30. Hunter Dozier — Kansas City Royals
Hunter (no relation to Brian) Dozier is entering his second season with the Royals. Dozier spent time at both first and third base a season ago, but enters ’19 as Kanas City’s top option at third. A former first-round pick, Dozier possesses a good amount of pop. He hit 23 homers in ’16 throughout the minors, and clubbed 11 with the Royals last year. Dozier needs to find a way to make more contact, as 109 SO’s in 362 AB’s will not get the job done.
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29. Renato Núñez — Baltimore Orioles
Once Manny Machado decided he no longer wanted to play third base, the Orioles were tasked with finding his replacement. Enter, Renato Núñez. Over 60 games with the Orioles in ’18, Núñez slashed .275/.336/.445 with seven homers and 13 doubles. Spending time in the minors from ’14-17, Núñez hit a total of 114 homers. However, despite being a potent power hitter, Núñez struggles to get on base. His plate discipline is underwhelming and he swings at far too many pitches out of the zone. Defensively, Núñez performed better than expected. Although he will likely never be a Gold Glove candidate, Núñez has the tools to be a nice everyday player.
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28. Colin Moran — Pittsburgh Pirates
Like the next man on this list, Moran was acquired in exchange for a top-flight pitcher — in this case, Gerrit Cole. Moran played well for the Pirates in ’18, notching a .277/.340/.407 line and 11 homers. Never much of a power hitter, Moran adjusted his swing following the ’16 season and returned to camp with more loft in his swing. Not the fleetest of foot, Moran doesn’t elicit much confidence defensively. The advanced metrics weren’t pretty last year — -8 defensive runs saved — but he is reliable when the ball is hit at him. Moran has the offensive ability to be a fixture in Pittsburgh’s lineup for the foreseeable future.
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27. Yoán Moncada — Chicago White Sox
The centerpiece of the Chris Sale trade in ’16, Moncada has not quite lived up to the hype thus far in Chicago. Last year — his first full season — was particularly rough for Moncada. He struck out an MLB-high 217 times. Despite hitting 17 homers and 32 doubles, Moncada’s strikeout total is by far the most glaring number from last year. After exclusively playing second base for the Sox, Moncada is making the switch to the hot corner. Moncada didn’t play well at second, so the organization is hoping that fielding a new position will come with success. Moncada is a big talent, but the organization would like to see a massive improvement this year.
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26. Brian Anderson — Miami Marlins
Brian Anderson’s rookie season has to be considered a great success for the Marlins. Anderson hit for average (.273) and power (11 HR, 34 2B) — resulting in a 4th place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year race. In addition to being a capable hitter, Anderson has good tools defensively. He features an above-average arm and soft hands at third. He was better in the outfield last year, but should play better at third with more time . Furthering his potential at the plate, Anderson has shown a good eye and the ability to be patient at the dish. If he continues to ascend as a player, the Marlins may have another valuable player to trade away.
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25. Matt Duffy — Tampa Bay Rays
After breaking through with the Giants in ’15, Duffy has had a tough time staying on the field. The runner-up for the NL Rookie of the Year award in ’15, Duffy appeared in more than 100 games (132) for the first time sine his rookie season. In turn, Duffy reminded folks of the promise he showed in San Francisco. He slashed .294/.361/.366 and played solid defense at the hot corner. Duffy has Gold Glove potential if he can remain healthy. Having just turned 28, the Rays hope they have found their third baseman for the next few years.
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24. Eduardo Escobar — Arizona Diamondbacks
While in the midst of a playoff race a season ago, the Diamondbacks made a splash by trading for Escobar. In his first National League action, Escobar performed admirably for Arizona. His numbers dipped slightly after a strong display in Minnesota, but Escobar hit for average and displayed decent power in the desert. Defensively, Escobar was a stud. He only committed two errors after the trade, and a mere five for the season. Escobar’s play at third also allows the Diamondbacks to move Jake Lamb to first base. With Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock no longer in town, Escobar may be the brightest star after Zack Greinke.
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23. Jeimer Candelario — Detroit Tigers
If you are looking for a potential player to step up while Miguel Cabrera eases his way out of baseball, look no further than Jeimer Candelario. Despite hitting a pedestrian .224 last season, Candelario has the ability to become Detroit’s next star. The switch-hitting third baseman possesses gap-to-gap power and a smooth swing. Candelario has two great mentors in Cabrera and Robinson Cano — the latter, whom he has spent plenty of time training with in the Dominican. He has plenty of room to improve defensively, but by no means is ‘Candy’ a slouch in the field.
