MLB: Atlanta Braves at Boston Red Sox
Bob DeChiara / USA TODAY Sports

The problem at third base right now isn't necessarily a lack of young players. Bobby Witt, Austin Riley, Rafael Devers, and Gunnar Henderson are all in their 20s and all are going inside of the first 90 picks in most Fantasy Baseball drafts right now; that means only Jose Ramirez, Manny Machado, and Nolan Arenado are in their 30s among the early-round picks. This is not a position dominated by dinosaurs, and there's a next wave of third baseman making their impact felt right now.

The problem at third base is that there was a shortage of breakouts around three to four years ago, and the position hasn't recovered yet. Looking back at Scott White's top prospects from 2018 at third base, for instance, you've got very few true hits: Austin Riley is the only player listed among the top 12 in Scott's rankings who is currently a difference maker for Fantasy with third base eligibility; Vladimir Guerrero is, obvious only a first baseman now. That class, which included the likes of Nick Senzel, J.P. Crawford, Miguel Andujar, Michael Chavis, and Christian Arroyo, among others, just hasn't lived up to expectations. Neither have the likes of Yoan Moncada, Ryan McMahon, Jeimer Candelario, Colton Welker, Nolan Jones, or Nolan Gorman, to choose a few from the 2017 and 2019 classes who have contributed to the lack of depth at the position.

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There's still some hope for those classes in the form of guys like Ke'Bryan Hayes or Alec Bohm, but if the third base position is going to return to its former place of prominence in the positional hierarchy, we're going to need the next generation to step up in a hurry. That includes Witt, who is being drafted where he is (17.4 in ADP) as much based on potential as anything, as well as Henderson (87.8), who is at least cheaper, but still mostly about potential than actual production.

The good news is, there are some legitimately interesting young players at the position who very well could break out. Most notably, of course, is Jordan Walker, though he may not provide much long-term help because he's slated for an outfield role with Nolan Arenado manning third base. However, you still have prospects like Josh Jung (229.6), Brett Baty (366.8) and Curtis Mead (562.5) who we're hoping will make their impact felt in 2023. And then you have the likes of Spencer Steer (442.5) and Christian Encarnacion-Strande (570.7) from the Reds, though only the former will break camp with the team.

We need a pretty high hit rate from the aforementioned names for third base to gain its depth, and at least a few of them will likely fail. Given that at least one of the 30-plus guys will likely take a step back, too, and we really need some young guys to step up. If not, third base might continue to be an issue for Fantasy Baseball players in the coming years. 

