2022 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

by Charles Vakassian
2022 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

MLB may be in a lockout right now, but that doesn't mean we can't talk baseball! Welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview, where this time around we will be discussing the outlook at the hot corner.

Be sure to check out our Fantasy Baseball content, where we got you covered with draft prep, dynasty baseball, and prospect rankings.

The third base spot is one of the weaker positions in fantasy baseball. Some touted youngsters did not make the jump, and other reliable players took a bigger step back. For the sake of consistency, we will be looking at players whose primary position is third base. So players like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will not be discussed here, as he is primarily a first baseman.

Third base was incredibly top-heavy in 2021, with a small cadre of players performing at an elite level. Jose Ramirez was his usual superstar self, and Austin Riley exploded onto the scene along with Rafael Devers. Elsewhere, Alex Bregman suffered a dropoff, only hitting 12 home runs, and DJ LeMahieu was a huge regression victim, barely hitting over .250.

2022 will be fun to see, as there are some key free agents who need homes, and some prospects could make the leap to bigs, similar to Wander Franco.

2022 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

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Can Austin Riley repeat his remarkable 2021 season?

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Austin Riley was the breakout star of the position, as he put together a season that got him ranked 7th in MVP votes. Riley was the only third basemen to hit over .300, cranked 33 homers, and drove in 107 runs.

Riley also isn't typically a high average hitter, as he hit .250 or worse in his first two seasons, and never hit close to .300 in the minors. He also saw a ridiculous increase of 88 points in BABIP and does not walk as much, with a BB% of 7.2 in his career.

Riley is in line for some regression this season, and should probably be avoided at his ADP of 45. He will still be a good source of power and run production, but at his current ADP, I will not be going out of my way to invest in him. There will be other players I can target later in the draft who can give me good production at a better value.

Will anyone challenge Jose Ramirez at the top?

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Jose Ramirez has been the top dog at third base for what seems like a long time. He certainly backed up that nation with a strong 2021. Ramirez batted .266, with 36 home runs, 104 runs batted in, and 33 doubles.

Perhaps his most impressive stat was the 27 stolen bases, at a position where speed is scarce. Ramirez also rarely strikes out, and he has never struck out more than 87 times in a single season. Put all of that together, and he is the top third basemen on the board, and has an argument for being the first player taken in your drafts. While Ramirez is at the head of the pack for now, lets look at some names that could potentially overtake him.

Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox

If Jose Ramirez wasn't around, we would be talking about how Rafael Devers is the number one third base option in fantasy. He led the position in home runs (38) runs batted in (112) and runs (100). He was top 5 in average (.281) doubles (36) walks (62) and hits (162).

One could argue Devers should be at the top of the rankings, but a high strikeout total (140) and a lack of speed (no stolen bases) puts him behind Ramirez. He is still a great target for redraft league as a high pick. For dynasty purposes, he is number two behind only Ramirez. But a really good 2022 season could put him at the front of the pack.

Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

Machado had what felt like a quietly good year for the Padres. His average took a dip of 26 points, down to .278, but he hit 28 h0me runs and drove in 106 runs. He also scored 92 runs and cracked 31 doubles.

Machado is also very good at staying on the field, as he has played in at least 150 games in each of the last seven seasons. His hard hit ball percentage went up, as did his BABIP, which suggests he had some bad luck at the plate.

Expect some positive regression for Machado in the average and extra base hit department, and he will be a top five player at the position regardless.

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

Arenado was able to bounce back from a very subpar 2020, and post his usual elite numbers we are accustomed to seeing. The average was lower than expected, but the 34 homers and 105 runs batted in were typical Arenado numbers.

Another plus was the lowered strikeout totals, as Arenado struck out less than 100 times for the third consecutive season. However, the walk numbers were low, and it cost him some points in the OBP category. With his first full season in St. Louis now under his belt, Arenado should be fully adjusted and ready to get back at it.

Take him at his ADP of 61 and run with it. Just accept that playing away from Coors has hurt him a bit, and he may not be the Arenado we saw from 2015-19.

Who are some late-round steals fantasy managers should grab?

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Abraham Toro, Seattle Mariners

Perhaps you have decided to wait on third base, and focus your early attention onto another position. If this is the case, there some names you should keep an eye, including Abraham Toro. Toro came to Seattle from the Astros at the trade deadline, and started out hot, but slowed down by the end of the year.

However, there were some positives. His strikeout percentage dropped all the way down to 13 percent, and his hard hit and line drive percentages saw an increase. His BABIP was .275, suggesting he was the victim of some bad luck.

He is only 25, and Seattle's coaching staff could help lead him figure some things out. At an ADP of 416, he is someone you can wait for and scoop up for a great deal.

Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies

Bohm came up and flashed in a cameo in 2020, hitting .338 with a 137 OPS+ and an .881 OPS. 2021 was not kind to him though, as he really struggled, hitting only .247 and striking out almost 27 percent of the time.

Interestingly enough, his hard hit percentage went up, and his groundball percentage went down. His BABIP was .327, suggesting he was really hitting into bad luck. The Phillies have brought in a new hitting coach, and told Bohm to focus on regaining his power stroke, which he excelled at in the minors.

With an ADP of  290, you can grab Bohm in the later rounds of your draft, and trust that the former top prospect has figured out his stroke.

Players on the Rise

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Ke'Bryan Hayes, Piitsburgh Pirates

Much like Alec Bohm, Hayes burst onto the scene in 2020, raking to the tune of a .376 average and a .442 OBP. His 2021 was a bit of a downgrade, as he struggled with injuries and only hit .257 with a higher groundball percentage. His BABIP was .321, which leads me to believe Hayes should have been better than what his outlying number suggest.

Hayes is a former top prospect who is known for his bat, and the ability to spray the ball all over the field. Hayes is the third basemen of the present and future in Pittsburgh, and is a great add later in your drafts. An ADP of 157 is an excellent spot to grab a player who will have every opportunity to succeed, with nobody behind him on the depth chart.

Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals

The fantasy community seems to be conflicted on Mondesi, but I like what he brings to the table. In category leagues, his speed is a useful tool for garnering stolen bases. He was able to collected 24 to lead the league in the shortened 2020 season, and he had 43 the year before. That same speed helps him get extra base hits that other players may not be able to attain, especially in the triples category.

For points leagues, you may want to knock Mondesi down a peg, but he is still an incredibly useful player with his best years ahead. If he can stay on the field (admittedly a big if) he has the potential to be a league winner, especially at an ADP of 70.

Players on the Horizon

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Josh Jung, Texas Rangers

The Rangers' number two prospect, and number 48 in all of baseball, Josh Jung is on the doorstep of making the big leagues. He would have made an impact in the majors last year if it wasn't for suffering a fractured foot. Over the course of Jung's minor league career, he has hit .326, with 19 homers, 22 doubles, and a .990 OPS. Simply staggering numbers for a prospect who is clearly ready to take over the starting third base job in Texas.

Jung is an excellent line-drive hitter who has discovered his power stroke. Jung may not start out of the gate, as the Rangers made splash free-agent signings by bringing in Marcus Semien and Corey Seager.

As those superstars will man the middle infield, it pushes Isiah Kiner-Falefa to third for now. But make no mistake, Jung is ticketed for the big leagues in 2022, and he will make an immediate impact as a high OBP bat with pop. He is a great late round target for redraft leagues, and is absolutely a player you should be targeting in dynasty.

Brett Baty, New York Mets

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A lot of the top third base prospects around baseball aren't quite ready for the bright lights yet, but Brett Baty isn't one of them. With the Mets having some question marks at third base, the time could be ripe for Baty to take over and plant himself in the lineup for the long run.

Baty profiles as a power hitter, who could be good for 25-30 homers a year. He also has an excellent eye at the plate, and has a career .377 OBP in the minor leagues. The slugger does have some areas of concern, as he was striking out over a quarter of the time. He also had high groundball percentage, aspects to keep an eye on.

If he is able to decrease those numbers and keep raking at the plate, he will get a call up to the majors in 2022. This makes him an intriguing stash for redraft and dynasty leagues.

Players to Avoid

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Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

How the mighty have fallen. Once an top prospect and elite fantasy producer, Bregman has seen his production falter. He has suffered from injuries, and the scars from the Astros' cheating scandal still linger. Bregman was one of the many players implicated in the scandal, and the numbers make you wonder. In the two years since the scandal, Bregman has seen his batting splits suffer a dramatic drop, from .281/.377/.507 all the way down to .261/.353/.431. Those are still solid numbers for fantasy, but the ADP of 76 is too high for such middling production. You would be better off waiting for a sleeper later in the draft, or getting one of the studs early.

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Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins

Donaldson has typically been a reliable bat when healthy, and he gave the Twins just that last year. Donaldson only hit .247, but cracked 26 homers and drove in 73 runs. While this is all fine and good, Donaldson is simply getting towards the age where you wonder when the other shoe will drop. He is 36, and closer to the end than the beginning.

Combine that with the fact that the Twins are in a bit of a rebuild, and it may be the beginning of the end. Minnesota may want to give an extended look at top prospects Austin Martin and Jose Miranda.

I could be wrong by the end of the year, but my gut says to stay away from Donaldson. The average isn't there, and he offers nothing beyond some home runs and RBIs. Go get someone early or try for a value pick like Gio Urshela or Eduardo Escobar.

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