With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day [April 6th] less than two weeks from now, that means fantasy baseball is right around the corner too and Heavy.com has it covered.
Heavy ranks and projects the top players at each position including their 2014 statistics as well as a player preview for the upcoming 2015 season. The follow list is Heavy’s projected top 20 third basemen for the 2015 season.
The stats included for reach player listed are: Games, Batting Average, On Base %, Slugging %, OPS (OB + SLG), Home Runs, Runs Batted In.
2014 Stats: 158 G; .255/.342/.456; .798; 29 HR; 98 RBI
2015 Outlook: There are no elite third basemen at the position anymore, but there are two 3B that clearly stand out from the rest of the pack. One of those two is Donaldson, who is right in the middle of his prime.
Donaldson’s 2014 wasn’t as good as 2013 from a pure hitter’s perspective – his BA, OBP, SLG, OPS and hits were all down across the board – yet he still hit more home runs and drove more runs. There is reason to believe Donaldson hitting .301 in 2013 would be his career-best, but if Donaldson hits even 10 points higher than he did in 2014, he’ll most likely post his first 30/100 season.
2015 Projections: 156 G; .265/.340/.470; .810; 32 HR; 108 RBI
2014 Stats: 162 G; .253/.320/.404; .724; 22 HR; 91 RBI
2015 Outlook: The other player is Longoria. Longoria played in all 162 games in 2014; he also played 160 games in 2013. Any type of injury skepticism about drafting him should be all but erased.
That being said, Tampa Bay’s lineup isn’t the best. Longoria’s statistics per 162 games are enticing: .271/.351/.494/.845; 31 HR; 107 RBI. He won’t be a 30/100 player because the Rays are in the midst of a serious retool, but he’ll safely finish somewhere in the top four among 3B in fantasy.
2015 Projections: 160 G; .285/.325/.440; .765; 28 HR; 105 RBI
2014 Stats: 148 G; .324/.388/.492; .879; 19 HR; 77 RBI
2015 Outlook: Beltre isn’t in a big decline, but there are subtle signs that he is declining – he has lost range fielding his position in recent seasons and the power numbers have come down a bit from his early Texas levels (thanks Father Time). Beltre hit less than 28 home runs in 2014 for the first time in four seasons.
Beltre is still an attractive fantasy option because, aside from Longoria, he is the most consistent and reliable producer at the position. He has hit at least .300 in four of his last five seasons, which only a handful of players have done in that same time frame — .300 hitters are scarce nowadays.
2015 Projections: 138 G; .295/.365/.450; .815; 24 HR; 85 RBI
2014 Stats: 153 G; .287/.351/.473; .824; 21 HR; 83 RBI
2015 Outlook: The most incredible Anthony Rendon stat that you don’t know about is: he finished 5 in the National League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2014. He played 98 games in 2013, and improved his numbers all across the board from 2013 to 2014.
Rendon is elite defensively as well, and his 6.5 Wins Above Replacement was 4th among all NL players in 2014. Don’t hesitate to grab a high pick on him; he’s a complete and mature player.
2015 Projections: 162 G; .285/.385/.470; .855; 25 HR; 92 RBI
2014 Stats: 159 G; .268/.334/.454; .788; 25 HR; 96 RBI
2015 Outlook: He is quietly baseball’s most underrated player. He has improved his average, power numbers and fielding in each of his first three seasons. He is trending higher than Josh Donaldson was at the same age.
In December 2014, Seager signed a seven-year, $100 million contract extension. It may seem like a lot of money until you realize it lasts until Seager is 34 – about the age where third basemen start to decline rapidly – and he is only being paid $14-plus million per season. Market value for a potential top five third baseman is more than that, probably in excess of $18 million, so the Mariners locked up their star ahead of time at a slight hometown discount.
2015 Projections: 162 G; .275/.325/.410; .735; 26 HR; 94 RBI
2014 Stats: 82 G; .278/.324/.431; .755; 12 HR; 32 RBI
2015 Outlook: Orioles manager Buck Showalter says Machado is having an outstanding Spring Training. I’m inclined to believe one of baseball’s best managers about the opinion of his budding star.
The 22-year-old dynamic personality has MVP potential if he can stay healthy for close to 162 games. If you’re going to reach for a player, reach for the stars with Manny.
