B/R's MLB 20 for '20: Projecting Top 20 Third Basemen in 2020

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2015

B/R's MLB 20 for '20: Projecting Top 20 Third Basemen in 2020

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Baseball is a tough sport to predict on a day-in and day-out basis, and it becomes exponentially more difficult to predict looking years into the future. But that's exactly what we're going to be doing here.

    The following is the fifth installment in a series we've dubbed, "B/R's MLB 20 for '20." In this series, we'll attempt to project the top 20 players at each position five years down the road in 2020.

    We've done catchersfirst basemen, second basemen and shortstops so far, so now we'll move on to the third basemen. Players will once again be graded according to a 100-point scale:

    • Offense (60 points): Third base is a bit more of an offensive-centric position than the middle infield spots, so the offensive points will be bumped up from 55 to 60 for this round. Contact rate, batting average, approach, on-base skills and overall power were all taken into account.
    • Defense/Speed (35 points): Middle infielders were awarded 40 points for defense and first basemen were given 30, so we'll go right in the middle with the third basemen. Speed on the bases was also factored heavily into this section.
    • Upside Factor (5 points): On a scale from 1-5, players were given a bonus based on their upside moving forward. A three-point bonus indicated that a player is expected to be at essentially the same level five years from now, while more or less than that indicated expected progression or regression.
    • Tiebreakers: On more than one occasion, players graded out with the same overall point total. In that case, the first tiebreaker was who had the higher upside factor. If that still didn't solve things, the second tiebreaker was overall offensive score.

    All basic statistics and WAR numbers come courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, while advanced stats were pulled from FanGraphsStats are current through July 16.

    Hopefully that paints a clear picture of how players were graded and where the information is coming from. So with that out of the way, let's get things started.

Honorable Mentions and Notable Veteran Exclusions

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Next Five

    Nick Castellanos, DET
    Hunter Dozier, KC
    Kyle Kubitza, LAA
    Renato Nunez, OAK
    Rio Ruiz, ATL

    Excluded Due to Age and Expected Regression

    Adrian Beltre, TEX
    David Freese, LAA
    Josh Harrison, PIT
    Evan Longoria, TB
    Trevor Plouffe, MIN
    Martin Prado, MIA
    Pablo Sandoval, BOS
    Justin Turner, LAD
    David Wright, NYM

20. Matt Duffy, San Francisco Giants

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    Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 29

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    36/60

    With Casey McGehee flopping as a replacement for Pablo Sandoval, the San Francisco Giants turned to Matt Duffy at the hot corner this season and he proved to be one of the biggest surprises of the first half.

    Viewed by some as a future utility infield type, Duffy has hit .293/.335/.462 with 13 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBI in 266 at-bats for a 2.6 WAR.

    He'll never have prototypical corner infielder power, but his peripheral numbers have been solid enough so far this year to think his first-half production is relatively sustainable.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    27/35

    Duffy came through the Giants' system as a shortstop, but his lack of range makes him better suited to play the hot corner. He's graded out well there so far, posting an 11.8 ultimate zone rating per 150 defensive games (UZR/150) and four defensive runs saved (DRS) this season.

    He had 20 stolen bases during his final season in the minors, but he'll probably top out as a 10-steal guy in the majors with solid instincts on the bases.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    The 24-year-old Duffy could still stand to tack some muscle onto his 6'2", 170-pound frame, which would lead to more power. As is, he's a solid all-around producer capable of being a steady everyday option.

    2020 Overall Projection

    66/100

    The emergence of Duffy has gone a long way in helping Giants fans forget about the aforementioned Sandoval, and the starting third base job looks to be all his moving forward.

19. Eric Jagielo, New York Yankees

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 28

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    39/60

    One of the top college bats in the 2013 draft, Eric Jagielo was taken with the No. 26 overall pick after a standout career at Notre Dame. He's not quite viewed in the same light as fellow Yankees prospects Aaron Judge and Greg Bird, but he has some solid offensive potential in his own right.

    He posted an .811 OPS with 14 doubles and 18 home runs spending most of last season at the High-A level, and he's continued to flash good power with an .842 OPS in Double-A this season.

