A much-dissected position, 3B is a spot on the diamond that has and will cause fantasy managers to groan. This is true, the position is weakening, but I will not push up a player solely to fill a spot, based on fear of missing out. There are decent options up and down the player pool, and those guys can and will provide production. The key for me is not overpaying and finding good backups if I did wait on the position, to ensure I have a parachute plan if my primary 3B does disappoint. 

My Strategy: 

Depending on my draft slot, I am very open to taking one of the top three 3B options, and I am targeting Jose Ramirez if I get a pick inside the top 4, as he’s such a big edge. Machado and Devers are also wonderful options as well. After those players, some of the 3B usually go off the board before I am ready to pounce, and once we get to Nolan Arenado or Alex Bregman, that’s when I can be ready if the build allows to bring them aboard. Getting a good value at the position for me will be the name of the game, as I want to address other needs like speed, saves, and/or pitching at the top of the draft, so taking a 3 or a 4-cat contributor at 3B isn’t a requirement just to feel ‘safe’ about 3B, since there are good choices later. The last 3B I would be okay picking as my starting 3B option in 15 teamers in Eugenio Suarez because after him the pool gets very murky. Ideally, I can get 2 of my top 15 options, to have a good backup in case my primary 3B gets hurt.

The Cream of the Crop:

1Jose Ramirez
2Rafael Devers
3Manny Machado

Going off the board as the 1.1 in some drafts, Jose Ramirez is a player that is *nearly* flawless from a fantasy baseball perspective. Outside of a non-elite batting average, he does everything exceptionally well, and he plays the most challenging position to fill in the game, outside of Catcher. Ramirez is drafted for his 30 homer – 30 steal potential, but it’s his combination of a career 12% K rate and a 10% BB rate, with elite contact rates, and good success pulling flyballs that make him such a safe fantasy asset – especially since he’s insanely durable. JRam is my clear 1.2 overall in standard roto leagues, and there is a decent argument to him being taken first overall. 

Rafael Devers is interchangeable with Manny Machado in the early 2nd round, as they are both really good hitters, borderline elite, and hit in premium lineup spots with BA and strong power potential. At the moment, Devers is projected for a touch more pop and a slightly better batting average, but Machado contributes more stolen bases, with a 10-12 SB projection compared to Devers’ 5 SB projection. Plate discipline favors Machado’s career 16.6% K rate to Devers’ career 21.6% K rate, but that’s a tiny edge. Both batters barreled up the ball over 13% of the time in 2021, and both are elite options to start out your fantasy roster with an edge at the toughest position to fill. 

Big-Time Bats:

4Austin Riley
5Nolan Arenado
6Alex Bregman
7Kris Bryant

Austin Riley burst onto the scene in 2021 in an unforgettable campaign, hitting 33 HR’s with a .303 BA and finishing 7th in NL MVP voting, an insane come-up for the former post-hype sleeper elite prospect. Heading into 2022, Riley carries an ADP inside the top 70 in most formats, and it’s partially based on his elevated .368 BABIP that he posted in 2021, which pumped up his numbers in a serious way. I would imagine that comes back down in a significant way, and I am seeing a 30 HR, .270 BA bat, a very good player, but early on in the draft I am looking for steals, saves or elite starters, so Riley will not fit my strategy. 

A former first-round darling, Nolan Arenado represents the Steadiest of the Eddies, a player type I love buying into. 2021 Contact metrics look very similar to Coors Nolan, demonstrating that STL got the same guy they saw playing in Colorado. 30 HRs, 100 RBI with a nice batting average are in play here. This is a wonderful target to successfully fill in 3B without overspending (ADP around pick 85), and still get some ceiling if his BA spikes in his 2nd go-around figuring out Busch Stadium.