2015 Projections: 158 G; .300/.345/.410; .755; 20 HR; 100 RBI
2014 Stats: 111 G; .287/.328/.500; .828; 18 HR; 61 RBI
2015 Outlook: This ranking is criminal and might look even worse after 2015 is over. Arenado’s season was cut short due to pneumonia. Arenado is truly one of baseball’s rising stars and is the Manny Machado of the National League – he already has two Gold Gloves to his credit.
Arenado improves at the plate each season. .300 isn’t a crazy expectation, although it’s likely he’ll plateau at .290. If he stays healthy for a full season, 25 home runs seem likely; this would make him higher than the 8th best player at his position in fantasy.
2015 Projections: 156 G; .290/.340/.400; .740; 25 HR; 95 RBI
2014 Stats: 134 G; .269/.324/.374; .698; 8 HR; 63 RBI
2015 Outlook: On paper: Wright is in the Donaldson/Longoria/Beltre tier of consistent third basemen. The problem that drops him a few spots is that his power numbers aren’t in their class.
That’s why the Mets decided to move the fences in at Citi Field again. If Wright can hit close to 20 home runs, he will finish in the top five in fantasy.
2015 Projections: 154 G; .310/.325/.390; .715; 20 HR; 90 RBI
2014 Stats: 158 G; .272/.375/.375; .750; 8 HR; 59 RBI; *95 walks led MLB*
2015 Outlook: The two-time All-Star’s value comes in his ability to just get to the plate – he led the majors with 709 plate appearances last season as well as 95 walks. He doesn’t provide much in the power department, but his reliability, multiple-position eligibility – he can play 2B and OF if need be – and ability to eclipse 160 hits make him a steady, safe presence for fantasy purposes.
2015 Projections: 160 G; .265/.345/.360; .705; 10 HR; 75 RBI
2014 Stats: 157 G; .279/.324/.415; .739; 16 HR; 73 RBI
2015 Outlook: The Red Sox signed away the three-time World Series champion and former San Francisco Giant away. Now, where to play him? With Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts in the fold, it’s likely that Sandoval could see some time at DH – oh wait, Mike Napoli is still in Boston… There’s always first base.
Sandoval’s weight concerns also shouldn’t be an issue. He has never played in less than 108 games and played in 157 games in 2014. The issue is: where do his at-bats come from?
2015 Projections: 145 G; .255/.310/.375; .685; 22 HR; 84 RBI
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2014 Stats: 61 G; .280/.342/.449; .790; 5 HR; 38 RBI
2015 Outlook: The “Z Man” is entering his 11th season. 2014 was the first season where Zimmerman missed a considerable amount of time due to injury. He is moving to first base, but will still retain his third base eligibility for the time being.
2015 Projections: 152 G; .275/.320/.345; .665; 17 HR; 88 RBI
2014 Stats: 152 G; .231/.365/.427; .792; 27 HR; 85 RBI
2015 Outlook: The signing of Brandon Moss should take away some of his starts at 1B and move him to DH. That’s a good thing for Santana because it will keep him fresher – also because his defense at 1B was never good.
His more controlled reps at first means it will boost his WAR, and increase his value overall. As a hitter, he will challenge his 1st 30 HR/100 RBI season.
2015 Projections: 155 G; .245/.330/.425; .655; 32 HR; 85 RBI
2014 Stats: 122 G; .231/.312/.405; .717; 18 HR; 56 RBI
2015 Outlook: A bad foot took the legs out of Alvarez’s 2014 season. Alvarez was essentially on pace to match his 2012 and 2013 output. When Alvarez is healthy, it’s hard to rely on him for much, but he hits 30 home runs, and in an era where home runs are becoming an increasingly rare commodity, he provides a stable source of power.
2015 Projections: 128 G; .225/.350/.400; .750; 27 HR; 75 RBI
2014 Stats: 140 G; .212/.271/.361; .632; 15 HR; 54 RBI
2015 Outlook: The boldest ranking on this list considering “Moose” was sent down to Triple-A last season. Call it a hunch, but Moustakas’ run at the plate through the Playoffs last season was no fluke. He wasn’t overly impressive with a .239..259/.558 slash line, but he seemed the most comfortable at the plate he had ever looked in his major league career. Catching three separate starts against Madison Bumgarner in the World Series – Bumgarner pitched five innings in Game 7, although he didn’t “start” the game so it acts as the equivalent as a start in this case – probably hurt his overall production.
