No need to chase Headley
Photo Credit: SD Dirk
Third base is normally considered a shallow fantasy position, but that notion is being turned on its head. Not only is the position top-heavy, but there is ample depth available, which means you can actually wait on filling the 3B slot on your roster.
This may take some getting used to. Almost like coming to grips with the fact that, after careful consideration, there are things you would not do for a Klondike bar. There may be several stages to go through before you finally reach “acceptance,” but luckily, you have your boy Dudley Do Work here to guide you. I’ve ranked 33 third basemen in this edition of “Tiers, Not Fears,” so breathe easy homie. We got you.
More after the jump:
The “League Of His Own” Lunatic
Miggy Smalls throws up numbers so crazy, he sits in a tier all by himself. Not only does he have elite power (44 HRs and .277 ISO last year), but he owns a career .318 BA. Plus, he’s actually crazy off the field! He’s not only the class of the third base position, but the entire realm of fantasy baseball.
1. Miguel Cabrera
For all the Ryan Braun supporters: don’t throw pebbles at Cabrera’s throne.
The Second-Tier Citizens
They can’t rock with Cabrera, but this trio of talent has first-round ability. Beltre and Longoria can cruise to 30-plus HR seasons when healthy, while Wright can go 25/15.
2. Adrian Beltre
He gets the nod over Longoria because of his superior batting average (.321 last year and should be at least .290 in 2013). He turns 34 in April, but didn’t show any signs of slowing down in 2012.
3. Evan Longoria
After undergoing hamstring surgery in November and spending ample time on the DL the last two years, Longoria carries some risk entering the 2013 season. Still, you can’t hate on his power potential (career .240 ISO).
4. David Wright
The 5×5 contributor does it all, but his power and speed numbers aren’t what they once were. He can still sock 20-25 bombs and swipe 15-18 bags, but that just makes him a rich man’s Brett Lawrie. Keep an eye on his intercostal injury as well since his timetable for a return is still pretty cloudy.
The “Safe” Squadron
The relatively “safe” options end with this tier, as you start seeing more question marks with the players below Zimmerman and A-Ram. Sure Ramirez can’t improve on his first season with Milwaukee and yes, Zimmerman is coming off shoulder surgery and is perpetually underwhelming. That said, you can’t front on the high floors these guys have.
5. Ryan Zimmerman
After getting a cortisone injection in his fucked up shoulder, Zimmerman rolled up a diesel .319/.384/.580 from July 1st on. Zimmerman has regularly failed to reward owners with the monster season they have been waiting for, but consider me still beholden to the idea that Zimmerman’s best campaign is yet to come.
6. Aramis Ramirez
Turning 35 in June, Ramirez is more likely to hit between 22-25 HRs in his second season with the Brewers (rather than the 27 he socked in 2012). The good news is that he can still hit for average (career .285 BA), so he remains a solid 3B option.
The “Come Up” Conglomerate
This triumvirate is vying to get to that elite level, but they’re not quite there yet. Pedro Alvarez has impressive power and the league-wide drop in power makes him a valuable commodity (even if he hits below .250). As for Brett Lawrie, I’m getting a feeling that he will never be as good as advertised, but he obviously has use because of his ability to contribute both power and speed.
7. Pedro Alvarez
Enough power for me to feel comfortable eating the weak batting average.
8. Brett Lawrie
All this talk about him being a 25/20 type of player… and yet Lawrie finishes the 2012 season with 11 HRs and 13 SBs. Even worse: he was caught stealing eight times. Lawrie is obviously talented, but there’s no need to reach on a player coming off such a mediocre season.
The “20-25 Bomb” Brigade
The dudes who make up this tier are, as you might expect, capable of slugging 20-25 HRs. Sandoval and Youkilis are the veterans who would rank higher if they weren’t so injury-prone. Frazier is a young-blood who strikes out more than you like but has some upside.
9. Pablo Sandoval
A career .303 hitter, Sandoval is a worthy fantasy option when healthy, but the pudgy plate-smith has played under 120 games in each of the last two years.
10. Todd Frazier
Though Frazier’s power has been a lot better in the majors than it ever was in the minors, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s playing over his head. His batted ball pimp hand is strong (22.4 LD% and 32.9 GB% in 2012) and while he might hit around .250, the potential is there for him to provide a nice profit on his draft day value (which I obviously believe in based on this ranking).
11. Kevin Youkilis
Nagging injuries have sapped his value, but I like Youkilis’ odds of making performing well during his one-year pact with New York. Hitting coach Kevin Long reportedly worked with Youkilis on tweaking his funky pre-swing mechanics, and it’s paying dividends in spring ball.
