On a recent spring afternoon, I hopped a DeLorean to go back to the future and discuss the top 100 prospects for 2021.

Then we explored next year’s dynasty landscape at catcher, first base and second base

Today, we’ll stay on that future theme, continuing our position-by-position focus by zooming in on third base.

Something I’d like to try this week = two posts about the position. This first one can spark the conversations we might have throughout the week, and the next one will bring an updated list and a behind-the-scenes look at the process. 

One reason is I think it could be more fun for everyone this way. Another is my on-going/updated versions have been better than the one first sent to print. Many minds > one—for most things in life and especially for a project this fluid, speculative and sizable.

Rank Player Age Team
1 Rafael Devers 23 BOS
2 Nolan Arenado 28 COL
3 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 21 TOR
4 Jose Ramirez 27 CLE
5 Yoan Moncada 24 CHW
6 Anthony Rendon 29 LAA
7 Kris Bryant 28 CHC
8 Eugenio Suarez 28 CIN
9 Alex Bregman 26 HOU
10 Manny Machado 27 SD
11 Matt Chapman 26 OAK
12 Tommy Edman 24 STL
13 D.J. LeMahieu 31 NYY
14 Justin Turner 35 LAD
15 Josh Donaldson 34 MIN
16 Oneil Cruz 21 PIT
17 Nick Solak 25 TEX
18 Brian Anderson 26 MIA
19 Eduardo Escobar 31 ARI
20 Alec Bohm 23 PHI
21 Gio Urshella 28 NYY
22 Jordan Groshans 20 TOR
23 J.D. Davis 26 NYM
24 Yandy Diaz 28 TB
25 Yoshi Tsutsugo 28 TB
26 Carter Kieboom 22 WSH
27 Nolan Gorman 19 STL
28 Jean Segura 30 PHI
29 Ke’Bryan Hayes 23 PIT
30 Maikel Franco 27 KC
31 Josh Jung 22 TEX
32 Johan Camargo 26 ATL
33 Austin Riley 23 ATL
34 Kody Hoese 22 LAD
35 Nolan Jones 21 CLE
36 Brett Baty 20 NYM
37 Isaac Paredes 21 DET
38 Alexander Mojica 17 PIT
39 Kyle Seager 32 SEA
40 Jonathan India 23 CIN
41 Miguel Vargas 20 LAD
42 Jon Berti 30 MIA
43 Isiah Kiner-Falefa 25 TEX
44 Jordan Walker 18 ??
45 Abraham Toro 23 HOU
46 Aaron Schunk 22 COL
47 Alex De Jesus 18 LAD
48 Sherten Apostel 21 TEX
49 Tanner Witt 17 ??
50 Luis Toribio 19 SF
51 Kevin Padlo 23 TB
52 Bobby Dalbec 24 BOS
53 Mark Vientos 20 NYM
54 Julio Carreras 20 COL
55 Rece Hinds 19 CIN
56 Matt Carpenter 34 STL
57 David Bote 27 CHC
58 Hanser Alberto 27 BAL
59 Jeimer Candelario 26 DET
60 Evan Longoria 34 SF
61 Edwin Rios 25 LAD
62 Drew Mendoza 22 WSH
63 Yu-Cheng Chang 24 CLE
64 Ryan Vilade 21 COL
65 Colin Moran 27 PIT
66 Jake Lamb 29 ARI
67 Ty France 25 SD
68 Matt Thaiss 24 LAA
69 Tyler Keenan 21 ??
70 Ryon Healy 28 MLW
71 Michael Brosseau 26 TB
72 Jesus Parra 17 MLW
73 Enger Castellano 17 NYY
74 Cayden Wallace 18 ??
75 Drew Bowser 18 ??
76 Yohandry Morales 18 ??
77 Gage Workman 20 ??

 

Thanks for reading! I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.

