Third Basemen: Top 5 Targets

Remember the days when third base used to be one of the deepest positions and loaded with talent?  Well, not anymore and not for the last few seasons either.  It’s at the point where you need to start seriously considering a significant investment in one of the top 5 guys out there or be doomed to sit with mediocrity at a position once known for it’s outstanding power production.

Reigning ChampionEvan Longoria

Surprisingly, not much has been made of Longoria’s power regression, or atleast, not enough to knock him down from the top spot in the rankings.  And that’s because, despite going from 33 to 22 HR for the season, Longoria’s overall numbers were still tremendous and indicate that the power will be back.  His walk rate was right about the same while he reduced his K% for a second straight year.  His batting average jumped, as did his OBP and while his slugging percentage dipped, he was still right on target with a very consistent .376 wOBA.  The level of consistency he is showing for a 25 year old is huge, especially for those that own him in keeper leagues.  He’s got plenty more in store for you.

I’m not entirely sure how his RBI totals will look going from Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford to Johnny Damon and Ben Zobrist (with a splash of John Jaso) as the table setters, but if everyone can maintain their solid OBP totals, then Longo will have no problem driving them in.  Expect him to go in the first round and put up first round production.  The title reign will continue.

Number One ContenderDavid Wright

No question that an argument can be made to move Wright up to the number one ranking.  After an absolutely atrocious (by Wright’s standards) 2009, the Mets third sacker rebounded with a .283-29-103 batting line with 19 SB in a year where virtually his entire team was on the disabled list.  His ISO went back to the normal .220 and while his average and OBP dropped some, his slugging percentage went up and his wOBA stayed virtually the same.  I think the spike in K% and decrease in walk rate can easily be attributed to him trying to do too much.  He’s not going to draw many walks if he’s constantly swinging to rally his team and, of course, he’s going to fish a little more in his attempts.  I think we’ll see atleast the same, if  not better so long as the hitters around him in the lineup stay healthy.  Most ADP rankings have him going in the latter half of the first round but no later than the early second, so if you want him, you’re going to have to be aggressive.

Deserving of a Title ShotRyan Zimmerman

Zimmerman heads up our second tier, but still put up overall numbers similar to those of Longoria for basic 5×5 leagues.  However, most will point to his rather high .334 BABIP when discussing his .307/.388/.510 increase vs the reduction in power totals and ISO which is why they still rank him lower.  While Longo should see an increase in totals, I think Zimmerman’s numbers are right about where they’ll remain each year.  Nothing wrong with consistency though, right?  It should be interesting to see where his RBI totals finish up with Nyjer Morgan and Ian Desmond setting the table, but his protection goes from Adam Dunn to Jayson Werth, which, in my opinion, is a little less intimidating to opposing pitchers.  He’s usually a late second/early to mid third rounder, so you might be able to build somewhere else first and still come away with a top option at third.

Down Goes Frazier!Alex Rodriguez

Since I am also covering the “Third Basemen Fallers” in an article tomorrow, I will keep this section relatively brief.  We all see the handwriting on the wall and three straight seasons of decline are pushing A-Rod back down to earth at a rapid rate.  Injuries are up, numbers are down, but still….even in a decline, the guy puts up totals of which most third basemen and their fantasy owners can only dream.  He’s still a top target, as evidenced by the fact that he’s still going in the first round of some drafts (early second at the latest), but you just don’t want to be the one left holding the bag when the bottom falls out.

He Beat Joe Louis’ AssKevin Youkilis

Hopefully you got the Coming to America reference.  If not, then please invest the two minutes to go YouTube the barbershop scene.  Always good for a laugh.  In any event, Youkilis rounds out the top five for us even though, in most leagues, he won’t qualify at the position until roughly the second week of the season.  It all depends on your league’s eligibility requirements.  But once he does qualify….booo-yah!  You’ve got an on-base machine with 25-30 HR power sitting in one of the most potent lineups in baseball.  Don’t worry about his totals from last season — the thumb injury wiped away nearly two months from his year.  Concentrate on the .307/.411/.564 with a .419 wOBA and an ISO well north of .200.  Like Zimmerman, he’s a late second/early third round pick by most ADP rankings, so you don’t have to rush it, but I wouldn’t wait for too long.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

11 Responses to “Third Basemen: Top 5 Targets”

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  1. Jason B says:

    Re: “He beat Joe Louis’s ass!” – jokes are funnier when you don’t explain them. =)

    (Plus your astute readership will understand these pop culture references sans explanation anyway; many of us cut our teeth on Simmons columns.)

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  2. Howard Bender says:

    Agreed Jason….but as I get older I realize that some of my references are lost on the youth of today. Not to mention, I moved from NYC to SF 4 years ago and am still trying to understand how no one gets sarcasm out here…

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    • Jason B says:

      No fear – I would just throw the reference out there, and if its only understood by like 3% of the readership, so be it. Sure 97% may have a bewildered look about them, but those select few will be snickering and nodding heartily. =)

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    • ML says:

      It’s probably cuz of your language barrier

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  3. matt says:

    Hey instead of saying where they are going in what rounds mock drafts, you might want to say what number pick overall they are going. Personally, I am in a 16 team league and so it is a little bit different. For the top few guys, its easy to convert but for the lower ranked guys it gets tricky. (I assumed you are talking about a 12 team league in this article)

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  4. William says:

    I agree with the Youk-love, but I have to remind myself one thing that you probably shouldn’t blow off so easily: when is the last time he was healthy all season? and is there a trend towards more and more serious injuries?

    Still, I’m paying $30 for him without a thought, but it is a reality that should be acknowledged…

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  5. OzzieGuillen says:

    Jose Bautista was head and shoulders above anyone else at this position last season. I think he’s incredible value this season if you can get him after these five guys are off the board. I would rank him ahead of Zimmerman and Rodriguez, but I understand I wouldn’t have to pick him before them due to ADP.

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    • Jason B says:

      Bautista is one of those situations where if you value him more highly than most ranking systems and think he’s in for a repeat or near-repeat performance, you can very likely still wait just a bit and grab him after these five are off the board, because so many other owners think he was a fluke or is due for some heavy regression. No need to jump on him with the 15th pick or anything, you can very likely still scoop him up around 30th.

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  6. hernandez17 says:

    I’m really starting to think it’s lunacy to rank Bautista outside the top 3 third basemen. What was his OPS, like 100 points higher than Longoria’s? But point taken — let these guys get snapped up first before you jump on Bautista.

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  7. KyleJo says:

    Funny that Ryan Zimmerman’s .334 BABIP is referenced as something people point out, because apparently no one is pointing out Longo’s .336 mark.

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    • Anon says:

      He put up high BABIPs in the minors, so it’s not completely unexpected. Even if it goes back down to like .320, he’ll probably offset that with more bombs.

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