Third base is one of the deepest positions this year, however, there are some sizable differences from tier to tier. If you aren’t in position to grab one in the top tier, I prefer to take someone from tier two, though there are solid options throughout the draft if you’d rather fill more shallow positions early. Now onto the rankings…
Tier 1: Rounds 1-2
A-Rod remains implanted at the top of fantasy rankings going third overall in mostly every draft. Evan Longoria usually rounds out the end of the first round and David Wright tends to be picked in the early second round. Rodriguez and Longoria are pretty safe picks who, barring injury, should continue to put up huge numbers. Wright is a little more risky with his power outage last year, but apparently he was trying a new stroke and has scrapped it for the swing that put up 27, 26, 30, and 33 homeruns from 2005 to 2008. Citi Field also has an unfair label as a park where homeruns go to die, but that’s mainly due to a disappointing season by the 2009 Mets. The park itself actually favored homeruns by a small amount over the course of the season. Now with the centerfield wall being lowered 10 feet, Wright will have an even easier time bouncing back from his disappointing power display and we could see him returning back to the 30 homerun slugger from 2007 and 2008 which would make him a great value in the second round.
Tier 2: Rounds 2-3
Mark Reynolds posted an absolutely monster 2009 season where he hit 44 homeruns along with stealing 24 bases. While his strike out rate will prevent him from ever having much of a batting average, his power is for real and he’s a legitimate double-digit stolen base threat. He probably won’t reach 20 again but 15 is a reasonable number and when combined with his power and counting stats, it’s not hard to look past his average and grab him at the end of the second round. Combining him with Pujols or Hanley absorbs some of the hurt from his average and gives you an absolutely monster start to a fantasy offense. Zimmerman, Sandoval and Youkilis are all similar in value and should all be drafted in the middle of the third round. At only 23 years old, Pablo has plenty of potential to hit for more power and should continue to hit for a very high average, however, the rest of the Giants line up is terrible and will suppress his run and RBI numbers. Any of these guys are a very solid option to fill a position that isn’t near as deep as it has been in years past.
Tier 3: Rounds 5-6
Tier three is the smallest of the tiers with a couple batters that don’t quite make it into tier two but are still a step above tier four. Aramis Ramirez put up great numbers last year, the only problem was that he only played in 82 games. Injury continues to be what prevents Ramirez from being a top fantasy third baseman, and injury will continue to be the reason he isn’t drafted up in the second tier. Still, the upside of a full season from the slugger means he’s a worthy risk in the fifth or sixth round. Chone Figgins hasn’t exactly been a beacon of health in his career, but he managed to avoid the disabled list in 2009 and put up one of the most productive seasons of his career. With the help of a career high 13.9% walk rate, Figgins got his on base percentage near the .400 mark and put it to good use, stealing 42 bases and scoring 114 runs. With the move to the Mariners, it looks like Figgins will take over the second spot in the line up behind Ichiro. As long as he keeps his OBP up he’ll continue to steal a lot of bases and score a lot of runs and should get quite a few more RBI opportunities which could allow him to become more of a four-category player. Like Ramirez, as long as Figgins stays on the field he should outproduce his draft spot.
Tier 4: Rounds 7-9
Tier four is really the last tier I’d feel comfortable grabbing my starting third baseman. There are some intriguing options in the lower tiers but I feel like there’s a pretty substantial drop off between tier four and tier five. Michael Young has always been a guy who hit for a high average and he continued that in 2009. Not only did he hit .322, but he also rediscovered his power stroke, hitting over 20 homers for the first time since he did it in back to back years in 2004 and 2005 and he did that despite missing 27 games due to injury. Still, the power display seems like a fluke and it’s unlikely he’ll repeat in that department next year, most likely posting somewhere in the mid-to-high teens. He’s a near lock to hit over .300, however, and that combined with a very good offense around him keeps his value up.
Tier 5: Rounds 13-16
If you’ve still missed out on a third baseman at this point, you’re probably at a substantial disadvantage, however, all hope is not lost. Chris Davis is a favorite sleeper of the cafe and still has massive power potential; however, he’ll need to improve on a ridiculous strike out rate if he wants to keep a major league job. The potential is there, but there’s a reason he’s not taking until the mid-teen rounds. Jorge Cantu is a solid options hitting in a good spot in a good line up which should keep his RBI numbers up. He’ll also provide double-digit pop and a decent average, so he’s a safer pick who won’t really hurt you anywhere. Mark DeRosa and Adrian Beltre are both joining new teams and looking to prove themselves after relatively disappointing 2009 seasons. DeRosa will be hitting in the middle of the Giants’ order, and while it doesn’t seem appealing, even sub-.300 OBP Bengie Molina knocked in 80 runs last year. Beltre is finally out of the right-handed hitters nightmare that is Safeco and now can pound balls off the Green Monster. Lastly, Miguel Tejada had a bounce back year in 2009 and should put up solid numbers a la Cantu, but don’t expect a repeat of his .313 average as it’s likely not sustainable.
Tier 6: Rounds 17-23
Hopefully if you’re picking from this tier it’s for a back up or to fill your corner infielder position. Most of these won’t help you in much more than one or two categories so have your pick based on team needs. Kouzmanoff is likely your best bet for some added power, and Prado could help out if you need some padding for your batting average, Headley could post double digit home runs and steals which makes him one of the more well rounded options, but ideally you won’t need to reach this far down to fill any holes.
Michael Marinakis is a 24-year-old fantasy addict. You can find him roaming the Cafe all day where he posts as GiantsFan14 and waits for Buster Posey, the savior of the Giants, to arrive in the majors.
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