    He has a good amount of swing-and-miss in his game, with a 24.1 percent career strikeout rate, but he also has some decent on-base skills and his power should play at the highest level.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    23/35

    Jagielo has some work to do on the defensive side of things, but he'll get every chance to stick at the position given a lack of other options in the Yankees system.

    "With well below-average speed and just average arm strength, Jagielo still has to prove he can stay at the hot corner. Some scouts think he's better suited for first base, though he's already the Yankees' most advanced third-base prospect and won't move anytime soon," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    2020 Upside Factor

    4/5

    Jagielo just reached the Double-A level for the first time at the age of 23, so he'll need to continue to hit to stay on track as a legitimate top prospect. His offensive profile offers enough upside to warrant a 4/5 here, though.

    2020 Overall Projection

    66/100

    The Yankees signed Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million deal this past offseason that runs through the 2018 season, but Jagielo could be challenging for a spot in some capacity at the big league level by 2017.

18. Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 29

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    36/60

    Jake Lamb was a .321/.408/.552 hitter in 247 career minor league games, and he's looked the part of an everyday third baseman so far since making the jump to the majors.

    He's currently hitting .280/.348/.408 with 10 extra-base hits and 17 RBI in 125 at-bats, as a foot injury cost him significant time, but he's back healthy now.

    Lamb topped out at 15 home runs during his time in the minors, and that's probably his ceiling in the big leagues. However, a good walk rate (12.0 percent) and consistent contact skills should allow him to post solid triple-slash numbers on a yearly basis.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    27/35

    Lamb has always graded out as a plus defender across the board, dating back to his time at the University of Washington.

    His terrific range has been on full display this season, as his 15.9 UZR/150 ranks third among all third basemen with at least 100 innings played at the position.

    2020 Upside Factor

    4/5

    Lamb has been much better than expected offensively since being taken in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, and at this point, the 24-year-old still has some upside as he settles in as an everyday big leaguer.

    2020 Overall Projection

    67/100

    The signing of Yasmany Tomas looked detrimental to Lamb when it was announced the Cuban would be tried at third base, but Thomas didn't have the glove to stick there. Lamb again looks like the Arizona Diamondbacks' long-term answer at the hot corner.

17. Colin Moran, Houston Astros

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    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    38/60

    The No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft, Colin Moran is a terrific pure hitter with an advanced approach, but he's still developing his all-around offensive game.

    Originally drafted by the Miami Marlins, Moran was traded to the Houston Astros at the deadline last year in part of the Jarred Cosart deal. The Astros immediately jumped him up to Double-A, and he remains on the fast track to the majors.

    Moran has hit .293/.346/.404 during his time in the minors to this point, and he has the tools to be a .300 hitter at the highest level. However, he's managed just 12 home runs in 900 plate appearances, despite a 6'4" and 215-pound frame that should eventually produce some solid power.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    24/35

    Moran is not the most gifted player athletically, but he's a steady fielder with soft hands and a strong throwing arm. He should have no trouble sticking at third base long term.

    His uncle (B.J. Surhoff) and brother (Brian Moran) both have big league experience, so his overall baseball IQ and feel for the game grade out as a plus as well.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Power will be the determining factor in whether Moran turns into an average big leaguer or a legitimate star, but at 22 years old, he still has plenty of time to put it all together.

    2020 Overall Projection

    67/100

    Luis Valbuena is currently holding down the third base position for the Astros, but he's nothing more than a stopgap until Moran is ready to make the jump to the majors. That could come as soon as next season, depending on his continued progression.

16. Richie Shaffer, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 29

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    41/60

    A highly productive college bat during his time at Clemson, Richie Shaffer has turned his raw power into legitimate on-field production since being taken No. 25 overall in the 2012 draft.

    He's in the middle of a huge season in the high minors, hitting .272/.363/.558 with 16 doubles and 21 home runs in 283 at-bats to earn a spot in the Futures Game.

    There's a fair amount of swing-and-miss to his game, with a 23.6 percent strikeout rate for his career, but he has the potential to be the power hitter the Tampa Bay Rays have long been seeking to join Evan Longoria in the middle of the lineup.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    24/35

    Shaffer has seen the bulk of his playing time at third base, and that's where he played in college. The tools are there for him to stick at the position, and a strong throwing arm is his biggest strength in the field.