Consensus Rankings
Projections powered by Sportsline
CLE Cleveland • #11 • Age: 31
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
3
Roto
2
Roto (3B)
1
H2H
2
H2H (3B)
1
2022 Stats
AVG
0.28
HR
29
R
90
RBI
126
SB
20
SO
82
Ramirez has had one season in his last six with an OPS below .869. He's had one full season with fewer than 29 homers or 20 steals, too. Ramirez's StatCast numbers did take a big step back last season, but he has so consistently outperformed his metrics that I have a hard time being even a little bit concerned about it.
BOS Boston • #11 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
21
Roto
16
Roto (3B)
2
H2H
18
H2H (3B)
3
2022 Stats
AVG
0.295
HR
27
R
84
RBI
88
SB
3
SO
114
Devers has established himself as one of the very best hitters in baseball, but he was a hair below the truly elite options last season, mostly due to weirdly low counting stats. If the offense around him is a little better, he seems like a pretty safe bet for 190-plus runs-plus-RBI, a high-end batting average, and 30-ish homers. I'm not convinced the offense around him is going to be significantly better, which keeps him out of the first-round discussion for me, but at some point, that's just splitting hairs.
SD San Diego • #13 • Age: 31
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
5
Roto
14
Roto (3B)
3
H2H
14
H2H (3B)
2
2022 Stats
AVG
0.298
HR
32
R
100
RBI
102
SB
9
SO
133
Of course, when you're splitting hairs, small differences matter. Devers probably has a hair more upside as a pure hitter, but Machado's pull-heavy approach helps him maximize what he gets, and though he's slowed down, he's still a better bet for double-digit steals than Devers. Both are great, but I might prefer Machado by a bit.
ATL Atlanta • #27 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
31
Roto
17
Roto (3B)
4
H2H
21
H2H (3B)
4
2022 Stats
AVG
0.273
HR
38
R
90
RBI
93
SB
2
SO
168
I had my concerns about Riley after his 2021 breakout, but he quieted them in a big way, actually taking a step forward in terms of quality of contact without sacrificing anything in terms of contact skills. Among the top four at the position, he's probably the worst bet for batting average, but even then, he's not likely to be a drain, and he's got the best power profile. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he ended up ahead of Machado and Devers this season.
KC Kansas City • #7 • Age: 23
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
54
Roto
19
Roto (SS)
4
H2H
38
H2H (SS)
6
2022 Stats
AVG
0.254
HR
20
R
82
RBI
80
SB
30
SO
135
Witt might go second at the position in some leagues, but he's a clear fifth in our consensus rankings. He might take a big step forward and emerge as a 30-30 guy, and it's not out of the question Witt could be the No. 1 player at the position in 2023. Heck, even as a rookie, he was the No. 5 player at the position in Roto, just ahead of Devers in 2022. He doesn't need to improve much to be worth his price in Roto leagues. In H2H points leagues, he was No. 7 in 2022, but was nearly 30 points behind Devers, so in that format, he probably needs to drop a spot here.
STL St. Louis • #28 • Age: 33
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
14
Roto
29
Roto (3B)
6
H2H
25
H2H (3B)
5
2022 Stats
AVG
0.293
HR
30
R
73
RBI
103
SB
5
SO
72
Arenado is a good example of how all the time we spend obsessing about Statcast metrics is sometimes wasted on certain players. Arenado doesn't crush the ball consistently, and his expected stats suggest he's a pretty middling player. What those stats miss is how finely tuned his swing is for maximizing production. Arenado consistently hits the ball in the air to the pull side, allowing him to put up high-end power without Stanton-ian exit velocities. I don't think he'll hit .293 again, and his relatively low walk rate and poor foot speed mean he's probably going to be a relative drag in the run column, but he's about as solid a bet for homers and RBI as anyone at the position.
HOU Houston • #2 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
28
Roto
69
Roto (3B)
7
H2H
56
H2H (3B)
7
2022 Stats
AVG
0.259
HR
23
R
93
RBI
93
SB
1
SO
77
In some ways, Bregman has a lot in common with Arenado at this point in their careers, just trading off some power for run scoring. Bregman doesn't hit for as high an average as you would think given how rarely he strikes out, thanks to a pull-heavy approach that sacrifices BABIP to maximize power. Given that, you'd prefer to see more than 23 homers, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some improvement in that regard. If not, he's a solid all-around contributor who no longer excels like he once did.
BAL Baltimore • #2 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
121
Roto
83
Roto (3B)
8
H2H
82
H2H (3B)
8
2022 Stats
AVG
0.259
HR
4
R
12
RBI
18
SB
1
SO
34
Henderson had a more than solid MLB debut, posting strong quality-of-contact metrics and enough plate discipline to think there isn't a ton of bust risk here. There was some swing-and-miss in his game, especially against non-fastballs, and Henderson hit the ball on the ground too much to maximize his plus power, but if he takes even small steps forward in those areas, there's a star-level outcome here.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #13 • Age: 33
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
71
Roto
112
Roto (3B)
9
H2H
104
H2H (3B)
9
2022 Stats
AVG
0.196
HR
21
R
69
RBI
69
SB
2
SO
141
For two thirds of the 2022 season, Muncy was completely lost. Through the end of July, he was hitting just .161/.310/.303, and it sure looked like the elbow injury that raised so many questions last offseason was holding him back. Something clicked in August, however, as he homered in the first game and looked more or less like the best version of himself, hitting .247/.358/.500 from that point on. It's worth noting that the pre-2022 version of Max Muncy's hot streaks were quite a bit more impressive than that – he had a .972 OPS prior to the All-Star break in 2021, for example – so I'm still a bit skeptical that he's just back to being himself. But, he showed enough those final two months to be worth buying into.
SF San Francisco • #26 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
130
Roto
151
Roto (3B)
10
H2H
158
H2H (3B)
11
2022 Stats
AVG
0.229
HR
27
R
83
RBI
76
SB
2
SO
170
Chapman provides the answer to the question, "What if Nolan Arenado struck out way more?" He has a similar batted-ball profile, but he is neither as consistent nor as good at making contact, which holds him back even though he hits the ball quite a bit harder than Arenado – his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate were both in the 93rd percentile or better last season. If Chapman could close some of the holes in his swing, he might be able to push his way back into the near-elite tier at the position, but that might be asking too much at this point.
MIN Minnesota • #64 • Age: 25
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
249
Roto
152
Roto (1B)
18
H2H
171
H2H (1B)
17
2022 Stats
AVG
0.268
HR
15
R
45
RBI
66
SB
1
SO
91
Rather than showing standout skills, Miranda's rookie season featured a broad base of solid skills. His strikeout rate was a bit better than league average, as were most of his quality-of-contact metrics. Add it all up, and it comes out to a profile where it's not hard to see Miranda hitting 20-plus homers with a solid batting average. The problem is, it's hard to see how he does too much better without taking a big step forward. He's young enough to do so, but Miranda profiles more as a corner infielder than a starting 1B or 3B in my eyes.
