2024 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

by Alex Welch
2024 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

It's time for the 2024 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview.

A major source of power for fantasy leagues, 15 players with third-base eligibility hit 20+ home runs in 2023, and 15 finished with 70+ RBI. Overall, though, the position didn't quite live up to its hype if we compare last season's rankings and ADP to end-of-season results.

But there are plenty of rising stars at the hot corner, along with some of the most polarizing profiles in all of fantasy baseball. Yes, of course, I'm talking about Elly De La Cruz. Should you take that risk this season? That's a major question explored below.

Be sure to check out the rest of the position previews here at Fantasy Six Pack, too.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Previews
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Now, as you prepare for another season, let's dive into the 2024 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Third Base Preview

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How Early Should You Grab a Third Baseman?

Third base could be viewed as a disappointment for the 2023 season. According to Razzball’s player rater, only four third basemen ranked in the top 50 last year, and only two cracked the top 30. Austin Riley ranked the highest at No. 14 overall.

The 2024 rankings reflect last year’s somewhat underwhelming campaign at third. F6P’s Joe Bond doesn’t have a third baseman in his top 10 rankings, and he only has five in the top 50.

So, it appears you can wait a bit on filling your third base spot in drafts. But, if you want to lock in one of the top options and not take any gambles, you likely need to grab a third baseman in the first four rounds of a 12-team draft.

Riley, Jose Ramirez, Rafael Devers, and Gunnar Henderson are your safest options. After them, you’re praying Elly De La Cruz pays off (more on that below), you’re hoping Royce Lewis stays healthy (again, see below), or you’re banking on stability from Alex Bregman and Manny Machado.

There’s plenty of power at third, but speed is tough to come by. Only five players with third-base eligibility cracked double digits in steals in 2023. Depending on your roster build, grabbing Ramirez or Henderson ahead of ADP could give you an edge there.

Where Do We Draft Elly De La Cruz?

Is this the top nominee for most polarizing player in fantasy leagues for 2024?

He exploded onto the scene when the Reds called him up last June, and that explosion diminished into maybe a small trash can fire by the end of the year.

First half: 135 PA, 4 HRs, 16 RBI, .325 average, 133 wRC+
Second half: 292 PA: 9 HRs, 28 RBI, .191 average, 62 wRC+

He struck out at a 36% clip after the All-Star break, and that even came with a big jump in his walk rate. The hit tool is a huge concern, leaving projections lackluster for 2024.

So let’s take THE BAT X’s projection of 17 HR, 36 SBs, and a .257 batting average. Who does that resemble? Bobby Witt Jr.’s first season with the Royals produced 20 HR, 30 SB, and a .254 batting average.

Do with that comparison what you will. Fantasy players seemed a bit ahead of the full Witt Jr. breakout in 2022, leaving him as a major value last season. Now he’s a top 5 pick. They’re certainly not the exact same player, but I could see this year being a letdown for many players who draft De La Cruz higher than ADP while building a better price point for 2025.

Are We Wildly Undervaluing Noelvi Marte?

Sticking with the Reds, Marte is another heralded prospect ready to make his mark in the majors. He saw 123 plate appearances with Cincinnati last season and batted .316 with three home runs, 15 RBI, and six stolen bases. Not bad for a first impression as a 21-year-old.

Power remains his most promising trait, but he looks like a guy who could be a five-category contributor in every league. His scouting report doesn’t detail promising speed, yet he posted a 29.1 ft/sec sprint speed in 2023. And his walk rate has consistently hovered around double digits, boosting his OBP value.

The biggest question is playing time. Roster Resource has Marte slotted in as the Reds starting third baseman right now, but all projections see him playing somewhere around 118 games. If he does lock down a starting gig in spring training, we’re looking at a potential 20/20 season.

Early NFBC data has Marte’s ADP at No. 160 – although one player actually drafted Marte No. 1 overall, so maybe that person is onto something. That puts him right behind Alec Bohm. I’m certainly taking a shot on Marte in this range.

