Alex Rodriguez

Fantasy Baseball Rankings Part 4: Third Base

I apologize for taking so long between fantasy baseball segments. I could blame an avalanche of negative Warriors news, the Manny Ramirez non-story or the Kurt Warner debacle, but those would all be lies. It’s because I knew third basemen were next, and I just feel badly about the position because of Alex Rodriguez.

As a kid I thought all the coolest guys played third base. Mike Schmidt was a pure power hitter who looked like an actual human being (and a man was always loyal to his mustache). George Brett got 2 hits every time I saw him play, and my uncle used to always talk about knowing him, so Brett was my first second-hand celebrity athlete sighting. Matt Williams enjoyed a three-year run as my favorite Giant. Carney Lansford, Tim Wallach, Gary Gaetti (and if you don’t think Gaetti was cool you absolutely have to check out this website)…the list goes on. Real men played third base, and little showboaters who did cartwheels across the infield played shortstop.

Now third base is all A-Rod, A-Rod, A-Rod. Moving Rodriguez to third base was arguably the worst crime against humanity the Yankees have ever committed. He should have been trying to out-roid Nomar and Miguel Tejada at SS, but instead he’s left to sully a position that was always more fun without A-Rod and his frosted hair, orange complexion and obvious juicing tendencies. Worst of all, he’s always the first third baseman taken in fantasy drafts and often the first player taken overall. Until now…

Previous Fantasy Baseball Positional Rankings: C1B2B

1. David Wright, Mets (2008: .302 AVG, 115 R, 33 HR, 124 RBI, 15 SB)

Incredibly consistent, extremely durable and only 26. I love how people are whining about Wright only stealing 15 bases last year after swiping 34 bags in 2007. Since Wright stole 17 bases in ’05 and 20 in ’06, I’d say Wright has a better chance at going 40/20 than 30/30 this season. Those of you drafting second actually have a tough decision to make between Wright and Albert Pujols due to the lack of depth at Wright’s position. Remember also, Major Leaguers usually don’t even hit their prime until their late-20’s.

2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (2008: .292 AVG, 85 R, 37 HR, 127 RBI, 1 SB)

Here’s my thoughts on Cabrera as a first baseman, where he should find himself playing all season in Detroit. Not all leagues will make Cabrera 3B-eligible, but Yahoo does and they’re the most popular site in fantasy.

3. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs (2008: .289 AVG, 97 R, 27 HR, 111 RBI, 2 SB)
The rare underrated Chicago Cub. We’re talking about the team whose fans would lead you to believe Ryne Sandberg should be in the Hall, but Ramirez still only gets a little more respect these days than he did as a Pirate. He does everything but run and is as consistent as they come. Draft him in the fourth round and don’t look back.

4. Evan Longoria, Rays (2008: .272 AVG, 67 R, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 7 SB)

Although he’s obviously talented, I don’t know if I’m ready to reach for Longoria in any of my drafts. And trust me, that’s what you’ll have to do to get him because the hype is ridiculous. He’ll give you power, but I’m more than a little worried that his 1-for-20 performance in the World Series may stick with him a while. He’s never been much of a base stealer throughout his career, so don’t expect many more than he had in ’08, and there’s nothing to guarantee his average won’t sit around .270 or worse. He’s still valuable due to his power upside, but maybe not as valuable as the guy sitting next to you at your draft thinks he is.

5. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (2008: .302 AVG, 104 R, 35 HR, 103 RBI, 18 SB)
So many questions! How will he respond to the scarlet “S” he’ll be wearing all year? How much time will he miss due to his hip cyst (looks like at least 6-to-9 weeks due to arthroscopic hip surgery)? And what about the labrum? I’m not touching him unless he falls to the fifth round — he isn’t worth the injury risk or the queasy feeling of starting him in my lineup every day. His career statistics are amazing, though. You know the 33-year-old has 553 homers and 2,404 hits, but he also has 1,605 runs and 1,606 RBI’s. Even stranger, he has only 26 triples, with none in the past two seasons and 2 in the last four. Even Jason Giambi, David Ortiz and A.J. Pierzynski hit triples last year!

6. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox (2008: .312 AVG, 91 R, 29 HR, 115 RBI, 3 SB)
Here’s what I said about Yook as a first baseman. Everything still applies, the only thing I’ll add is he has the strongest goatee in the league. His face looks like a an ’80’s centerfold.

