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2021 Third Base Ranking Tiers (Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Mar 8, 2021

Third base is, by far, the deepest position we have this year in fantasy. For instance, look at J.D. Davis. He’s a solid fantasy bat, and he’s 31st at the position per ADP.

Thirty. First. 

The question is, then, how to approach the position?

There’s one sure-fire first-rounder, but after that, you can take your pick at any spot in the draft to try to draft a bounceback candidate in the early rounds, or wait for a breakout player in the middle rounds of your draft.

As always, when it comes to rankings, tiers are the best way to go about them, as it allows you to group a set of players together so that you know when you need to take a specific player at a position before that tier runs out.

We’ll take a look at third base ADP based on FantasyPros composite ADP and break them down into tiers for you so you know when to grab the guy who you like.

We should note that these tiers are based on a 12-team standard roto league, so adjust accordingly for your league scoring.

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Tier 1: A tier of one

  • José Ramírez

Ramírez deserves his own tier here, and he deserves to be a first-rounder in every single draft. We saw the absolute floor with him in 2019 during the first half of the season, but that’s been the outlier in his career. He’s a five-category stud, and even with the diminished lineup around him, he’s worth grabbing for the power-speed combo.

Tier 2: Proven vets

Machado looked like the player of old in his second season in San Diego, but it’s kind of odd that we are just throwing 2019 out the window. His peripherals looked good in 2020, and while you won’t get the speed you got in the past from him, he warrants a second-round pick if you have concerns about the players in tier 3.

If you get LeMahieu, whose value is still elite after resigning with the Yankees, you’re getting a near MVP-level player who can offer across-the-board production. The position flexibility to have him fit wherever you need him to on the diamond is important, but you’re probably playing him at second base.

Tier 3: Forgotten studs

Arenado leaves Colorado, and all of a sudden, he’s a bad player? Yeah, I’m not so sure. Could he have some diminished skill from aging? Yeah, sure. We saw that last year, but he’s a bargain as a third- or fourth-round pick.

As great of a value as Arenado is, it’s even weirder to see Rendon go after him. Rendon has always been overlooked and underrated as a fantasy player until 2020 drafts. It looks like we’re back to getting a value with him.

Bregman was a borderline first-round pick heading into 2020 drafts, but we’re just going to let him slide? This tier is all about getting value at the position, and Bregman follows suit with Arenado and Rendon here. You’ll still get the “Houston is cheating” discount with him.

*Pulls up FanGraphs. Checks the numbers. Sees nothing concerning* Why are we not drafting Devers in the second round again? Is it because he doesn’t steal? 

Tier 4: Take your pick

This is the year for Guerrero. He looks great. He hits the ball hard. He has the pedigree. He just has to make one tweak for the MVP-level to happen. Place your future bets at +2,500 on him to take home the trophy.

Biggio is a solid MLB player, but he’s one of the top players who will be hurt with the deadened ball. He’s only worth his ADP in OBP leagues.

The high strikeout rate over the past two years is alarming for his future outlook, but he’s almost a sure bet to hit 40 home runs this year. The .202 average is due in part to his .214 BABIP.

McNeil is a roll of the dice. He’s a safe average guy, but if he doesn’t hit for power, you’re looking at a rich-person’s David Fletcher. That’s fine, but not around pick 100.

Muncy had a forgettable 2020 season, but nothing under the hood really should concern you for 2021. He’s a great bounceback target in your drafts.

Was Moncada due to see some regression from his breakout 2019? Sure, no doubt. Was it to the level of what we saw in 2020? Not at all. Moncada has been open about how his battle with COVID-19 hurt him on the field, and we need to take him at his word. He’s a tremendous value here as someone who has top 5 potential at the position.

I’m a sucker for Chapman, and have him closer to the top of this tier in my rankings. The only thing stopping him from being an elite fantasy option is the batting average. 

Bohm came up and immediately made an impact with his 139 wRC+. It’s actually kinda shocking that his ADP isn’t higher considering, but he’s a solid value here. Will he produce those kinds of numbers over the course of a full season? Unlikely, at least yet. But .270 with 20 homers doesn’t seem out of reach.

