base, and he'll be eligible at both positions in 2016. Were it not for the presence of Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte, Kang would have had a strong case for team MVP. As it stands, he finished third in the NL Rookie-of-the-Year vote. A gruesome September knee injury cost him the season's final three weeks and likely will land him on the DL for much of April 2016. Still, all reports regarding Kang's recovery have been positive. His returning health, coupled with his SS eligibility, should make him a top-20 option at third base on draft day.
18. David Wright, Mets (LY: 12)
Injuries have derailed Wright's career for parts of the last five seasons, reducing him from a perennial MVP-candidate to an annual wildcard. In 2015, Wright played in only 38 games, batting .289 with 5 HR and 17 RBI. But the news isn't all bad. If you're inclined to view Wright's 2015 season through rose-colored glasses, then you might recall that he posted strong April numbers and finished with an overall OPS+ of 124, so who knows how he might have performed had he stayed healthy? He's also only a few years removed from back-to-back All-Star Game appearances in 2012-13. At 33, Wright offers little upside, and you don't want to count on him as your unqualified starter at third base for an entire season. If he stays healthy, however, he could provide you with surprising value as a corner infielder.
19. Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox (LY: 8)
Following the 2014 season, Sandoval somehow turned .279-16-73 and a .739 OPS into $95 million from the Red Sox. "Kung Fu Panda" then submitted a forgettable .245-10-47 line, and his .658 OPS in 2015 ranked last among qualified third basemen. In related news, Boston enters 2016 with a new general manager, Dave Dombrowski, formerly of Detroit. Unless Dombrowski has enough magic pixie dust to conjure a trade partner willing to take on Sandoval's contract, then the Red Sox have to hope for a bounceback season. Sandoval's career average of .288 offers a glimmer, but fantasy owners in search of late-round value have few other reasons to look in the Panda's direction.
20. Trevor Plouffe, Twins (LY: 25)
Teammate Miguel Sano gets the hype and the higher ranking, but the 29-year-old Plouffe returns as Minnesota's starting third baseman. Plouffe is a mortal lock to hang like an albatross around your batting average. He hit .244 in 2015 and has a career average of .245. If you can withstand the average, however, his 22 HR and 86 RBI, which were in line with his 162-game average of 21 and 79, respectively, would be useful, particularly if you got them from your corner infield position. Otherwise, Plouffe is a fine backup 3B who will be available in later rounds.
21. Josh Harrison, Pirates (LY: 15)
Harrison came off the Pirates' bench in 2014 and played so well that by July he had supplanted Pedro Alvarez as Pittsburgh's regular third baseman, and by season's end Harrison's .315 average, 13 HR, 22 SB, and countless spectacular plays in the field and on the basepaths earned him a 9th-place finish in the NL MVP vote. In 2015, however, Harrison started slowly, missed time due to injury, and his numbers (.287-4-10) fell across the board. Fantasy owners, therefore, want to know which Harrison will show up for Pittsburgh in 2016. We do know that he'll likely open the season at third base and then shift to second base when Jung-ho Kang returns from injury. We also know that Harrison's versatility--he'll be eligible at 3B, 2B, and OF--will provide additional value to anyone who selects him at as mid-to-late-round pick.
22. Nick Castellanos, Tigers (LY: 23)
After entering 2014 as the top prospect in a weak Tigers system, Castellanos has posted back-to-back seasons of pedestrian numbers as Detroit's starting third baseman and now feels like something of a bust. Last season's .255/.303/.419 slash line with 15 HR, 73 RBI, 39 BB, and 152 K represented a modest improvement, if any, over the previous year. Detroit's lineup, however, appears to have gotten stronger. And, to be fair, Castellanos will not turn 24 until March, so it might be too soon for the "b" label. Fantasy owners could live with Castellanos's power and run production at corner infield--assuming a slight uptick in that production--but if you're counting on him as your starting third baseman, then you're betting on more than he has shown.
23. Brett Lawrie, White Sox (LY: 22)
Lawrie enters 2016 with 2B/3B eligibility and will serve as the everyday second baseman for the White Sox. His .260 batting average (career .263) from 2015 won't kill you. His 16 HR and 60 RBI would look nice in your middle infield or at second base. A .706 OPS, however, is not what you want from your starting third baseman. Leave Lawrie to the later rounds, and don't use him at the hot corner unless you're overcome with desperation.
24. Yasmany Tomas, Diamondbacks (LY: 20)
Tomas projects as Arizona's everyday rightfielder and possible cleanup hitter behind Paul Goldschmidt, which would be enough to excite fantasy owners were it not for Tomas's underwhelming 2015. After signing him to a 6-year/$68.5 million contract, the Diamondbacks made the ill-advised decision to try Tomas at third base, which a) required some seasoning for Tomas in the minors and b) proved disastrous. Once he arrived in the majors and took on a part-time role, split between 3B and OF, Tomas posted a respectable .273 batting average with 9 HR and 48 RBI in only 426 PA. Owners in head-to-head leagues especially might recoil from his 17:110 walk-to-strikeout ratio. All fantasy owners, however, should keep in mind that on top of a position switch in 2015 Tomas faced the usual cultural challenges that confront Cuban defectors, and he's still only 25. With plus raw power and now the opportunity to play every day, Tomas could be a nice sleeper on draft day.
