Third base has the obvious studs at the top, but soon after come a lot of question marks. Can Ryan Zimmerman finally put together another career year? Can Hanley Ramirez adjust from shortstop and be a mature team player? Are Evan Longoria and Alex Rodriguez healthy? Should I have pizza or turkey for lunch?
You could argue that if you miss out on the top studs, you could wait for some bargains, because believe me, there are some possible deep sleepers late.
Note: As long as I don’t have to over-pay, I am also one to take a prospect with high upside over a veteran with a guarantee of average–or below average– numbers, (ie. Kyle Seager over Chipper Jones).
Note Two: I will only ‘rank’ my top 12 players, considering these players would be the only guys I would start immediately in a standard 12-team mixed league. Please use this guide in helping you to determine which third basemen to target, and who to stay away from–and not over-pay for–on draft day.
Guys I Love. (AndGreat Value Picks!)
Based on their ADP (average draft position), these players could be draft day bargains. Get ready to jump like Van Halen.
1 Miguel Cabrera (Det) Will be eligible at third base just a week or two into the season. As reliable as they come. Will compete for AL MVP and the triple crown once again.
2 Jose Bautista (Tor) Probably the last year he’s eligible at third base. Jump on him early. Likely to lead league in home runs again.
4 Adrian Beltre (Tex) His numbers outside of Seattle are staggering. I have never been a buyer until this year. He only played 124 games last year and still managed to hit 32 home runs with 105 RBI (batting .374 with an incredible 12 homers and 29 RBIs in September). If he stays healthy for just 140 games, his numbers could get scary.
9 Kevin Youkilis (BOS) Another player who is injury prone, but good grief, if he’s healthy… just look at the lineup he’s in! The Red Sox could break the record for most runs ever scored in a season, meaning plenty of RBIs to go around. If he plays just 130 games, I would expect a line of .295/25/100 with a high on-base percentage.
David Freese (STL) Shattered about every single post-season record there is. If he’s healthy for an entire season, he could make a push for MVP. That’s right, I said MVP.
Martin Prado (ATL) Ignore last year’s numbers. He was hurt. He will return to his old All-Star form this season.
Value Is Appropriate
These guys are being drafted close to their value. Feel free to grab at the right time, but do not reach.
3 Hanley Ramirez (Mia) Had a rough go of it last year, and almost falls into my ‘don’t overpay category,’ but hey, this guys was on the fast track to the Hall of Fame until last season. New manager, new ballpark, new teammates…wouldn’t shock me at all to see the Hanley of old this season. But again, don’t reach for him.
5 Evan Longoria (TB) His batting average of balls in play last year was extremely low, meaning he was unlucky. He was also playing hurt. Expect numbers closer to his career average this year (.275/30/100)
6 Pablo Sandoval (SF) Kung Fu Panda lost weight last season and look what he did! Went right back to his high contact rate and nailed in a .315 average with 23 home runs. He’s still conditioning, got LASIK eye surgery, and is only 26. I wouldn’t mind him at my hot corner at all.
7 Ryan Zimmerman (Was) Another solid pick here. But the question still remains as to whether he is an elite third baseman, or just a really good one? He does have great protection in the lineup and the Nats will be a team to contend with this season. Zim could easily hit .295 with 25-30 homers if he’s healthy. I like him, but don’t reach.
8 Alex Rodriguez (NYY) A-Rod will be 37 this year and has missed at least 25 games the past four years. He could make a comeback, but I’m torn personally. The numbers don’t look good to me, but analysts say he’s fired up and ready to go this season. You’re rolling the dice here if you pay, but it could pay back decent dividends.
Michael Young (Tex) He’s a career .304 hitter that still has some pop and can play multiple positions. I don’t want him as my starting first baseman, but at second or third? Sure.
Mike Moustakas (KC) Might still be a year away from a major breakout, but he’s still a star in the making. With an ADP around 185, I think that’s just the right time to roll the dice on a possible elite third baseman.
Chase Headley (SD) Will at least get you a fairly high average.
Sean Rodriguez (TB) Still only 26. He averaged 28 homers a season in the minors. Has 20/20 potential and plays multiple positions.