    A move to first base or a corner outfield spot could eventually come, and he could develop the versatility the Rays have valued as much as any team in baseball over the years.

    2020 Upside Factor

    4/5

    The 24-year-old Shaffer is on the cusp of reaching the big leagues. He still has some work to do as far as his approach at the plate is concerned, but we may be seeing the ceiling of his offensive potential here this season.

    2020 Overall Projection

    69/100

    With Casey Gillaspie and Shaffer both knocking on the big league door, and Evan Longoria signed through the 2022 season, the Rays will have some decisions to make about their corner infield spots. For the time being, we'll still consider Shaffer a future third baseman.

15. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics

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    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    38/60

    A star for Cal State Fullerton, Matt Chapman posted a .910 OPS with 16 doubles and six home runs during his junior season, and the Oakland Athletics made him the No. 25 pick in the 2014 draft.

    He was sent to High-A Stockton for his first full season this year, and so far he's hit .259/.355/.557 with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 41 RBI in 228 at-bats.

    He generates good power with his line-drive swing and has shown an increased willingness to walk this season (3.5 to 11.2 percent walk rate). He's still striking out at a 22.7 percent clip, though, and will need to improve his contact skills for his power to play.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    26/35

    "Chapman's hands, actions and arm strength make him an excellent defender at third base," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    He's a solid all-around athlete with a strong 6'2", 205-pound frame, but he won't be much of a factor in the running game. So far, he has five stolen bases in seven attempts as a pro.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Chapman has the raw power to take a big leap forward if his pitch recognition and contact rate improve, and the 22-year-old could move quickly if and when that leap comes.

    2020 Overall Projection

    69/100

    Aside from the presence of 25-year-old Brett Lawrie at the major league level, Chapman will also have to battle fellow top prospect Renato Nunez for the long-term third base job. That being said, Chapman is a significantly better defender than Nunez and looks to have the edge at this point.

14. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 34

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    44/60

    Something of a late-bloomer, Matt Carpenter did not become an everyday player until his age-27 season.

    He exploded once he was given the chance, leading the NL in hits (199), doubles (55) and runs scored (126) to finish fourth in NL MVP voting during the 2013 season.

    He has not quite matched that level of production the past two seasons, but he remains one of the best on-base threats in the league. He's a clutch hitter and a terrific table-setter, and those skills should still be present five years down the road.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    25/35

    Carpenter began his career as a super-utility guy, spending time at first, second, third and both corner outfield spots during his 2012 rookie campaign.

    He's settled in at the hot corner, where he is about average defensively and certainly not a liability with the glove. Carpenter is a solid athlete, but he lacks plus speed, which makes him better suited as a No. 2 hitter than a leadoff guy.

    2020 Upside Factor

    1/5

    Carpenter will be entering his age-34 season five years from now, so he'll be on the downswing of his career at that point. However, without a major reliance on power or speed, he should still be a productive regular.

    2020 Overall Projection

    70/100

    The St. Louis Cardinals signed Carpenter to a six-year, $52 million deal that could keep him with the team through 2020 if his $18.5 million option at the back end is exercised. Patrick Wisdom is a solid prospect on the rise, but Carpenter figures to be the guy at third for the foreseeable future.

13. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 31

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    42/60

    Mike Moustakas struggled to find his footing at the big league level for the better part of four seasons after ranking as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, but he's finally begun playing up to his potential.

    After an up-and-down regular season last year, the playoffs proved to be his coming out party, as he posted an .817 OPS with five home runs. That success has carried over into 2015, and he's hit .297/.353/.427 to earn his first trip to the All-Star Game.

    Moustakas has always had plus raw power, evidenced by a 36-homer season in the minors in 2010, but he's still working on consistently tapping into that in games. A career-best 10.8 percent strikeout rate this season has helped boost his triple-slash numbers.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    25/35

    From a metrics standpoint, Moustakas has been an inconsistent defender with decent range throughout his career, but he's graded out on the positive side so far this season (3 DRS, 2.4 UZR/150).

    He's one of the few Royals players who aren't a factor in the running game, and his base-running abilities have graded out well below average over the course of his career.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    At this point, it doesn't look like Moustakas will ever be the 30-HR, 100-RBI threat he flashed the potential for during his time in the minors. He's turned himself into a solid big league regular, though, and should still be going strong as a 31-year-old in 2020.