The “Costly” Committee
There’s some popular names in this tier, but it only takes one fool to create an overspend. Moustakas has a much-ballyhooed “power upside,” but it’s not that great. As we’ve mentioned many times on this site, Kansas City’s home park in AA is a HR paradise and his AAA stats came in the PCL. Middlebrooks posted an unrepeatable 24.5 HR/FB and .221 ISO in 2012 (and is coming off wrist surgery). Headley will begin the year on the DL and wil be hard-pressed to repeat his 2012 success. People still remember Freese’s awesome performance in the 2011 playoffs… and it’s reflected in his price tag.
12. Chase Headley
Even before the thumb fracture, Headley was a dicey pick. If you think Headley can really put up another 21.3 HR/FB (career 10.2) and .212 ISO (career .145), then you are obviously buying that he’s all of a sudden one of the better power hitters in the majors. That is not a leap of faith that I am willing to make.
13. Will Middlebrooks
20/10 season possible, but strikeouts are an issue (24.5 K% last year) and have to wonder how his power will play out in 2013.
14. Mike Moustakas
A shitty batted ball profile and shoddy plate patience helped lead to a .242 BA in 2012.
15. David Freese
More of a high-teens HR hitter, Freese isn’t a lock to sock 20 bombs again. Counting stats should be solid though.
The “Do I REALLY Want To?” Throng
To answer the question: no, you don’t really want to. That said, at least you can talk yourself into believing that any of these three players can kill it in 2013. Plouffe showed serious power last year (.220 ISO), but also battled some inconsistency. Machado can go 15/10, but at 20 years old, there is some concern about him being overmatched in his first full season in the bigs. Reynolds has shown game-changing power before, but he pairs that with an atrocious batting average (career .235).
16. Trevor Plouffe
A BA bum whose value is solely tied to his power.
17. Manny Machado
Arguably the most masculine name ever (it has “man” and most of “macho” in it), Baltimore’s third baseman is actually boyish. Not buying a “true” breakout in 2013.
The “So It’s Come To This” Troop
Prado and Young qualify at second base (with Prado also being eligible at SS). That gives them just enough value to avoid bottom-of-the-barrel status. Chisenhall and Donaldson have enough pop to make radar-worthy in most mixed leagues, but their upside is very limited.
18. Martin Prado
Contributes a little bit everywhere… literally. He won’t kill you in any categories, but don’t expect any serious dent to made in the 5×5 stats.
19. Mark Reynolds
There’s plenty of peripheral data to support the argument that Reynolds wasn’t THAT bad in 2012. He posted an 18.1 HR/FB, 13.6 BB%, and even upped his LD% to 20.1 percent (below 14.0 the previous two years). Still, his power numbers dropped last year and you STILL had to deal with an atrocious BA, which is very disconcerting. I mean, if he's gonna kill your BA, the least he can do is rock 30-plus HRs.
20. Lonnie Chisenhall
Lonnie “Chins ‘N Balls” makes plenty of hard contact (25.2 LD% last year), but don’t expect 20 HRs (although it’s slightly plausible).
21. Josh Donaldson
Injury-prone throughout his entire pro career and having to fend off Jed Lowrie for at-bats at third, Donaldson is facing an uphill battle. He just sneaks into this tier thanks to his long-shot odds at 20 HRs and 10 steals.
22. Michael Young
Don’t expect the power to come back. If he couldn’t hit HRs in Rangers Ballpark, why would he do so in Citizens Bank Park? His value is saved by the fact that crazy old coot Charlie Manuel might hit him third.
The “Why Did I Join A League This Deep?” Clique
How the mighty have fallen. Alex Rodriguez finds himself lumped in with the likes of Jeff Keppinger and Placido Polanco. The fact that he might miss the entire year is a big factor, but I’m honestly not optimistic about him being productive even if he gets his crippled ass on the field. As for the rest of the players in this tier: they suck, but most are in line for regular playing time. Luis Jimenez, the lone prospect on the list, is an intriguing talent with 20/15 ability. I threw him on the list in case Callaspo… er, Callapses this season.
23. Luis Cruz
24. Matt Dominguez
25. Chris Nelson
26. Juan Francisco
27. Alex Rodriguez
28. Alberto Callaspo
29. Jeff Keppinger
30. Placido Polanco
31. Ian Stewart
32. Chris Johnson
33. Luis Jimenez
*Last updated 3/19/13.