Braves 2023 FanGraphs Projections By Position: Third Base

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The Braves and most clubs around the league have nearly finalized rosters outside of a few instances. With Spring Training right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to look at FanGraphs‘ projections for the 2023 season. This continues my series, moving to third base, which will be manned by Austin Riley for the next decade. Below are the previous parts of the series:

Third Base

2022 was a big year for Austin Riley — on and off the field. He had one of the best seasons of his career, signed a massive 10-year contract with the Braves, and experienced the birth of his first child. Riley followed up a breakout 2021 campaign, in which he accrued 4.7 fWAR, with another impressive season in 2022.

Riley’s 2021 .303/.367/.531 slash line was parlayed into a franchise-record $212 million deal in the middle of the summer. He put up a career-best 5.5 fWAR, ranking fourth at his position in that metric and wRC+ while smashing 38 home runs, leading all third basemen. And there was a point in time when Austin Riley had quite possibly the most impressive stretch I’ve ever seen around the time he signed the extension. Over the course of 25 games in July, the Braves went 18-7 while Riley hit an unbelievable 423/.459/.885 with a 270 wRC+, which led to NL Player of the Month honors.

However, Riley would end the year on a cold streak, including the NLDS. Over the last couple of months, he slashed just .224/.331/.393 with a 105 wRC+ in 250+ plate appearances. Riley also went 1-for-15 with a walk and five strikeouts in the Braves playoff series against the Phillies. It wasn’t the end we had all hoped for, but Riley is set to compete for MVPs year in and year out. FanGraphs projects him to have a modest 4.5 WAR while slashing .274/.343/.513, which is just about where he’s been the past two seasons, ranking seventh in the MLB for 2023.

Regardless of his slight defensive struggles, Riley projects to be an All-Star caliber player with the ability to set the league on fire when he’s hitting like he did this past July for the Braves.

Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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