At third base, the major cutoff seems to come after spot 14, where suddenly the overall score jumps up quickly and players are a mixed bag of risk, upside and red flags.
Be sure to check out the handy sortable rankings chart at the bottom of this post.
1. Evan Longoria, TB. Consensus No. 1 across the board. No surprise there.
2. David Wright, NYM. The only bright spot on the Mets roster at times, Wright shared a few No. 2 rankings with Mr. A-Rod. Wright can easily be the best fantasy third baseman on any given day.
3 (tie). Alex Rodriguez, NYY. Reports from spring training suggest A-Rod is in the best shape of his life. Of course, comments like that are a dime a dozen in the spring among a number of major athletes. Still, we know what A-Rod can do, especially in that lineup and at the hitter-friendly home stadium.
3 (tie). Ryan Zimmerman, WAS. Zimmerman doesn’t have the studly lineup around him like A-Rod, and his park isn’t as conducive to the long ball, but he does have plenty of youth and upside in comparison to A-Rod. There is no reason to think Zimm will take a nosedive anytime soon.
5. Jose Bautista, TOR. The 50-plus home run effort last year seemed to come out of no where. Many are, not surprisingly, expecting him to backslide this year. Even if he hits just half the homers, he could be a decent option at third base for your fantasy team … just not necessarily at this draft position.
6. Adrian Beltre, TEX. Injuries and consistency will always be a concern for Beltre. The hitter-friendly confines in Arlington are a plus.
7. Martin Prado, ATL. Young enough to continue improving in most every stat category, Prado’s batting average makes him an intriguing pick. The Braves lineup will be better than last year, which will only help Prado.
8. Aramis Ramirez, CHC. We know what A-Ram can do when healthy. He is aging quickly, but it is hard not to get hopeful that he’ll string along at least one more full season of stats at some point.
9. Michael Young, TEX. A fixture in fantasy rankings for years, Young’s offseason was riddled with trade rumors and uncertainty. Does he have something extra to prove? We’ll see.
10. Casey McGehee, MIL. My most favorite buy-low candidate. Look closely at his stats so far during his young MLB career. You’ll be surprised. More about it here.
11 (tie). Mark Reynolds, BAL. He’ll hit for power. Not for average. Some feel the move to Baltimore will help him bounce back from some disappointing swings in 2010. Then again, he’ll be playing against the dreaded AL-East.
11 (tie). Pablo Sandoval, SF. The butt of many jokes last year as he bulged out and his stats went south quickly. Allegedly, he entered the spring much more in shape than last year. Could be a bounce-back guy. Just don’t overpay expecting 2009 production just yet.
13. Pedro Alvarez, PIT. The Pirates have a number of young guys who have good potential. Alvarez won’t be ultra consistent, but will have stretches of solid production.
14. Ian Stewart, COL. One of those guys that we’ve been waiting … and waiting … on. Some dings in the spring have me wondering if 2011 will be another sub-par experience.
15. Chase Headley, SD. This is the spot where the slide starts. There is a full 11-point differential between Ian and Chase, and while both Alvarez and Stewart have enough upside to be passable starting third basemen if needed, Headley isn’t as sexy.
16. Neil Walker, PIT. Feels cheap on this list in this spot. Not even mentioned in four of the five third base rankings used for this composite, Walker was tabbed 14th by the folks at Yahoo. Their rankings are composite based, too, but the key here is to make sure Walker is third base eligible in your league before snagging him as a third sacker.
17. Miguel Tejada, SF. Yes, this is the same guy we’re used to seeing on the shortstop list. You’ll still find him there. He is eligible in many leagues as a third baseman, too. For what it is worth.
18 (tie). Placido Polanco, PHI. See Tejada … except replace the term “short stop” with “second base.”
18 (tie). Scott Rolen, CIN. Many people save the last couple rounds of their drafts for high upside young guys. Rolen, at this point in his career, doesn’t fit that bill. However, there is some comfort in knowing Rolen will likely produce decent average, double-digit homers and won’t bust on you like many of the late-round fliers typically do. Just watch the injury reports.
20. Chipper Jones, ATL. You can repeat most of what I said about Rolen here. Chipper has been mashing the ball this spring. I wouldn’t expect him to last a full campaign, but he’ll be a useful fantasy option if used correctly.
Other third basemen who received top 20 marks in at least one of the rankings but not enough to make the composite top 20 list include Jhonny Peralta, Michael Cuddyer, Ty Wigginton, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Lopez, David Freese, Chris Johnson, Juan Uribe, Alberto Callaspo and Wilson Betemit.
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