MLB Position Power Rankings for Every Team's Projected Third Basemen

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystMarch 23, 2020

MLB Position Power Rankings for Every Team's Projected Third Basemen

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    New Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon
    New Angels third baseman Anthony RendonDarron Cummings/Associated Press

    There wasn't a ton of offseason movement among Major League Baseball's third basemen, but there were a few substantial free-agent acquisitions that shook up the hot corner landscape.

    First and foremost, former Washington National Anthony Rendon signed a huge deal with the Los Angeles Angels, giving his new team a top-five situation at third base while leaving the World Series champs hoping and praying their rookie pans out.

    Washington wasn't the only NL East team to lose its starter, though. Josh Donaldson went from the Braves to the Twins, Todd Frazier left the Mets for the Rangers and Maikel Franco is now with the Royals instead of the Phillies. It's not often that the Marlins are the most stable at anything, but that's the case as far as NL East third basemen go. 

    Aside from those four moves, things look quite similar to last year, which should be good news for the Colorado Rockies, Oakland A's and Houston Astros, each of which had a third baseman place top six in the 2019 MVP votes. 

    Be sure to note this isn't a ranking of the best third basemen for fantasy baseball, where home runs and stolen bases reign supreme. Batting average/on-base percentage and fielding were also major components considered.

    The ranking is based primarily on perceived value of each team's projected starter, but depth and flexibility at third base (or lack there of) was also a small factor that bumped some teams up or down a couple of spots.

Nos. 30-26

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    Milwaukee Brewers 3B Eric Sogard
    Milwaukee Brewers 3B Eric SogardRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    30. Jeimer Candelario/Dawel Lugo, Detroit Tigers

    This was a fairly even timeshare last year, and it probably will be again in 2020.

    Unfortunately, Detroit is oscillating between two not-great options.

    Both Candelario and Lugo raked at the Triple-A level last year. The former batted .320/.416/.588 in 39 games; the latter .333/.370/.489 with a half-dozen stolen bases in 68 games. But that didn't translate to the big leagues. Heck, Candelario's MLB slugging percentage (.337) barely exceeded his Triple-A batting average.

    At least Candelario has shown some power in the majors in the past, clubbing 19 home runs in 2018. But this duo had a combined FanGraphs WAR of negative-0.3 last season.

              

    29. Rio Ruiz, Baltimore Orioles

    Ruiz has a little pop in his bat. He hit a dozen home runs last year, averaging roughly one for every 30 ABs. But he doesn't hit for average (.216 career in the majors). To put it lightly, the Orioles are missing Manny Machado's contributions at the dish.

    But at least Ruiz was an above-average fielder in his first season in Baltimore. That should be enough to keep him in the lineup on a near-daily basis, and perhaps that repetition will help him become a .250 BA/20 HR type of guy. For now, though, the jury is still out on this unproven commodity on a team without much of a Plan B at the position.

            

    28. Maikel Franco, Kansas City Royals

    Franco is a career .249 hitter who isn't exactly a wizard with his glove. He averages about 25 home runs per 162 games, but at what cost?

    According to FanGraphs, he was a below-replacement-level player in both 2017 and 2019, recording a negative-0.5 WAR in each year. And even at his best, he has yet to be worth two or more wins.

    To make room for the former Philadelphia Phillie, the Royals will likely be transitioning Hunter Dozier to the outfield. Dozier batted .279 and hit 26 home runs last year, so they would have ranked much higher on this list if they had just let him be and put either Franco or projected DH Jorge Soler in the outfield instead.

            

    27. Nick Solak/Todd Frazier, Texas Rangers

    It's unclear whether the Rangers will put Frazier at first and Solak at third, or if they'll let the 34-year-old veteran play the hot corner and use the 25-year-old as more of a utility man. Either way, there's a big question mark at third base for Texas.

