Fantasy Baseball Preview 2014: Third Baseman
Third base might not be as dearth of talent as some positions, but it certainly isn’t bursting at the seams with elite fantasy options either outside of a few top performers. That said, there are a number of mid-range players who have enough upside to outperform their anticipated draft position that savvy owners who don’t want to invest a top pick at third certainly have options.
Mike Schmidt Tier
The very best in fantasy baseball.
1 Miguel Cabrera – Detroit
The Tigers third baseman enters this season two years removed from his Triple Crown campaign, but he is still in a class of his own when it comes to fantasy. Even if Cabrera does regress a little bit this year – although he’s young enough that there is certainly no guarantee of that happening – owners should still expect elite production and sick power numbers.
2 Adrian Beltre – Texas
To be clear, Beltre is not even really in the same ballpark as the guy who is listed above, but including him in this class is a commentary about the drop-off that occurs after him. The additions of Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder should help Beltre put up similar numbers to what he did last year and it's possible his RBI numbers will even increase.
George Brett Tier
Still among the best in the game, drafting here ensures great consistency and reliability.
3 Evan Longoria – Tampa
For the first time in quite a while, Longoria was healthy for 2013 and he produced accordingly. He is never going to really steal bases (the 15 he had in 2010 seem like the exception instead of the rule), but Longoria is certainly capable of knocking in 100 runs, smacking 30 bombs and hitting around .280 as long as he’s healthy.
4 David Wright – New York Mets
Similar to Longoria, Wright’s health is the major drain on his fantasy value, but that doesn’t mean you should drop him down your board too far. Over the past four seasons, Wright has alternated playing over 155 games and under 115; if the pattern holds true to form, this is a year he should be over 155. Wright doesn’t have the same power as the three guys listed above him, but his speed on the basepaths is worth considering.
5 Ryan Zimmerman – Washington and 6 Josh Donaldson – Oakland
The reason these guys are listed in this way is because selecting between the two of them is strictly a matter of personal preference. Donaldson really broke out in 2013 with 24 homers and 93 RBI, but there’s nothing in his history that truly indicates he’ll keep it up this season. His counterpart in this equation, Zimmerman, has put together two strong seasons after an injury-shortened 2011 campaign, but it seems like his value is always somewhat limited because of nagging injuries that seems to constantly crop up.
7 Carlos Santana – Cleveland
If Santana gets third base eligibility in 2014, which all signs are pointing he will, he could offer a big upgrade on some of the guys who have played the hot corner in the past. The Indians reportedly want to see him play third during Spring Training before deciding his role, but interested owners should pay attention to see if Cleveland tabs Yan Gomes as their full-time catcher and gives Santana the nod at third.
Scott Rolen Tier
Although not always an All-Star, these guys could show flashes of greatness and are worth starting on many teams.
8 Bargain Alert! Pedro Alvarez – Pittsburgh
He’s going to kill your batting average – .233 in 2013 – but Alvarez can knock runs in and belt homers in bunches, a skill-set that most other third baseman don’t provide. Case in point; in six playoff games for the Pirates last year he put up seven RBI and three homeruns.
9 Aramis Ramirez – Milwaukee
His best days are probably behind him, but Ramirez should be counted on to put up serviceable across-the-board numbers as long as he can stay healthy in 2014. For the sake of argument, last year was the first time in three seasons when the 35-year-old didn’t have at least 25 homeruns and 80 RBI.
10 Brett Lawrie – Toronto
For Lawrie, it all goes back to 2011. In that season, he clubbed nine homers and had 25 RBI in only 43 games for Toronto. He followed up that year with two seasons where he averaged 11 homeruns and 47 RBI. He’s only 24 though so if he fulfills the promise he showed three years ago, Lawrie could be a nice bargain. That’s a big if though.
11 Matt Carpenter – St. Louis
An added value because he qualifies at second, Carpenter is a run-scoring machine for St. Louis and had 126 of them in 2013. He walked a lot (72) and hit for a high average (.318) in 2013, so owners should target him for those stats over power numbers.
12 Kyle Seager – Seattle
The arrival of Robinson Cano in Seattle should help to bolster a lackluster Mariners offense and Seager could be one of the main beneficiaries. He’s not truly dominant in any one category but he offers solid numbers in almost everything and is probably going to be a good value pick.
13 Sleeper Fav! Will Middlebrooks – Boston
It’s unclear if Middlebrooks will end up with the starting gig – all signs point to yes – but if he does, he could provide a lot of pop for someone you can get later on in drafts. Middlebrooks struggled last season but still has 32 homeruns in only 169 major league games, meaning it’s not out of the realm of possibility to expect 25-30 bombs this season if he plays fulltime. If he loses the job, Xander Bogaerts is a great guy to target instead.
14 Manny Machado – Baltimore
No one knows when Machado will be back after a knee injury ended his 2013 season in September, but he could be returning as soon as mid-April. Don’t count on him for production right out of the gate, but he’s definitely worth a flier, especially for owners who play in leagues with DL slots.
Fernando Tatis Tier
Only draftable in the deepest of leagues.
15 Martin Prado – Arizona
He’s valuable because of his position flexibility: second base, third base and outfield – but Prado's upside appears somewhat limited at this stage of his career.
16 Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco
Kung Fu Panda needs to get on the field and show that he can still produce power numbers before he should be considered a strong option to start at third for fantasy owners.
17 Chase Headley – San Diego
Headley was on a ton of sleeper lists last year after hitting 31 homers in 2012, but he failed to deliver in 2013 with just 11 dingers. A look at his career numbers reveals that the power surge is probably not likely to repeat itself this season.
Others to consider in deep leagues: Kelly Johnson, Nolan Arenado, Todd Frazier, Jurickson Profar, Xander Boegarts, David Freese, Matt Dominguez, Chris Johnson, Mike Moustakas, Matt Davidson
Do Not Draft Under Any Circumstance
Juan Uribe – Dodgers
Look at his numbers from last season; dude is probably done in MLB after this year.
Mark Reynolds – Brewers
Reynolds is the proud owner of baseball's single-season strikeout record and the odds of his power number balancing out his lofty K-rate doesn’t seem likely.
Jose Iglesias – Tigers
Don’t let his .303 average last season fool you, Iglesias has serious issues at the plate that will more than likely manifest themselves this year now that team’s have a year’s worth of tape on him.
Also on the Do Not Draft List: Cody Asche, Alberto Callaspo, Trevor Plouffe, Mike Aviles, Casey McGehee, Lonnie Chisenhall, Eric Chavez, Donnie Murphy
Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook
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