7. Chipper Jones, Braves (2008: .364 AVG, 82 R, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 4 SB)

Sure Larry will miss games, but if you’re in a head-to-head league there’s no third baseman you’d rather have if he’s healthy in September. On a non-fantasy note, how many cans of chew (or bags if he’s a Red Man guy) do you think Chipper’s gone through during his baseball career? How would you even compute that? You’d have to imagine at least two per day for 15 years, which would equal more than 10,000, right? Or is that wildly low? I don’t know how long chewing tobacco lasts cause I’ve never tried it, but Chipper always looks like he has a cue-ball sized wad of chaw in his mouth whenever I’ve seen him. If I ever played against the Braves, I’d have second thoughts about sliding into third whenever Chipper’s out there.

8. Chris Davis, Rangers (2008: .285 AVG, 51 R, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 1 SB)

The more time passes, the more Davis’ power throughout the minors and in 295 AB’s last year seems tempting — even though he has the plate discipline of Pedro Feliz.

9. Adrian Beltre, Mariners (2008: .266 AVG, 74 R, 25 HR, 77 RBI, 8 SB)

Stop laughing. No really, stop. You may think I’m crazy putting Beltre here, but I have two words for you: CONTRACT YEAR. You may remember Beltre went from hitting .240 with 23 homers in 2003 to a .334 average and 48 homers in 2004. Don’t expect that type of explosion in 2009, but don’t be shocked when Beltre hits close to 35 homers with an increased average and around 10-15 steals.

10. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals (2008: .283 AVG, 51 R, 14 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB)

Zimmerman’s always been a solid hitter, and now he’s hitting third in what has become quite an interesting lineup in Washington. Adam Dunn obviously can’t hit for average, but he does provide an intimidating presence behind Zimmerman in the cleanup slot. Zimmerman missed 56 games last season, but he played 162 in 2007 and 157 in 2006 — he’s no Eric Chavez.

11. Edwin Encarnacion, Reds (2008: .251 AVG, 75 R, 26 HR, 68 RBI, 1 SB)

Really started swinging for the fences last year, but who can blame him considering the park the Reds play in. He’s only 26 and he’s pretty patient, so expect him to have similar power numbers but an average closer to the .290 range he’s been in throughout his career.

12. Garrett Atkins, Rockies (2008: .286 AVG, 86 R, 21 HR, 99 RBI, 1 SB)

Unless the Coors Field humidor stops working, I’m going off the Atkins diet this year (rimshot!). His stats keep sinking, and with no Matt Holliday and Todd Helton falling apart like a soggy burrito, the Rockies’ lineup might be the worst in the NL West…and that’s saying something.

13. Aubrey Huff, Orioles (2008: .304 AVG, 96 R, 32 HR, 108 RBI, 4 SB)

Last year’s power shocked nearly everyone, but it’s not like he hasn’t done this before (Huff hit 108 home runs from 2002-05). If he comes within 80% of the numbers he put up last year he’s still a decent fantasy third baseman.

14. Alex Gordon, Royals (2008: .260 AVG, 72 R, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 9 SB)

I’m not ready to give up yet. Baseball isn’t the NBA — just because you haven’t become a superstar by 24 doesn’t mean you’re a bust. Plus, coming straight up from Double-A isn’t easy, just ask the next guy on this list.

15. Mark Reynolds, D-Backs (2008: .239 AVG, 87 R, 28 HR, 97 RBI, 11 SB)

A great play in those non-average fantasy leagues, Reynolds also came up from Double-A in 2007, and he strikes out more than Rob Deer. The guy is only 25, though. I’d rather gamble on Reynolds or Gordon improving than somebody like Melvin Mora or Troy Glaus hanging on.

16. Pablo Sandoval, Giants (2008: .345 AVG, 24 R, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB)

The reasons not to take Sandoval: he’s only had 145 ML at-bats, and pitchers are certain to realize he swings at everything. The reasons to take him: the guy can hit, and 3B/C eligibility from a productive hitter is nice to have.

17. Jorge Cantu, Marlins (2008: .277 AVG, 92 R, 29 HR, 95 RBI, 6 SB)

29 homers is nothing to sneeze at, but Cantu has gone from sublime to sucky before.

18. Mark DeRosa, Indians (2008: .285 AVG, 103 R, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 6 SB)

He’s not going to score 100 runs this year. Draft him if you need a 2B, not a 3B.

19. Chone Figgins, Angels (2008: .276 AVG, 72 R, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 34 SB)

Draft only for steals, and probably not even then. Figgins is brittle, and third base is a physically demanding position (Right, A-Rod?). His deals of stealing 50-plus bases are over.

20. Hank Blalock, Rangers (2008: .287 AVG, 37 R, 12 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB)

If you believe his 8 homers in September and a permanent move to DH will change his fortunes, take a risk. I won’t blame you if you don’t, though.

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