    2020 Overall Projection

    70/100

    Moustakas is under team control through the 2017 season, and a strong second half this year could be enough for the Royals to consider offering up an extension. Then again, their focus could instead be on inking guys like Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and others.

12. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox

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    2020 Age: 23

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    43/60

    One of the fastest-rising prospects in all of baseball, Rafael Devers has been crushing minor league pitching since the Boston Red Sox signed him out of the Dominican Republic for a $1.5 million bonus.

    He debuted in the rookie league last year, hitting .322/.404/.506 with 17 doubles and seven home runs in 261 at-bats.

    Making the jump to Single-A Greenville this campaign, he's more than held his own, posting a .756 OPS with 19 doubles and seven home runs as a teenager. There is serious power potential there, and he has the compact swing to also hit for a solid average, as he generates his pop with plus bat speed.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    22/35

    Devers will need to remain focused on his conditioning if he's going to stick at third base, but he's already added strength and athleticism to his 6'0", 195-pound frame as a pro.

    While he has a strong arm, his defense is still a work in progress. He committed 18 errors in 51 games last season.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    The Red Sox have an incredibly deep system, but Devers might have the highest ceiling of anyone not named Yoan Moncada. That being said, he'll still be just 23 years old five years from now, so he may just be just scratching the surface of his vast potential.

    2020 Overall Projection

    70/100

    Pablo Sandoval is signed through the 2019 season with a $17 million option for 2020, but one has to imagine he'll move to first base or designated hitter before that time comes. The Red Sox could also explore moving Moncada to third base, but for the time being, Devers checks in with the third basemen.

11. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds

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    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 34

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    43/60

    After finally breaking through as a 26-year-old in 2012, Todd Frazier has broken out as a legitimate superstar for the Cincinnati Reds. And in 2015, he's well on his way to the best season of his career.

    Frazier posted a .795 OPS with 22 doubles and 29 home runs last season, and already this year he's posted a .922 OPS with 26 doubles and 25 home runs in just 342 at-bats.

    He walks enough for a respectable on-base percentage and doesn't strike out as much as most power hitters with a 20.7 percent career strikeout rate. The big question here is how well his power will age, but there's no reason to think he can't remain a serious threat in his age-34 season.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    27/35

    Frazier played primarily shortstop to begin his pro career, but the big 6'3", 220-pound slugger has settled in at the hot corner. He has a 7.8 UZR/150 and 18 DRS in his career at the position.

    He's also a great baserunner for his size, swiping a career-high 20 bases last season in 28 attempts.

    2020 Upside Factor

    1/5

    The 29-year-old Frazier is in the prime of his career right now and figures to be on the downswing when 2020 rolls around. He should still be an asset on both sides of the ball, but he has to be a 1/5 on this scale.

    2020 Overall Projection

    71/100

    The Reds have yet to make a move to lock up Frazier long term, and he's currently slated to hit free agency following the 2017 season. Cincinnati appears to be headed for a rebuilding stretch of sorts, but it could still look to keep Frazier around as the face of the franchise with an extension.

10. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 34

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    43/60

    Josh Donaldson didn't break through as a big league regular until his age-27 season, but he proved to be more then worth the wait. He's now become arguably the best all-around third baseman in the game.

    He's hit .281/.360/.490 since the start of 2013, and he appears set to blow past his previous career high of 29 home runs with 21 already at the break this year.

    His walk rate is down this season (10.9 to 7.6 percent), but his more aggressive approach has not hurt his overall numbers any, and he's still getting on base at a solid .351 clip. As long as he stays healthy, he should still be one of the better power hitters at the position five years from now.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    28/35

    Since first becoming an everyday player in 2013, Donaldson has posted a 12.9 UZR/150 (fourth best among 3B) and an impressive 41 DRS (third best among 3B). Even if he loses a step, he'll still be a plus with the glove.

    As for his speed on the bases, Donaldson has an impressive success rate for his career with 20 stolen bases in 23 attempts, but he's never stolen more than eight bases in a single season.

    2020 Upside Factor

    1/5

    Donaldson has reached his peak, now it's just a matter of how long he can continue to perform at such a high level. There's no upside here, but there's no reason to think he can't still be an All-Star-caliber player in 2020.

    2020 Overall Projection

    72/100

    The Toronto Blue Jays have Donaldson under team control through the 2018 season, but they could look to extend him in the near future rather than going year-to-year in arbitration. They gave up a good deal of talent to acquire him, so expect him to stick around.

9. Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 26

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    45/60

    Joey Gallo might have the most raw power of anyone in baseball not named Giancarlo Stanton, but he still has a lot of work to do if he's going to consistently utilize that power at the highest level.

    He's launched an impressive 116 home runs in 341 career minor league games, but he's also fanned a whopping 33.7 percent of the time. That's an issue.

    For the sake of comparison, Adam Dunn struck out a ton once he reached the majors, but he still only whiffed 18.2 percent of the time as he was coming up through the minors.

    Luckily for Gallo, age is on his side. There is no ignoring his back-to-back 40-homer seasons, and if he can trim that strikeout rate down closer to 25 percent, he'll be a serious middle-of-the-order threat.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    22/35

    Gallo was a two-way prospect in high school and could reach 98 with his fastball, so his arm grades out as a plus-plus tool. However, his below-average speed limits him in the range and quickness department.

    He should be able to turn into an average defender, but a move to first base or a corner outfield spot long term is not out of the question.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Gallo is still just 21 years old and he's already seen time at the big league level, so he's well ahead of the curve. If he can make a bit more consistent contact, the sky is the limit as far as his run-production abilities are concerned.

    2020 Overall Projection

    72/100

    Adrian Beltre is signed through next season, at which time all signs point to Gallo taking over as the everyday third baseman and power bat in the middle of the Texas Rangers lineup alongside Prince Fielder.

8. Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    47/60

    Bright spots have been few and far between for the Philadelphia Phillies so far this season, but Maikel Franco has certainly been a standout.

    After an inauspicious debut last season, he's hit .284/.339/.495 with 14 doubles and 10 home runs in the first half this season. He's not only capable of sustaining that level of production, but there is potential for even more.

    For a guy with a power-hitter profile, Franco didn't strike out much in the minors (14.7 percent rate). With that in mind, he's capable of consistently hitting in the .280-290 range on top of his plus run production numbers.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    20/35

    While his offense has looked good so far, his defense has been another story. In fact, he's graded out as the second-worst defensive third basemen in the league among guys with at least 400 innings, posting a -11 DRS and a -17.9 UZR/150.

    He's never going to be a Gold Glove winner, but coming up through the minors, it looked like he would be able to round into a passable fielder at third. They'll continue to run him out there for the time being, but a move to first base could come eventually.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Alongside shortstop J.P. Crawford, it looks like Franco will be a cornerstone for the rebuilding Phillies. He's quickly made the adjustment to life in the big leagues and still has plenty of room to grow offensively at the age of 22.

    2020 Overall Projection

    72/100

    The Phillies already showed their commitment to Franco being the future at third base when they shifted Cody Asche to the outfield, and for now, it looks like he'll be manning the left side of the infield alongside Crawford to 2020 and beyond.

7. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 32

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    43/60

    Kyle Seager flew under the radar during back-to-back solid seasons in 2012 and 2013 but finally started to receive some much-deserved recognition while taking another step forward last season.

    He set new career highs in home runs (25), RBI (96), OPS (.788) and WAR (5.8) last year and found his way onto the AL All-Star team for the first time as a result.

    Those 25 home runs are probably his ceiling, and a .270/.330/.440 triple-slash line will probably be the norm going forward, but there's something to be said for that level of steady production to go along with his glove.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    27/35

    Seager won his first Gold Glove last season with 10 DRS and a 9.2 UZR/150, and he's been terrific with the glove once again this season.

    As far as speed is concerned, he's capable of stealing a base, swiping 13 during his first full season in 2012. He hasn't run as much in the years since, but he remains a good athlete and solid baserunner.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    Seager took his game up another notch last season, but at this point, he figures to have about reached his ceiling. That said, the 27-year-old should be able to produce at his current level for the foreseeable future.

    2020 Overall Projection

    73/100

    The Mariners locked up Seager with a seven-year, $100 million deal during this past offseason, and with a $15 million option tacked onto the end, he could be in Seattle through the 2022 season.

6. Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies

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    2020 Age: 25

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    41/60

    After a strong showing in the rookie league after signing in 2013, Ryan McMahon made the jump to Single-A Asheville last year where he hit .282/.358/.502 with 46 doubles, 18 home runs and 102 RBI.

    With a smooth left-handed swing and plus raw power, McMahon profiles as a future middle-of-the-order bat as his 6'2", 185-pound frame continues to fill out.

    Aside from his strong extra-base hit results, McMahon has also produced a 10.1 percent walk rate during his time in the minors, and that advanced approach should allow him to continue to move quickly.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    28/35

    A former two-sport star who played quarterback for football powerhouse Mater Dei, McMahon is a terrific athlete and has a chance to be a great defensive third baseman.

    "Defensively, he has the chance to be as good as the Gold Glover currently in Colorado, Nolan Arenado, with great hands, a strong throwing arm and outstanding instincts at the hot corner," wrote MLB.com's Prospect Watch.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Since he's turned his full attention to baseball, McMahon has seen his raw ability quickly translate into on-field results. Still just 20 years old, he has all the tools to be one of the best all-around third basemen in the league five years from now.

    2020 Overall Projection

    74/100

    With Nolan Arenado entrenched at third base, the Colorado Rockies could eventually opt to use McMahon as a trade chip to finally acquire a front-line starting pitcher. He's too good defensively to assume he'll move elsewhere at this point.

5. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    48/60

    Miguel Sano has flashed impressive power throughout his time in the minors, and that peaked in 2013 when he hit .280/.382/.610 with 30 doubles, 35 home runs and 103 RBI while reaching Double-A as a 20-year-old.

    He's always been capable of drawing a walk (12.2 percent rate), and he's bounced back nicely this season after missing all of last year following Tommy John surgery.

    Sano posted a .918 OPS with 18 doubles and 15 home runs in 66 games before earning the call-up this season, and he's hit .378/.489/.649 with four doubles and two home runs in his first 11 big league games.

    A 30-homer, 100-RBI line should be the norm once he settles in as an everyday player.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    21/35

    Sano is well below average in the speed department, but he has managed to develop into an average fielder at the hot corner, though 10 of his 11 big league games so far have come at DH.

    He had a cannon for an arm pre-surgery, and his arm is still a strength, but further arm issues could necessitate a move across the diamond to first base down the road.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    Moving forward, the 22-year-old Sano has a chance to challenge for the home run crown on a year-in and year-out basis while also drawing plenty of walks and hitting for a solid average.

    2020 Overall Projection

    74/100

    For now, Sano has given the Minnesota Twins lineup a boost from the DH spot with Trevor Plouffe still penciled in at third base. Plouffe is under team control through 2017, so the third base situation will remain crowded for the foreseeable future.

4. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

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    Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 30

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    45/60

    Injuries have limited Anthony Rendon to just 18 games this season, but he showed what he was capable of offensively during his first full season in the majors last year.

    Despite bouncing around some defensively, he was dialed in at the plate all year, hitting .287/.351/.473 with 39 doubles, 21 home runs and 83 RBI and a 6.6 WAR to finish fifth in NL MVP voting.

    He was a potential No. 1 overall pick coming out of Rice University in 2011, but injuries caused him to slip to No. 6 overall. If he can stay off the disabled list going forward, he's capable of replicating his 2014 numbers.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    29/35

    Along with his Silver Slugger-winning offensive numbers, Rendon is also a terrific defender at both second base and third base. He had 12 DRS at third last year and could compete for a Gold Glove there down the line.

    He doesn't have elite speed, but Rendon is also a good baserunner, nabbing 17 bases last season in 20 attempts.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    A polished bat coming out of college, Rendon probably showed us his ceiling offensively last campaign. He's still just 25 years old, though, and he has plenty of prime seasons ahead of him if he can stay on the field

    2020 Overall Projection

    77/100

    Rendon is under team control through the 2019 season, and if he can rebound to his pre-injury levels, the Nationals will make every effort to lock him down before that time ever rolls around.

3. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 29

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    48/60

    Nolan Arenado first flashed his vast offensive potential when he posted an .836 OPS with 32 doubles, 20 home runs and 122 RBI at the High-A level in 2011.

    Injuries curtailed his 2014 campaign, but he's been the star of the Colorado Rockies offense so far this season, hitting .293/.329/.598 with 22 doubles, 24 home runs and an NL-high 70 RBI.

    Those numbers are sustainable over a full season with his peripherals, and it has to be noted that he's actually hit better on the road (.933 OPS, 15 HR) than he has at Coors Field (.920 OPS, 9 HR). So he's not just a product of his environment.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    32/35

    Arenado has kicked off his career with back-to-back Gold Glove awards, piling up 62 DRS and a 14.8 UZR/150 during his time in the big league so far.

    He doesn't run much, but the 6'2", 205-pounder is a terrific athlete, and it shows in his quickness and agility at the hot corner.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    An awfully strong case can be made for Arenado being the breakout star of 2015, and while he's still just 24 years old, it's hard to see him surpassing the numbers that he winds up with when all is said and done this season. That said, expect him to be one of the best of the foreseeable future.

    2020 Overall Projection

    83/100

    With Troy Tulowitzki nearing the end of his prime and perhaps on the way out of Colorado at some point, there's a good chance Arenado will be the face of the franchise when 2020 rolls around.

2. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    2020 Age: 27

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    50/60

    Manny Machado led the American League with 51 doubles in 2013, hitting 14 home runs and driving in 71 runs in what was his first full season in the majors at the age of 20.

    A pair of knee injuries have slowed his production, but he has started to turn that gap power into legitimate home run pop this season. He's already reached a new career high with 19 long balls, hitting .298/.361/.525 in the process.

    He's also made big strides in both his walk rate (5.6 to 9.2 percent) and strikeout rate (19.2 to 15.6 percent) this season, raising him to an elite level of offensive production he's capable of maintaining for years to come.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    32/35

    A shortstop by trade, Machado was blocked by J.J. Hardy, and he slid over to third base to plug a glaring roster hole at the big league level.

    He's been nothing short of phenomenal there, posting 59 DRS and a 20.6 UZR/150 for his career. He's also picked up his running game this year, swiping 13 bases in 16 attempts so far.

    2020 Upside Factor

    3/5

    Machado is in the middle of reaching his offensive ceiling this season, so when the dust settles on 2015, there's a good chance we'll have seen the best he has to offer. That's not a bad thing, as there's no reason he can't maintain that high level of production for the next five years and beyond.

    2020 Overall Projection

    85/100

    Arbitration is around the corner for Machado for the first time this coming offseason, and he's under team control through 2018. The Orioles will do whatever it takes to retain him long term, and that could mean a huge extension in the near future.

1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

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    Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

    2020 Age: 28

    2020 Offensive Outlook

    55/60

    Outside of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, there might be no one in baseball right now with a higher offensive ceiling than Kris Bryant.

    After launching 43 home runs in the minors last season, he quickly earned a call-up this year and he's hit .269/.376/.472 with 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 51 RBI in his first 78 games.

    His raw power obviously turns heads, but it's his advanced approach and plate discipline (13.5 percent walk rate) at such an early age that makes him the complete package offensively.

    A .300 batting average with 40 home runs and 120 RBI is well within reach, and he could get there in the not-too-distant future.

    2020 Defensive/Speed Outlook

    26/35

    With a big 6'5" frame, there have been some questions as to whether Bryant could stick at third base long term. He's been better than expected with the glove so far (-1 DRS, 5.9 UZR/150) but will probably never be more than an average fielder and could still move to left field at some point.

    He's an aggressive baserunner, and he should be able to at least steal double-digit bases as he already has eight in 11 attempts so far this year.

    2020 Upside Factor

    5/5

    As good as he's been so far as a rookie, Bryant is capable of much, much more at the plate in the years to come. Again, his ceiling stacks up to anyone in the game.

    2020 Overall Projection

    86/100

    If the Chicago Cubs wind up keeping Starlin Castro, Addison Russell and Javier Baez long term, it will probably mean a move to the outfield for Bryant. For the time being, the third base job is all his, though, and he'll join Anthony Rizzo as the face of the franchise going forward.

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