Recreational Fishing: Third Base

We’re doing a little recreational fishing here at Today, we’re ignoring the trophy fish that Bill Dance tried catching between bloopers. We want those rough, ugly fish; the fish whom nobody pays attention. Round 25 and beyond, no one who goes before our 288 ADP cut-off. We’re looking to hook some Third Basemen and we don’t have much for bait. Grab one of those cans of expired, potted meat and a piece of corn, we’re fishing for bottom-feeders. Make the jump for the underrated few who the public largely (and mistakenly) ignore.

12-team Mixed Leagues

No one. Don’t try anything funny when filling your Third Base slot. Get yourself a David Wright, Evan Longoria, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Zimmermann, Kevin Youkilis, Jose Bautista or Adrian Beltre. If you want to get cute, snuggle up with the Kung Fu Panda (138 ADP). The position is top heavy without any late round options who can hold you down from beginning to end.

Mono-leagues (AL and NL Only) and Deep Mixed Leagues

Mike Moustakas -ADP NA- The Royals Third Baseman of the future is their No.2 prospect (behind Pitcher Mike Montgomery) in a loaded system. In 484 AB (between AA and AAA), Moustakas hit .322 while launching 36 Home Runs. Before we start extrapolating minor league numbers ala Bill James, we should note the Batting Average from AA (.347) was inflated by a high BABIP (.342) and his AAA stats were put up in the PCL (hitters league). Still, you can’t deny the talent. He doesn’t strike out much for a power hitter and has a little speed to boot. The only knock here is the 3.4% walk rate from AAA (it was sitting between 6.0% and 8.7% from Rookie ball to AA), but why would you take pitches when you’re not missing the ball (11% K%) and crushing Home Runs? Moustakas is only 22 years-old, but has been highly touted for years. I think he’ll crack the Top 12 3B after his promotion. He’s worth stashing in deeper leagues and should be mixed league relevant when he is promoted. 2011 Projection: .273-22-52-65-3 (400 AB)

Alex Gordon -ADP NA- It’s hard to believe, but the former AA MVP is already 27-years old. How time flies when you’re recovering from injuries. Gordon has hit the 15-day DL in each of the past three seasons, one of those visits lasted 91 days (hip surgery in April of ’09). Gordon has solid power and some speed, but we shouldn’t expect any help in the Batting Average department. The K% isn’t pretty (25.1%) and the high BABIP numbers from the minor leagues (.373, .373, .391) haven’t translated to the majors even though he hits plenty of Line Drives. Alex will be an everyday Outfielder in KC, but he did make nine starts (ten appearances) at 3B last season, so he qualifies at the hot corner in my leagues. If he can get past the injury problems, I think he has a solid chance of being useful in deeper leagues. 2010 Projection: .264-21-82-74-12 (550 AB)

Chase Headley -ADP 323- Chase is a solid bet for double digit Home Runs and Stolen Bases, but the Batting Average and ballpark/surrounding lineup hinder Headley’s chances of being worthy for mixed-league deployment. Headley’s K% has improved over the past few years so we may see more growth in his Batting Average. There’s little to talk about here; not much for power, improving K%, solid speed and base running stuck inside the most extreme Pitcher’s park and most deplorable lineup in baseball. 2011 Projection: .268-13-80-65-15 (585 AB)

Chris Johnson -ADP 353- Johnson hit .308 with 11 HR and 3 SB in 341 AB as a rookie, he is an extrapolaters dream come true. He should hit .308 with 17 HR and 5 SB this season; wrong! Johnson will not replicate the .387 BABIP he posted in 2010. Not happening. He posted much smaller numbers (.276, .335, .336) during his three seasons at AAA. These numbers tend to drop with each promotion (better Pitchers, better defenses), they don’t increase by 50 points. Now that we’ve broke down the soon-to-regress BABIP, it’s time to build it up. Johnson does hit a lot of Line Drives (22%-24% the past few years, FirstInning). He does a good job of driving the ball when he makes contact (26.7% K% from 2010, meh). We should expect an above average BABIP, but let’s not go crazy and expect something near .387. This forecast uses a .327 BABIP with a slight improvement in K% (25.4%). 2011 Projection: .267-18-58-72-4 (540 AB)

Danny Valencia -ADP 394- Another BABIP regression candidate, Danny doesn’t hit enough Line Drives or possess the power/speed to repeat the .345 BABIP from 2010. In 53 July At Bats, Valencia posted a .479 BABIP. If you’re willing to pay for that, you should hide your wallet and forget where you put it. The Twinkies Third Baseman has some pop (17 HR in ’07, 15 HR in ’08, 14 HR in ’09 as he climbed the MiLB ladder) and a smidgen of speed (think 2 to 4 SB). He doesn’t strike out often (15.4% K% in ’10), but that’s about all he has going for him. If you draft Valencia, you’re just hoping he doesn’t hurt you. This forecast uses a .311 BABIP. 2011 Projection: .280-13-65-68-3 (560 AB)

Kevin Kouzmanoff -ADP 393- Kevin has given us four years of steady production, we know what to expect from him. Leaving Petco Park is what hitters yearn for, but playing in Oakland was more Ground Hog’s Day than dream come true for the Kouz. The K% has improved a bit over the past couple seasons and he should take advantage of a slight bounce back in BABIP. He battled lower back soreness in September that was likely the cause for the decreased LD% and BABIP (12.2% LD%, .111 BABIP). 2011 Projection: .262-19-64-79-1 (550 AB)

Edwin Encarnacion -ADP 371- Edwin Munster is atrocious as a defender of the hot corner. He’ll play the role of DH and backup 1B/3B for the Jays in ’11 so this may be his last season with 3B eligibility. Eazy-E has also had some health problems relating to being HIV-positive his wrist, forearm and knee. He’s hit the 60-day DL once and the 15-day DL three times during the two past seasons. We can ignore the defensive woes, but we can’t forget about the injury issues. It was nice to see the power remain after the wrist surgery from ’09, but I’m not willing to pay for the five-year high in HR/FB% (especially after leaving Cincy for Toronto). Not-so-fast Eddie is 31-years old these days so we pretty much know what to expect by now. 2011 Projection: .257-21-60-63-2 (475 AB)

David Freese -ADP 391- I’m not a big believer in David Freese for the 2011 fantasy baseball season. His BABIP is going to regress and he’s coming off reconstructive kankle surgery. Freese’s minor league BABIP numbers sat between .345 and .355, we should expect something closer to .335 than his .376 mark from ’10. I know he hit 26 HR in AAA (back in 2008), but he’s never shown that kind of power before or after the magical season. Not to mention Busch Stadium does no favors for Right Handed Batters. The park scores a 73 for HR (for Righties) at Stat Corner. Don’t be surprised to see Nick Punto sub in for David and play some of that piranha defense in the later innings. LaRussa also expressed his desire to get Allen Craig some playing time at Third Base. Both will help Freese get some time off and save some wear and tear from his bothersome ankle. Bottom line; if he stays healthy, you’re getting a soon-to-regress Batting Average and not much to brag about in the power department. This forecast uses a .338 BABIP. 2010 Projection: .273-12-60-67-2 (480 AB)

Recreational Fishing [C] [1B] [2B] [SS] [3B] [OF] [SP] [RP]

2011 Third Base Rankings and Projections

ADP numbers provided by MockDraftCentral