 
  1. toolshed says:
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    The Bregman ranking looks way too low. Penalizing him for being on Houston is fine, but he raked everywhere (college and minors) too. He is several years younger than Bryant, Rendon and Suarez. I think he should be above those guys for sure and even Moncada who hasn’t put together a big season yet. I get Devers, arenado (if he stays in coors), vlad’s potential which put those guys ahead of him. Jram steals put him ahead for now, but they don’t last forever. Last year jram had to get insanely hot to put up his numbers. You can’t rely only him doing that every year (2 years in a row with a prolonged slump). IMO bregman should be no lower than 5.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, toolshed,

      I like how you laid out the case.

      Knew I might take some incoming on Bregman, but I think last year was a perfect storm for him.

      He’s just two years younger than Suarez and hit eight fewer home runs last year while cheating on, in my opinion, every single pitch. He also has back to back seasons around 700 plate appearances, and while that could go in the pro Breg column, I’m about 60/40 that it’s a negative for his future value compared to his present stat sheet. Nobody stays healthy forever.

      Speaking of, Bryant might be too high, I agree, but Wrigley is not ideal for righty power, and I think he could have a couple 40-homer, 300/400/500 stretches in him if he goes somewhere kinder and has a decent health run. The Cubs have sunk his perceived value a by batting him 2nd behind an empty lead off spot. Batting 7th on a middling AL team would be a better spot, so it wouldn’t take much for his environment to improve.

      Rendon . . . that’s a tough one. When last we saw him, he was making a case that he’s a top 5 hitter in baseball—the kind that tends to age gracefully. Could be 2019 was a perfect storm season, too. I think it was hard-won skills growth, but the park factors are certainly against him.

      Largely I just feel totally in the dark about what kind of player Bregman is without the cheating. He’s not a 40-homer bat without the cheat code, I think. Might get 30 with the Crawford box boost, but I’d be willing to bet the under on 30 for him in 2021, as well. I doubt that’s a popular take. He’s also a good bet to lead the world in HBP for the next few seasons, which adds a layer of risk that’s impossible to calculate.

      • LenFuego says:
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        That is an interesting take, Itch, because it is in stark contrast to the conclusions of the Commissioner’s report — whereas you believe Bregman got to 41 HRs in 2019 by cheating on “every single pitch”, the report says there was zero cheating in 2019. While I think the report is BS in a lot of ways, I actually believe that particular conclusion. Is there an articulable reason that you do not?

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Yeah I think that report is horse shit.

          How long did they investigate 2019?

          Report came out prettayy pretttaaayyyy quick.

          Their production as a team was an outlier across the board. Some changed their whole approach just to hunt pitches they could yank (Yuli, Altuve, Bregman). While it’s possible they just accrued the best hitters on the planet and all those hitters were on fire all season, I think that’s a lot less likely than a proven perpetual cheater finding ways to cheat that the league didn’t know about. They’ve been several steps (and years) ahead of baseball in that cheating arena this whole time. Why would 2019 be any different?

          • toolshed says:
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            I get your points, but bregman has 2 years in a row where he has walked more than he has struck out. I think he still has a great floor and while he may not hit 40 again, I think he has a park and offense to put up really good counting stats with his skills and approach that he has displayed in college, minors and the big leagues even with a cheat code.
            Rendon had a huge year last year (contract year). While he was good before, he never produced and put it all together like he did last year. Suarez is good, I just have to see another year from him. He struck out almost 200 times last year.

            • toolshed says:
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              What we also don’t know is how many other teams have cheated but just were not caught. Baseball over the years has found all kinds of ways to cheat and nobody says anything until they get busted (ped’s, corked bats, sign stealing, pitchers messing with the ball, etc.).

          • LenFuego says:
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            Fair enough, Itch, but if the Bregman’s cheating methods were both so effective and so effectively concealed that the investigation failed to discover any cheating in 2019 despite looking for it, I would add to your “Why would 2019 be any different?”, why would 2020, 2021 or any other year in the future be any different?

            • Dougie says:
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              You guys are silly.