Emilio Bonifacio (Mia) Can he repeat his out-of-nowhere performance of 2011? Some seem to think so considering Ozzie Guillen’s managing style.
Daniel Murphy (NYM) He got lucky with his average on balls in play last year, but he’s still a career .292 hitter and plays first and second base as well. Love him for a utility infielder.
These guys have solid numbers, but be careful. They’re going much higher in drafts than they should, considering their value.
10 Brett Lawrie (Tor) This guy will be amazing. Don’t get me wrong. But don’t over pay. I repeat: don’t. overpay. He’s so young. In fact, he only has 150 at-bats to his name at the major league level. We don’t even know how he can adjust to pitchers once they’ve figured him out (ie. Jason Heyward last year). I like Lawrie, but I’m not spending a 4th or 5th round pick on him, which is where he is going right now.
11 David Wright (NYM) Another guy I have loved, but duuuuudddeee…. His power keeps declining, and his ballpark doesn’t help. Sure, I read they moved in the fence at Citi Field…but then I read that Wright has an abdominal tear. That can’t be comfortable. Too banged up. On a bad team. Not the Wright of old. Not worth a 2nd or 3rd round pick.
12 Aramis Ramirez (Mil) Mill-e-wah-kay…which is Algonquin for ‘the good land.’… I’m sure A-Ram isn’t too familiar with his French-Indian history, or Alice Cooper for that matter….(kudos if you get the 'Wayne's World' reference)…but I sure hope he gets familiar with his new Milwaukee ballpark. And so should you if you draft him. Ramirez’s OPS is 100 points lower at Miller Park than it is at Wrigley. He’s also an incredibly streaky player. He’ll put up some good numbers, but I think there are better buys much later.
Mark Reynolds (Bal) Tons of homers, but ranks 118th in average. King of the strike out.
Edwin Encarnacion (Tor) If you’ve ever owned this guy at all, you know to stay away. Matthew Berry calls him his ‘fantasy kryptonite,’ because even though he gets burned by him every year, he can’t stay away. I can.
Ryan Roberts (Ari) Don’t trust him any further than I could throw him.
Chipper Jones (ATL) The dude is almost 40 and doesn’t sound positive in the locker room surrounding the confidence of his health.
Late Round Gold Mining. AKA Deep Sleepers!
Mike Aviles (Bos) Could make a terrific last round pick. A career .288 hitter, surrounded by a monster lineup, and he’s eligible at second base and shortstop as well.
Pedro Alvarez (Pit) He’s just a couple years removed from being a number one pick. The Pirates have way too much invested in him to let him fall away into obscurity. He was on pace for nearly 30 homers in 2010. Could draft him dead-last in 2012, meaning you have nothing to lose.
Lonnie Chisenhall (Cle) A top prospect that hit pretty well in his short debut last year. Hit .279 in September, to go with four homers and 14 RBIs.
Jimmy Paredes (Hou) Has tremendous speed (which is weird for a third baseman) and posted a .286 average with a pair of homers, 18 RBIs and five steals in 46 games last year.
Mat Gamel (Mil) Will play first base in Prince Fielder’s absence, but should qualify at third in most leagues as well. I’m not too impressed with his past MLB stats, but some analysts love him. He mashed in the minor leagues. If he goes undrafted and starts the year hot, jump.
Kyle Seager (Sea) Went on a tear (18 of 36) over a nine game hitting streak in his debut last year. I don’t like Chone Figgins. Seager’s job all the way.
The rest of the league
I wouldn’t bother looking at any of these players unless they’re your back-up in an incredibly deep league. These guys are second-string, at best.
Danny Valencia– Min
Ian Stewart – CHC
Alberto Callaspo – LAA
Jed Lowrie – Bos
Brent Morel – CHW
Placido Polanco – Phi
Ty Wigginton – Phi (Pick up if he gets hot. Streaky player and will fill-in in Ryan Howard's absence)
Chris Davis – Bal
Juan Uribe LAD
Josh Helmuth is the lead baseball writer for CraveOnline.com and has won ‘The League Of Champions’ fantasy baseball league four out of six years.