The American League Central is noticeably stronger and the East and West is a mixed bag. If Moustakas is going to finally put it all together, it will be in his age-27 season.
2015 Projections: 156 G; .255/.320/.390; .710; 24 HR; 82 RBI
2014 Stats: 135 G; .243/.328/.372; .700; 13 HR; 49 RBI; *with both San Diego and New York*
2015 Outlook: Headley hit .229 with the Padres before a mid-season trade to New York. As a Yankee, he hit .262/.371/.398 to end the season and was a better hitter in the second half than he was in the first half. Headley is a lefty who benefits from the short porch in Yankee Stadium. His numbers won’t blow you off the charts, but playing half of his games in the Bronx means he can probably remain a .260 hitter while hitting 15-20 home runs and driving in 75-85 runs.
2015 Projections: 146 G; .245/.330/.365; .695; 18 HR; 72 RBI
2014 Stats: 127 G; .196/.300/.404; .704; 26 HR; 72 RBI
2015 Outlook: Davis is in that crop of players are all players who will have 3B eligibility, but probably barely play the position. Obviously he’s a 1B, but he’d be a solid spot start at 3B here and there throughout the season.
Davis only played 127 games in 2014. In addition to his terrible season where he struggled to hit above the Mendoza line for most of the way, he was suspended in September for amphetamine use.
The good news is, from 2011-13 since the Orioles acquired Davis, he hit .276, .270 and .280 in each season respectively. Davis just turned 29 on March 17th. He’s in the prime of his career, and he’s somewhere in between the player that broke out and finished third in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2013 and the player that fell off a cliff in 2014. Expect Davis to post his 2012 numbers.
2015 Projections: 138 G; .265/.370/.425; .795; 28 HR; 86 RBI
2014 Stats: *Did not play in the Major Leagues in 2014*
2015 Outlook: The Chicago Cubs have a tough decision ahead of them: does Bryant start with the Major League club on Opening Day? Bryant is absurdly mashing the ball in Spring Training and looks as ready for the big show as a bopper can get.
2015 Projections: 128 G; .235/.280/.355; .635; 22 HR; 68 RBI
2014 Stats: 157 G; .273/.336/.459; .795; 29 HR; 80 RBI
2015 Outlook: This is an extremely unkind ranking to Frazier, but he is also one of those players who fall under the multiple-position eligibility category.
Frazier is the biggest beneficiary of Joey Votto’s health issues. If Frazier isn’t playing 1B, he’s playing 1B. He’s proved to be durable and consistent playing 150 and 157 games in his last two seasons.
He won’t hit 29 home runs again, but he’ll challenge 20 home runs, drive in 70 and be the consistent in the middle of the Reds’ order that drives in Billy Hamilton a bunch of times through the course of an entire 2015 season.
2015 Projections: 154 G; .265/.320/.385; .705; 24 HR; 76 RBI
2014 Stats: 148 G; .259/.306/.394; .700; 11 HR; 66 RBI
2015 Outlook: Castellanos is a prime breakout candidate in 2015. He was a fast-riser in the Minor Leagues and could follow in fellow Tiger J.D. Martinez’s footsteps. After adjustments to his swing, Castellanos may bump his average up into the .270/.280 range while challenging 20 home runs.
2015 Outlook: 158 G; .270/.320/.390; .710; 16 HR; 72 RBI
2014 Stats: 144 G; .240/.297/.362; .660; 12 HR; 46 RBI
2015 Outlook: Bogaerts has both shortstop and third base eligibility.
In 2014, Bogaerts was great until the beginning of June… until the sophomore slump finally hit him. At the end of August he was batting .224, but recovered nicely with a 30-hit September that raised his average 16 points up to .240.
The Red Sox signed the aforementioned Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, which should take a slight burden off of Bogaerts’ shoulders, allowing him to continue to develop properly. It will also put him in a position for more RBI opportunities and to see better pitches – something a talented young player likes to see.
2015 Outlook: 162 G; .265/.330/.375; .705; 15 HR; 60 RBI