MLB Position Power Rankings 2018: B/R's Top 30 Third Basemen

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2018

MLB Position Power Rankings 2018: B/R's Top 30 Third Basemen

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    We've set out to identify the top 30 third basemen in the league heading into the 2018 season.

    A few things to consider before we get started:

    • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league average triple-slash line for a third baseman last season was .257/.330/.455.
    • Eligibility: To be considered for inclusion, a player must have played at least 300 innings at third base last season. Exceptions were made for expected position changes (yes to Zack Cozart and Tim Beckham, no to Manny Machado), injuries (Matt Duffy) and prospects (Miguel Andujar and Colin Moran).

    For fantasy baseball fans, think of this as a big board of the position if the entire league was doing a redraft for one all-or-nothing season in 2018.

    Someone like Matt Chapman has more upside than Todd Frazier going forward, but is he going to be better this coming year?

    Let's find out.


    Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Shortstops

30. Johan Camargo, Atlanta Braves

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 104 OPS+, .299/.331/.452, 27 XBH (4 HR), 27 RBI, 30 R

    2017 Defensive: 0 DRS, 11.9 UZR/150, 2.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.1



    Johan Camargo was well off the top-prospect radar heading into 2017.

    The struggles of Dansby Swanson and Adonis Garcia opened the door for the Panama native to see a sizeable role at the MLB level, and he made the most of his opportunity.

    Always viewed as a plus defensive infielder, Camargo's offense was a major surprise.

    With a .364 BABIP and a 4.7 percent walk rate, he was playing over his head, but the door is still wide-open for him to see everyday playing time at third base. At least until top prospect Austin Riley is ready to make the jump.


    Honorable Mentions 

    • Brian Anderson (MIA)
    • Christian Arroyo (TB)
    • Cheslor Cuthbert (KC)
    • Matt Davidson (CWS)
    • Brandon Drury (NYY)
    • Eduardo Escobar (MIN)
    • David Freese (PIT)
    • Rio Ruiz (ATL)
    • Giovanny Urshela (CLE)

29. Martin Prado, Miami Marlins

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    Phil Long/Associated Press

    Age: 34

    2017 Offensive: 70 OPS+, .250/.279/.357, 11 XBH (2 HR), 12 RBI, 13 R

    2017 Defensive: 3 DRS, 4.7 UZR/150, 1.5 DEF

    WAR: 0.1



    The Miami Marlins' decision to give Martin Prado a three-year, $40 million extension following the 2016 season looks like a mistake.

    With the demand for veteran bats bottoming out this offseason, he's vastly overpaid relative to his current market value and he's coming off a season when a knee injury limited him to 37 games.

    Prior that, Prado hit .305/.359/.417 and posted a 3.9 WAR in 2016, so it's hard to write him off entirely if he's healthy.

    That said, he's already suffered a setback in his recovery and will open the season on the disabled list.

    The questions now become whether his job will be waiting for him when he gets back and if rookie Brian Anderson can seize the opportunity.

28. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Age: 33

    2017 Offensive: 100 OPS+, .273/.352/.406, 43 XBH (12 HR), 61 RBI, 77 R

    2017 Defensive: -7 DRS, -4.3 UZR/150, -1.4 DEF

    WAR: 1.8



    The San Diego Padres took on the $13 million contract of Chase Headley as a means of also acquiring promising right-hander Bryan Mitchell from the New York Yankees.

    Headley spent the first seven-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Padres, winning a Silver Slugger and leading the NL with 115 RBI during the 2012 season.

    He's not the player he used to be on either side of the ball, but he's still capable of providing league-average production and serving as a positive locker-room presence on a young team.

27. Colin Moran, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    2017 Offensive (MiLB): 350 PA, .301/.369/.532, 35 XBH (18 HR), 65 RBI, 53 R

    2017 Defensive: N/A

    WAR: N/A



    An offseason trade is the best thing that could have happened to Colin Moran.

