Positional Ranks: Third Base

After a couple weeks away, we’re back to finish out the positional rankings.  Third base has been a thin fantasy position over the last couple of years and most of the high end guys will go off the board early.  There are, however, some young up-and-coming mid-to-late round options this season.  Where will they fit in with the group of third base veterans?  Let’s take a look…

Tier one

 

1. Alex Rodriguez

 

Not doubt here.  A-Rod is still in a class all by himself.  His hip should be 100 percent and big numbers should return.
 
Tier two
 

2. Evan Longoria

3. David Wright
 
Believe me, having to chose between these two was extremely hard.  In the end, Longoria has huge power upside, will steal a few bags and a better chance of more RBI and runs potential.  This is not to say that Wright’s power won’t return a bit, but it will be more around 20 home runs than 30 home runs.
 
Tier three
 
4. Mark Reynolds
5. Ryan Zimmerman
6. Kevin Youkilis
7. Pablo Sandoval
8. Aramis Ramirez
 
I have me doubts in Reynolds and he may be a player I end up passing on in every draft, but his power/speed combo can’t be ignored.  The rest of the players on this list have their question marks too, but all should be solid options. 
 
Tier four
 
9. Michael Young
10. Gordon Beckham
11. Chone Figgins
 
Michael Young surprised the heck out me last season.  His .354 BABIP should regress a bit, but he is a consistent line drive hitter, so that will help keep it up over .330.  I don’t expect a repeat in power as his HR/FB rate was over 14 percent, which he has only done one other time in his career (2005).  Gordon Beckham has the highest upside of this group.  His numbers were solid across the board last year and that was in only 378 at bats, with some rookie adjustments mixed in.  Everything about Beckham suggests that he will only get better.  Though his real fantasy value will come at second once he is eligible there, he can hold his own amongst the third basemen too.  Chone Figgins had his best season since 2005 and that worries me.  He has been an up and down hitter for his career and battled injury issues in 2007 and 2008.  He is 32-years-old and, while that is not ancient, it does represent a phase in most careers in which players either plateau or get worse.  His stolen base success rate has tailed off each of the last three seasons.
 
Tier five
 
12. Chipper Jones
13. Ian Stewart
14. Adrian Beltre
15. Jorge Cantu
 
Chipper Jones will be 38 this season, which means that there is great risk in drafting him.  Still, Jones displayed good power and plate discipline while falling victim to his lowest BABIP since 2004.  Look for a slight bounce back, but grab insurance if you do pick him.  Ian Stewart has the highest upside of the group and is still eligible at second for 2010.  His projections will be quite volatile due to a huge strikeout rate and huge whiff rate.  He could hit .270 just as easily as he could hit .240.  The power, however, is for real.  Both Adrian Beltre and Jorge Cantu should see better production in 2010, but neither have high upside.  The move to Fenway should help Beltre a bit, but don’t forget how forgettable his numbers have been year after year.  Cantu has been the definition of inconsistent over his entire career.
 
Tier six
 
16. Alex Gordon
17. Brandon Wood
18. Chase Headley
19. Edwin Encarnacion
20. Jhonny Peralta
21. Garrett Atkins
22. Mark DeRosa
23. Jake Fox
24. Troy Glaus
25. Kevin Kouzmanoff
 
Here we go!  The grab bag tier.  All of the players listed above come with big time question marks.  The first three names represent once highly touted prospects that now seem like more busts than anything else.  In the case of Alex Gordon, it was a hip injury that ruined his 2009.  There is still upside in his game, but at this point it would be hard to imagine him becoming the star player everyone thought he would be.  Finally Brandon Wood looks like he will get his shot.  Back when he was cranking out 40-plus home runs at the low minor league levels, comparisons to Cal Ripken Jr. were floating about.  Now, at the still young age of 25, Wood should win the everyday third base job in Anaheim.  He has worked hard to shorten his swing, but strikeouts and swings and misses are still an issue.  That will keep his AVG down, but there is a good chance he can crank out 20-25 home runs with over 550 at bats.  Chase Headly got his first prolonged look with the Padres last season and the results were mediocre at best.  Nothing about his game screams star, but he could end up being an above average offensive third baseman who hits 20 home runs and steals 15 bases.  The power is still a work in progress, so don’t reach on draft day expecting his prime season. 
 
Edwin Encarnacion, Jhonny Peralta and Garrett Atkins all have a chance to bounce back a bit, but even that wouldn’t vault them up the ranking much.
 
Mark DeRosa will be 35 this season and is very likely to decline, especially in his new spacious home park. Troy Glaus needs to prove healthy, but has 20 home runs potential if he can stay on the field.  The 1B/3B/DH situation in Oakland will work itself out, but for now neither Jake Fox or Kevin Kouzmanoff can be trusted. 
 
Tier seven
 
26. Casey Blake
27. Scott Rolen
28. Casey McGehee
29. Mark Teahen
30. Pedro Feliz
 
Casey McGehee may be the only surprise of this group, but his situation is far from stable.  With Rickie Weeks set to return to second and Matt Gamel hungry to win the third base job, McGehee may not receive enough at bats to even duplicate his 2009 numbers.  Besides, his AVG is due to regress (.335 BABIP), which will also lower his power output. 
 
One name that didn’t make this list is Brandon Inge.  The problem with Inge is that he HAS to hit 25-plus home runs to provide any sort of value, which I don’t think he’ll do.  There are some young prospects to watch at third base like Pedro Alvarez, Matt Gamel and Brett Wallace.  None, however, look to have an opening day job waiting for them.
 
The Master List
 
1. Alex Rodriguez
2. Evan Longoria
3. David Wright
4. Mark Reynolds
5. Ryan Zimmerman
6. Kevin Youkilis
7. Pablo Sandoval
8. Aramis Ramirez
9. Michael Young
10. Gordon Beckham
11. Chone Figgins
12. Chipper Jones
13. Ian Stewart
14. Adrian Beltre
15. Jorge Cantu
16. Alex Gordon
17. Brandon Wood
18. Chase Headley
19. Edwin Encarnacion
20. Jhonny Peralta
21. Garrett Atkins
22. Mark DeRosa
23. Jake Fox
24. Troy Glaus
25. Kevin Kouzmanoff
26. Casey Blake
27. Scott Rolen
28. Casey McGehee
29. Mark Teahen
30. Pedro Feliz