Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado had a career year in 2016. With things continually going up for him, does he enter next season as the top third baseman?
The Colorado Rockies offense is filled with a lot of power. The team had three 20-plus home run hitters and a 41-homer guy. While the pitching staff is not the best, fantasy owners want the offensive numbers. Nolan Arenado finished tied for sixth in the league in home runs. As you prepare for your draft next season, is he the top third baseman?
At this point last season, Arenado posted ridiculous numbers. He had 42 home runs, 130 RBI, 97 runs and a .287/.323/.575 line in 157 games. That performance launched him into the first round in drafts. He had a 9.0 ADP, meaning he was the ninth overall pick. What followed was a season that had his fantasy owners yelling from the rooftops.
Arenado posted a lot of career highs. He played in 160 games (CH) and hit 41 home runs, 133 RBI (CH), 116 runs (CH) and .294/.362/.570 line. The average and on-base percentage were also career highs. He had a 103:68 K:BB ratio, which boosted him OBP almost 40 points between 2015 and 2016.
He finished as the No. 2 third baseman on the Player Rater. The only player he finished behind was Jonathan Villar, who played primarily at shortstop, but had third base eligibility. He was atop the list among true third baseman.
Entering this season, the group of top third basemen gained another member. Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado transitioned from shortstop to third base, but will have eligibility in both positions.
Machado hit back-to-back 35-home run seasons. He also saw an increase in batting average, RBI and runs scored. He is just 24 years old and has a bright future. The only downside to his fantasy value is the lack of steals. He did not record a single stolen base in just three attempts.
Another name that could be No. 1 is Chicago Cubs Kris Bryant. Bryant, who is also 24, hit 30 homers, 102 RBI and .292 in his second season. Can he continue to go up or should we expect a bit of decline in his junior season?
Looking at the division, pitching, and park factors, I like Arenado just a bit more over Bryant and Machado. Bryant has a great supporting cast and Machado plays in some hitter-friendly parks. Yet, the National League West doesn’t have the best pitching across the board and we all know the effect Coors Field has on a batter.
You can’t go wrong with any of these three options as your starting third baseman. With the depth the middle infield positions have gained over the last year, you can wait on drafting those positions. Securing an elite third baseman is key, and Arenado is that guy. Having Trevor Story, Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon (for now) around him, Arenado will get his numbers.