    Even at his peak, Frazier never won a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger, and he definitely wasn't as valuable with the New York Mets for the past two years as he was with the Cincinnati Reds in 2014 and '15. If he continues to decline, this could be trouble. And while Solak has been a highly rated prospect who can hit for both average and power, there's just no way to know if he's ready to be an everyday guy in the majors.

            

    26. Eric Sogard, Milwaukee Brewers

    After an atrocious 2018 campaign in which he batted .134, Sogard had an entirely unexpected breakout year in his age-33 season. Between his time in Toronto and Tampa, he batted a career-best .290 with 13 home runsmore than he had hit in the previous eight seasons combined.

    Now he's back in Milwaukee, and the Brewers are hoping he can repeat those AL East numbers instead of backtracking to that dreadful season he had with them two years ago.

    Even if they get the former, though, he'd be a borderline top-20 third baseman as far as batting is concerned. And he has only played 266.1 innings at third base in his MLB career, so we're hardly expecting Brooks Robinson-like skills with the glove.

    At least they have options. Jedd Gyorko was a disaster at the plate last year, but he hit 20 dingers and batted .272 in 2017 and has plenty of experience at third base. And while Brock Holt has never been much of a slugger, he's a career .271 batter who has also logged a lot of hours at third. That "insurance" bumped Sogard and the Brewers up a couple of spots.

Nos. 25-21

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    Seattle's Kyle Seager
    Seattle's Kyle SeagerRob Leiter/Getty Images

    25. Colin Moran, Pittsburgh Pirates

    While no one is going to argue that Moran is an elite third baseman or even a guy definitely worth drafting in your fantasy league, at least he has been a consistent source of offense for the Pirates. He batted .277 in each of the past two seasons. He also made more than 100 starts at third and reached double digits in home runs both times.

    However, he ranked 10th among Pirates batters in Fangraphs WAR in each season, which isn't saying much. He's not a black hole in the lineup, but he's barely providing replacement-level value.

    Ke'Bryan HayesMLB.com's second-highest-rated third-base prospectmight be Pittsburgh's guy by the end of the year, though. That could bump the Pirates up into the top 20 if he delivers on that potential.

            

    24. Carter Kieboom, Washington Nationals

    Unable to re-sign Anthony Rendon this offseason, the reigning World Series champions immediately went from one of the best in the third-base department to one of the worst.

    Or maybe not?

    Kieboom was a big reason the Nats put all their re-signing eggs in the Stephen Strasburg basket. This rookie batted .303 with 16 home runs in 109 games at Triple-A Syracuse last yearnumbers similar to what Trea Turner put up before getting promoted and quickly becoming an indispensable asset.

    If he doesn't pan out immediately, they still have veteran utility men Asdrubal Cabrera and Howie Kendrick, too. Ideally, though, those guys are just around to impart some of their wisdom from a combined 27 years of MLB experience on the newbie.

            

    23. Evan Longoria, San Francisco Giants

    It's painful to put "Longo" and his 297 career home runs this low on the list, but time eventually comes for us all.

    The 34-year-old had a mini-renaissance last year, but he's nowhere near as durable as he was throughout his first decade with the Tampa Bay Rays, nor is he as great with the glove or the bat as he was in his prime. Longoria's most valuable season in the past three years was a 2.5 FanGraphs WAR in 2017.

    A repeat of last season (129 games, .254 BA, 20 HR) would be nice, but even that only made him the 20th-most valuable third baseman in 2019.

            

    22. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners

    Seager has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the past eight seasons, and he got to 23 last year in an injury-reduced 443 plate appearances. Without a close runner-up, it was the best ratio of plate appearances to home runs (19.3) in his career.

    Was it a resurgence for the now-32-year-old third baseman, or was he simply one of the many to benefit from last year's astronomical rate of round-trippers?

    Hard to say, but here's what we do know: In spite of those homers, Seager's batting average and FanGraphs WAR were lower in each of the past two seasons than they were in any of the previous six. His strikeout rate is also considerably higher than it used to be. If he continues this downward trajectory, the Mariners might need to give utility man Austin Nola a shot at third.

