Monday featured the third base version of the ongoing consensus rankings project and the results actually did reveal a pretty good amount of consensus from our four great minds, but there were some details and departures in opinions worth pointing out.
First of all, and this was teased out in the comments, it’s fairly likely we’re going to see names like Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Mark Trumbo on the list of the third base eligible come May (for most league formats, probably much earlier). In the case of the former two, it would shake up the rankings in the top five considerably, and there’s a good chance many of you are targeting Cabrera as the overall #1 pick given his new digs in the infield.
If Trumbo does indeed take his glove to the hot corner, it probably puts his bat somewhere within the mid-teens if you’re banking on anything around 475 plate appearances. Monitor the proverbial tea leaves on his situation, because the addition of Trumbo gives you a very interesting new option at third base as he’s going around 190 in Yahoo, although he’s ranked considerably higher in Mock Draft Central, at roughly 140. If he somehow manages to find himself in a situation where he plays every day, he could be pretty valuable — but sharing time with what looks like a very crowded infield makes that seem unlikely right now.
Pablo Sandoval ranks anywhere from second to sixth among these esteemed gentlemen, and I think represents the general sentiment of many fantasy baseball enthusiasts. Sandoval is young (25), he’s coming off a pretty terrific season despite a wrist injury that limited his games to 117. His power should still be developing, and given a full season of at bats, there are many who are wringing their hands in anticipation. But is his profile worthy of a ranking ahead of Evan Longoria? It would be a hard argument for me to make, but I’ve also learned not to bet against Zach Sanders. Point is, if you’re interested in employing Sandoval on your squad this year, you should be prepared to pay a high price, because it’s likely one of the other 11 managers shares an opinion with Zach.
One might think I’ve taken a spill off my rocker, but I’m actually expecting a great season from Ryan Zimmerman this year. He’s 27, he hit awfully well in the second half of 2011 after dealing with his oblique injury (.313/.367/.472 with nine home runs, 17 doubles, and 36 RBI) and despite the fact that I preach about Spring stats being meaningless, he’s gone 7-12 with three doubles and two home runs which at least can’t damage your opinion of him. I like Zimmerman’s youth, his history of production including his plate discipline and contact skills, and if you’re in an OBP league, I think a case can be made that he should be the third ranked third baseman on this list (without Miguel Cabrera on it, that is). If Zimmerman slips in drafts, I think he’s a great pick.
Michael Young strikes me as one of the safer bets to give you solid contributions in three categories – batting average, runs, and RBI and he’ll at least check the box at HR enough to be relevant there. He ranks as high as eighth but Eno Sarris sees him down at 15, and I have to say I’m more in Eno’s camp. If you believe Young is capable of his 2011 numbers again, he’s well worth a rank of eight, but my intuition says he’ll probably produce another great batting average, score about 80 runs, drive in about 85 and hit 12 home runs. That’s valuable, but it’s just not that thrilling. He’s being drafted around 56 in Yahoo, and that’s just too rich for my blood, despite third base not being particularly deep without the addition of the trio mentioned above.
I’m in complete agreement with the variability of rankings for Ryan Roberts, Mike Moustakas, and Emilio Bonifacio. All of them rank anywhere from the high teens all the way down to the 20′s. There are concerns about Roberts regressing back into the “Ryan Who?” range, that Moustakas won’t take that anticipated significant step forward, and what Bonifacio’s playing time will look like and whether he can reproduce the number of steals he had in 2011. All of them represent a moderate degree of risk/reward although in terms of ceiling, Moustakas likely has the most reward upside.
Lastly, Eno’s crystal ball seems to project a pretty significant rebound for Pedro Alvarez as he gave him a rank of 19 while the other three said mid-20′s to low 30′s. I get the optimism about Alvarez as I was pretty high on him last year (and consequently, quite disappointed). It’s possible Alvarez gets his contact issues under control enough to realize some of that power potential, but even the most optimistic projection on Fangraphs puts him at .252/19/76 which is probably a decent approximation for worse version of Edwin Encarnacion. I’d probably rather go with something safer considering the possibility that Alvarez might look closer to the RotoChamp projection of .226/.305/.372, pretty much useful for platoons or providing nice depth on your local waiver wire.
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