Sniff, sniff… the last full month of the season, and the final installment of the updated in-season rankings is upon us. Third base has been a bit of a roller-coaster this season, starting out devoid of virtually any worthwhile candidates to plug in at the hot corner until today, when many players have resurrected their seasons and others have quite frankly resuscitated their entire careers. It’s not the deepest position to be sure, but it’s not quite the mess that it started out to be.
I want to be clear that this is not third base rankings should a draft be held today for 2012. This is a reflection of the slow, methodical meander which is a 162 game baseball season and where these gentlemen currently belong, give or take a few slots depending on your format.
There’s simply little to substantiate Bautista having room up here in the penthouse. His wOBA is .448 — the next closest is Aramis Ramirez at .375 (edit – Alex Gordon at .382). He hit as many home runs in July and August as Alex Rodriguez has hit all season. You could come up with dozens of these examples, but I’ll spare you.
Tier 2 becomes kind of a kitchen sink of solid producers in a variety of formats. Aramis Ramirez went simply bananas in August to the tune of .377/.429/.575 and pretty firmly occupies the pole position in this tier which is pretty surprising since it was only a few months ago that we were wondering if he was washed up.
It just wasn’t right to have Michael Young hanging around in the third tier anymore when he trails Jose Bautista by just one RBI for the league leader at third base and he has buoyed many squads with his .334 batting average . And yeah, Brett Lawrie is still pretty green and all, but wow – what a debut: .318/.381/.682, eight home runs, five stolen bases and 21 RBI. He’s given the position superstar production on par with Joey Bats since his call-up, and if this were a ranking of production in the last 30 days, he’d certainly be featured in the top tier.
Injuries have made a mess of this Tier, really – and several of these guys could be featured in Tier 3, but their overall counting stats keep them hanging on.
Ryan Roberts has turned into an awfully valuable player, contributing nicely in four categories and Edwin Encarnacion, coming off a huge August where he went .307/.407/.554, has gone from non-tender candidate to must-start. I wrote earlier about McGehee and his bounce-back this past month, and it has continued into September as well.
Although Peralta’s home run totals have fallen off, he’s still been valuable in runs scored, RBI, and batting average. Reynolds struck out 44 times in 28 games in August and did exactly what he did the previous two months: hit eight home runs. He’s been a little more consistent as of late, and is currently tied for 5th overall in home runs.
After Bonifacio posted the highest wOBA of any qualified third baseman in July, with an eye-popping 27 runs and 16 stolen bases, he rather turned into, well, himself. Bonifacio has been good this year to be sure, but he’s really only useful in stolen bases and runs scored, although his batting average has been a nice surprise (artificially held up by a .370 BABIP, however).
Martin Prado, in 205 at-bats in the second half has gone .244/.289/.332 with just three home runs and two stolen bases. He has 50 total hits in the second half and only 11 have gone for extra bases. So Prado has really hurt his value after coming into the season with pretty high expectations.
You might not have noticed it, largely because he was (shockingly) on and off of the trainers table, but Chipper Jones actually had a fantastic August. He went .359/.391/.641 with five home runs, 10 runs scored, and 12 RBI all in just 18 games. And while I have such a hard time getting excited about four home runs and 40 RBI, Headley really is quite useful in OBP leagues and he’ll even swipe you a good number of bags.
Placido Polanco continues his descent into Tier 5 as he has a wholly vacant .286 batting average post-break. In 70 at-bats, Polanco has 20 hits — all of them singles (two of them being infield hits). Blech.
Kevin Kouzmanoff makes his triumphant return to the list of actual major league players and Kyle Seager joins him, probably playing over his head, but also playing about three times better than Chone Figgins. The big news is Willie Ballgame slides into Tier 4 because he’s gritty and plays the game the right way and he’s hard-nosed and all that.