           

    21. Johan Camargo/Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves

    If the Braves get a full-season version of the Austin Riley, who clubbed nine home runs in the first 18 games of his MLB career last year, this ranking will look incredibly foolish.

    If they instead get the Riley who batted .192 the rest of the year while striking out in more than 40 percent of his at bats, they'll have little choice but to turn to Camargo. But he is just as much of a wild card. After batting .272 with 19 home runs two years ago, he had the worst FanGraphs WAR on Atlanta's roster in 2019.

    This 3B situation could be awesome or it could be a disaster, and it may well determine whether the Braves win the NL East.

Nos. 20-17

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    Philadelphia's Jean Segura
    Philadelphia's Jean SeguraPatrick Semansky/Associated Press

    20. Tommy Edman, St. Louis Cardinals

    It didn't take long for Edman to make a splash. He was promoted from Triple-A in early June and was a regular in the starting lineup two weeks later. And he finished strong, batting .364 with six home runs and six stolen bases over his final 28 games of the season.

    Extrapolate that rate to a full season, and he's a 30/30 guy who maybe wins a batting title.

    That's not even one-third of his first season, though. And in the other two-thirds, he batted a respectable-but-more-modest .274 and only averaged one home run for every 46 plate appearances.

    Maybe September Edman becomes his full-time role and he battles Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado for the National League's starting gig in the All-Star Game, but forever beware the sophomore slump. We're taking a cautiously optimistic stance by putting him in the top 20. It doesn't hurt that they have Matt Carpenter as an insurance plan, either.

            

    19. Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays

    Diaz hit just one home run in 299 MLB plate appearances between the 2017 and 2018 seasons with Cleveland, but he exploded for 14 four-baggers in 347 plate appearances last year with the Rays. The trade-off for that sudden surge in power was a modest dip in batting average, but it's hard to argue with a guy who hits .267 at a 162-game pace of 29 home runs.

    And a good chunk of that decreased batting average was unusually bad luck in the BABIP department. Save for a four-game stint at Triple-A in 2015, Diaz had a BABIP of .320 or better at every stop in the first five years of his professional journey, but it plummeted to .288 last year.

    Maybe that's just a natural byproduct of swinging for the fences more often, but Diaz could be a borderline top-10 third baseman if he can maintain the power in a year where his BABIP normalizes.

            

    18. Jean Segura, Philadelphia Phillies

    After losing Maikel Franco to the Kansas City Royals, the Phillies need to decide whether they're better off with Jean Segura at third and Scott Kingery at second or vice versa. For the sake of argument, though, we're putting Segura on this list and will consider Kingery when the time comes for the 2B rankings.

    Over the past four seasons with Philadelphia, Seattle and Arizona, Segura has batted .301 while averaging better than 13 home runs and 21 stolen bases per year. He has spent almost the entirety of his career at shortstop, but he's a guy you want somewhere in your lineup and in your infield as often as possible. Even if he struggles a bit in the shift from short to thirdand even if he merely has a repeat of last year's substandard .280 average with 10 stolen baseshe should more or less make up for it at the plate.

    Don't be surprised if Alec Bohm eventually supplants both Segura and Kingery as the everyday third baseman, though. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft should get the call soon. Between Lakewood, Clearwater and Reading, Bohm batted .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs in 2019, and he was batting over .400 when COVID-19 shut down spring training.

            

    17. Brian Anderson, Miami Marlins

    There aren't many positions for which it's fair to think the Marlins rank in the top 50 percent in the majors, but third base is an exception to that rule.

    Only eight third basemen have had a FanGraphs WAR of at least 3.0 in each of the past two seasons: Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Matt Chapman, Eduardo Escobar, Jose Ramirez, Anthony Rendon, Eugenio Suarez...and Brian Anderson. Sure, he barely reached that 3.0 threshold in each season and probably shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as Bregman or Rendon. But it's a fun data set all the same.