              There’s no way Breg’s stats don’t take a hit. He barely runs anymore, I traded him immediately in the one league I owned him. Couldn’t sell him fast enough. As soon as the league renewed, bye!

              • toolshed says:
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                I never said his stats won’t take a hit. Dropping him to 9th on this list may be an over adjustment.

                • Harley Earl says:
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                  If you think Bregman is going to come close to repeating his 2019, you’re off your rocker.

                  Look at these HR totals for the Astros in 2019: Springer 39, Altuve 31, Bregman 41, Gurriel 31, Correa 21 (280 at-bats), Alvarez 27 (313 at-bats).

                  Those were career highs for Springer, Altuve, Bregman and Gurriel. And it would have been a career high for Correa had he not missed half the season while Alvarez would have hit 50+ had he played the entire season

                  Let me put this real simple: If you believe the Astros were not cheating in 2019, you’re either an Astros fan or an imbecile.

                  Bregman has a very very very hard road in front of him after all the shit he has talked. His lack of a sincere apology and lack of regret will only make it much worse for him. He’s going to get quite a few HBPs, guaranteed.

                  • Harley Earl says:
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                    One more thing about Bregman’s two seasons of walking more than striking out. That would be seasons 2018 and 2019.

                    It’s easy to walk more than strike out when you know what pitch is coming.

                  • LenFuego says:
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                    That did not address my question, which was that if Bregman was successfully cheating in 2019 and MLB could not find it despite a reasonably detailed investigation, what is to stop him and the other Astros from cheating again in 2020 and beyond?

                    • The Itch

                      The Itch says:
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                      I guess if the pro Bregman argument is that he’s going to keep cheating, I find that interesting and have no counter. Honestly did not consider it bc I think a lifetime ban from baseball would be the stick if he or any Astros got caught again, but there’s something to be said for MLB doing its best to ignore cheating for a while to keep the narrative positive and for some Astros being that craven.

    • Cyler says:
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      Something to add here. I know they claim they used codebreaker on the road but that seemed less concrete than the evidence that they definitely used it at home. So in 2019 if you look at Bregmans road stats he is actually a decent amount better hitting on the road than at home. He had an 1109 OPS on the road compared to 923 at home. He hit 26 of his homers on the road as well. So, while I agree that there was most likely some amount of cheating in 2019, I think there wasn’t any on the road as the word was getting around. So his road stats are impressive in my opinion and think he is a top 5 3B this year and in 2021.

      P.S. if anything think of how amazing is OBP will be with all those HBP.

  2. Beardsman says:
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    Devers should be high, but why do you have him #1? It was his first good year, and losing Betts will hurt his numbers a little.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I toggled the top 3 quite a bit. Devers sort of split the baby.

  3. Jolt In Flow says:
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    Itch, thanks as always.

    Just a footnote request behind on 2 of your placements. Diaz & Tsutsugo at 24th & 25th, both of TBay.

    Obviously, if they split all their time at 3rd equally, neither would be valuable enough where you ranked them. Do you expect either to get their ranking while playing full-time at 3rd and the other to continue to have 3rd eligibility but play the majority of their baseball at another position? Or do you see a trade happening? Is there something I might not be taking into account?

    Just looking to get your thought process.

    Thanks again Itch.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Jolt In Flow,

      I’m not sure anyone’s a full time player in Tampa as of today. I think they’re hoping to game the arb system by suppressing everyone’s PA and counting stats. Also rest and platoons just plain work. Meadows and B Lowe should get full time work, and Yoshi’s got a shot for lots of time these two years bc his $ is set, but I think they both play 3B 1B DH some, and Yoshi gets some OF. Not an easy scene to map out.

      • Jolt In Flow says:
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        Very much appreciated. I’m going to assume a similar set-up for the Atlanta tandem (Riley & Comargo).

        Thanks a mil, Itch.

        • The Itch

          The Itch says:
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          Always happy to scratch out some baseball chatter!