Alex Bregman is becoming a heel at this point, with his lack of remorse for the cheating scandal, and his punchable face *jokes*. With that being said, and his poor 2021 campaign (by his standards), on top of a wrist issue that forced him to undergo surgery, he is cheaper than he has been in quite some time. The plate discipline metrics are still strong for Bregman, making him an appealing floor play, the only noticeable change was his lack of pop, a huge factor, but that could come back. A .270 BA is potentially the floor, with a shot at .290+ and 20+ HRs. I am very into this player at this price, based on good age, contact, and elite lineup. There is an injury history slowly building up here, but I can look past it because of the good price and talent of Bregman.

Kris Bryant is next on the list, and while he isn’t an exciting player anymore, he does have some utility in fantasy. His 3B/OF eligibility is super nice, even if he’s likely going to be used at 3B. He comfortably projects for 25 or so HRs, with a .260-.270 BA, decent enough numbers. His 5-6 steals could come or go at any moment’s notice, so I would not factor those in a significant way, since once he gets his payday he will look to just stay healthy as a bat for his new team. If his ADP was around pick 120-130 or so I would be more interested, as I could see similar output from Justin Turner or Josh Donaldson as I can from Bryant, but Bryant does have some value even if he’s a tad bit expensive. 

Very Satisfactory Options:

8DJ LeMahieu
9Ke’Bryan Hayes
10Justin Turner
11Adalberto Mondesi
12Anthony Rendon
13Josh Donaldson
14Yoan Moncada

DJ LeMahieu is one of the trickier hitters to evaluate in all of fantasy baseball for 2022. Fully willing to admit that, as he broke out into top 30 fantasy pick status in 2019 and 2020, but he absolutely bottomed out in 2021, with a brutal 10 HR and a paltry .268 BA. An ugly outcome for a guy picked in round 2 of 2021, as there weren’t steals in that profile to buoy him. Flashforward towards 2022 draft season and LeMahieu is discounted over 100 picks based on what turned out to be an injury-riddled 2022, as he battled a hernia for some portion of time that is unknown. With the safety of the leadoff role for the Yankees, elite BA and 100+ runs potential with the chance at 15+ HRs and triple eligibility, I am willing to take the plunge for DJ at this price.

A rare speed option, Hayes brings double-digit speed to the table with 15+ HR potential as well to pair with the elite glove that will cement him into the Pittsburgh lineup. Hayes was well regarded as a prospect, and he caught major steam in his debut when he destroyed baseballs in 2020. 2021 was a different story, as he battled a wrist issue off and on that slowed his running and affected his hitting. Hopefully, that wrist issue will be fixed moving forward, and he can try to tap into his potential in 2022, but there are some health concerns that must be considered before taking him on. If you need steals, he is a great way to inject SBs into your roster at a corner infield spot, but I’d back him up with another 3B to add more depth to your team. Hayes is a player I am willing to bet on, but I wouldn’t go overboard based on health risk and he hasn’t shown a breakout with the bat over a full season. Still, a ton to like here.

One of my big-time targets, Justin Turner is being discounted in a major way, and I am here to buy him up. Turner is a supreme bat, as he has a 138 wRC+ over the past 4 years, he will be able to DH plenty for the Dodgers, and hits for both AVG and power, a rare combo. Sure there are health concerns, but that is why he is oftentimes available after pick 150 and even later at times. If you put another 3B at corner infield, this is just easy profit potential with Turner, hitting in a premium lineup spot for the Dodgers. 

For me, it’s all about health with Adalberto Mondesi, as his career-high in PAs in a year was 443, back in 2019. The benefit to Mondesi is that even in half of a season, he can provide 10+ HRs and 30+ steals, which is wicked awesome. Building around Mondesi, is too difficult for me though since you do not want to draft too many steals (there’s no benefit to being in first in steals by 50 more steals than your opponent), or they will be redundant. You also can’t rely on only Mondesi for steals because if he gets hurt, then you have lit your league entry fee on fire. I’d rather just add steals in bits and pieces with contributions from multiple guys across my roster. There are also the comments he may not be a full-time player, something that isn’t surprising considering he is a career 82 wRC+ bat, much worse than league average, and KC is finding better offensive bats to fill in their team with. Mondesi could be a league winner for someone, but he is not a guy I am interested in unless he slips an absurd amount because his projections are unstable due to health and you cannot replace his steals if/when he gets hurt. 