Bryant is falling too far in drafts. Look, he’s not the same player that he was before, as he traded power for contact. But would a .280 season with 30 homers surprise anyone? It’s what he did in 2019, but projections have him at .253 because of a down 34 games in 2020? Yeah this is a buying opportunity.

Moustakas is a lock for 30 homers in Cincinnati. Underrated value this year.

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Tier 5: 2020 was real

There were skeptics on Edman heading into 2020 – myself included – but he backed up his 2019 season pretty well. I’m still on the fence with him this year, but I get the appeal with his multi-position eligibility and safe profile. 

Moore was red hot at the beginning of the season and after returning from injury. His peripherals back up the play, and his speed is much-needed for fantasy managers, but there’s always a reason to be skeptical about late-age breakouts who didn’t have a ton of pedigree. 

Hayes is very, very interesting. He was a polarizing prospect for fantasy purposes because most of his real-life value came from his defense, which is elite. But in a tiny sample in the big leagues in 2020, he produced offensively like a bat-first guy. It’s a fair price point for him, but going off his track record and a terrible supporting cast, I’m probably avoiding him at least this year.

Happ had the breakout season everyone clamored for in 2020, as he was kind of left for dead. It’s a surprise that he’s going this late with the power he brings, but he needs to shore up the average a bit. He gets a boost in OBP leagues.

The job is Urshela’s, and he’s quietly a really, really good offensive player. The only concern is the lingering elbow injury, but if healthy, he’s a good option if you wait at the position.

Tier 6: Question marks

With Sanó , you know you’re going to get the power, but you have to live with the terrible average and terrible strikeout rate. Build a buffer for batting average if he’s a target of yours.

Solak is this year’s Trent Grisham. Last year was fine as a rookie, but expect him to take a step forward as a top 12 option at the position. Having the outfield eligibility is nice, too.

Donaldson is interesting this year, but you need to pair him with an option later in drafts. When healthy, he’s a stud, but staying on the field has been the issue for the better part of the past three years.

Tier 7: The rest

Segura is starting at second, which is fine, I guess. He’s someone you can wait on if you miss out on Moore earlier. The speed isn’t what it once was, though.

Turner re-upped with the Dodgers, which makes sense. Having him in Milwaukee, though, would have been exciting. He could split time with Chris Taylor, which is a hit in value, as well as his own health. 

Giménez will play every day thanks to his defense, but there’s no power to speak of. He’s a nice steals source late, though, even if he hits at the bottom of the lineup.

Fletcher is a bargain version of McNeil who goes much, much later. He’s a great batting average boost late in the draft.

There are a lot of people who are in on Riley in fantasy, but I’m not one of them. He strikes out far too often, and his average is a big enough hit to make me avoid him altogether. He’s just an average baseball player.

Key Takeaways

  • Ramírez is a deserving first-round pick, and no one should make you feel bad for taking him. However, there is so much depth at the position that you’re not wrong for passing on him, either. 
  • There are two tiers that I live in at the position – Tier 3 and Tier 4. The third tier has the most value, as there are four borderline first- or second-round talents that are getting suppressed due to a down small year or speed and pitching being pushed up. As four Tier 4, it’s huge. All of the players are similar but range in floor and ceiling. It’s a perfect spot to get your starting third baseman from. 
  • Outside of Solak – and even including him, if you’re not a believer – Tier 6 and 7 are pretty easy to just pass on unless you have a specific need. There are a ton of question marks here. 
  • If you are in a deeper league or just want to wait as long as you can at the position, there are some guys outside the top 30 who are great values this year. The aforementioned Davis is one who has regular playing time, but he’s pushed way down in drafts. Brian Anderson is another who doesn’t have a huge ceiling but has a fantastic floor. Hunter Dozier, Ryan McMahon, Jon Berti, Tommy La Stella, and Kyle Seager are other great corner infield options.

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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