Continuing with the rankings for the upcoming fantasy baseball season I will talk about the Third Base position. Third Base is a position filled with talented players, but does not compare to the strength there is at First Base. There are some young players who are already fantasy studs that could improve this upcoming season and also the return of Kevin Youkilis to the position strengthens the crop.
1. Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays
Longoria is becoming a household name after playing just three seasons. In his three years his average numbers are .283 27 HR 100 RBI. Though his HR total fell to 22 in 2010 his RBI did not suffer much at 104 and his average was a career high of .294. Longoria is only 25 years old and can only improve on his great young career. Longoria also has the ability to score boatloads of runs in which he was second among Third Basemen in 2010 with 96 Runs. The sky is the limit for Longoria and in 2011 he should only improve from prior seasons.
2. Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees
Rodriguez is much like Albert Pujols because year in and year out he produces. In his career he has only failed to hit 100 RBI once in a full season. He also has not hit less than 30 HR since 1997 and has a career average of .303. Rodriguez is probably the only player who compares to Pujols over the past decade; it is hard to find a weakness when he is in the lineup. A-Rod’s only question mark is his ability to stay healthy averaging 133 games played the last three years. If A-Rod is able to stay healthy he could hit for 40+ HR and 140+ RBI. In just 137 games he hit 30 HR and 125 RBI, despite having a career low average of .270 due to a slump that lasted from June through August. Look for A-Rod to be ranked from four to six on this list if only playing in 130 games, but if healthy he has the ability to be in the top three in the overall rankings.
3. David Wright – New York Mets
In 2010 Wright came back from his power outage in 2009 when he only hit 10 HR. In 2010 he managed 29 HR, 103 RBI and hit for average at .283. Wright has been very consistent in his seven-year career with an average of .305. He also manages to score runs as well as produce them. In his six full seasons he has hit over 26 HR all but two years, scored 87 or more Runs in all but one year, and hit 102 or more RBI in all but two years. Wright should put up similar numbers to his career averages during 2011.
4. Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers
Adrian Beltre went above and beyond expectations in his one season in Boston hitting .321 with 28 HR and 102 RBI and leading all Third Baseman with 49 doubles. The Rangers signed Beltre this off-season in hopes of him reproducing these numbers for them. Look for Beltre’s numbers to fall because of the loss of The Green Monster in right field. Also, beware of Beltre’s numbers suffering because he has proven to be a contract year player both with Boston and with the Dodgers. In those two years he has had numbers that are incredibly higher than his career averages. Look for Beltre’s average and run production to drop, but he will be more than a serviceable Third Baseman and has potential to be an All-Star.
5. Kevin Youkilis – Boston Red Sox
Youkilis will return to his original position at third this season because of the Red Sox acquiring First Baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Youk was on pace for a very good year until he was injured. In 2010, Youk played in 102 games and had stats of .307, 19 HR and 62 RBI. Throughout his career Youkilis have been very consistent with his production he usually will have a HR total ranging in the 20’s and will bat around .300. Also he will have an RBI total around 90. The Boston line-up will be one filled with talent, and plenty of opportunities to drive in runs, as well as score runs.
6. Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
Ryan Zimmerman is a solid Third Baseman as he showed again in 2010 hitting for a career high .307, to go along with 25 HR and 85 RBI. The Nationals are a team rising in talent and Zimmerman is arguably their best position player. He will get protection with the signing of Jason Werth from the Phillies. Zimmerman, like Youkilis is very consistent, as he should hit around .290 with 25-30 HR and around 90 RBI in 2011.
7. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
Bautisa is a very interesting player because he led the MLB in Home Runs in 2011 with 54. Prior to that total he had only hit 59 HR in 6 seasons. In 2010 he also posted a .260 average and had 124 RBI. Bautista really did have a coming out party in 2010, but I am not so sure he is the type of player to continue to put up these numbers. He reminds me a lot of a right-handed Carlos Pena who hits for power but hurts his average. Bautista looks like he swings for the fences every time he swings the bat. Look for Bautista to put up power numbers at the plate, but his average will probably suffer.
8. Casey McGehee – Milwaukee Brewers
Casey McGehee is an unknown talent by many common fans but this 28 year-old is quite a player. He has only two full seasons under his belt, but has shown success at the plate. In 2010 he batted .285 with 23 HR and 104 RBI. He also managed to be third in the MLB in doubles among third basemen with 38. McGehee should be able to stay steady with his success at the plate in 2011 because in his career he has produced 39 HR 175 RBI and has batted .288 in just 282 career games.
9. Aramis Ramirez – Chicago Cubs
Ramirez suffered a drop in average in 2010 hitting only .241, which is very low for a career .282 hitter. Though his average dropped his power still was very respectable with 25 HR and 83 RBI. Ramierez has shown in his 13 year career that he is able to exceed 100 RBI and 30 HR, but you will see him produce these numbers in 2011. He will up his average to around .260 with around 25 HR and 90 RBI.
10. Scott Rolen – Cincinnati Reds
Scott Rolen bas played for 15 seasons for four teams and is 35 years old yet has not seen a major drop off in production at the plate. He is a career .284 hitter and though he used to hit for power earlier in his career don’t expect his HR total to exceed the 20 HR he hit in 2010. In 2010, Rolen hit .285 with 20 HR and 83 RBI. I do not expect Rolen to hit 20 HR again due to his age and I expect a drop off in production, I expect him to hit .275 with around 12 HR and 70-75 RBI.
Notable Mentions: Chase Headley – SD Padres, Brandon Inge – DET Tigers, Kevin Kouzmanoff – OAK Athletics, Mark Reynolds – ARI Diamondbacks, Pablo Sandoval – SF Giants, Ty Wigginton – COL Rockies.