2016 AL East Rankings by Position: Third Base

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Josh Donaldson Manny Machado
Jun 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) chases a wild throw as Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) is safe at third in the eighth inning at Rogers Centre. Toronto defeated Baltimore 5-4. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

In looking at AL East Rankings at third base, two of the best players at the position are the headliners.

Moving now to this fourth article in the series, having ranked divisional catchers, first basemen, and second basemen, keep these thoughts in mind as you look at these rankings:

  • I love being able to discuss these rankings. I don’t claim to know everything about the AL East, but I tried to be as impartial as possible. If you disagree, let me have it!
  • We are primarily focusing on the player projected to start at the position, but if it is close, the backup will be looked at. At third base, that helps break a virtual tie at the top. However, at third base the backup has less value, as most of these players play almost all of the games for their teams.

Let’s first look at last year. The preseason rankings for 2015 featured the following ranking: 1 – Boston, 2 – Tampa Bay, 3 – Baltimore, 4 – Toronto, 5 – New York.

I took a lot of heat for ranking Josh Donaldson fourth, and he finished the season as the AL MVP. Point taken. Sandoval was pretty bad in Boston, Chase Headley was Chase Headley, and Longo in Tampa provided another solid season.

By the end of the year, the rankings looked like: 1 – Toronto, 2 – Baltimore, 3 – Tampa Bay, 4 – New York, 5 – Boston.

Without further ado, let’s get to what is a very tight race for first. Also, the conversation here is going to almost exclusively be about starters, because the backups have already been mentioned at other positions, except for one Alex Rodriguez; and I can’t actually see him playing many games at third base. We will talk about him when we get to designated hitters.

Related Story: First Base Rankings


  1. Toronto Blue Jays – Josh Donaldson, Darwin Barney, Matt Dominguez

This ranking is so close, it is more like 1A and 1B. In fact, other publications have flipped these two. But, the Jays have a better backup, and it is hard to argue with putting the reigning AL MVP first. Donaldson was also a Silver Slugger and an All-Star in 2015. He led the American League with 123 RBIs, 122 runs and 324 total bases. Donaldson hit 41 HRs, 41 2Bs, and finished with a slash line of .297/.371/.568. If you want to know what statistics he ranked in the top 5 in, just know it is most of them.

Donaldson finished with a WAR of 8.8, second in the AL to only Mike Trout. Donaldson also finished with a positive dWAR and started 150 games at third base. About the only blemish was the 18 errors he committed.

Barney is a capable backup and utility infielder, which also helps the Jays take first place, as Manny Machado‘s backup is only capable in the field.  

Next: Rank Machado as 1-B...