    The former No. 6 overall pick was firmly blocked by Alex Bregman in Houston and had little left to prove in the minors after a stellar showing at Triple-A.

    Now, after he was sent to Pittsburgh in the Gerrit Cole blockbuster, he'll have a chance to grab an everyday job in 2018. wrote: "Pittsburgh is hopeful it is getting Moran right when he is starting to figure things out at the plate. A change in bat path, adding loft to impact his launch angle, has led to him finally tapping into his raw power, with many evaluators thinking it will have staying power."

    He could be a dark horse for NL Rookie of the Year honors given his upside and opportunity.

26. Matt Duffy, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    2017 Offensive: Injured, did not play

    2017 Defensive: N/A

    WAR: N/A



    There's still time for Matt Duffy to return to the form he showed as the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2015. The former 18th-round pick hit .295/.334/.428 with 28 doubles, 12 home runs and 77 RBI for San Francisco while replacing the long-tenured Pablo Sandoval at third base.

    His play dropped off in his second season and he was eventually traded to Tampa Bay in a four-player deal that sent Matt Moore to the Giants.

    Expected to serve as the team's everyday shortstop last year, he instead missed the entire season dealing with an Achilles' tendon injury.

    The Rays' decision to trade Evan Longoria means he can return to the hot corner, where he's better suited defensively, and he'll be one to watch in the AL Comeback Player of the Year race if he can get back to full health.

25. Jeimer Candelario, Detroit Tigers

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 106 OPS+, .283/.359/.425, 12 XBH (3 HR), 16 RBI, 18 R

    2017 Defensive: -7 DRS, -9.8 UZR/150, -1.2 DEF

    WAR: 0.1



    Plate discipline has always been a strength for Jeimer Candelario.

    The 24-year-old posted a .350 on-base percentage and walked at a 10.6 percent clip during his time in the minors, which helped offset his average power relative to the third base position.

    Candelario posted an .827 OPS with 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 71 RBI in Triple-A last season. A deadline deal that sent him from the Chicago Cubs to the Detroit Tigers afforded him an opportunity for regular playing time.

    He showed enough in 106 plate appearances following the trade that the Tigers are set to move Nicholas Castellanos to right field in order to open up the everyday third base job.

24. Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    2017 Offensive: 81 OPS+, .230/.281/.409, 54 XBH (24 HR), 76 RBI, 66 R

    2017 Defensive: -4 DRS, -5.9 UZR/150, -2.6 DEF

    WAR: -0.2



    It's a make-or-break season for Maikel Franco.

    Once viewed as a potential cornerstone piece of the Philadelphia Phillies' rebuild, he's been trending in the wrong direction since an impressive rookie season:

    • 2015: 335 PA, 130 OPS+, .280/.343/.497, 14 HR, 50 RBI
    • 2016: 630 PA, 94 OPS+, .255/.306/.427, 25 HR, 88 RBI
    • 2017: 623 PA, 81 OPS+, .230/.281/.409, 24 HR, 76 RBI

    New hitting coach John Mallee has closed up Franco's stance this spring in an effort to keep him more aligned and under control in the batter's box.

    Could we finally see the breakout that looked to be in the works two years ago?

23. Tim Beckham, Baltimore Orioles

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    2017 Offensive: 111 OPS+, .278/.328/.454, 45 XBH (22 HR), 62 RBI, 67 R

    2017 Defensive: N/A; played SS

    WAR: 3.3



    Nearly a decade after going No. 1 overall in the 2008 draft, Tim Beckham finally made an impact at the MLB level.

    Thrust into a starting role with Matt Duffy sidelined, he responded with a 97 OPS+ and 12 home runs in 345 plate appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays. That was enough for the Rays to sell high, and he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles at the deadline.

    A .306/.348/.523 line with 13 doubles and 10 home runs in 50 games following the trade was enough to turn more than a few heads, and the question now is whether his breakthrough was for real.