  4. KrazyIvan says:
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    Love it! This list is awesome. Personally I would put Arenado first and Moncada ahead of Ramirez but it is really bunched up at the top.
    Bregmen is a lightning rod moving forward. I took him in one draft just in case but I’m not buying into this year, or long term at the current price.
    I love seeing Edman up there too. He is one of the players I’m looking forward to watching over his career. A real throw back era player who is in the perfect organization to utilize his strengths.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks KrazyIvan!

      Totally get that Arenado take. Toggled the top group quote a bit. Got into it a bit on Reddit w a guy who thought Arenado was too high.

  5. LG Baseball says:
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    Itch,

    Love your work man! I feel good on your Bregman call and just sold him in a dynasty for some nice pieces. Cheating or not I’ll let someone else take the risk on what he really is. Will be a tough year for him I think and your HBP prediction is right and that will zap value in non OBP leagues.

    Talk to me on Oneil Cruz – how good could he be? I’ve read your other articles about him and saw one comparison to Yordan with his swing. Pitt should give him a fast path to playing time too. He looks good and with a lot of older guys at the top of this list he seems like a nice dynasty stash.

    LG

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, LG! That Bregman spot has not gone over smoothly, but I like how you say it here—just rather let someone else take the unknown. Even the known wasn’t super elite—23xHR according to Baseball Forecaster in 2019.

      I think we were going to see something special from Cruz this year. Talk-of-the-league type stuff. Still should sooner than later but might have to wait for 2021 for him to find the spotlight.

  6. Park Barkley says:
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    I love it, but I would love tiers. I like to trade, so if I can trade one for another with about the same value and then get some upside somewhere else, it helps me. I also think Rendon is number one, but it’s because I have won and lost more with a couple points in avg than any other stat. Nice job.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks Park Barkley!

      I also like tiers and might work those in . . .

  7. ozunaiknow says:
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    I joined but Fantrax seems to be down or am I wrong?

  8. Sinkhole Demayo says:
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    assume andujar doesn’t get 3B back at some point here, or just far too much work to figure out all those even in yahoo that don’t have 3B elig (although that’s probably not it since just tons of these guys won’t be in yahoo for a few years in some cases)

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Yeah I was just reading tea leaves and ranked him at 1B, but maybe I should put him here, too . . .

      20 g seems like a stretch, but that’s the story for a lot of these guys.

  9. Harley Earl says:
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    Maikel Franco ahead of Austin Riley?

    Come on man! You can’t honestly mean that! LOL

    Braves GM said a couple days ago that Riley was going to be on the opening day roster. He’s made adjustments throughout his career. I don’t see why he won’t now. Franco has had 5+ seasons to figure it out and still hasn’t. I mean, heck, he’ll be 28 in August. I’ll guarantee you I’d rather take my chances with Riley than Franco or several ahead of him on this list. I’m not saying Riley is the next Alex Bregman. But I am saying he’s still got more potential than you’re giving him credit for. But, yeah, he was awful once the calendar hit July last year so I understand your skepticism.

    • Sinkhole Demayo says:
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      i’m with the cat in the hat on this one.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      I see what you’re saying, but you could kinda look anywhere and everywhere else to see Riley above Franco, no?

      KC has a good hitting instructor who’s been working with Franco throughout the offseason. He too was a popular prospect once but floundered in a struggling organization.

      It’s just 3 spots, but if my ranking Franco there encourages somebody to take a cheap chance on him, I’m happy bc I think there’s profit in that.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        I won’t be shocked if Franco remains a fairly mediocre player, but even that would be a huge step up from Riley as we last saw him.

        • Harley Earl says:
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          Riley was hitting during the spring. No way would I take Franco over him. And nobody in my three leagues would either. That’s why he’s sitting on the waiver wire in all three but Riley is rostered.

          No thanks!