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22. Evan Longoria — San Francisco Giants
Evan Longoria’s first season in San Francisco didn’t go as planned. The three-time All-Star struggled through the worst season of his professional career. He set career-lows in BA (.244), OPS (.694) and OBP (.281) — a terrible number by any standard. He led the team with 16 homers — his lowest total since ’12 — and only walked a dismal 22 times. He wan’t great in the field, either. He posted a -1 Rtot — the first negative mark of his career — and committed 15 errors. Despite coming off a bad season, Longoria has earned the benefit of the doubt for at least one more season. However, if things don’t get better in a hurry, the Giants may be forced to move on much sooner than they anticipated.
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21. Maikel Franco — Philadelphia Phillies
Manny Machado’s decision to sign with San Diego may have saved Franco’s status as an everyday player in Philadelphia. Still only 26, Franco is one of the more polarizing position players in baseball. Some believe his potential is worth putting up with his inconsistent play, while others are under the impression he won’t improve. Franco’s numbers at the plate in ’18 were the best of his career. He slashed .270/.314/.467 — his highest marks since an 80-game stint in ’15 — hit 22 HR, and struck out far less than the two previous years. However, Franco remains undependable in the field. His -1.1 dWAR was the worst of his career. Franco is a fine player, but if he wants to maintain a stranglehold of third base he must fine-tune his game.
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20. Asdrubal Cabrera — Texas Rangers
Replacing a future Hall of Famer is an unenviable task. When that player is as loved as Adrian Beltre is in Texas, the task becomes harder. So, is Cabrera ready to take on the challenge? Based off his Jekyll and Hyde performance in ’18 it is tough to say. In his 98 games with the Mets, Cabrera was having a career-year. Then, after being traded to Philadelphia, Cabrera’s season took a nosedive over the last 50 games. Regardless of ending the season with a sour taste in his mouth, Cabrera has proved to be a reliable player. While he only spent a limited time at third (22 games), Cabrera didn’t commit any errors.
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19. Miguel Andújar — New York Yankees
Andújar coming in at No. 19 may seem a tad disrespectful. And if we were solely judging players based off their offensive talent, it would be. However, when accounting for offense, defense, and everything in-between, Andújar has clear shortcomings. Andújar was highly impressive at the plate as a rookie. In addition to hitting 27 HR, the 24-year-old posted a .297/.328/.527 line. Defensively, however, Andújar was a nightmare. He committed 15 errors and the advanced metrics weren’t pretty — -25 Rdrs, -29 Rtot. His arm will never be a problem, but it’s not a stretch to say Andújar is the worst defensive third baseman in baseball.
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18. Jed Lowrie — New York Mets
A mediocre player for much of his career, Jed Lowrie has enjoyed his two best seasons as he enters his mid-30’s. Lowrie earned his first All-Star nod last s year for his stellar play with the Athletics. He hit 23 HR and drove in 99 runs — shattering his previous high’s of 16 and 75. In addition to upping his power numbers, Lowrie drew a career-best 78 walks. He was even better fielding his position. Lowrie manned second base 136 times last year and committed an impressive four errors. With Robinson Cano occupying second for the Mets, Lowrie will make the move to third. In limited appearances at third throughout his career, Lowrie has fared rather well.
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17. Zack Cozart — Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Cozart’s first season in Anaheim was mired in injury — a torn labrum shut Cozart down after only 253 trips to the plate. Cozart’s ’17 season in Cincinnati was the best of his career, as the Memphis native earned his lone All-Star appearance while slashing .297/.385/.548 with 24 homers. Cozart doesn’t strikeout much, and has proven to be a decent hitter when healthy. He is also steady defensively — having only finished one season with a negative Defensive Runs Saved mark. Cozart’s health will be a big factor in Anaheim’s success this season.
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16. Miguel Sanó — Minnesota Twins
There is no denying Sanó’s talent, but many questions linger about his future with both the Twins, and to a greater extent, in Major League Baseball. Sanó had a miserable ’18 campaign. Before being held out the final month of the season due to a left knee injury, Sanó had a six-week sabbatical in the Minors in order to work on his conditioning. Sanó struck out a whopping 38.5 percent of his plate appearances, and failed to reach the Mendoza Line (.200 BA). Sanó turns 26 in May, so time is on his side. His 6-foot-4, 260 pound frame generates a ton of power. He made the All-Star team in ’17 and slugged 28 HR. He needs to solidify his fielding at third, but if he returns to the hitter he was prior to last year, Sanó may be inline for a few more All-Star berths.
