The assumption in 2012 is that third base is a shallow position in fantasy baseball. Over at MockDraftCentral people seem to be agreeing with that line of thought as everyone is jumping in early to roster their man at the hot corner. There are nine third baseman going in the top-85 selections, and that doesn't include Jose Bautista who would bring that number to ten (he's listed as an outfielder though he obviously qualifies at third base). After that group there are three other third base eligible players going in picks 85-200... a vast span of time for only three third sackers to be drafted. So what's going on at third base? Some thoughts follow.
Last year only three third base eligible performers hit .300: Michael Young (.338), Aramis Ramirez (.306) and Jose Bautista (.302).
Last year four third base eligible performers hit 30 homers: Bautista (43), Mark Reynolds (37), Adrian Beltre (32) and Evan Longoria (31).
Last year only three third base eligible performers posted 100 runs batted in: Young (106), Beltre (105) and Bautista (103).
Last year only one third base eligible player had 90 runs scored: Bautista (105).
All told, shockingly, there were three third base eligible players who hit .270 with 20 homers, 75 RBI and 75 runs scored. Those are certainly solid numbers no doubt, but only three guys were able to hit all three benchmarks (Bautista, Beltre and Ramirez)? Clearly there is a lack of stardom at the hot corner, or is there?
In 2012 injuries limited Pablo Sandoval to 117 games, David Wright to 102, Ryan Zimmerman to 101 and Alex Rodriguez to 99. What if all of those guys play 140 games in 2012? That would give us eight guys to count on (in addition to the three above players who hit all four benchmarks).
That group of seven doesn't include Evan Longoria who is going in the top-15 in every draft this season. That's gets us up to eight third sackers.
Kevin Youkilis appeared in only 120 games last year, but the pace he set, if he played 145 games, would equate to 21 homers, 97 RBI and 82 runs. That's nine quality third baseman.
Mark Reynolds may only be a .225 type of hitter, but his power and run production is elite. The last three years he has hit 113 homers, the most at the position. He has 273 RBI, the third highest total at the position. He's also scored 261 runs, second to Longoria (274) amongst third sackers. That's 10 quality third basemen.
Brett Lawrie is going off the board as the 5th third baseman ahead of Arod. I may not think he deserves to go that high despite oodles of talent, but even if I were to knock him down the board substantially he's still a guy who everyone could agree is worthy of a top-12 pick.
Though Michael Young hit only 11 homers last season he hit .338, knocked in 106 runners and scored 88 times. Pretty sure he belongs in the top-12 at the hot corner.
So that's 12 third basemen that you can pretty easily turn to. If you're in a 12 team league that means nearly everyone who comes to the dance will have a hottie to hold (and this discussion hasn't even included guys like Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez who will be playing third base this year).
You want more love at third?
David Freese was the MVP of the world during the playoffs last year. For more on Freese see his Player Profile.
Ryan Roberts hit 19 homers, stole 18 bases and he scored 86 runs, the third highest total at the position.
Mike Moustakas, according to most observers, is a 25-90 bat waiting to happen.
Chase Headley has the potential to go 15/15 and score plenty of runs with his approach. OK, maybe that's a stretch, but he still has talent (see his Player Profile).
I could go on and talk about former elite level prospects like Mat Gamel and Pedro Alvarez and why it makes sense to take a shot on both late in drafts this season, but I think the point has been made. While third base may be a little top heavy, I'd argue that unless you're in a deep league that you should feel pretty confident that there are enough men who man the hot corner to go around.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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