Help is on the way at third base, which often gets called the weakest position in fantasy for the upcoming season, with 13 from our top 100 and eight more from our top 200.
Our 2023 preseason third base rankings start out with a bang in the form of the Orioles’ Gunnar Henderson, our No. 2 overall prospect, who we’re putting at third base since he already qualifies there and it is expected to be his long-term home even if he does play some shortstop this season. The 21-year-old blew up in Double-A to start last season, walking more than he struck out to go with a massive .312/.452/.573 triple-slash with 8 homers and 12 stolen bases in 47 games. He kept mashing in Triple-A (.894 OPS, 11 HR, 10 SB in 65 games) and held his own in his 34-game taste of the majors (.788 OPS, 4 HR, 1 SB, 116 ABs), just staying under the threshold to still qualify for AL Rookie of the Year this season. His left-handed power should play well in Baltimore with the porch still short in right field, so he projects to be a high-OBP middle-of-the-order power hitter with some steals thrown in. If he can cut down on the strikeouts, Henderson can be an elite fantasy star for the next decade or more.
There will be a fight for the Reds’ starting third base job being waged for the next few years, as Cincinnati has 4 of our top-12 third baseman – No. 2 Noelvi Marte, No. 3 Cam Collier, No. 11 Spencer Steer and No. 12 Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Marte has the highest ceiling with both power and speed, but he’ll likely start this season in Double-A. Collier has a middle-of-the-order bat, but he’s just 18 years old and should start out this year in Low-A. This gives Steer a chance to establish himself with a solid rookie year, coming off a combined .879 OPS and 23 HR in 106 games between Double- and Triple-A before getting his feet wet with 2 HR in 23 games for the Reds. Encarnacion-Strand is likely ticketed for Triple-A unless he can win the job in spring training, coming off a combined .955 OPS, 32 HR and 114 RBIs in High- and Double-A.
Others looking to make their mark in 2023 include No. 4 Brett Baty (pictured above) of the Mets, No. 5 Josh Jung of the Rangers, No. 6 Curtis Mead of the Rays and possibly even No. 7 Brooks Lee of the Twins. Baty is battling Eduardo Escobar for the starting job in New York, coming off a combined .943 OPS and 19 HR in Double- and Triple-A. Jung is expected to enter the season as Texas’ starting third baseman, looking to show last year’s poor plate discipline at Triple-A and MLB was more of a byproduct of returning from shoulder surgery and that his bat is more like what he showed in AAA in 2021 (1.088 OPS, 11.5 BB%, 21.8 K%). Lee was the consensus top college bat in last year’s draft, then reached Double-A in his first pro year and could hit his way to Minnesota this season.
Another top college bat from last year’s draft is No. 8 Jacob Berry, who managed just a decent .750 OPS at Low-A in his pro debut. The 21-year-old put up an impressive 1.094 OPS with 15 HR in 53 games at LSU in 2021. The jury is out on whether he can stick at third, but his bat should carry him to Miami in relatively short order.
No. 9 Junior Caminero was acquired by Tampa Bay from Cleveland in November 2021 for RHP Tobias Myers (who was later released and signed by Milwaukee) then blew up last season with a combined .882 OPS, 11 HR, 12 SB in 62 games between the Florida Complex League and Low-A as an 18-year-old. Now 19, Caminero has an impressive combination of hit and power tools that could wind up in the middle of the Rays’ lineup as soon as 2025.