    His .365 BABIP gives a reason for pause, but he'll have a clear path to everyday playing time at third base now that Manny Machado is shifting over to shortstop.

22. Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    2017 Offensive (MiLB): 522 PA, .315/.352/.498, 54 XBH (16 HR), 82 RBI, 66 R

    2017 Defensive: N/A

    WAR: N/A



    The New York Yankees' decisions to trade for Brandon Drury and sign Neil Walker mean that Miguel Andujar will open the season in Triple-A.

    He won't be there for long, though.

    Andujar is the No. 65 prospect in baseball, according to, and he put up stellar numbers in the minors last season while splitting the year between Double-A and Triple-A.

    His defensive game is still a work in progress and that's the biggest reason he's headed back to Triple-A, but his bat would play right now. It's only a matter of time before he pushes his way into the MLB lineup.

    Drury is better deployed in a super-utility role anyway.

21. Yolmer Sanchez, Chicago White Sox

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    2017 Offensive: 96 OPS+, .267/.319/.413, 39 XBH (12 HR), 59 RBI, 63 R

    2017 Defensive: 8 DRS, 16.7 UZR/150, 3.3 DEF

    WAR: 3.5



    Yolmer Sanchez posted a .224/.261/.330 line over 687 plate appearances and had 0.4 WAR during his first three seasons in the majors.

    Suffice to say, his 3.4 WAR outburst last season came as a surprise.

    While he was a roughly league-average offensive contributor, he was a defensive star who split time between second base and third base:

    With Yoan Moncada now firmly entrenched at second, he'll be the everyday guy at the hot corner and could emerge as a Gold Glove candidate now that he has a set position.

20. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2017 Offensive: 116 OPS+, .272/.314/.521, 62 XBH (38 HR), 85 RBI, 75 R

    2017 Defensive: -8 DRS, -3.6 UZR/150, -1.2 DEF

    WAR: 1.8



    It was a disastrous foray into free agency for Mike Moustakas.

    After turning down a $17.4 million qualifying offer at the start of the offseason, his market simply never developed and he wound up back with the Kansas City Royals on a one-year, $6.5 million pact that includes a mutual option for 2019.

    While his franchise-record 38 home runs are tough to ignore, his game has some holes.

    He's a below-average defender at third base and his walk rate eroded to a career-low 5.7 percent amid his power outburst.

    If he wants to find more interest next time he hits the open market, improving in those two areas will be crucial.

19. Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    2017 Offensive: 100 OPS+, .261/.313/.424, 58 XBH (20 HR), 86 RBI, 71 R

    2017 Defensive: 11 DRS, 5.1 UZR/150, 5.3 DEF

    WAR: 3.6



    The trade that sent Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants this offseason marked the end of an era.

    The No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft departs at the greatest player in Rays' franchise history, having posted a 125 OPS+ with 261 home runs, 892 RBI and 49.9 WAR in 10 seasons.

    The question now is how much he has left in the tank.

    The Giants will be on the hook for $66.5 million over the next five years, with the Rays paying out $14.5 million as part of the trade package.

    He's posted a 112 OPS+ over the past four seasons and was a league-average offensive player last season. A move to spacious AT&T Park likely won't do his offensive numbers any favors.

18. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Age: 21

    2017 Offensive: 112 OPS+, .284/.338/.482, 24 XBH (10 HR), 30 RBI, 34 R

    2017 Defensive: -1 DRS, -12.7 UZR/150, -2.7 DEF

    WAR: 1.3



    Rafael Devers reached the upper levels of the minors for the first time last season and quickly proved to be MLB-ready with a .311/.377/.578 line that included 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 60 RBI in 358 plate appearances.

    He made his MLB debut on July 25 and quickly shored up what had been a revolving door at third base for the Boston Red Sox.