    Anderson is an above-average fielder who hit 20 home runs last year and who has batted at least .260 in each of his three seasons in Miami. Maybe they'll get him more of a supporting cast one of these years.

Nos. 16-13

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    Justin Turner
    Justin TurnerRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    16. Gio Urshela, New York Yankees

    After nearly a decade of scuffling through the minors as a .270-ish hitter with a couple of lackluster stints in the majors in Cleveland and Toronto, Urshela exploded last season, batting .314/.355/.534 with 21 home runs.

    Had there been a previous season in which he was even half that good, we'd be more willing to consider him as a top-10 guy. And if he puts together a similar campaign in 2020, we might have to declare him a top-five third baseman for 2021.

    However, we're talking about a guy who was previously a .225 hitter with eight home runs in 499 career plate appearances in MLB. It would be reckless to just throw Urshela into our top 10 after one good seasonespecially considering his backup, Miguel Andujar, batted .297 with 27 home runs in 2018 before hitting .128 last year while dealing with a shoulder injury.

             

    15. Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Turner is getting up there in agehe turned 35 in Novemberbut he isn't showing signs of breaking down just yet. Not on offense, at any rate. His defensive ratings did take a considerable nosedive in 2019.

    The Dodgers third baseman matched his career high of 27 home runs last season while batting .290. If he keeps doing that while giving them below-average-but-not-atrocious defensive efforts, no one is going to complain.

    But if he rapidly declines, at least the Dodgers have some flexibility. Max Muncy has a decent amount of experience at the hot corner and could move back over there. Joc Pederson or Cody Bellinger could take Muncy's spot at 1B, opening up a spot in the outfield for either A.J. Pollock or Chris Taylor. One of the luxuries of having a payroll in excess of $200 million.

             

    14. Eduardo Escobar, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Escobar wasn't much of a power hitter until he turned 28, but he hit 21 home runs that year, 23 the next and mashed 35 this past season. He also had an MLB-best 10 triples in 2019 and racked up 48 doubles in 2018.

    Better yet, he's a marginally above-average fielder, so the Diamondbacks aren't sacrificing anything to get his extra-base hits in the lineup.

    One minor complaint, though: He doesn't hit for average. He's not flirting with the Mendoza Line or anything, but his best batting average in the past eight years was a .275 mark in 2014. You're willing to give up a bit in that department for a guy who slugs over .500, but it does leave something to be desired.

            

    13. Jeff McNeil, New York Mets

    Unlike Urshela, at least McNeil had exhibited symptoms of breakout stardom before bursting onto the scene in 2019. The previous season, he batted .327 at Double-A, .368 at Triple-A and .329 in 63 games in the majors, hitting a combined total of 22 home runs. Batting .318 with 23 dingers last year was hardly a stunning development.

    All the same, it was impressive to see him maintain that level of production for an entire season. Aside from Pete "Polar Bear" Alonso, McNeil should be the most feared bat in the 2020 Mets lineup.

    And while he hasn't played a ton of third base, he only committed one error in 43 fielding chances at the hot corner in 2019. If he can maintain that fielding percentage as the everyday guy, he should easily be regarded as a top-five third baseman in the National League.

Nos. 12-10

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    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
    Vladimir Guerrero Jr.Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    12. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays

    It's unlikely we'll ever forget Vlad Jr.'s performance in the 2019 Home Run Derby. That was some 2008 Josh Hamilton-level outrageousness. Is that actually a word in the Oxford English Dictionary? Probably not. But it's the only way to describe what Guerrero did in Cleveland, even though he didn't win the event.

    But while he hit 91 home runs that night, he only hit 15 during the regular season while batting .272 and playing rather terrible defense (17 errors en route to a 93.6 fielding percentage). Thus far, most of the hype surrounding this recently-turned-21-year-old is a product of that one exhibition and his Hall of Fame dad.

