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2011 Third Base Rankings: June

There has been a lot of shared pain at third base this season. We’re to a point where manning third base is like trying to find a reliable bat for the extra middle infielder slot: there are only a handful available and those who have, hold tight. There were several players many owners were relying on to emerge as useful fantasy regulars, and while the majority of those names haven’t lived up to expectations, there have been a couple guys contributing in surprising ways to help fill injury or ineptitude gaps.

When updating rankings back in May, my general feeling was that we ought not be too quick to throw players under the proverbial bus or to crown new kings after 100 at bats. But today, the gloves come off so to speak as there are some major moves up and down the third base tiers a third of the way through the season.

Tier 1
Jose Bautista

Yup, that’s it. Just Bautista. Now, he might find some company in the top tier if Albert Pujols gets a few more games in at his old position, but it’s going to take the “old” Albert to challenge him for the throne at third. Until that happens, it’s just plain to see that Bautista is a cut above the rest. Even several cuts.

Tier 2
Alex Rodriguez
Kevin Youkilis
Evan Longoria
Adrian Beltre
Aramis Ramirez

Ramirez hangs around in here merely because I’m expecting the June/July surge to start soon and I don’t want to have to be forced to stick the green arrow next to him later. If he doesn’t find his power stroke in the next few weeks, he’ll find himself in the thick of a third tier pretty fast. Longoria still remains the young gun of the bunch, but owners are no doubt waiting for their investment to start paying off, so he’s dropped out of the first tier (give him a mental red arrow if necessary).

Tier 3
Michael Young
Martin Prado
Placido Polanco
Pablo Sandoval
Ryan Roberts
Alex Gordon
Jhonny Peralta

Here’s where things get kind of interesting. In the oh-my-God-this-is-the-third-tier kind of interesting. Young has had a pretty nice couple of months when nobody was terribly sure what his role was going to be just a couple of months ago. Prado is on pace to hit 23 home runs and score 100 runs and drive in 93, so his presence here is probably a bit of a slap in the face to Mother Prado, but I’m just not buying the power numbers — but yeah, he’s been more than as-advertised. Ryan Roberts, Alex Gordon, and Jhonny Peralta all get a boost for their unexpected, sustained, production, but these are the guys that have saved several of us as our blue chips turned into the Buffalo variety. Placido Polanco rises in the 3b rankings simply by virtue of being Placido Polanco and not flat-out stinking it up.

Tier 4
Chipper Jones
Casey McGehee
David Wright
Ryan Zimmerman
Scott Rolen
Casey Blake
Mark Reynolds
Wilson Betemit

No, in a re-draft situation, I’m not saying this is where Wright and Zimmerman belong, but their current contributions and current conditions leave them in a pretty sorry tier given their pedigree. Jones, McGehee and Rolen’s production haven’t been particularly noteworthy, and any of these three could be featured in Tier 5, but just about all of these guys save for Wilson Betemit could expect to produce at a higher level, so I guess this is the softer side of the rankings where I’m giving some of these gentlemen the benefit of the doubt as they recover from injury or try to pull themselves together.

Tier 5
Justin Turner
Ty Wigginton
Greg Dobbs
Alberto Callaspo
Michael Cuddyer
Chase Headley
David Freese
Juan Uribe
Danny Valencia
Pedro Alvarez

Some new names here as Dobbs has apparently finally inked that deal with Mephistopheles, and Turner and Callaspo are actually making positive contributions to fantasy baseball teams not necessarily against all odds, but against odds significant enough that Phil Collins at least considered it. Lastly, why I left Pedro Alvarez in a “real” tier can only be attributed to an unhealthy off-season man-crush, and I sadly expect him to fall into the abyss of the rest come July.

The Rest
Mike Aviles
Chris Johnson
Jonathan Herrera
Sean Rodriguez
Edwin Encarnacion
Kevin Kouzmanoff
Maicer Izturis
Miguel Tejada
Emilio Bonifacio
Omar Infante
Blake DeWitt
Brent Morel
Steve Pearce
Jack Hannahan
Andy LaRoche
Eric Chavez
Matt Downs
Willie Bloomquist
Brandon Inge
Jayson Nix
Ian Stewart
Chone Figgins

There are some names in “the rest” that could help some deep leaguers but on the whole, this has been an awfully disappointing group of individuals. And yeah, Chone, you earned that extra arrow.