    Devers will be 21 for the entire 2018 season so there will inevitably be some growing pains, especially with regression likely from the .342 BABIP he posted last season.

    Chances are he'll eventually slide over to first base as he'll never be an above-average defender at the hot corner. All signs point to him being an impact middle-of-the-order bat for the foreseeable future, though.

17. Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2017 Offensive: 110 OPS+, .248/.357/.487, 64 XBH (30 HR), 105 RBI, 89 R

    2017 Defensive: -13 DRS, -7.8 UZR/150, -4.8 DEF

    WAR: 1.4



    Jake Lamb has put up nearly identical counting numbers the past two seasons, quietly raising his walk rate (10.8 to 13.7 percent) and lowering his strikeout rate (25.9 to 23.9 percent) last year while hitting in the middle of the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup.

    Viewed as a strong defender during his time in the minors and in his first full season in 2015 (7 DRS, 12.9 UZR/150), he's graded out as the worst defensive third basemen in baseball the past two years:

    • DRS: -21
    • UZR/150: -10.0
    • DEF: -13.8

    He'll again be a threat for 30 home runs and 100 RBI, and his improving plate discipline is a promising sign.

    His defensive shortcomings ultimately hurt his placement in these rankings, though.

16. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Age:  24

    2017 Offensive: 127 OPS+, .264/.352/.507, 45 XBH (28 HR), 77 RBI, 75 R

    2017 Defensive: -5 DRS, -2.2 UZR/150, 0.2 DEF

    WAR: 2.5



    Few players got off to a hotter start last season than Miguel Sano, who was hitting .292/.406/.590 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI after the first two months.

    However, he hit just .247/.316/.456 with 16 home runs and 38 RBI the rest of the way and missed six weeks in the second half with a leg injury.

    The raw power is there for him to be a consistent 30-homer threat, and he's always walked at a solid clip.

    However, he'll need to cut down his strikeout rate (35.8 percent) in order to take the next step offensively.

    As for his defensive game, he's been better than expected and can hold his own at third base, though he'll never be a Gold Glove-caliber option there.

15. Todd Frazier, New York Mets

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    2017 Offensive: 105 OPS+, .213/.344/.428, 47 XBH (27 HR), 76 RBI, 74 R

    2017 Defensive: 10 DRS, 9.7 UZR/150, 8.6 DEF

    WAR: 3.4



    The two-year, $17 million deal that Todd Frazier signed with the New York Mets this offseason could wind up being one of the best bargains of the offseason.

    While his batting average has bottomed out since he left Cincinnati, Frazier remains a solid two-way player who is capable of slugging 30 home runs and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

    The 32-year-old's days of hitting .270 might be a thing of the past, but he's continued to evolve as a hitter with a career-high walk rate (14.4 percent) last year that helped his on-base percentage climb from .302 to .344.

    After posting a .236 BABIP in 2016 and .226 BABIP in 2017, Frazier could also benefit from some regression to his .271 career mark.

14. Jedd Gyorko, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2017 Offensive: 112 OPS+, .272/.341/.472, 43 XBH (20 HR), 67 RBI, 52 R

    2017 Defensive: 16 DRS, 3.8 UZR/150, 4.1 DEF

    WAR: 3.6



    The December 2015 deal that sent Jon Jay to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Jedd Gyorko has already paid huge dividends for the St. Louis Cardinals.

    A 3.0 WAR player who hit 30 home runs in 438 plate appearances in a super-utility role during the 2016 season, Gyorko took over as the everyday third baseman last year and was equally impressive.

    Along with his strong offensive numbers, he also ranked third among all third basemen with 16 DRS, and it was his glove as much as his bat that drove his overall value.

    With the Padres paying $2.5 million of his $9 million salary for the upcoming season, he's one of the best bargains at the position.

13. Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Age: 26

    2017 Offensive: 115 OPS+, .260/.367/.461, 53 XBH (26 HR), 82 RBI, 87 R

    2017 Defensive: 5 DRS, 6.7 UZR/150, 8.0 DEF

    WAR: 3.7



    The Cincinnati Reds are still reaping the rewards of the decision to sell high on surprise 2014 All-Star Alfredo Simon that offseason, acquiring Eugenio Suarez from the Detroit Tigers.

    A shortstop early in his career, Suarez slid over to third base during the 2016 season to replace Todd Frazier. He was a pleasant surprise, posting a 92 OPS+ with 25 doubles, 21 home runs and 70 RBI in his first season as an everyday player.

    That proved to be just the tip of the iceberg.

    A massive spike in his walk rate from 8.1 to 13.3 percent helped raise his on-base percentage from .317 to .367, while he tallied 26 home runs and 82 RBI.

    His glove has also been a better fit at third base and he's quickly developed into one of the better defensive third basemen in the NL.

12. Zack Cozart, Los Angeles Angels

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Age: 32

    2017 Offensive: 141 OPS+, .297/.385/.548, 55 XBH (24 HR), 63 RBI, 80 R

    2017 Defensive: N/A; played SS

    WAR: 4.9



    It speaks to just how good Andrelton Simmons is on defense that the Los Angeles Angels won't think twice about shifting Zack Cozart over to third base after signing him to a three-year, $38 million deal this offseason.

    Cozart tallied 56 DRS and a 10.6 UZR/150 playing exclusively at shortstop over the course of his seven MLB seasons with the Cincinnati Reds.

    Now he'll shift to the hot corner following a huge offensive breakout.

    Known more for his glove early in his career, Cozart ranked among the NL leaders in OPS (.933, 11th), OPS+ (141, 10th) and position-player WAR (5.0, 12th), while raising his walk rate from 7.3 to 12.2 percent.

    There's nothing in his peripherals to suggest he's headed for significant regression, and that level of offensive production will certainly play at the hot corner.

11. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 110 OPS+, .234/.313/.472, 39 XBH (14 HR), 40 RBI, 39 R

    2017 Defensive: 19 DRS, 14.4 UZR/150, 10.4 DEF

    WAR: 3.6



    Matt Chapman has all the tools to be the next superstar at third base.

    He has just played 84 big league games, so for now, he'll reside just outside the top 10 in these rankings.

    The 24-year-old is already an elite defender, as he ranked among the DRS leaders at the position, despite playing only half the season:

    • 1. Nolan Arenado: 20 DRS (1,343.1 INN)
    • 2. Matt Chapman: 19 DRS (727.0 INN)
    • 3. Jedd Gyorko: 16 DRS (900.0 INN)

    Meanwhile, with a 36-homer season in the minors and 14 home runs in 326 plate appearances in the majors, he's capable of making plenty of noise at the plate as well.

10. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Age: 30

    2017 Offensive: 107 OPS+, .249/.323/.450, 61 XBH (27 HR), 88 RBI, 72 R

    2017 Defensive: -2 DRS, 7.2 UZR/150, 8.5 DEF

    WAR: 2.5



    Bad luck is at least partially to blame for a disappointing season from Kyle Seager.

    His .262 BABIP ranked 133rd among 144 qualified hitters and was 23 points below his career mark, so some positive regression is to be expected for the upcoming season.

    While he's never been a flashy player, Seager does everything well, as he's capable of hitting 30 home runs, posting strong on-base numbers and playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

    He's owed $76.5 million over the next four years, so the Seattle Mariners will be banking on him returning to his 2016 form, when he posted a 6.9 WAR and finished 12th in AL MVP voting.

9. Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2017 Offensive: 121 OPS+, .273/.349/.513, 66 XBH (31 HR), 101 RBI, 84 R

    2017 Defensive: 3 DRS, -1.1 UZR/150, 1.7 DEF

    WAR: 4.0



    The Chris Sale blockbuster stole the headlines at the 2016 winter meetings and rightfully so.

