Clearing The Bases
Third base is loaded with great players at the top but declines rather quickly. The top five players will be gone by the end of the 2nd round and although the second tier has some interesting players with some upside, they also come with quite a few warning flags, everything from injury concerns, to one year wonders, to not being in the best of shape. When it comes to players with these kinds of flags, it’s best not to make a habit of drafting to many of them. We all love the player with high upside that we can great value on later in our draft, but there is generally a reason these players have slipped so far.
1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: What can we say about Miggy that you don’t already know? Not really a whole bunch. He won the triple crown last season, yeah, he’s pretty good. Only question is, would you draft him with the top pick in your draft? I would go with Ryan Braun and possibly Mike Trout over him. The reason why is purely because those two players will steal 30+ bases, something Miggy won’t come close to. That being said, if you want the safest bet in your draft, it is Cabrera.
2. David Wright, New York Mets: If there was ever a player who I wasn’t worried about not playing his best after getting a huge contract, Wright would be it. Now, I might be a bit worried about the rib cage strain he suffered Thursday that will more than likely end his participation in the WBC, to bad to, he was having a great series. Now if you did want to drop Wright down a spot or two because you’re worried about the Mets offense around him, I can’t blame you, but I still don’t think it effects his production all that much.
3. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers: All Beltre has done in his two seasons in Texas is hit 68 HRs, drive in 207 runs, bat about .310 with an OPS around .900. Not to shabby, okay, he’s only stole two bases if you’re looking for a negative. Maybe you’re worried about what effect the loss of Josh Hamilton will have on the Texas offense. Granted, it can’t be a good thing overall, but that could also mean more runners for Beltre to drive in this season.
4. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays: I really hate having Longoria this low on my list, really I do, but the most important talent a fantasy owner needs, especially from a player that will be a top 20 pick, the ability to stay on the field, and unfortunately, Longoria seems to lack that talent. Three of the last five seasons, including the last two, he has missed a significant amount of time. If I knew he was going to play 150+ games, he would rank second on this list. I’m also worried that the Rays, in an effort to protect Longoria, will ask him not to steal bases, reducing his value a little bit.
5. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers: I would assume that if you have HRam on your team that you’re going to start him at SS and not 3B, he is certainly more valuable at SS, but if not, he starts the second tier of third basemen. He will more than likely be a 20/20 player with an AVG that will be around .260. Good for a SS, average for a 3B.
6. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres: Now Headley is the definition of a one year wonder, and anyone who has been following my writing knows how careful I am about drafting someone like this. He almost hit more HRs last season than he did in his four prior ones. Now perhaps he is a late bloomer, it does happen, but I’m a skeptic. I like players who have a track record, players who I can look up their stats and have a pretty good idea what they will do. With Headley, I’m not sure. I do believe he will hit for a solid AVG, believe he will steal between 15-20 bases, but 30+ HRs, that I’m not so sure about.
7. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals: Zimmerman comes with red flags all over the place. Yes, he is a really good player, but has only played more than 150 games once in the past five years. Granted, he played 145 last season and a fantasy owner would certainly take that, but can you bank on it? Probably not, Zimmerman has a bum shoulder that could wear down as the season rolls along. The Nats also have no reason to push Zimmerman as they have a ready replacement in Anthony Rendon.
8. Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays: Lawrie certainly had a disappointing 2012 season but so much was expected of him that unless he was hitting like Mike Trout it may have been considered a disappointment. This season should go smoother for Lawrie. For one, he has another year’s experience under his belt, and secondly, with the offense that surrounds him, he won’t have to worry about being the focal point, Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion will handle that.
9. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants: It’s really hard to draft someone early that looks like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man (Ghostbusters reference for those that don’t know). Now I may love Prince Fielder, and he has the same problem, but he also seems to play every game, Sandoval, not so much. He has missed 99 games over the past two seasons, okay, they were from wrist injuries, not weight related ones. Still, I can’t help but think the one year I draft him will be the one where he ends up pulling a muscle or whatever you want to call it.
10. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers: Ramirez’ first season in Milwaukee was a successful one. Some thought, cough cough me, that he might have some trouble as his good numbers from the season before seemed to be related to playing in Wrigley Field, not to mention I was worried about the loss of Prince Fielder and worried about the PED accusations in regards to Ryan Braun. Oh well, can’t win them all. Ramirez seems to be a perfect fit for someone that you know what numbers he will put up year in and year out, and probably won’t have to spend an early pick for.
11. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks: Prado highlights the final tier at the hot corner. His value may even go up a bit as he is now playing in a better hitter’s ballpark. Now I’m not saying he will be a 20 HR guy, he hit only 10 last season, but perhaps he could pop 15 this year, not to bad when you consider he might also steal 20 bases and bat over .300.
12. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals: Now these final four players are all sort of interchangeable for me. Moustakas probably has the best chance for a breakout, but not by much, just because he has the most experience. The Royals are loaded with young hitters, perhaps this is their year. Moose should hit around 20 HRs, but he’s not a big speed guy, and his average could certainly be a drag, I certainly wouldn’t reach for him.
13. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals: Freese’s numbers were almost a carbon copy of Moustakas with one difference, his AVG will help not hurt you. Why not rank him higher? He does have an injury history to worry about and I’m not so sure he has much of an upside. I think what you saw last year is pretty much what you’re going to get with Freese.
14. Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox: Now if it’s late in your draft and you’re looking for upside, these last two players could be for you. Middlebrooks was having an outstanding rookie season last year (one of the reasons the Sox traded Kevin Youkilis), unfortunately for him it pretty much came to an end when he suffered a wrist injury. Now I’m always worried about wrist injuries because not only do they take a long time to heal, but sometimes the power doesn’t come back right away. Some people believe it can take two seasons before you’re fully healed, buyer beware.
15. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles: Machado did not come on like gangbusters last year but is considered to be one of the better prospects in the game. He’s actually a SS, but the Orioles are playing him at 3B because J.J. Hardy is still on the team. I do wonder if defensive worries effect what he is doing at the plate. His numbers last season were nothing to crow about, but once again, when you’re this far down the list, you’re looking for upside, if you want a safe pick here, take Kevin Youkilis, but I would prefer to reach a bit with Machado.
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