2023 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

by Connor Thomure
2023 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

Welcome to the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview.

We are less than two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training 2023. It's been a quick offseason with exciting free-agent signings that have kept fans engaged. However, we are ready for the action to begin!

Third base is now a position that is surprisingly deep in Fantasy Baseball. If it was possible, one could easily fill an entire Fantasy team with just third basemen and feel confident about winning. Unfortunately, that's not the case. You can only pick two or three. However, the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview is here to help Fantasy Baseball managers decide which third basemen to target this year and where to target them.

Among the topics discussed are sleepers to target, players on the rise, and players on the decline. Also, I rank the top third basemen and discuss Ke'Bryan Hayes and why he is draftable. Fantasy managers should expect at least four third basemen to be drafted in the first two rounds this year.

The Average Draft Position (ADP) is taken from FantasyPros Consensus ADP.

2023 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

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Ranking the Top Third Basemen

Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Guardians

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Jose Ramirez is the unquestioned top third baseman for another season and our staff rankings agree. It's been three straight years of him leading the position. However, his statistics were down from 2021 to 2022. Despite this, Fantasy managers can still expect him to finish as a top-five batter in 2023.

Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

Manny Machado was the only third baseman to finish with 100 runs and 100 RBI in 2022, but can he do it again in 2023? The answer is a resounding yes. The Padres lost Brandon Drury, Josh Bell, and Wil Myers this offseason but replaced them with Matt Carpenter, Nelson Cruz, and Xander Bogaerts. The expected return of Fernando Tatis Jr. will also bolster this lineup.

With these additions, the Padres remain one of the best lineups in MLB. Expect Machado to repeat his 100 runs and 100 RBI season and finish as a top-two third baseman.

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

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Since Nolan Arenado joined the Cardinals in 2021, Fantasy managers have discounted his Fantasy value. However, heading into his third season in St. Louis, Arenado is poised to have his best season with the birds.

The addition of Willson Contreras and the expected return of a healthy Tyler O'Neill will push Arenado over 100 runs for the first time since 2019. An increase in production from their young players, such as Dylan Carlson, Juan Yepez, and Brendan Donovan, will also go a long way in making Arenado the third-best third baseman in 2023.

Expect Arenado to belt 30+ homers, score 100+ runs, and drive in 100+ RBI.

Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves

Austin Riley ranks as Fantasy Baseball's fourth-best third baseman for 2023. Riley is just a step behind Arenado primarily due to his higher strikeout percentage. Despite striking out nearly 25 percent of the time, Riley can still bash 35+ home runs, score 100 runs, and drive in 100 RBI.

At just 25 years old, Riley cemented himself as a top-four third baseman in MLB and a second-round pick in Fantasy Baseball drafts.

Behind Riley are Rafael Devers and Alex Bregman. If one misses out on the top 4, they should be just as happy with landing Devers or Bregman.

Should You Draft Ke'Bryan Hayes

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Yes, Fantasy Baseball managers should draft Ke'Bryan Hayes. He is already one of the best defensive players in baseball, but Hayes has had a tough time trying to make himself a reliable batter. In 2022 Hayes slashed .244/.314/.345 with just seven home runs, 55 runs, and 41 RBI in 560 plate appearances.

Part of the reason for the lack of home runs is his extremely high groundball rate of 49.4%, third most among all third basemen. Hayes also recorded the second-lowest flyball rate among third basemen. If Hayes can figure out how to hit more flyballs, he can be a legit top-of-the-order bat.

Hayes still carried value due to his impressive 20 stolen bases. If he can reach that number again this season, he'll be worth a pick in the middle rounds of Fantasy Baseball drafts. However, the bigger question is how good he can be if he figures his swing out.

Fantasy managers should draft Hayes this season. He has tons of potential. He will play almost every day while batting behind Bryan Reynolds and O'Neil Cruz. The Pirates added veterans Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, and Ji-man Choi to protect Hayes.

Sleepers to Target

Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays

Yandy Diaz signed a 3-year contract extension worth $24M with the Tampa Bay Rays. This move cements Diaz as their everyday third baseman. Diaz will likely start 2023 as the leadoff hitter as well. The Rays finished 2022 with the 10th fewest runs scored in MLB, but Yandy Diaz recorded a career-high 71 runs.

