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Top 15 fantasy third basemen for 2017

By Casey Musarra • Mar 16, 2017 at 3:30 PM

A ranking of the 15 best third basemen to target in fantasy baseball drafts for the 2017 MLB season.

1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

It's been an impressive two seasons for Bryant -- the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and 2016 NL MVP who also just happened to help the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years. Bryant, 25, brought his 30.6 percent strikeout rate from 2015 down to 22 percent in 2016, which helped improve his batting average from .275 to .292. Bryant hit 39 home runs with 102 RBIs and an NL-best 121 runs, and in "The Friendly Confines," he could see his power numbers improve. While primarily a third baseman, Bryant played six different positions last season, including 69 games in the outfield. His dual eligibility is just an added bonus.

2. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

Arenado quickly has become one of the best players in baseball. For a second straight season, he led the league in RBIs (133) and tied for the NL lead in home runs (41). The 25-year-old also led the NL in total bases with 352 and batted a career-best .294 with a career-high 116 runs. Yes, Arenado benefits from playing half of his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field, but he's maintained his power away from Colorado too, hitting 38 home runs and driving in 104 runs on the road the last two seasons.

3. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

Following his 2015 MVP performance, Donaldson put up fairly similar numbers in 2016 and finished fourth in AL MVP voting. He came up just an RBI short of a second consecutive 100/100 season while hitting .284 with 37 home runs. Donaldson, 31, improved his walk rate to a career-high 15.6 percent, leading to his first 100-walk season and a career-high .404 OBP. While the Blue Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion, their lineup is still potent with the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales giving Donaldson plenty of protection.

4. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Machado just keeps getting better, and he's only 24. He had career bests in average (.294), slugging percentage (.533), home runs (37), RBIs (96) and runs (105). Though he had zero steals a year after swiping a career-high 20, he still has the speed to do it. Plus, with 100/100 potential, owners won't really need steals. For the first time in his young career, Machado will have dual eligibility after he logged 45 games at shortstop last season when J.J. Hardy went down with an injury.

5. Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers

Villar has played a total of 14 games at second base in his young career, but with the emergence of shortstop Orlando Arcia and the addition of third baseman Travis Shaw from the Red Sox, Brewers manager Craig Counsell intends to play the natural shortstop at second. That would give him eligibility at second base, third base and shortstop after he logged 42 and 108 games, respectively, at the latter two positions last season. In his first full season, the speedster led the league with 62 stolen bases and hit .285 with 19 home runs, 63 RBIs and 92 runs.

6. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners

Seager has been a durable force for the Mariners, playing in at least 155 games in each of the past five seasons. The 29-year-old slashed a career-best .278/.359/.499 with career highs in home runs (30), RBIs (99) and runs (89). The big brother may be less hyped than the little brother -- Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager won NL Rookie of the Year last season -- but statistically speaking, the elder Seager had the better year.

7. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

In his age 37 season, the slugger eclipsed 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in the same season for the first time since 2012. Beltre always has been known as a hard contact hitter, and after his average dipped below .300 in 2015 for the first time since 2011, he hit .300 on the nose in 2016. Beltre has been hampered by a strained left calf muscle in spring training, but it hasn't kept him from playing with the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Dominican manager Tony Pena has mostly kept him at DH, though, which is something the Rangers have the luxury of doing. It's Beltre's 20th season in the big leagues, so calf injury or not, durability may start to become an issue. Still, Beltre's had at least 600 plate appearances in each of the past five seasons.

8. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria has put those injury prone concerns to rest by playing in a combined 642 games over the past four seasons. For those who don't want to do the math, that means he's missed six games since 2013. Longoria, 31, hit a career-high 36 home runs last season, drove in 98 runs and scored 81. He's always been a high strikeout guy, and his walk rate has been on decline the last four seasons (career worst 6.1 percent last season), but with a career-low 32.5 percent groundball rate, he should be able to repeat his home run total.

9. Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox

Frazier has averaged about 35 home runs and 16 steals the past three seasons, and his 40/15 in his first season with the White Sox put him in the top five among third basemen in both categories. The slugger also reached career-highs in RBIs (98) and runs (89), but on a rebuilding team, it'll be harder to count on those numbers. It's clear Frazier has sacrificed contact for power as he had a career-worst 24.5 percent strikeout rate.

10. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros

In a small sample size, Bregman looked like a stud in his debut season. After getting called up in late July, he slashed .264/.313/.478 with eight home runs, 34 RBIs and 31 runs in 49 games, despite getting off to a slow start and missing 14 of the team's last 16 games with a hamstring injury. Those numbers would translate to 26 home runs, 112 RBIs and 102 runs in a full season. While it's hard to expect 100/100 from the soon-to-be 23-year-old entering his first full season, Bregman has the skills to be a star for years to come.

11. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

Over the last two seasons, Carpenter has transitioned from a contact hitter with a high on-base percentage to more of a power source. Carpenter hit at least 20 home runs for a second straight season despite an oblique injury that limited him to 129 games. He still gets on base at a high clip -- his walk rate was a career-high 14.3 percent and he had a .380 OBP last season. The versatile Carpenter has eligibility at first base, second base and third base.

12. Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals

After missing more than half of 2015 with a quad injury, Rendon won the 2016 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award with a .270/.348/.450 slash line, 20 home runs, 85 RBIs, 91 runs and 12 steals. Those numbers were fairly similar to his 2014 season when he finished fifth in NL MVP voting. Now that he's healthy, the 26-year-old should continue to be a strong five-category performer.

13. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians

Ramirez produced big numbers in four major offensive categories last season. The 24-year-old slashed .312/.363/.462 with 11 home runs, 76 RBIs, 84 runs and 22 stolen bases. Ramirez has third base and outfield eligibility, but he also played nine games at second base and five games at shortstop. If he gets to 10 games at either position this season, he'd earn eligibility in most formats, which is an added bonus.

14. Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies

It was discouraging to see Franco's strikeout rate climb and his walk rate drop, but it's hard to complain about the output from a now 24-year-old in his first full big-league season. Franco slashed .255/.306/.427 with 25 home runs, 88 RBIs and 67 runs for the lowly Phillies. He needs to be more patient at the plate, but the raw talent is there.

15. Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers

In his age-31 season, Turner proved he can be a big contributor as an everyday player after finally eclipsing 500 plate appearances for the first time in his six full seasons. Turner had a .275/.339/.493 slash line with career-highs in home runs (27), RBIs (90) and runs (79). The career .282 hitter is a dependable for-average guy that's developed into a legitimate power threat as his home run to flyball ratio has increased every year and reached a career-high 10.1 percent last season.

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