    However, he was also a much better batter in the minors. In 61 games with Toronto's Double-A affiliate in 2018, Guerrero hit .402 and only struck out in 10.2 percent of plate appearances. In 30 games in Triple-A that same year, he hit .336 and his K rate dropped to 7.8 percent. He just never quite found that rhythm with the Blue Jays last year.

    There's no doubting he has the ability to bat .300 with 25 home runs, though. It's just a question of whether he'll get there this year. However, that glove might keep him from ever being regarded as an elite 3B.

             

    11. Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins

    The "Bringer of Rain" hit 37 home runs with the Atlanta Braves in 2019 and was the most valuable player on the roster as far as Baseball Reference is concerned.

    His batting average (.259) wasn't great, but he was tied with Nolan Arenado for the fourth-best on-base percentage (.379) among third basemen last year, thanks to his impeccable eye for balls and strikes. He still struck out in nearly one-quarter of plate appearances, but he also drew walks more than 15 percent of the time, as has been the case for several years.

    He's not quite at Adam Dunn levels of three true outcomes, but 44.3 percent of his plate appearances resulted in either a home run, walk or strikeout last year.

    Dunn did it with horrific defense, though, while Donaldson flashes solid leather at third base. Add it all up, and the Twins were willing to give this 34-year-old a four-year, $92 million contract. They may well regret it by 2023, but bringing in Donaldson and moving Miguel Sano to 1B should at least pay dividends in 2020.

            

    10. Yoan Moncada, Chicago White Sox

    Per Baseball Reference, only 47 players in the past decade (fewer than five per season) have batted .315 or better while hitting at least 25 home runs. And the only ones to do so while spending a significant amount of time at third base were Adrian Beltre (three times), Miguel Cabrera (twice as the primary third baseman), Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon, DJ LeMahieu, Jose Ramirez and Yoan Moncada.

    Moncada did it in 2019, and he did so kind of out of nowhere.

    He hit a combined total of 25 homers in 2017 and 2018, but he batted .231 and .235, respectively. It's as if he got LASIK eye surgery after the 2018 season, didn't bother to tell anybody and could suddenly see the ball out of the pitcher's hand. He also improved as a defender despite transitioning from second base to the much more reflex-demanding third base.

    That's impressive enough to land in our top 10, and the White Sox certainly think that's going to be his new normal. They signed the 24-year-old to a five-year, $70 million extension this March.

Nos. 9-7

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    Manny Machado
    Manny MachadoElaine Thompson/Associated Press

    9. Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds

    Chicks dig the long ball, but there's more to a player's overall value than that.

    Suarez hit 49 home runs last season, second only to Pete Alonso's 53. It was quite the spike from his previous career high of 34 in 2018, which was already a considerable step up from 21 and 26 in the prior two years.

    Despite that power surge, Suarez only finished 10th in FanGraphs WAR among qualified third basemen because he doesn't hit for average (.271), strikes out too much (28.5 percent), isn't anything special on defense and is rated as a woeful baserunner.

    Take away all 41 of Nolan Arenado's home runs, and he's still a darn good third baseman. Take away half of Suarez's home runs, and he's probably not even a replacement-level player. We say that not to diminish his accomplishment of hitting 49 home runs, but just to explain why this slugger isn't ranked higher.

    Furthermore, every other player in our top 10 at least has a serviceable backup in case of emergency. If Suarez were to miss any time, the Reds are pretty much stuck with hoping Josh VanMeter can improve upon the .237 batting average from his rookie season. They could always move Mike Moustakas back to third base, but that doesn't solve the problem because they'd still need to roll with either VanMeter or Alex Blandino at second.

                 

    8. Manny Machado, San Diego Padres

    When the Padres inked Machado to a 10-year, $300 million deal, they were expecting more than they got in Year No. 1.

