It should be noted in this series that players are listed at their primary position. Sometimes that can get hairy because a number of players have multiple position flexibility. That has a dramatic impact on their draft stock and that isn’t necessarily reflected in the positional rankings. Third base and right field are the deepest positions in fantasy baseball. So, a primary third baseman that is eligible elsewhere will almost certainly be more valuable at that other slot. We will try to indicate that as often as we can individually, but we may forget in some isolated situations.
For those just joining us, we are using five different projection systems and combining them into one aggregate projection for each player. They all use computer algorithms to come up with their projections, so they are normally pretty close anyway.
Rafael Devers–Boston Red Sox
Projection: .294/32 HR/101 Runs/103 RBI/8 SB
Confirmation bias is a huge problem in analysis. The Red Sox have been swept into the sign stealing scandal. Opposing fans will be tempted to use lesser numbers as proof that a team or player was cheating. In reality, there are any number of factors that play a role. Mookie Betts is gone. The ball might be less juiced. Sometimes opposing pitchers find a hole in the player’s approach. At any rate, Devers is likely just as good as he was last season, but the numbers may not show it.
Nolan Arenado–Colorado Rockies
Projection: .298/40 HR/101 Runs/118 RBI/3 SB
The rumors of a move for Arenado were overblown. For him it might have been the best thing in his career personally. For fantasy owners it would have been a disaster. In Coors Field, Arenado is a certain Hall of Famer. Anywhere else he might appear more normal. Here’s to another great season a mile above sea level.
Alex Bregman–Houston Astros
Projection: .288/33 HR/108 Runs/104 RBI/7 SB
Keep in mind the previous caveat. Bregman is also eligible at shortstop in most platforms. That could vault him to the top spot at that position. When you combine the flexibility he could be a first rounder. People will question his production in light of the offseason news.
Jose Ramirez–Cleveland Indians
Projection: .278/30 HR/95 Runs/99 RBI/26 SB
After the first couple of months last season, he was the same guy he had been the previous two seasons. Like Bregman, he is eligible at another position where his value might be higher. In his case it is second base. The Indians might not be quite as competitive next season, but as one of the few third basemen that can steal bases, he should still have some good value.
Manny Machado–San Diego Padres
Projection: .272/35 HR/89 Runs/101 RBI/7 SB
Last season appeared to be a down season for Machado, but the bigger problem was likely a move to one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball. The Padres are on the come and they have a few more good hitters in the lineup to provide some protection. Those factors aren’t as pronounced as people think, but it should be a better season for him.
Anthony Rendon–Los Angeles Angels
Projection: .284/28 HR/94 Runs/99 RBI/4 SB
The problem for Rendon has always been staying on the field. People will focus on joining Mike Trout and that’s certainly a quality one-two punch, but the Nationals may have had a stronger all around offense. If he’s healthy he will hit and produce no matter who is around him.
Kris Bryant–Chicago Cubs
Projection: .273/30 HR/99 Runs/87 RBI/5 SB
Bryant is a fascinating case for any number of reasons. There were trade rumors in the offseason, but those have died down for now. As a fantasy prospect he is a bit of an enigma. He has great patience and power potential, but he also has underwhelmed the last couple of seasons. On the other hand, he is eligible at first base in some formats and the outfield in almost all of them.
Eugenio Suarez–Cincinnati Reds
Projection: .260/37 HR/87 Runs/101 RBI/3 SB
One of the unmentioned elements in fantasy sports is the element of time. Suarez might not be healthy for the first couple of weeks of the season and that could kill his draft stock. If it does he could end up being a bargain. The Reds have a great lineup and he is a masher. He’s not as refined as the guys above him, but he is almost as productive.
Josh Donaldson–Minnesota Twins
Projection: .260/32 HR/91 Runs/92 RBI/4 SB
The Twins hit more than 300 home runs last season. It is hard to imagine them doing that again, but their offense might be even better with Donaldson on board. It’s hard to imagine any lineup where he would have more protection than he has there.
Yoan Moncada–Chicago White Sox
Projection: .269/26 HR/89 Runs/81 RBI/13 SB
The White Sox are one of the “it” teams of the future. They added Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnacion and Luis Robert is ready to burst on the scene. Add that to Eloy Jimenez and a solid Nomar Mazara and Jose Abreu and this lineup could be one of the more underrated lineups in the American League.
Matt Chapman–Oakland Athletics
Projection: .251/34 HR/94 Runs/93 RBI/2 SB
If defensive runs saved were a sixth category he would be a top five fantasy third baseman. At any other position he might be close. This is just how deep third base is. The A’s keep knocking on the door and 2020 might be the year they kick it in. Batting average is the only real problem here, but he does draw walks which would help in six category formats.
Jeff McNeil–New York Mets
Projection: .290/20 HR/84 Runs/74 RBI/8 SB
McNeil is another fantasy enigma. On the one hand, he is about as positionally flexible as any player in the game. He should be eligible at third base, second base, and the outfield. He might play there again this season. Yet, you can’t help but look at those numbers last season and wonder if they are a mirage. Smaller guys like him tend to take a step back in terms of power.
Eduardo Escobar–Arizona Diamondbacks
Projection: .265/27 HR/81 Runs/94 RBI/4 SB
In a standard 12 team mixed league he could be a fantasy backup or utility player. That’s mind boggling when you look at his numbers the past two seasons. The Diamondbacks added Starling Marte, so they should be even more potent this year. Still, if the juiced ball goes away his power numbers could too.
Justin Turner–Los Angeles Dodgers
Projection: .285/23 HR/79 Runs/76 RBI/3 SB
Health has been the main factor that has kept Turner from being a starting fantasy third baseman. That and the fact that the Dodgers are the deepest team in sports. They don’t have a ton of star power beyond Betts and Bellinger, but they have a ton of solid performers that seem to be interchangeable. That could eat into his at bats some.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.–Toronto Blue Jays
Projection: .291/25 HR/79 Runs/88 RBI/2 SB
The computers aren’t in love with Guerrero yet, but the computers also don’t watch him hit. He hits more balls hard than anyone and eventually that will translate into monster numbers. He will likely get drafted higher than this and deservedly so. The question is how long it will take him to reach his awesome potential.
Author’s Note: “The Hall of Fame Index Part II” is now available in paperback and Kindle formats. You can pre-order your digital copy for 5.99 or get your hands on the paperback for 14.99 now here. You can also feel free to order any of my other books there as well.