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15. Rafael Devers — Boston Red Sox
Despite producing a uninspiring .240/.298/.433 line in ’18, the Rafael Devers hype appears to be real. Boston fans had been waiting for his arrival from the moment he signed with the club in ’15. The big third baseman tallied 21 HR and 66 RBI last season, but once again came up big in October. Devers was especially good in the ALCS. He hit .385 against the Astros, including one homer and six RBI. Devers has a .311 BA in four series. Much like his counterpart in New York, Devers has room to improve defensively. While the advanced metrics aren’t as ugly as Andújar’s, Boston’s top-choice third baseman struggles at times. This 22-year-old has a bright future.
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14. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — Toronto Blue Jays
Vlad Gurrero Jr. is the top prospect in baseball. He is, by all accounts, ready to star in the Majors — unless you ask Toronto’s General Manager. Gurrero likely won’t be on the roster Opening Day, but he should be called up as soon as the team earns another year of control. Take a look at his stat line last year in the Minors — .381/.437/.636, 20 HR, 29 doubles, 37 BB, 38 SO. Gurrero has the ability to be one of the best hitters in baseball upon his arrival. He rarely misses when he swings, and barrels up seemingly every pitch. He possesses top-level contact and power skills. Most importantly, his control of the strike zone is elite. His fielding doesn’t come close to matching his offensive prowess despite having a plus arm. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Gurrero contending for multiple MVP’s.
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13. Kyle Seager — Seattle Mariners
A former All-Star and Gold Glove winner, Seager is entering the year looking to bounce back from the worst performance of his career. Seager struggled to make consistent contact at the plate, resulting in career-lows in BA (.221), OBP (.273), SLG (.400), and OPS (.673). Coupled with making less contact, Seager struck out a career-high 138 times and drew only 38 walks. Despite his struggles, Seager hit 36 doubles and 22 homers — numbers consistent with the rest of his career. His defense also slipped in ’18, though he still remains a reliable fielder at third. If Seager can’t rediscover his stroke at the plate, Seattle may begin to look for his replacement.
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12. Travis Shaw — Milwaukee Brewers
After moving to second base for the second half of the ’18 season in order to accommodate Mike Moustakas, Travis Shaw will begin the new year back at third base. Shaw didn’t post a great average (.241), but he did come up big in the power department. Shaw hit 32 homers and 23 doubles, while also increasing his walk rate and decreasing his strikeout rate. Shaw was rather unlucky, as his BABIP — BA on balls in play — was only .242. Shaw did well defensively at both second and third. In 107 games at third, Shaw saved nine defensive runs. It is likely that Shaw splits time with Moustakas once again this year, giving the Brewers two good options at both positions.
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11. Josh Donaldson — Atlanta Braves
Troy Tulowitzki isn’t the only former Blue Jay that has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons. Donaldson, the AL MVP in ’15, has missed 159 games the last two years. Between his lower leg troubles and shoulder worries, Donaldson hasn’t been able to showcase his immense talent. When healthy, Donaldson is equally gifted with his bat and his glove. From ’15-17, Donaldson averaged 37 HR, 100 RBI, and a .285 BA. Defensively he was nearly unmatched, including a two-year stretch in which he saved 31 runs. A healthy Donaldson could turn the Braves into one of the top contenders in the National League.
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10. Eugenio Suárez — Cincinnati Reds
Eugenio Suárez’s monster season was equal parts unexpected and promising. Suárez had performed well enough the two years prior — 47 HR, 152 RBI, .254 BA — but his place in the lineup wasn’t a certainty going forward due to the impending arrival of Nick Senzel. Suárez bolstered his case by hitting 34 HR, driving in 104 runs, and totaling career-highs in BA, SLG, and OPS. Suárez’s 19 errors are unsightly, but he actually posted a positive Rtot and Rdrs.
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9. Matt Carpenter — St. Louis Cardinals
The ’18 season was a strange one for Carpenter. In mid-May he was hitting below .150. From May 15 through August 31, Carpenter hit .313 with 32 homers. Then, he fell apart in the last month of the season. The end results — .257/.374/.523, 36 HR, 42 doubles, 81 RBI. He spent the year rotating between first, second, and third base, but played his best defense at third. With Paul Goldschmidt now in the mix, Carpenter will spend most of his time at his preferred position — third base — and should benefit at the plate as well. Goldschmidt’s inclusion should result in Carpenter getting more, and better, pitches to hit. This could be an All-Star campaign for St. Louis’ leader.