Another big-time talent searching for better health, Anthony Rendon enters 2022 looking to get right so that he can provide another excellent season, as he’s been one of the better hitters in the position over the past half-decade. Rendon could provide elite AVG with good 22-25 HR pop, but his injuries must be factored in, and they do concern me quite frankly. Additionally, Rendon’s power dried up in 2021, for whatever reason, so there could be an age-related decline in here too. Regardless, it’s not a bad gamble to make at his ADP, as this is a really good bat, who just needs to get healthy, and we could see a big age 31 season from Rendon.

Known more for his injury risk than his bat, Josh Donaldson is an undervalued player at this position. Donaldson set a career-best 17% barrel rate in 2021, demonstrating the pop left in his old bat. There is some injury risk, but his ADP is after pick 200, making him a very affordable cleanup hitter who could DH plenty in Minnesota. A good hitter, at a good price, at a tough position. If you can back him up with another bat who’s fairly reliable under him on this list, that is a good way to solve 3B with good options for a low cost.

Many of the bats previously discussed, I have a good feel for how to view, except Yoan Moncada is an exception. I am puzzled by Moncada. The former number one overall prospect just hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like to see, and I don’t know how to project him. He strikes out a lot because he works deep counts in order to goose his OBP numbers, good for real baseball, bad for roto. His power could be real, as he has big-time raw power and strength, but he isn’t getting to it enough, with just 14 HRs in 2021. Steals were once thought to be an avenue for Moncada, but they aren’t. I would not be shocked if everything did click for him in 2022, based on his excellent 2019 and elite pedigree, plus a great lineup to thrive in, but I am not seeing enough to draft him inside the top 150.

Last of the Solid Starters:

15Ryan McMahon
16Jeimer Candelario
17Luis Urias
18Eugenio Suarez
19Matt Chapman

Playing in Coors should be a big advantage for McMahon, despite a watered-down lineup, it’s still a spot that we want to focus on in fantasy. Coors doesn’t help out HRs as much as it boosts BA, and McMahon took advantage of Coors, hitting .278 at home and .227 on the road, making him really good at home, and someone you want to bench on long road trips. McMahon still hit his HRs on the road, with 12 dingers at home to 11 on the road, but his BA is Coors-influenced. McMahon has been able to tap into good power each of the last 3 seasons, with a .198 ISO over those 3 years combined, proving he has a good floor of pop and excellent BA at home. His contact skills have been improving and should continue to tick up little by little as RyMac just turned 27. This is a good duel-eligible 2B/3B target that can be moved around the lineup to serve multiple needs.

One of my favorite boring but very solid targets, Candelario is often overlooked, but he provides a solid AVG, a little bit of pop and his counting stats will continue to tick up as he hits in the heart of the order for an improving Detroit lineup. Fall-off risk is fairly minimal, since Jeimer has really good plate discipline, walking over 10% of the time, while only striking out 21.6% of the time. The Candyman is 28, so there is room for growth, and he could see more of his barrels (38 brls, just 16 HR) go over the fence moving forward. Additionally, he hit 42 doubles, a mark that lead the MLB in 2021. Some of those hits could also become long-balls in time as well. A boring, but responsible draft-day buy.

A 20-something homer guy with a .250 BA and not a ton of steals isn’t as interesting to me as a Wong or a Segura, as they can run a bit more, however, this is the profile one could expect from Luis Urias. Urias made his bones mostly off of pulled homers, something that I think he can sustain, but a big jump up from this production would be a little surprising to me. His SS/3B/2B eligibility is a big selling point for me, that flexibility is huge.

