RankingsMarch 4, 2009

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Positional Tiers: Third Base

By AquaMan2342

Today’s edition of the FBC’s Tier Rankings will focus solely on the hot corner. Once a position where talent was abundant, third base has gradually become a fairly shallow position, anchored by a solid top five followed by a ton of question marks. If you unable to snag one of the first five third basemen on the board, my best advice to you would be to wait for a mid-tier selection as the next five are arguably being overdrafted.

Tier 1: Rounds 1-2

Alex Rodriguez2Yes.3021043510318510
David Wright4Yes.3021153312415626
Miguel Cabrera6No.29285371271616

Rodriguez is still the class of the position, putting up comparable numbers to the other top tier players with over 100 fewer at-bats. The steroid stigma is there, but that’s about all that’s keeping Rodriguez from putting up another top-notch season. You can count me among those who believe the tumultuous offseason will motivate him to one of his best campaigns. Wright sits in the middle of one of baseball’s best lineups and should have no problem repeating his line from last year, as well as adding a few extra steals. The move to Citi Field shouldn’t have any effect on his numbers given Shea’s reputation as a pitcher’s park. Cabrera’s last year being third base eligible should be among his best if he picks up where he left off last season. It’s scary to think that he led the American League in homers last season despite struggling mightily through the first half. He’s a potential AL MVP candidate and might end up as the best first round value this year.

Tier 2: Rounds 3-5

Evan Longoria19Yes.2726727857448
Aramis Ramirez37Yes.28997271112554

These two are probably the last solid options at third base, yet there are questions about whether or not Longoria can build on a strong rookie campaign. He had an abnormally high HR/FB rate and struck out in an astounding 27% of his at-bats. The pedigree and ability are there, but upon further research it might be best to let somebody else take the chance on him, at least for this season. Meanwhile, Ramirez provides an abundance of value at the 37th pick. He’s been as consistent as they come save a few minor injuries and plays in a great lineup and a great park. I have actually seen him fall to the mid-40s in some mocks and would definitely take him there, even if I already had another third baseman. Cornering the market is a solid strategy with third base this year and Ramirez seems to be the best option that could likely fall further than his MDP suggests.

Tier 3: Rounds 6-8

Kevin Youkilis41Yes.31291291153538
Chipper Jones54Yes.3648222754439
Chris Davis70Yes.2855117551295
Garrett Atkins73Yes.2868621991611
Aubrey Huff85Yes.30496321084598
Chone Figgins97Yes.2767212234442

A lot of options in this tier, but a ton of questions. I don’t see Youkilis repeating his power output from 2008, given his ridiculous HR/FB rate and the fact that he almost doubled his career high last year. He’s good at getting on base however, and can provide value through solid counting stats and dual eligibility. Chipper will be Chipper, so make sure you draft another third baseman late to make up for the games he will most certainly miss. Chris Davis’s draft position this season has brought varying opinions. Fangraphs seems to love him, whereas some aren’t high on him at all. I am somewhat in the middle, but will likely not have him on any of my teams. Atkins has seen his stats fall in the last three seasons, and one shouldn’t expect him to rebound anytime soon without Matt Holliday to protect him. With Atkins having horrible away splits, he’s somebody I wouldn’t touch in a H2H format. I actually like Huff where he is being drafted, as I foresee him besting Youkilis in most categories this year. The Baltimore lineup is potentially explosive this year and Huff should be a main beneficiary. Figgins is an odd duck of sorts given his inconsistency and inability to stay healthy, but is a good speed option who also provides second base eligibility. If he can stay healthy for an entire season, he could be a steal in the 8th or 9th round.

Tier 4: Rounds 9-15

Ryan Zimmerman104Yes.2835114511428
Edwin Encarnacion142Yes.2517526681506
Adrian Beltre158Yes.2667425778556
Russell Martin46No.28087136918553
Jorge Cantu150Yes.2779229956628
Alex Gordon159Yes.2607216599493

There’s a lot of potential in this tier, and I’d personally advise taking a flier on one of these players if you don’t snag an elite third baseman. Guys like Encarnacion, Beltre and Gordon could easily end the year as top-10 options at the position, and if Cantu can repeat last season’s success, he will also be a huge bargain considering his current MDP. Personally I am targeting Beltre: he’s still only 29 years old, has been consistent the last few years and is playing for another contract this season (re: 2004). I also like the fact that he usually contributes double digit steals along with his above average power output.

Tier 5: Rounds 16-20

Mark Reynolds197Yes.23987289711539
Mark DeRosa148Yes.28510321876505
Pablo Sandoval211No.345243240145
Troy Glaus219Yes.2706927990544
Carlos Guillen212Yes.2866810549420

I’ll go on the record as saying I am huge on Reynolds this year. He’d be the type of guy I’d draft to compliment Chipper as he can become blazing hot in certain stretches. There’s concern about whether or not he’ll be a full-time player this year as Chad Tracy returns to full health, but I’d expect him to approach his numbers from last year with a higher batting average. Don’t forget about his stolen base contributions either. DeRosa will be more valuable as a second baseman and Sandoval as a catcher. Glaus is a great late-round option as some will be scared by his injury and Guillen can contribute if healthy, which he looks to be coming into spring training.

Tier 6: Rounds 21+

Ty Wigginton218Yes.2855023584386
Hank Blalock221Yes.2873712381258
Melvin Mora215Yes.28577231043513
Casey Blake239Yes.2817121813536

Some interesting names in this tier as there is still considerable potential in some of these names. Drafters aren’t believing in Mora or Wigginton even though they were arguably their league’s best hitters coming down the stretch last season. I like Mora over Wigginton because of his ability to stay healthy and the aforementioned explosive Baltimore offense. Blalock is always risky but has high upside and Blake is the most mundane of the four as you know exactly what you’re getting with him.

Tier 7: Waiver Wire Fodder

Ian StewartN/AYes.2593310411266
Jed LowrieN/AYes.258342461260
Kevin KouzmanoffN/AYes.2607123840624

These three seem to stand out among the undrafted crowd. I was surprised to see that Kouzmanoff is not regarded a little higher as he put up decent numbers last year and should only get better. Stewart has become a popular sleeper this offseason and with reason: his minor league numbers and the fact he’ll be at Coors for half of his games point towards a possible 25-HR hitter. He’s also second base-eligible, and that can’t do anything but help you take a late flier on him. Lowrie’s statistics look boring and he hasn’t shown a ton of pop in the minors, but he makes good contact and could be a nice plug-in play providing solid run production with a decent average.

Third base is a peculiar position this season. There is massive high-end talent, a disappointing middle, and about fifteen players you can draft in the later rounds that could all outdo each other by the end of the season. My main piece of fantasy advice is to be patient if you are unable to draft one of the top five because a lot of later options have potential to outdo their current MDP.

We’ve covered catcher, first base, and second base. Check in tomorrow for the shortstop position!

Steven Lorenz enjoys Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. He is AquaMan2342.
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