ARI Arizona • #28 • Age: 32
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
257
Roto
158
Roto (3B)
12
H2H
154
H2H (3B)
10
2022 Stats
AVG
0.236
HR
31
R
76
RBI
87
SB
0
SO
196
Suarez will probably never have a season as good as his 2019 ever again, but he's settled in as one of the more reliable sources of power out there. The question is, can he sustain last year's merely bad .236 average, or is there risk of him dropping back down to the .198/.202 marks he had the prior two seasons? It's a combustible profile, so the risk is there, but if you build your team right, you can survive it.
Don't Forget About ...
Projections powered by Sportsline
STL St. Louis • #18 • Age: 21
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
201
Roto
247
Roto (3B)
23
H2H
238
H2H (3B)
21
There are a number of promising young players at the position, and among those who are still prospect eligible, Walker is probably the most interesting. As a 20-year-old at Double-A last season, he had 19 homers and 22 steals while batting .306/.388/.510, but it's the tools that might be even more impressive – he's had throws clocked at 100 mph from the outfield and his 90th percentile exit velocity of 111.2 mph in the Arizona Fall League last season would have ranked fourth among major-league players. There's some development left in his profile, most notably with regards to plate discipline, but it sounds like there's a pretty good chance he's going to get a chance to finish that development off in right field for the Cardinals on Opening Day -- if his shoulder heals quickly following a spring injury. This is a top-five prospect in baseball and he should absolutely be a part of any team's plan, especially if you don't take one of the sure things at the position.
LAA L.A. Angels • #6 • Age: 33
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
258
Roto
183
Roto (3B)
14
H2H
170
H2H (3B)
13
2022 Stats
AVG
0.229
HR
5
R
15
RBI
24
SB
2
SO
35
The highlight of the past two years for Rendon is probably when he crushed a left-handed homer off a position player last season, which tells you how things have gone for him. Injuries have limited him to just 105 games, and the production has been pretty bad even when he's been healthy enough to play. The question is whether there's still high-end production possible when he's healthy. I'm skeptical, but given how few impact players exist at the position, I'll take a few chances on Rendon just in case he can recapture some of his pre-2021 form.
PIT Pittsburgh • #13 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
259
Roto
180
Roto (3B)
13
H2H
225
H2H (3B)
19
2022 Stats
AVG
0.244
HR
7
R
55
RBI
41
SB
20
SO
122
The Fantasy community has seemingly given up on Hayes' chances of taking his game to another level, and I think that's probably the likeliest outcome. But I'll still hold out some measure of hope for a guy who routinely makes a lot of hard contact, has pretty good plate discipline, and is a plus athlete. Hayes ranks in the 84th percentile or better in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and max exit velocity. The problem is, he tends to hit the ball very hard on the ground – his average exit velocity on ground balls was fifth-highest in baseball last season, while he's more middle of the pack on fly balls and line drives. He may never figure out how to make the proper adjustments to fix that, but the skill set is clearly there.
PHI Philadelphia • #28 • Age: 27
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
264
Roto
204
Roto (3B)
16
H2H
231
H2H (3B)
17
2022 Stats
AVG
0.28
HR
13
R
79
RBI
72
SB
2
SO
110
Bohm shares a lot of similarities with Hayes – at least as a hitter. As an athlete and as a baseball player, Hayes has him beat by a long way, but their profiles as hitters are very similar. Both have pretty good plate discipline and hit the ball pretty hard, but hit it on the ground too often to take advantage of what they do well overall. Bohm doesn't stand out in terms of quality of contact as much as Hayes does, but he's a bit more of a functional hitter already – he's got him beat in barrel rate and his .290 expected batting average was in the 98th percentile among all hitters last season. Bohm may not have as high a ceiling as Hayes, but he's probably closer to getting to his. I like both as fallback options, though at this point I'm leaning toward Bohm, who is showing more improvement in the spring to date.
Sleeper
Projections powered by Sportsline
NYM N.Y. Mets • #22 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
241
Roto
NR
Roto (3B)
38
H2H
NR
H2H (3B)
38
2022 Stats
AVG
0.184
HR
2
R
4
RBI
5
SB
0
SO
8
There are questions about whether Baty is going to be able to stick at the hot corner in the long run, but that's something for Dynasty players to worry about in 2024 or 2025. For now, the primary question is whether he'll be about to hit enough to force the Mets to live with his defense. Eduardo Escobar is probably going to get another chance to hold down the hot corner, but an injury or subpar performance for Escobar could lead to a quick opportunity for Baty; there's also a path to playing time in an outfield corner if the opportunity arises. Baty is a career .299/.393/.507 hitter in Double-A, and scouts seem to agree that his 24 homers in 129 games at that level don't represent his ultimate power potential.
Breakout
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TEX Texas • #6 • Age: 26
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
239
Roto
191
Roto (3B)
15
H2H
204
H2H (3B)
14
2022 Stats
AVG
0.204
HR
5
R
9
RBI
14
SB
2
SO
39
There were some ugly signs in Jung's cup of coffee last season, most notably the .204 average and 38.2% strikeout rate – though his uniformly poor quality-of-contact metrics didn't help. Of course, it's worth remembering that Jung was coming back from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and had played just 31 games in the minors last season prior to getting the call. Overall, he has played just 101 games between Double-A and Triple-A, so it's not too concerning that he was overwhelmed at the MLB level. He will be 25 shortly, so if he doesn't hit the ground running this season, doubts are going to creep in. But, for now, he's one of the better late-round bets at the position.
Bust
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KC Kansas City • #7 • Age: 23
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
54
Roto
19
Roto (SS)
4
H2H
38
H2H (SS)
6
2022 Stats
AVG
0.254
HR
20
R
82
RBI
80
SB
30
SO
135
Part of my concern about Witt comes down to price; if he's going to be drafted in the first round, I just can't really justify the investment even if I can see the upside. But even as a second- or third-round pick, Witt is being drafted to take a step forward. That's not a bad bet for a blue chip prospect with his skill set, but it's not a guarantee – his plate discipline is kind of a mess, and while he makes enough contact to overcome that to a certain extent, it clearly held him back as a rookie, and Witt didn't necessarily show the kind of in-season improvement you'd hope for. That doesn't mean he won't take a step forward, but Witt was pretty far from being the kind of player we want him to be.
2023 Draft Prep
First Base Top Prospects

