Updated Third Base Rankings

It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the first month of the season, and even a little harder to believe some of the surprises in the performances of the boys at the hot corner. In general, this whole group has been pretty disappointing, but much of that has to do with injury and rotten luck. Some have been great, some have been train-wreck-awful, and we have several new names to add via eligibility updates.  And where a rising tide may float all boats, a collapsing building can produce new views – and thus, the tiers have been shaken up quite a bit from the original ranking.

There are so many changes to the original rankings, including the size and number of tiers, that I’m not going to note an up or down for every player that has moved. Rather, I’ll indicate any notable ascent or descent and give a little rationale thereafter.

Tier 1
Evan Longoria
David Wright
Ryan Zimmerman
Alex Rodriguez

There’s really no change in the first tier in terms of order, but Rodriguez moves up to the top tier as he’s really just crushing the ball right now, and although he was a tad nicked up this past week, owners have to feel pretty good about getting another great year from him. If this list were based on performance, of course, ARod would be #1, but I’m doing my best to try and stay objective and not too reactionary. Yet. Next month might be something different (we’re looking at you, David).

Tier 2
Kevin Youkilis
Jose Bautista
Adrian Beltre
Aramis Ramirez
Pablo Sandoval

Kevin Youkilis is going to produce, and he’s going to do it soon (provided he didn’t break his foot). If the draft happens again today, I’m still taking Youkilis to produce like a top-five third baseman. If Bautista or Beltre were off to insane starts, maybe we bump him down a notch, but I don’t think there’s enough reason to shuffle this group much. The big move is the meerkat, Pablo Sandoval. Despite some initial misgivings about batting versus lefties, it seems Bruce Bochy has realized there’s not much of a difference in his splits to warrant a platoon and he’s been in the lineup routinely, and in there producing at a pretty fantastic clip. He’s looking a whole lot like the 2009 Sandoval right now, although his HR/FB rate will come down soon, only meaning that he’s not going to hit 48 home runs. Sorry.

Tier 3
Michael Young
Martin Prado
Mark Reynolds
Casey McGehee
Pedro Alvarez

The usage of Michael Young was somewhat of a concern headed into the season, but the first few weeks have demonstrated that he’s pretty much a fixture in the Texas lineup (at some position). Mark Reynolds could right the ship with a big weekend, but his production thus far has been so atrocious that he gets dropped down a tick. I had expected Alvarez to overtake McGehee in the rankings by now, but no such luck, so they remain static and we’ll see what another month does for their stock.

Tier 4
Alex Gordon
Chipper Jones
Scott Rolen
David Freese
Michael Cuddyer
Placido Polanco
Chone Figgins

At this point in our rankings, we were already on to “the rest” as the dearth of talent at 3b was lamented by me, and several other contributors. But we’ve had some nice surprises, so welcome back Alex Gordon to fantasy baseball relevancy. Will he keep it up, who knows, but his performance and pedigree warrant the green arrow. Jones isn’t wearing a cast anywhere yet, Freese is hitting a third of his batted balls as frozen ropes, and Polanco clearly wants us to stop calling him little. And even though he wasn’t eligible at third at the time of the original rankings and therefore can’t really be moving down the rankings because he was un-ranked, Figgins gets the ugly arrow simply because he’s earned it.

Tier 5
Ty Wigginton
Chase Headley
Edwin Encarnacion
Juan Uribe
Casey Blake
Jhonny Peralta
Chris Johnson
Wilson Betemit

Not much to say about Tier 5 other than they are “The Rest +”. Uribe and Blake have shown recent signs of life and Ty Wigginton is suddenly very rosterable, even in 10 team leagues.

Valencia, Tejada, and Roberts probably could round out Tier 5, but it was getting a little long, and you’ve just gotta draw the line somewhere. And Ian Stewart is disgraced. But I think he’ll be back.

The Rest
Danny Valencia
Miguel Tejada
Ryan Roberts
Sean Rodriguez
Brent Morel
Alberto Callaspo
Omar Infante
Kevin Kouzmanoff
Jonathan Herrera
Jose Lopez
Brandon Inge
Mike Aviles
Maicer Izturis
Jayson Nix
Jack Hannahan
Felipe Lopez
Emilio Bonifacio
Willie Bloomquist
Ian Stewart

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

28 Responses to “Updated Third Base Rankings”

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  1. duder says:

    Bautista should be in the top tier.

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    • Michael Barr says:

      I think he’s close.

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      • batpig says:

        2 HR + 1 SB today off David Price just to shove it in your face… after nearly hitting for the cycle off Hellickson. TAKE IT BACK! The “fluke” talk is done, he’s going to hit 35+ HR and will easily tally 100+ R and RBI hitting in the middle of the Jays lineup every day, plus it looks like even 8-10 SB to boot. The ZIP’s ROS projections have an excessively low playing time forecast.

        For people like me who are in OPS leagues, I would argue that he is the #1 3B right now.

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      • DT says:

        Isn’t Arod the league leader in OPS?

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      • Dave says:

        If only the Jays could gets on base for Jose. How many of his 7 bombs so far have been solo shots? I guess pitchers are probably more aggressive pitching to him with the bases empty but still. He had 9 hits last week and something like 7 or 8 were for extra bases, including 4 home runs, and all he had to show for it were 4 RBI. That’s crazy. Yeah maybe small sample, maybe how he gets pitched with nobody on, but also the terrible OBP of the hitters in front of him.

