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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Third Base Primer

February 15, 2011

Third base is deep – at least deeper than what it’s been in the recent past.

You can go any which way when it comes to drafting a 3B:

  • Take an elite producer like David Wright or Evan Longoria in the first or second round.
  • Wait a little while and take a proven veteran like Adrian Beltre or Michael Young in the fifth to eighth rounds.
  • Roll the dice with a young player with tons of potential like Pedro Alvarez and Ian Stewart no earlier than round nine.
  • Wait until the picks get into the 100’s and take somone like Casey McGehee or Mark Reynolds – guys who should easily produce a good return on investment.

Tiers

The Elite

Evan Longoria

David Wright

Ryan Zimmerman

Alex Rodriguez

This is the place where I want to land a third basemen. It’s gonna cost a first or second round pick, but I’m fine with that. Longoria is only 25, and his numbers have been trending up every year. Wright is as consistent as they come and provides a solid base in every category.

Zimmerman is still a notch below those guys, but he should be good for 30 homers and 100 RBIs a season for the next five or so years.

I’m not going to be drafting A-Rod this year. He’s 35 now, and in a 5×5 league he only really helps in two categories. He’s not gonna be stealing any bases, he’s scored fewer than 80 runs in both the last two seasons, and he hasn’t played in more than 140 games the past three seasons. He’s been hit with various injuries over the past few years, and while he’ll still put up good power numbers, I expect his other numbers to be similar to last year’s.

Question Marks

Adrian Beltre

Jose Bautista

The last time Adrian Beltre hit 28 or more homers was 2004. The next year, after signing a huge contract with the Mariners, Beltre only hit 19 homers and batted .255. Beltre just signed a new contract with the Rangers after a monster year with the Red Sox. Beltre’s new home and lineup are both much better than what they were in Seattle, but I’m not drafting him this year, because I’ll probably already have a 3B. However his current 50 ADP is a bargain, and his career stats in Rangers Ballpark are nice. In 51 games he has nine homers, 34 RBIs and a .306 average in Texas.

Bautista is another interesting case. In his first season playing over 150 games he set career highs in everything and led the league in homers. If you think he can stay healthy again and play in 150+ games again then go ahead and draft him. But his 46 ADP is pretty high for such an unproven commodity. Plus he’s not gonna hit 54 homers again, and chances are he’ll lose at least 20 off that total this year. So if he hits 34 homers he’s not nearly as valuable as he was last year, but his batting eye (100 BB last year) can help in OBP leagues.

Guys I Like

Pedro Alvarez

Casey McGehee

Martin Prado

Alvarez struggled a bit in his rookie season, but if you dig a little further you’ll notice improvement throughout the season: In 46 June at-bats he hit .152 with no homers. But from July-September he averaged five homers a month and had no fewer than 16 RBIs in each month. He batted .311 in September and finished with 53 RBIs in 263 post-all-star at-bats. He’ll still struggle a bit this year and might have to go to the minors for a short assignment, but if you draft him keep him regardless of if he gets sent down, and if you don’t draft him and he struggles out of the gate see if you can get him for cheap.

McGehee’s produced two very solid seasons in a row, and he’s now only 28 and in his prime in a good lineup. Except for a small swoon early in the summer last year he was extremely consistent. I think we’ve probably seen his ceiling, but his lineup and two very similar seasons portend good things ahead.

Prado is going to be extremely valuable this year. He already has 2B and 3B (and maybe even 1B) eligibility, and he’s slated to start in left field for a potent Braves’ lineup this year. His runs and average will be elite this year, and he should be able to reach 15 homers and 70 RBIs.

Even Bigger Question Marks

Aramis Ramirez

Michael Young

Mark Reynolds

Pablo Sandoval

Will the real Aramis please stand up? In the same number of games post-break last year as before the break Ramirez batted 69 points higher, had five more homers and 19 more RBIs. … Young is now 34 and wants out of Texas. I don’t know if that’ll help or hurt his value, but if he stays in Texas he could see his stats drop due to lack of playing time. Young only batted .260 in the second half last year. And if he’s traded out of Texas, he only batted .260 on the road with five homers last year. … Reynolds is gonna have to increase his runs and RBIs to be a positive for your team this year. His homers are still good, but his average will kill a team in roto, and his decline to only seven stolen bases decreases his value. … Who knows with Sandoval. He had two good months last year, but the other four were putrid. He didn’t show any noticeable progression throughout the season. He barely played in the playoffs. If he gets off to a slow start this year, he could be benched or even traded. If you don’t have to pay a high price for him on draft day, it wouldn’t be that bad of a pick. He has a .305 career average and has averaged 39 doubles the past two years. But his lineup still isn’t that good so runs and RBI opportunities should be slim (Insert your own joke here).

You really want one of these guys?

Ian Stewart

Juan Uribe

Omar Infante

Chase Headley

Stewart’s worth a shot in the later rounds.

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