    However, another move by the Boston Red Sox proved to be equally impactful, as the team shipped third baseman Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers for reliever Tyler Thornburg.

    While Thornburg suffered through an injury-plagued season, Shaw was one of the breakout stars of 2017.

    After showing flashes during the 2016 season when he posted a 90 OPS+ with 34 doubles, 16 home runs and 71 RBI, he led a good Brewers team in home runs (31) and RBI (101) while hitting cleanup.

    It looks like the Brewers have found a core piece from the secondary trade market.

8. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    2017 Offensive: 128 OPS+, .284/.352/.475, 63 XBH (19 HR), 71 RBI, 88 R

    2017 Defensive: -3 DRS, -4.6 UZR/150, -0.3 DEF

    WAR: 4.1



    The No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft, Alex Bregman arrived in the majors roughly a year later and just scratching the surface of legitimate superstar potential.

    His progression continued last season as he followed up a mediocre first half with an impressive second half:

    • 1st Half: 329 PA, .256/.338/.419, 30 XBH (8 HR), 27 RBI
    • 2nd Half: 297 PA, .315/.367/.536, 33 XBH (11 HR), 44 RBI

    The 23-year-old is capable of maintaining his second-half level of production over a full season and could do it as soon as the 2018 season.

    He's also still a work in progress at third base after playing shortstop during his time at LSU and early in his pro career. The tools are there for him to be a standout defender, though.

7. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

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    Adrian Beltre
    Adrian BeltreTony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Age: 38

    2017 Offensive: 135 OPS+, .312/.383/.532, 40 XBH (17 HR), 71 RBI, 47 R

    2017 Defensive: 6 DRS, 10.8 UZR/150, 6.5 DEF

    WAR: 3.7



    Father Time has shown no signs of catching up to Adrian Beltre.

    While calf and hamstring injuries limited him to 94 games last season, he was the same superstar-level performer we've grown accustomed to seeing when he was able to take the field.

    The 38-year-old picked up his 3,000th hit last season and he's piled up 93.4 WAR over the course of his 20-year career.

    That puts him in elite company as one of six third basemen with at least 80 WAR:

    • Mike Schmidt (106.9)
    • Eddie Mathews (96.7)
    • Adrian Beltre (93.4)
    • Wade Boggs (90.9)
    • George Brett (88.4)
    • Chipper Jones (85.2)

    He's bound to slow down at some point, but until that happens, there's no reason to bet against him.

6. Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Age: 33

    2017 Offensive: 149 OPS+, .322/.415/.530, 53 XBH (21 HR), 71 RBI, 72 R

    2017 Defensive: 6 DRS, -1.1 UZR/150, 1.2 DEF

    WAR: 5.8



    It's safe to say the Los Angeles Dodgers have no buyer's remorse over the four-year, $64 million deal given to Justin Turner last offseason.

    The former non-tender casualty has developed into a cornerstone piece of the reigning NL West champions, and he put together the best all-around season of his career last year.

    He finished among the NL leaders in batting average (.322, third), on-base percentage (.415, second), OPS+ (149, fourth) and position-player WAR (5.8, 10th).

    The cherry on top was a .286/.420/.536 postseason line that included four home runs and 14 RBI in 15 games.

    Turner didn't take the prototypical path to stardom, but he's officially arrived there now.

5. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    2017 Offensive: 145 OPS+, .318/.374/.583, 91 XBH (29 HR), 83 RBI, 107 R

    2017 Defensive: 0 DRS, 7.6 UZR/150, 5.1 DEF

    WAR: 6.9



    Jose Ramirez backed up a breakout 2016 season with a legitimate MVP-caliber performance for the Cleveland Indians last year.

    The 25-year-old tied for the MLB lead with 91 extra-base hits, and he did it with a .318 batting average that checked in fourth in the AL batting title race.

    While he was excellent all season, he played absolutely out of his mind in September.