        I think Bautista could potentially keep hitting at the same pace as the top tier guys, but he might not produce as well as they do (RBI’s mainly) because of the lesser hitters in front of him. I would put him last in the top tier (for now) or at least ahead of Youk at the top of tier 2

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      • Michael Barr says:

        to all – I’m sure you understand why I need to be conservative with the rankings 20 games into the season. But if things continue the way they have started, know that there will be some major changes in the rankings in a month. To be sure, if Bautista continues like this, he could find himself at the top.

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      • LionoftheSenate says:

        Just waiting until 2012 when the data normalizes and says it’s okay.

        Trust me, it’s okay now.

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    • Andy says:

      Agreed. He’s tearing the cover off the ball in his series vs. TB. He looks like a lock for +35 HR

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      • MattK says:

        It’s amazing how good he is doing every pitcher is trying to pitch him away and with junk and he is playing as good as anyone right now.

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    • lee says:


      “If Bautista or Beltre were off to insane starts…”

      He’s actually having an as-good-if-not-better season than A-Rod right now. While Bautsita is slightly behind in OBP, he’s beating Rodriguez in BB, HR, TB, RC, and WAR, so I’m quite sure I follow the logic here.

      No big deal, I suppose. Rest of the rankings seem about right.

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  2. Justin Merry says:

    Just had to pick up Reynolds in ottoneu for $10 as a free agent after Stewart was demoted and Rolen hurt his shoulder. I’m worried that the Rolen injury could be a Bad Thing, as opposed to the day to day issue it’s being made out to be right now. I’m worried about Reynolds, but I had him valued at $20 during the draft, and I don’t think a slow start across three weeks constitutes a 50% drop in value. His HR/FB% is waaay below his career average right now, but he’s also hitting more ground balls than ever. Strikeout rate is down, but so is his walk rate, so maybe he’s pressing or has changed his approach.

    Went from deep (though not outstanding) at 3B being without a 3B in about a week.

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    • Michael Barr says:

      yeah, while Rolen might return, that’s the kind of injury that I could certainly see linger for a while. Reynolds for $10 is a good enough deal, let’s hope he starts to figure things out.

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  3. Sal says:

    If a player on the DL the majority of the season is first on this list objectivity has failed you.

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  4. Shaggychild says:

    3B is a lot deeper than I thought it was at the start of the season. That tier 4 is not too shabby.

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  5. Owen says:

    Bautista was not happy with your piece and he took his anger out on David Price today.

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  6. Just Jim says:

    Going under the assumption Ryan Roberts takes the third base job from Mora (which shouldn’t be that hard), would he move up to at least the 4th tier? He’s currently hitting as well as chipper jones and polanco.

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  7. AF says:

    A-Rod is #1 or 2 if this is a non-keeper format — you can’t just ignore the injuries to Longoria and Zimmerman, they affect their value, as do the mediocre line-ups they hit in, which make them less valuable in fantasy than real life. Youkilis and Bautista are top tier, not very far behind Zimmerman.

    The second tier are Sandoval, Beltre, Aramis, and Young. Who would take Aramis or Beltre over Panda in a draft that was held today? Aramis is clearly in the decline phase, Beltre is also aging and is clearly going to regress sharply to the mean.

    Once Young is elevated, hard for me to distinguish tiers 3 and 4, except that I’d take Alvarez over any of them.

    Izturis and Roberts are well up in tier 5, knocking on the door of tier 4. When you’re scraping that low, you can’t disdain the hot hand — at least they’re getting the playing time and hitting high in the order.

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    • Jason B says:

      Non-keeper, non-dynasty? I would *definitely* take Beltre over Panda, and quite possibly Aramis also. Beltre over Panda seems no-brainerish.

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      • AF says:

        No brainerish to take Beltre over Panda? Is that based on ZIPS projections (Beltre — 280/321/498 v. Sandoval — 298/352/490), April performance (Beltre — .253/.268/.544 v. Sandoval –308/.375/.569), or age (Beltre — 32 v. Sandoval — 24)?

        It’s only a no brainer to take Beltre over Panda if you live in a world where a player’s value is determined by his previous year’s performance. Admittedly, a great number of fantasy players and even professional teams do this (that’s why my Giants are stuck with Aaron Rowand — and it’s how Beltre got his first big contract with the Mariners). But it’s a mistake.

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      • JoeC says:

        That’s right, AF, we base a lot of our thinking on how a player will do this year based on what he’s done in the past. It seems to be a better way to project future performance than what you’re offering… which seems to be not much beyond fanboi-ism.

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      • AF says:

        JoeC: Read more carefully. I said previous *year’s* performance, ie, one year. Of course we project based on past performance, but you have to take into account more than one year. What I’m offering is 2008-2011 performance, instead of just 2010.

        If you think only 2010 matters, shouldn’t Bautista be your #1 and Beltre your #2?

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  8. mo2119 says:

    I bet this article was written before Bautista’s 2 hr performance today

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  9. Jeff says:

    sorry but Adrian Beltre is a tier 1 third baseman better than Alex Rodriguez. Adrian has 7 HRs now.

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