Players on the Rise

Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins

If he could just stay healthy for a full season, Lewis would be quite a steal on draft day. He hit 19 home runs in 64 games last season counting the Twins postseason appearance. He showed good sprint speed (28.2 ft/sec) and a solid plate approach. What more could you want?

Oh, a full season, that’s right. Given his injury history, you will likely be able to get a better deal than you deserve on Lewis. If he manages to exceed his projected 130 games (some projections even have him at 138) he will be an anchor for your hitting stats.

Josh Jung, Texas Rangers

Jung experienced a full range of emotions during his first MLB season. He hit 12 homers with 37 RBI over 52 games to begin 2023. He started the All-Star Game for the American League. Then he fractured his thumb in August, returned in mid-September, and batted .196 in 13 games after that point.

But he caught fire again in the postseason as he batted .308 with three home runs and eight RBI to fuel the Rangers to a World Series title. Strikeouts remain a concern, but Jung could his 30 home runs with 100 RBI if he stays healthy in this dangerous lineup.

Players on the Decline

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

Arenado finished right behind…Alec Bohm in Razzball’s player rater for 2023. Ouch. Not to disparage Bohm’s improvement last season, but that’s nowhere in the ballpark of Arenado’s typical performance.

The Cardinals star failed to reach 30 home runs for the first time – outside of the shortened COVID season – since 2014. He posted a disappointing 107 wRC+, also his lowest mark since 2014. His current ADP sits in the 70s, but we’ll see if fantasy players feel even less optimistic as draft season picks up.

Yoán Moncada, Chicago White Sox

The juiced ball era might have duped us. Well, it duped me at least. Moncada looked like a potential five-category value after 2019. Now, he might not be drafted in many leagues.

He only played 92 games in 2023 and managed a .260 average with 11 home runs, one steal, and 98 wRC+. He never seems to be fully healthy and continues to strike out around 30% of the time. It’s sad to see how his career has progressed.

Players on the Horizon

Junior Caminero, Tampa Bay Rays

Caminero was a popular breakout pick in 2023, and he managed to beat expectations with a remarkable climb up prospect rankings. He embarrassed High-A pitching, batting .356 with 190 wRC+ in 36 games. He remained hot and showed his plus power at Double-A before getting a cup of coffee with the Rays to close the season.

He keeps his strikeouts in check, something you love to see from a big home run guy. Caminero should be a solid contributor in every category except steals. The biggest obstacle for him now is probably just being a Rays player.

Colt Keith, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers locked Keith up with a six-year contract worth $28.6 million guaranteed last month. They’re clearly excited about his potential to contribute in 2024, and fantasy players should be, too.

Similar to Caminero, Keith showed impressive power at High-A and Double-A last season while batting over .300 and keeping the strikeout rate at a manageable figure. If he has a strong spring training, he could start this year with the Tigers.

Players to Avoid

Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers

Maybe this is a personal vendetta after his streaky slugging spurned me at times last season. But Muncy is a three-outcome player who is aging and will eventually be forced into a platoon.

He posted a .642 OPS with 76 wRC+ against lefties last year. Some analysts made the case for a bounce back due to his low BABIP in 2022, but that mark was almost identical in 2023. He absolutely tanks your batting average. This is a tough stock for me to buy.

Eugenio Suárez, Arizona Diamondbacks

Suárez played all 162 games last season and posted his lowest home run total (22) since 2017, excluding the COVID season. He finished second in MLB with 214 strikeouts. The Diamondbacks traded for Suárez this offseason, and now he heads to an even less favorable ballpark for home runs.

You know what you're getting by drafting Suárez, except the prestigious power might be on the decline. Projections see him hitting 22-23 homers in 2024 with a sub-.230 average.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Previews
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The 2024 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview is in the books. Keep checking back on Fantasy Six Pack for more fantasy baseball content!

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