He can build on that and get close to 100 this season. This is partly due to the hope that Wander Franco can play an entire season. Franco played in just 83 games in 2022, and if he can stay healthy, he will significantly impact Diaz's Fantasy potential.

Fantasy managers are selecting Diaz at the end of the standard 12-team drafts. At this price, he is worth it, and I'm willing to pick him up a few rounds before his 268 ADP.

Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels

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Rendon is a high-risk player this Fantasy Baseball season. This is due to him playing just 105 games combined in the last two seasons. The injuries have caused his ADP to fall to 226 this season.

Rendon is the top sleeper at this ADP. If he stays healthy, there is no doubt he can return to his 100 runs, 100 RBI 2019 form.

The additions of Brandon Drury and Hunter Renfroe are two more reasons to like Rendon heading into the season. These two will be batting behind Rendon and will be a contributing factor to him reaching 100 runs.

Josh Rojas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Josh Rojas had a sneaky good season in 2022, and he's still under the radar for the 2023 season. His ADP is at 201.3, good for 17th among third-base eligible players.

In 2022 he slashed .269/.349/.391 with 66 runs, 56 RBI, and 23 stolen bases across 510 plate appearances. He finished with the second most stolen bases, and 17th most runs among all third basemen. He posted these stats, despite missing 33 games in April and May due to an oblique injury.

Rojas is the perfect candidate if a Fantasy manager needs stolen bases late in the draft.

Players on the Rise

Spencer Steer, Cincinnati Reds

Spencer Steer is unlikely to be drafted in many leagues this year, but he is still on the rise. Steer will begin 2023 as the Reds starting third baseman and provide some Fantasy value.

FanGraphs projections have Steer slashing .240/.316/.431 with 19 home runs across 490 plate appearances. He's also projected to score 55 runs and 61 RBI. These numbers aren't earth-shattering, but Steer can help Fantasy managers throughout the season.

Josh Jung, Texas Rangers

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Josh Jung is one of the top third basemen on the rise. He comes in as the number 34 prospect in all of baseball and the fourth-best third baseman, according to MLB.com. In my opinion, however, Jung should be second on that list, only behind Gunnar Henderson.

Jake Burger, Chicago White Sox

Jake Burger doesn't fit the same bill as the other third basemen on the rise. This is because Burger is the only one without a starting position. Burger is still behind Yoan Moncada on the White Sox depth chart. But Moncada is coming off a career-worst season, and if he doesn't rebound, Burger could take over.

Burger has recorded 225 plate appearances in two seasons with the White Sox. He's belted nine home runs and scored 25 runs and 29 RBI.

Jose Miranda, Minnesota Twins

In his rookie season, Jose Miranda did plenty to impress fans and Fantasy managers in 2022. He slashed .268/.325/.426 with 15 home runs, 45 runs, and 66 RBI across 483 plate appearances. Expect him to build on that and improve this season.

Players on the Decline

Eduardo Escobar, New York Mets

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Heading into 2023, Eduardo Escobar is expected to be the Mets starting third baseman. However, he will likely fall into a platoon with Luis Guillorme and Brett Baty if he fails to produce.

Escobar has tiptoed the line of Fantasy relevance the last couple of seasons, and this may be his final year of being a relevant Fantasy Baseball commodity.

Josh Donaldson, New York Yankees

Fantasy managers have severe doubts about Josh Donaldson. At 37 years old, Donaldson appears to be unrosterable moving forward. His production fell from 2021 to 2022, including career-worst strikeout and walk rates.

Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox

Moncada is coming off the worst season of his career and could be headed toward splitting playing time with Burger. FantasyPros currently lists his ADP at 304, meaning Moncada is undrafted in standard 12-team leagues.

Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers

Max Muncy is coming off a career-worst season like the others in this section. Unlike the others, however, his starting position is not being threatened by a younger player. His current ADP is 141.7, good for 10th among third basemen. Despite Muncy having a relatively safe grasp on Dodger's third base job, Fantasy managers should stay away this season.

Some players I'm willing to pass on Muncy for are Alec Bohm, Jose Miranda, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Josh Rojas, and Anthony Rendon.


Thank you for reading the 2023 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview. Be prepared for the upcoming season by checking out all the Fantasy Baseball content on Fantasy Six Pack.

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1 comment

Joe Mowry February 4, 2023 - 7:57 pm

Great article.

Reply

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