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However, those mainstays are not going down without a fight.While injuries have taken the starch out of some formerly great players such as David Wright, while others like Aramis Ramirez have retired and even more have peaked and declined such as Ryan Zimmerman, Chase Headley and Pablo Sandoval, there is a strong veteran core that is mixed in among the upstart prodigies in the group. One thing for sure, there has been a hostile takeover within the top 5 of players far south of seeing their 25th birthday.2015 marked seventh time he has topped 20 home runs in season, having hit a total 205 in his 20’s.
Yet between being the most athletic 3B in the game and a multiple time All-Star by the age of 22, Machado is steadily expanding his offensive rapport as well. It would be impossible for Koji Uehara to have a better year than he did last time around, but his presence assures that Boston must be beat early. With the exclusion of Miguel Cabrera, who has collected the last two AL MVPs, but has since moved back to first base, the current collection of third basemen has three members who finished in the top 5 of their league last season, with another who rightfully should have—but will get more than his due at the top of this list later (and no, that is not an excuse to jump ahead.Never count out anything from this prodigy come true. Nolan Arenado, Rockies 2015: .287/.323/.575, 42 HR, 130 RBI, 43 doubles, 97 runs scored, .898 OPS Last 3 Years: .281/.318/.500, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 35 doubles, 68 runs scored, .818 OPS Firmly entrenched as the best defensive third baseman in the National League (and it is a rather fun debate about whether him or Machado’s glove reigns supreme in all of baseball), Arenado went about the business of putting to bed any doubts about who is the best overall NL third baseman as well a year ago too. Hiroki Kuroda has silently been the most consistent arm in the Yankee arsenal the past two seasons, and Price (30-13 record the past two years) by himself makes the Rays a favorite in most head-to-head matchups he takes the ball in. Alvarez’s thing is home runs, and he tied for NL-led with 36 last year, albeit while topping strikeouts by himself with 186. Martin Prado, Diamondbacks: He drove in a career-best 82 runs in his first season in the desert, and 36 doubles as well.Arenado launched 42 home runs a year ago, tying with MVP Bryce Harper for the league lead. Blue Jays Tampa keeps churning out more and more arms without ceasing it seems. While he continued to be a slight utility man (notching 25 starts in left field and second base, respectively), he committed only six errors in 113 games at third. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers: Injuries limited him last year, but he just a season removed from a 50 double/27 homer/105 RBI campaign.In each of his three seasons as a starter, three times he has finished in the top 10 for most times on base, reaching base 280, 265 and 243 times, respectively. Kris Bryant, Cubs (Not ranked in ’15) 2015: .275/.369/.488, 26 HR, 99 RBI, 31 doubles, 87 runs scored, .858 OPS In the year of the rookie, none made a more potent debut than Bryant did. Ubaldo Jimenez (Orioles via Free Agency) Yankees, Yankees and more Yankees here, with each playing a major role in the team’s immediate success. However, their pitching staff being a success would be slightly an upset of sorts, as they enter the season needing all of their arms to either overachieve, overcome or live up to some lofty expectations—and in some cases, some of each element.It seemed unlikely that he could possibly match the buzz around him not being immediately a member of the Cubs out of spring training, but he still somehow managed to exceed the buzz. Outside of NY, the Orioles played their free agent hand slow, but played it well in adding a new staff ace in Jimenez and All-Star caliber outfielder in Nelson Cruz. The Orioles and Jays seem to be a step behind each of these teams now, but also have rosters that could would make it no shock at all if they crack into the upper reaches of the division.