    Far be it from us to scoff at 32 home runs and 85 RBI, but both of those marks were his worst in the 2015 to '19 time frame. So was the .256 batting average. And while his defense at third base wasn't bad, it was hardly reminiscent of his Gold Glove performances from the mid-2010s.

    Per FanGraphs, Machado was tied with Brian Anderson as the 16th-most valuable third baseman in 2019 with a WAR of 3.1.

    We're opting to believe he'll turn things around, though, considering he had WAR north of 6.0 in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Perhaps it was just a Petco Park learning curve of sorts. But it was disappointing enough to keep him well outside our top five.

            

    7. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

    Maybe the Cubs should have stuck with their 2016 plan to fully transition Bryant to left field, because his defense at third base hasn't gotten any better.

    At least he bounced back nicely from the shoulder inflammation that caused his 2018 power outage, though. He hit just 13 home runs with two trips to the disabled list that year and then got out to a dreadful start in 2019 (.232 BA, 1 HR through 22 games). But over his final 125 games, he batted .291 and hit 30 home runs, looking much more like the Bryant who was named National League MVP in 2016.

    If he's able to keep that up and bat .290 with a 162-game pace of 35 home runs this year, people will be more than willing to overlook his defensive shortcomings.

    Nevertheless, that half of the equation factors into our rankings, and Bryant's defense ranked 15th out of 17 qualified third basemen in 2019, per FanGraphs. He was even more of a defensive liability in 2018, and that has never been a particular strength in his game.

    Though he's a top-five hitter at his position, the glove costs Bryant a few spots.

Nos. 6-4

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    Matt Chapman
    Matt ChapmanMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    6. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

    It must be nice to hit 23 home runs and steal 24 bases in a down year. That's what Ramirez accomplished two years after batting .318 with 29 home runs and one year after an 8.0 FanGraphs WAR season with 39 home runs and 34 stolen bases.

    But in a 2019 campaign where seemingly everyone enjoyed a sharp uptick in slugging from previous years, Ramirez took a big step backward. Cleveland's third baseman slugged .583 in 2017, .552 in 2018 and just .479 last year. He ranked 16th among qualified third basemen in that category, compared to second in 2017.

    The slump started after the 2018 All-Star Game and continued well into last season. By June 12, Ramirez was slashing a dreadful .198/.294/.292. Over the next 63 games, though, he hit 19 home runs while slashing .314/.361/.669. He suffered a broken hammate bone in late August, came back a month later and had two home runs and seven RBI in his "re-debut."

    If second half of 2019 Ramirez shows up for an entire year, look out.

               

    5. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox

    Devers finished 12th in the AL MVP race last year, but each third baseman left in our top four finished in the top six in his respective league and has ranked among the best in the game for multiple seasons. Got to give the edge to that quartet for now, but we can certainly acknowledge that Devers is on the cusp of crashing that club.

    Boston's third baseman batted .311 with 32 home runs and 54 doubles. At only 22 years of age, he led the majors in total bases with 359.

    He ran out of gas down the stretch, though. After hitting .326 with 80 extra-base hits in his first 130 games of the season, those numbers plummeted to .237 and 10, respectively, over his final 26 contests. And those numbers are much more in line with what he did in 2018, batting .240 and averaging one extra-base hit for every 2.7 games.

    Hopefully he can settle into an equilibrium between the two, somewhere around .285 with 30 home runs and above-average defense and baserunning. That would be likely enough for top-five honors among third basemen.

            

    4. Matt Chapman, Oakland A's

    If we penalized Kris Bryant for his less than lackluster defense, you better believe we're ranking this reigning two-time Platinum Glove winner a bit higher than most fantasy owners may have expected.

    The Platinum Glove has only been around since 2011, and it is awarded to the top Gold Glove recipient in each league. It's almost like being named the All-Star Game MVP, signifying the best of the best. And Chapman won it in just his second and third seasons in the majors.