A big power bat that is projected for 31 HRs with a .240 BA (The Bat X) is available here often times after pick 200 with 3B/SS duel-eligibility, an interesting surface level proposition. Drafters have fully soured on Suarez, given his .198 AVG from 2021. His 30% K rate would support such a bad mark, but he’s also been a lot better for AVG over his career, so a .220-.230 BA with over 30 HRs is in the cards. Barrel rate of 15% shows that at least the power is still in the bat. If you missed out, this at least looks like big power, with a full-time role and a shot at a bounceback. 

Elite defense will keep Matt Chapman entrenched in an MLB role, but there are a lot of very worrisome signs at play here. Chapman’s K rate has risen up into the 32% range, a bloated mark that will kill AVG into roto leagues, and his contact rates have plummeted to support this poor trend in the K rate department. As an AVG liability, there is a lot of downside to Chapman, but he should be able to play a lot and rack up 25+ HRs, but he’s quite a risk, and one that I am not interested in, his rank simply shows you how sketchy the guys are below him. His guaranteed playing time is one of his edges on guys below him in the ranks. 

Still, A Little Hope:

20Eduardo Escobar
21Abraham Toro
22Evan Longoria
23Gio Urshela
24Mike Moustakas
25Josh Jung

The only thing to not like about Eduardo Escobar is how crowded the Mets depth chart is at the moment. It appears that he will play 3B for the Mets, but they also have J.D. Davis, and they even could pursue another 3B once the lockout is over, given how aggressive Steve Cohen has been in improving the team. A trade or 2 would help clear things up here, and drafting Escobar as your main 2B is a little nerve-wracking since it’s a logjam, but his duel eligibility makes him nice to slot in all over the place assuming he gets his normal playing time. Escobar has been a huge RBI producer, with a strong .216 ISO since 2018 over 2151 PAs, showing he has power potential, but the question is will the Mets let him accrue 550+ PAs.

Abraham Toro is a player that is between a full-time starter, and a good utility man. His age 25 season will be pivotal to how he is viewed moving forward in an increasingly competitive Seattle lineup, as he blends good contact with a touch of power and speed. Not an overly exciting profile, but there is a hint of upside in this bat if he can combine a few different skills and lockdown a full-time job in Seattle. 

Evan Longoria will get his chance to damage in San Francisco, but he should not be depended on as a starting player in fantasy leagues in 2022, despite a career-best 13% barrel rate in his age 35 season. An old dog can learn new tricks, what a testament to SF coaching/development as well as Longoria being open to making adjustments. Longo is a nice bench stash in draft-and-hold formats, but his injury risk and SF’s mixing and matching will keep his upside limited, even if he’s strong on a per-at-bat basis. 

I really wish I knew what the Yankees’ plans are to address the team in free agency, as Urshela’s value could swing in a good or a bad way. He’s currently projected as their SS on Roster Resource, but he can pick it at 3B as well. Still, if the Yankees bring in reinforcements, he could be a luxury utility-man, a meh role in fantasy. Urshela is bland, but a .270 BA with 20 HRs isn’t a bad line here where he goes in drafts. 

Mike Moustakas was absolutely built for the NL DH, and both he and the Reds are happy to see it implemented in the MLB. Mous dealt with a rough patch of leg and foot injuries that cost him his 2021 season. Moustakas began striking out a lot more in 2020 and 2021 combined, an unwelcome sign for a guy who’s already not good for BA. Still, Mous is priced to buy in 2022, if he’s healthy in Spring Training, and he could easily beat out Matt Chapman in earned auction dollars, it’s just there is more health risk with Mous and his role could get taken away from him if he struggles since he provides absolutely no defensive value. 

Originally, Josh Jung landed here in my ranks, but he needs to be monitored moving forward as he suffered a shoulder injury in mid-February. Jung is becoming a top 3B prospect for fantasy, as he hits for a very good average, and he tapped into pull-side power in 2021, with a 140 wRC+ at AA and a 166 wRC+ at AAA, astonishing marks. If things click with Jung, he could be like Anthony Rendon, with a .290 AVG and 25 HRs in Texas. I like him as a stash, but we need to wait for more news before investing in him.

Spec Plays/Bargain Bin:

26Luis Arraez
27Patrick Wisdom
28Hunter Dozier
29Joey Wendle
30Ha-Seong Kim
31Alec Bohm
32Yandy Diaz
33Brian Anderson
34Rougned Odor
35Cavan Biggio

A batting average only guy, Arraez has triple-eligibility with 3B/2B/OF which is nice, and if he somehow leads off for Minny, there is value, but he is a depth chip to move around once injuries hit in deep formats. 

Someone I will not trust Patrick Wisdom could disappear as he appeared in 2021, as a 40% K rate is just not palatable to MLB teams. He is a bandaid for the Cubs despite the big power potential, I am heading for the hills with this profile.

A bland player in general, Hunter Dozier was not very good in 2021, posting an 82 wRC+ across 543 PAs, and battling through a tough thumb injury. Dozier is a better player than that, but he’s still a bit vanilla to be kind. His 3B/OF eligibility allows him to slot in more spots in fantasy lineups, but expectations should be fairly low for the low AVG, medium power bat.

A Swiss-Army Knife type of utility-man, Joey Wendle provides a literal sprinkling of pop and steals, and I mean that, as he provided 11 HRs and 8 SBs in 501 PAs for the Rays last year, with a 106 wRC+ and he played 3 different defensive positions well. He was a good player for Tampa, and since he was owed a raise, they flipped him for prospect capital! In draft-and-hold, he’s adequate because he can float a little bit between 3B/SS, a valuable duel-eligibility. 

After a disastrous opening to his career in 2021, Ha-Seong Kim will be looking to rebound after a rough debut. There aren’t a ton of reasons for optimism in the stats, but one would think another year of getting acclimated to MLB pitching and living in the US can only help Kim. SS/2B/3B are the selling points, as well as the fact he did provide positive defensive value for the Padres. If he has a little improvement on his 2021, a double-double of 10+ HR/SB could be in order with him providing a little pop and speed. Not a bad dart toss for a Swiss-Army Knife since he is going very late in drafts. 

Alec Bohm had all the prospect shine one could imagine, he balled out in the 2020 short season and then sputtered in 2021. Bohm put the ball on the ground 52% of the time in 2021, and he may not be assured a starting gig in 2022, immediately. Still, a cheap bet on him isn’t a bad idea, since he did have a high-end pedigree. 

During Brian Anderson’s prime, he was once described to me as a boring, big ol’ bowl of vanilla ice cream with no sprinkles or chocolate sauce. Bland, but acceptable. This was when he was hitting .260 with 20 HRs. He is coming off an injury, and Miami is filling up their roster with other INF types, making PT for Anderson trickier. He’s off my board unless he slips a crazy amount since there is no upside here.

Playing time and occasional power are the selling points for Rougned Odor, as well as 3B/2B eligibility. Baltimore brought him in to play, and he is not horrible as a deep reserve in draft-and-hold leagues as a deep, deep insurance policy in case injury strikes. 

There is a chance Cavan Biggio can regain glory back in Toronto, but my patience has worn out, and I’ve never really been much of a fan. Cheap upside dart at some speed, but I am not even sure he will land a job as a regular, especially if Toronto seeks out FA reinforcement.

Summary:

3B has become a tricky position in fantasy, with fewer starts than usual, fewer guys at the 20-30 range that can be relied upon, and a few guys with ‘injury risk’ tags like Justin Turner and Josh Donaldson. I personally am okay waiting for a good-priced 3B to appear, whether it’s Machado in mid-round 2, or if it’s Justin Turner much, much later. The fact of the matter is it will be imperative to not wait past Matt Chapman or Eugenio Suarez, as they are truly the cliff of this position in terms of any upside and reliable PT.