25. Chase Headley, Yankees (LY: 16)
The 31-year-old Headley had a phenomenal 2012 season with the Padres, hitting .286 with 31 HR and an NL-leading 115 RBI, but that feels like a long time ago. It was also the last time Headley reached double-digits in steals, a category that once salvaged his otherwise fringe fantasy value. Apart from that season and those numbers, Headley has been a mediocre offensive player for most of his career. The move from San Diego's cavernous Petco Park to New York's hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium somehow has depressed his already pedestrian stats. In 2015, his OPS fell to .693, which was 54 points lower than his eight-year average with the Padres. Outside of 2012, his career-bests in HR and RBI are 13 and 64, respectively. Draft him if you think you might catch lightning in a bottle. Otherwise, steer clear.
26. Jed Lowrie, Athletics (LY: not ranked)
After an injury-plagued 2015 in Houston, Lowrie heads back to Oakland in 2016 and will serve as the Athletics' starting second baseman. For fantasy purposes, he also qualifies at shortstop. A former Red Sox prospect, the switch-hitting Lowrie, now 31, has two solid seasons on his resume. In 2012-13, he hit a combined 63 doubles and 31 HR in only 251 games, numbers that would make him usable at 3B. His career .257 batting average and .738 OPS, however, suggest that he's better left as a late-round flier somewhere in the middle infield.
27. Jake Lamb, Diamondbacks (LY: not ranked)
Like teammate Yasmany Tomas, Lamb will have the opportunity to establish himself as an everyday player in a strong lineup, which gives him some sleeper appeal. Lamb stands 6'3"-205 and turned 25 in August, so there's still a chance he could develop 15-20 HR power. At Double-A Mobile in 2014, Lamb hit .318 with 14 HR and 35 doubles on his way to winning the Southern League MVP. He provides little-to-no speed, but he did compile a .408 OBP in 144 minor-league games, so he has the offensive skills necessary to be a solid major-league regular. There's some modest breakout potential here.
28. Martin Prado, Marlins (LY: 24)
Despite playing in only 129 games for the moribund Marlins, Prado's 2015 numbers (.288 avg.-9 HR-63 RBI-.732 OPS) weren't all that far from his 162-game career averages (.291-13-71-.764). With injuries to Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton, not to mention Marcell Ozuna's demotion, the entire Miami lineup after Dee Gordon seemed to fall apart. If Prado could hold it together during a lousy year, then there's reason to think he might be able to meet or exceed those career averages in 2016, when the Miami offense should be healthier and more productive. He's not a sexy pick, and at 32 he's unlikely ever to become one, but with 2B eligibility he could be a nice middle infielder if you need average and a little pop.
29. Danny Valencia, Athletics (LY: not ranked)
Toronto's decision to DFA Valencia after 58 games of what would become a .290-18-66 campaign ranks among 2015's most curious roster moves. Oakland claimed Valencia off waivers in August, and the 31-year-old worked around a late-season injury to finish his two-month stint in Oakland with a .284/.356/.530 slash line, 11 HR, and 37 RBI in only 205 PA. Over a full season, those are MVP-caliber numbers. Alas, Valencia, thanks to various injuries, rarely plays a full season. In 2011, he did hit 15 HR and appear in 154 games as the Twins' starting third baseman, but since then he has not approached that level of durability. In short, Valencia might be OK as your corner infielder or fifth outfielder (he has 3B/OF eligibility) to start the season, but be prepared to make a roster move before long.
30. Yunel Escobar, Angels (LY: not ranked)
At 33, Escobar is a known commodity in fantasy circles, which made his 2015 performance with the Nationals all the more surprising. Fresh off three consecutive seasons of sub-.700 mediocrity and left on most waiver wires to begin the season, Escobar, a career shortstop filling in for the injured Anthony Rendon at the hot corner, finished the season with a .314 average that led all Major-League third basemen. In December he was traded to the Angels, where he will play third base and likely serve as the leadoff hitter for a Los Angeles lineup that appears strong at the top. The odds are very much against Escobar repeating his .314 average--from 2012-14 he hit .253, .256, and .258, respectively--and his career-high in steals is 6, so he will provide little-to-no speed. There's at least a chance that his counting numbers (9 HR, 75 R, 56 RBI) won't suffer much with the move to LA. Still, if you're looking for a starting 3B or even a corner infielder, you could do better than Escobar.
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