    The man is a vacuum at the hot corner. Last year, he had a FanGraphs Defense rating of 17.1. While I admittedly don't know exactly how that number is calculated, I do know it's a measure of runs saved on defense with an adjustment factor based on position, and I also know Chapman had easily the highest score among third basemen in each of the past two seasons.

    This dude can mash, too. Elite defense and slugging don't often go together for some reason, but Chapman clubbed 36 home runs last year, slugging over .500 for the second consecutive season. His batting average (.249 last year; .257 career) leaves a little to be desired, and he isn't exactly the fleetest of foot on the base paths. But if you can spend more than 1,300 innings at third base while averaging four home runs per error committed, you're a stud in our book.

Nos. 3-1

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    Nolan Arenado
    Nolan ArenadoRoss D. Franklin/Associated Press

    3. Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels

    The Angels already had a great defensive option at third base in the form of David Fletcher. Meanwhile, Tommy La Stella was a strong option at the plate, batting .295 with 16 home runs in 80 games played, but his defense was lacking. If only they could have used La Stella as a DH for Fletcher.

    They decided to back up the Brink's truck to get a guy who can wear both of those hats at the same time, signing Rendon to a seven-year, $245 million deal after he played a pivotal part in bringing a World Series trophy to the nation's capital.

    Frankly, it may end up being a steal if Tony Two Bags keeps playing like he has been.

    Rendon batted better than .300 with at least 24 home runs and more than 40 doubles in each of the last three seasons. And while he was never able to supplant Nolan Arenado atop the NL 3B Gold Glove pecking order, he's a plus defender who has only committed 33 errors in more than 5,000 innings at third base over the past four years.

    Toward the end of the contract, he'll probably end up moving back to second base or perhaps to first, but he should be quite the asset both at the dish and in the field for the next few years.

             

    2. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

    Bregman was awesome last season. He batted .296 with 41 home runs and ended up with a FanGraphs WAR of 8.5. He earned 80 percent of the AL MVP vote share and finished just a handful of votes shy of beating out Mike Trout for that honor.

    He was also quite solid in 2018, batting .286 with 31 home runs and a 7.6 FanGraphs WAR.

    But he hasn't been doing it as long as Nolan Arenado has, and he's nowhere near as good in the field. In fact, he spent most of the final five weeks of last season at shortstop while the Astros tried to adjust to Carlos Correa's injuries. They put rookie Abraham Toro at third base instead because that was the defensive arrangement that was least susceptible to poor play.

    All the same, we're talking about the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft who is just 25 and who perhaps still has not hit his peak.

    And before you pull out the "Well, the Astros cheat, so..." card, be sure to note that Bregman was considerably better outside of Minute Maid Park. He hit .278 with 16 home runs in 80 home games and batted .315 with 25 home runs in 76 games on the road.

            

    1. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

    Arenado has won the NL Gold Glove for third basemen in each of his seven seasons in the majors. That alone made him a lock for our top five.

    He has also finished top eight in the NL MVP vote in each of the past five seasons, earning the Silver Slugger in each year from 2015 to '18. (Now that 2019 Silver Slugger Rendon is in the American League, there's a good chance Arenado is about to start another four-year streak in that category.)

    In each of the past five seasons, he had at least 31 doubles, 37 home runs, 110 RBI and a batting average of .287. Per Baseball Reference, there have been 11 such seasons in the past five years, and this one man is responsible for 45 percent of them. No other player reached all four of those plateaus in the same year more than once during that half decade.

    In MLB history, here's the full list of legends who did it at least five times: Albert Belle (five times), Albert Pujols (eight), Babe Ruth (five), Jeff Bagwell (five), Jimmie Foxx (five), Lou Gehrig (six), Manny Ramirez (six) and Arenado (five). And let's just say that some of those guys didn't exactly contribute as much on defense as Arenado does.

    If you're starting a franchise from scratch, maybe you go with Bregman or Rafael Devers, since Arenado is turning 29 in mid-April. But if you're building a team for 2020 and you get first dibs at a third baseman, Arenado is the clear choice.