3B: Washington Nationals, Starter: Anthony Rendon
Third base is not what it once was in the NL East. The days of David Wright, Chipper Jones, and Ryan Zimmerman manning the hot corner have come to an end. There is still talent at third in the division despite the departure of franchise third baseman.
Anthony Rendon remains the best third baseman in the division. Once viewed as a utility player, Rendon has made the transition to third base in 2016 and hasn’t looked back since. Rendon was an All-Star snub in 2018, finishing the year with a .308 average, good for fourth in the National League and his 92 RBIs was 2nd highest on the Nationals and 3rd highest among third baseman.
Entering the final year of his contract, many teams will be interested in the services for the 28-year-old as he looks to replicate his successful 2018 campaign. Expect the Mets to be in the running for Rendon.
Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier who were once penciled in for opening day could potentially both start the season on the DL. In this event, Jeff McNeil would likely step into the starting third base role and split time with J.D. Davis. Lowrie (who is blocked at second base by Robinson Canó) has appeared in 145 career games at third base owning a .967 fielding percentage at the hot corner.
While Atlanta may have made the flashiest move signing 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson, the third baseman missed most of the 2018 season due to multiple calf injuries. After Donaldson, the depth starts to thin with Johan Camargo and Charlie Culberson expected to fill in when he is absent from the lineup.
Franco, who is 26 years old, has had mixed success in the majors thus far. One significant stride he made in 2018 was cutting down on strikeouts. Franco improved his defense at third base and raised his batting average by 50 points from the previous season (.270 in 2018). With the added protection of a plethora of All-Star additions, most notably Bryce Harper, Franco will continue to make strides and contribute in a crowded Phillies lineup penciled in as the everyday third baseman.