1. Gunnar Henderson, 3B, Orioles

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2022: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .297 BA (407 AB), 19 HR, 22 SB, .946 OPS, 79 BB, 116 K
Major-league stats: .259 BA (116 AB), 4 HR, 1 SB, .788 OPS, 16 BB, 34 K  
Improved plate discipline took Henderson from 93rd on last year's list all the way to No. 1 this year. A successful late-season debut has him positioned to play a significant role this year, likely splitting his time between third base and shortstop while providing power and speed in the upper third of the lineup.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: pencil him in

2. Jordan Walker, 3B, Cardinals

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2022: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .306 BA (461 AB), 19 HR, 22 SB, .898 OPS, 58 BB, 116 K  
This may be your only year to enjoy Walker at third base given that he's set to debut as an outfielder -- and potentially as soon as opening day if he can cut through the clutter. He makes thunderous contact, particularly for someone so young, and his top-of-the-scale exit velocities should make him the centerpiece of the Cardinals lineup once Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado begin to fade.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

3. Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2022: Rookie, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .266 BA (124 AB), 9 HR, .866 OPS, 7 BB, 35 K
Major-league stats: .204 BA (98 AB), 5 HR, .654 OPS, 4 BB, 39 K    
Jung might have cracked the top 10 here if not for a big-league trial that raised brand new concerns, namely the 38 percent strikeout rate and seeming inability to hit sliders. He's always stood out for his bat control, even before developing power, so it's possible he was just rusty after missing most of the year with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: pencil him in

4. Brett Baty, 3B, Mets

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2022: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .315 BA (362 AB), 19 HR, .943 OPS, 49 BB, 104 K
Major-league stats: .184 BA (38 AB), 2 HR, .586 OPS, 2 BB, 8 K  
If not for a torn thumb ligament that ended his big-league trial after only 11 games, Baty might already be entrenched as the Mets' starting third baseman. It's looking like he'll have to bide his time a little longer, but judging from his high contact rate and premium exit velocities even against same-handed pitchers (lefties), the Mets may want to try him in the outfield to move up the timetable.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

5. Curtis Mead, 3B, Rays

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2022: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .298 BA (282 AB), 13 HR, 27 2B, .922 OPS, 36 BB, 62 K  
Mead doesn't really work at second or third base, the positions he's played most often in the minors, but confining a right-handed hitter to first base or DH is often a recipe for a platoon role or worse. The Aussie can really hit, though, profiling as a batting title contender with more power yet to come, so the presumption is the Rays will suck it up and play him ... somewhere.
Scott's 2023 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful