August 21, 2018

Clearing The Bases: 3rd Base

March 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Clearing The Bases                                                                                                                                          March 22, 2011

By George Kurtz

Outside of Shortstop, Third Base may be the toughest position to judge come draft time.  There are a bunch of interesting players here but what order to put them in is the big question.  Traditionally 3B is a power position, so you would like a player to hit at least 30 home runs, easier said than done.  Speed is more of a bonus at the hot corner than a must.  My order is not the norm as I have Wright at the top where most pundits have Longoria, but for my money he has the best combination of power and speed at the position.

1.       David  Wright, New York Mets:  Wright’s first season in Citifield was pretty much a disaster as he hit only 10 home runs while trying to adjust to the dimensions in his new home ballpark.  Well, he adjusted pretty well last season as he hit 29 home runs, drove in over 100 runs, and stole 19 bases.  Who wouldn’t take those numbers once again.

2.       Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Ray:  Don’t get me wrong, I love Longoria, if I was starting a professional baseball team tomorrow and could pick any player in the major leagues, Longoria would be at the top of my list.  Fantasy wise however is a different ballgame.  Sure he is a great player, but his HRs took a serious dip last season (22) and the loss of Carl Crawford to free agency may just allow opposing teams to pitch around him, at least until Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon prove their up to the task.

3.       Alex Rodriguez, New York Mets:  I was very tempted to put ARod 2nd on this list as I do believe that he will have a bounce back season this year.  Bounce back, can anyone really complain about 30 HRs and 125 RBIs.  Probably not, but those were his numbers last season yet most think he had a down year.  Well Arod seems to have believed so also and reported to camp 10 pounds lighter, which has given him greater flexibility, and he has been tearing the cover off the ball all spring.  Perhaps he will even steal 12+ bases again.

4.       Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals:  The face of the Nationals franchise just keeps getting better with age.  Zim is the last of the top tier third basemen, or at least the last of the players who don’t come with some concern.  Sure he plays in a ballpark that is not conducive to the long ball, and he lost protection when Adam Dunn left in free agency, but he is still a lock to hit 25+ HRs, drive in 90+ runs, and bat around .300.  I’ll take that every time.

5.       Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays:  Where, when, or how much you spend on Bautista all comes down to one simple question, do you believe?  Bautista hit 54 HRs last season.  Expecting that to happen once again is probably foolish, but 30+ HRs is certainly well within reach.   Everyone believes that last season was just an aberration, and it may very  be, but one should remember that Bautista’s renaissance began in September of 2009 when he made an adjustment in his batting stance, not just last season.  The fact that he has outfield eligibility doesn’t hurt any either.

6.       Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers:   Why does it always seem to be that Beltre has his best season’s when his contract is about to end.  His last season in Los Angeles, he hit 48 HRs, signs a big contract with Seattle and hits only 103 HRs in five seasons, than goes to Boston on a one-year contract and hits 28 HRs, his most since that big season with the Dodgers.  Makes you wonder what his motivation is.  Still, he’s playing on a very good offensive team, and we all know how the ball flies out of the yard in Texas once the weather gets hot.

7.       Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs:  Ramirez had a better season in 2010 than most people realize.  When one looks at his final numbers, 25 HR, 83 RBI, .241 AVG, one has to remember that he played in only 124 games as he had a thumb injury, and it’s not like that injury magically healed himself once he came off the disabled list.  He could have an even bigger season in 2011.

8.       Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers:  McGehee starts the third tier of 3B, players who are solid, should put up good numbers, but won’t cost you a high pick, or a big percentage of your auction.  Throw in the fact that he plays in a strong lineup in a good hitters ballpark, and you have a player who could be a steal later on in your draft.

9.       Michael Young, Texas Rangers:  Young is a tricky player to judge right now because there is no guarantee that he will be playing in Texas come Opening Day, or the middle of May for that matter.  The Rangers are once again said to be thinking about trading Young, and his value will almost certainly change depending on where he ends up.  Do the Phillies make a move for Young to replace Utley?  Do the Rockies get involved again?  Hard to tell, but either way, Young can hit, and that shouldn’t change no matter where he ends up.

10.   Mark Reynolds, Baltimore Orioles:   Some people have moved Reynolds up their draft list because he is playing in a stronger lineup in Baltimore and in a hitters ballpark.  That’s all true, but it wasn’t like Arizona was the Grand Canyon of stadiums and now he will face an awful lot of hard throwers in the American League East.  You think he struck out a ton in Arizona, he could easily top those numbers this season.

11.   Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates:  Just because he’s on Pittsburgh, don’t discount the power of Alvarez.  He’s already locked up the cleanup spot in the Pirates lineup and seems close to a lock to hit 30+ home runs.  His average could be a concern, but he did hit .256 in 95 games last season, and if he can maintain that over a full season, he may not help you in AVG, but won’t hurt you either.

12.   Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants:  Like ARod, Sandoval lost some weight during the off-season.  Unlike ARod however, Sandoval absolutely had to as his weight had gotten out of hand, so much so that Sandoval had trouble bending over to field ground balls at third base.  Hopefully a better diet will allow Sandoval to approach the numbers of his  rookie season, but upside still seems limited as the Giants still don’t possess the best of offensive teams (should be better than last season however), and San Francisco is not a good hitters park by any stretch of the imagination.

13.   David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals:  Freese is not a player that should be forgotten about in your draft.  He was in line for a breakout season in 2010 before an ankle injury derailed those plans, but Freese has once again looked great this spring.  He’s looked so good in fact that manager Tony LaRussa has changed his mind on how much he will play Freese at the start of the 2011 campaign.  First it was going to be two out of every three games, now he has upped it to six out of every seven games.  Freese will not provide the kind of power you would like to see out of a 3B, but he would be a solid CI.

14.   Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies:  Like so many of the Phillies, Polanco has been battling the injury bug this spring training.  He has missed time with an elbow injury but as of right now he is expected to return in time for Opening Day.  If Chase Utley were to miss a significant part of the season with his own injuries and the Phillies found it easier to acquire a 3B rather than a 2B, one has to wonder if Polanco would be moved to the right side of the infield once again.

15.   Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves:  This could be Chipper’s farewell season and he has been hitting the cover off the ball this spring so I just can’t leave him off this list.  The problem with drafting Chipper is that he should come with an extra DL slot for your fantasy team as you know he will end up on the DL at some point this season.  Therefore if you do draft him, better make sure you have some 3B insurance on your bench.

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