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8. Matt Chapman — Oakland Athletics
Matt Chapman is a star on the rise. An all-around stud player, Chapman can beat you with his bat and glove. At the plate, Chapman has pop and the ability to hit near .300. Last season he hit 42 doubles to go along with 24 homers. His average settled at .278, and he slugged an impressive .508. When it comes to the work with his glove, perhaps only Nolan Arenado is a better defender of the position. Chapman won his first Gold Glove in ’18, and saved 29 defensive runs — a top-5 mark since ’02 — a year after saving 19. Chapman will be a force for years to come.
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7. Anthony Rendon — Washington Nationals
Don’t feel too bad for Washington losing Bryce Harper, they still have another MVP candidate on its roster in the form of Anthony Rendon. Rendon has somewhat flown under the radar due to Harper’s star-power, but he is one hell of a player in his own right. Since the beginning of ’17, Rendon has hit 49 HR, 85 doubles, drove in 192 runs, hit .305, and has a BB/SO total of 139/164. Rendon is also a good defensive player, having saved five runs per season since ’16 in addition to committing less than 10 errors each season since ’15.
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6. Kris Bryant — Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant would like to forget the ’18 season. Two years removed from winning the NL MVP and World Series, Bryant struggled throughout the year both at the plate and with his health. Appearing in only 102 games, Bryant slashed .272/.374/.460 with 13 homers. After posting WAR totals of 6.1, 7.4, and 6.2 his first three years, his 1.9 WAR in ’18 was easily the worst of his young career. Despite enduring a disappointing season last year, Bryant remains one of the best players in baseball when healthy. He hits for average and power, is a versatile defender, and has proved to be a winner.
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5. Alex Bregman — Houston Astros
Bregman has had quite a start to his career. He jumped onto the scene in ’17, slashing .284/.352/.475 with 19 homers and 39 doubles en route to helping Houston claim the World Series crown. Bregman followed that up by improving his numbers across the board last season. He led baseball with 51 doubles, hit 31 homers, and tallied 103 RBI. Most impressively, Bregman drew 96 walks while striking out 85 times — one-of-four players to accomplish the feat in ’18. He isn’t outstanding defensively to this point, but he proved to be more than capable of playing shortstop as well as third.
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4. Justin Turner — Los Angeles Dodgers
This bearded wonder is arguably the most important player to the Dodgers’ success. After a broken wrist in Spring Training robbed him of the first month and change of the season, Turner’s return helped kick-start the Dodgers season. He finished the year with a .312/.406/.518 line, including a dominant second half in which he went an absurd .356/.447/.619. Not only is Turner one of the best hitters in baseball, but he is also a slick fielder. He has only posted one negative Rdrs season with the Dodgers and consistently makes big plays at the hot corner.
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3. José Ramírez — Cleveland Indians
94 doubles, 68 HR, 188 RBI, 51 SB, 158 BB, 149 SO, .294 BA, and back-to-back third place finishes in the AL MVP race…José Ramírez is decent at baseball. Ramírez is a scary figure in the box thanks in large part to his violent uppercut swing. It’s quite remarkable that a 5-foot-9, 160 pound player is generating this type of power. If his bat isn’t scary enough, he stole 34-of-40 bases and scored 110 runs for the Tribe. Like Bregman, Ramírez tallied more walks (106) than strikeouts (80). A good defender as well, Ramírez should contend for the AL MVP again this year.
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2. Manny Machado — San Diego Padres
Fresh off signing a huge contract with the Padres, Manny Machado has agreed to return to third base. Prior to last season Machado thrived at the hot corner — highlighted by his 20-year-old campaign in which he posted a 35 Rdrs. San Diego’s new star continues to rake at the dish. He has hit at least 33 homers four-straight years, and is coming off the best offensive season of his career. Machado is an elite defensive third baseman. He has an absolute cannon and is capable of making any play. It will be interesting to see if playing 81 games at Petco Park will greatly diminish his offensive numbers, though Machado’s greatness should negate any possible effect.
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1. Nolan Arenado — Colorado Rockies
Eight-years, $260 million. That is what it took for Arenado to extend his stay in Colorado without testing free agency. Arenado is likely one of the five best players today. Entering his seventh season, Arenado has captured a Gold Glove each of his first six years in the Majors. He has three-straight top-5 finishes for the NL MVP. Since ’15, he is averaging 40 HR and 126 RBI while hitting .297 and slugging .573. Predictably, he is a better hitter at Coors Field than he is on the road. Arenado has saved 109 defensive runs since his debut in ’13. As it stands, Arenado is on pace to become one of the greatest defensive third basemen of all-time — if not one of the best all-around players at the position.
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