          • Harley Earl says:
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            By the way, Billy Hamilton’s hitting sure improved when he went to KC! LOL

            • The Itch

              The Itch says:
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              Mike Tosar wasn’t there, and Hamilton is a very different conversation. Tosar was hired this winter after working extensively with Soler.

              No skin off my back if anyone wants to hold a part-time Riley all year. I’d be shopping him for a draft pick and adding Franco if I’m in any of those leagues. Not sure anyone would buy, but I’m guessing there’s more than a few Riley believers don’t think Camargo’s gonna hold the gig. And that’s a huge piece of it for me. Riley will be on the bench a lot this year and could be in the same spot next season. Atlanta will have money to spend and no holes on the field. Franco could be out of a gig then, too, of course, but I like his odds.

              • Sinkhole Demayo says:
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                for sure in redrafts i’d rather have franco right now (playing time). i’m only here saying anything about this since it’s a dynasty ranking.

                • Sinkhole Demayo says:
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                  and comping b.hamilton to franco (even if the hitting coaches in KC were the same during hamilton’s time there) wouldn’t be useful. they were never similar hitters.

              • Harley Earl says:
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                That’s very good stuff to know! Thanks Itch!

                Keep up the good work! Always enjoy talking with you!

                • The Itch

                  The Itch says:
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                  Thanks, Harley!

                  And same! Good baseball chat ain’t easy to find! Take care, brother!

  10. Dong Show says:
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    Question for you Itch around Oneil Cruz. Obviously he wants to be a SS and a lot of people think he will move off the position with 3b and OF seeming logical based on his size. However, why did you choose to rank him as a 3b when KeBryan Hayes is likely the long term answer at 3b for the Pirates and for now, he’s listed as a SS?

    Just wanted to pick your brain on that one. (And as a Pirates fan and Cruz owner, I am very much excited for him)

    Keep up the great work! Still reading daily and love all of the content everyone at Razz is doing.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks, Dong Show!!!

      I’m gonna rank Cruz at shortstop, too.

      Not real sure where he’ll play long term, but I quite like him at shortstop and think he’ll force the issue of getting his bat into the lineup pretty soon. Kind of suspect Pittsburgh will put him wherever he’s needed most at that time. Could be injury or performance, Newman could kick over to 2B, maybe Hayes doesn’t hit, OF feels like a safe-ish bet. The longer they keep him at short, the more confidence they build that he can hack it anywhere in the field.

      Hell he could probably pitch.

  11. Jon Gray's Broken Toe says:
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    Multiple papers are reporting that National GMs are leaking that a Designated Hitter in 2021 is a certainty, something that the union and players have been pushing for years. This is great material during no-baseball pandemic times!

    Similar to your 20201 3b rankings, could we get a National League DH 2021 rankings?

    Guys I see at the top of the list – Sam Hilliard as a fourth outfielder/DH, JD Davis, and … your favorite … Bryce Ball.

    • Harley Earl says:
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      This is an interesting point. I could see Matt Carpenter sliding into that role in STL possibly. I could also see Hilliard in COL and Riley there in ATL. It’s an interesting question.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      That’s an awesome idea!!!

      Please please please let this happen, baseball. (I’ll be making the list either way : )

      • Harley Earl says:
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        Looking forward to the list!!!

  12. Todd says:
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    In my points league, we keep four. I kept Soto, Acuña, Flaherty, and Arenado, and I just drafted Vlad. I’m starting to think about if there’s no baseball this year, do I keep Vlad instead of Arenado. Kind of like the idea of four stud keepers in their early 20s.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Man, I can see why you’d want to get on the same timeline there. If that’s what you’re feeling at the moment of decision I think go for it.

  13. Hobbs

    Hobbs says:
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    Great post, Itch. Love the ranking of Devers at No. 1, especially having him over Vlad Jr. Glad to see we agree and are not simply playing with the minds of these great readers.

    • Harley Earl says:
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      I agree with both you guys. Devers belongs at #1.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Thanks Hobbs!!

      (Glad you see I ain’t playin! : )

Comments are closed.