    In 101 plate appearances, he hit .407/.465/.895 with 13 doubles, nine home runs and 21 RBI while tallying more walks (11) than strikeouts (five) to close out the regular season on a high note.

    His ability to play second base only adds to his value, and he's a solid defender at both spots.

4. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2017 Offensive: 140 OPS+, .301/.403/.533, 67 XBH (25 HR), 100 RBI, 81 R

    2017 Defensive: 7 DRS, 15.8 UZR/150, 15.8 DEF

    WAR: 5.9



    The 2016 NL Comeback Player of the Year proved he was back for good with a huge follow-up season.

    Anthony Rendon was limited to 80 games in 2015 while battling knee and quad injuries, and he returned to being a solid contributor the following year with a 108 OPS+ that included 38 doubles, 20 home runs and 85 RBI.

    That proved to be just a sampling of what was to come, though, as he was a legitimate NL MVP candidate last season and the most consistent offensive threat on a loaded Washington Nationals roster.

    On top of being one of just seven qualified hitters with a .300/.400/.500 line, he also played elite-level defense at third base and he could legitimately challenge Nolan Arenado for the Gold Glove.

3. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Age: 32

    2017 Offensive: 144 OPS+, .270/.385/.559, 54 XBH (33 HR), 78 RBI, 65 R

    2017 Defensive: 3 DRS, -1.1 UZR/150, 0.7 DEF

    WAR: 4.8



    Josh Donaldson was slowed by a calf strain during spring training last year and he missed six weeks shortly after Opening Day when the injury resurfaced.

    However, that didn't stop him from reaching the 30-homer mark for the third straight season.

    He finally seemed to be back at full strength after the All-Star break, posting a .992 OPS with 24 home runs and 53 RBI in 67 games.

    With free agency looming next offseason, Donaldson could be the prize of the trade deadline this year if the Toronto Blue Jays fall out of contention early.

    Either way, expect the 2015 AL MVP to cash in next winter.

2. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Age: 26

    2017 Offensive: 143 OPS+, .295/.409/.537, 71 XBH (29 HR), 73 RBI, 111 R

    2017 Defensive: 1 DRS, 0.5 UZR/150, 2.6 DEF

    WAR: 6.1



    Kris Bryant saw his run production decline drastically from his 2016 NL MVP campaign.

    Part of that had to do with a lack of consistency out of the leadoff spot in the Chicago Cubs lineup, with Bryant spending the bulk of the season hitting in the No. 2 spot.

    However, below the surface, his overall approach continued to improve.

    An already solid walk rate became elite (10.7 to 14.3 percent), while he trimmed his strikeout rate (22.0 to 19.2 percent) for the third year in a row.

    The result was a .946 OPS that was actually higher than the .939 mark he posted during his MVP performance.

    He'll probably never win a Gold Glove, but he's been much better than expected defensively after it was originally believed he may need to shift to a corner outfield spot.

1. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

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    Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

    Age: 26

    2017 Offensive: 132 OPS+, .309/.373/.586, 87 XBH (37 HR), 130 RBI, 100 R

    2017 Defensive: 20 DRS, 6.2 UZR/150, 9.0 DEF

    WAR: 7.2



    Nolan Arenado has staked his claim to being the best player at an incredibly talented third base position.

    The biggest argument against him is that he plays half his games at the hitter's paradise that is Coors Field, but that doesn't hold water.

    • Home: 1.036 OPS, 19 HR, 78 RBI
    • Away: .886 OPS, 18 HR, 54 RBI

    There's obviously still a wide split in those numbers, but his road production is plenty good enough to call his stellar production more than just a result of his environment.

    And then there's his defense.

    Arenado has won the Gold Glove in each of his five seasons in the majors, racking up a ridiculous 104 DRS along the way while turning in one highlight-reel play after another.

    A strong case can be made for each of the top three guys on this list, but for now, the No. 1 spot belongs to Arenado.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.