Fantasy Baseball Focus: AL third basemen
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Editor’s Note: Fantasy Baseball Focus is a breakdown of each league, position by position. Each team receives a fantasy analysis on the starter, backup and future prospect if there is one. In case you’re wondering, is there a schedule? Why, yes! Thanks for asking. On the right hand side of the page (your other right), look for the Fantasy Baseball Focus headline. Jamie Shoemaker will analyze the National League, while Dan Kirby handles the American League. Good luck in your fantasy leagues!
Third base is a power position and the American League has some of the top power fantasy players in the game. Some of them had down seasons last year as injuries took their toll, but superstars rebound. There are also some exciting young prospects who should make a name for themselves in 2012. Here is a breakdown of the position for this upcoming season, as well as a handy guide to help you at your draft.
For-sure pick – It means you’ll get consistency, nothing less, nothing more.
Sleeper – Underrated in drafts; can get in later rounds but might produce above-average stats.
Overrated – Might not produce at the hype he’s supposed to produce at.
Long-term value – Might not be the best bet for this year but excellent for keeper leagues.
Top five American League third basemen
1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers — 2011 stats: 111 R, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 2 SB, .344/.448/.586
2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays — 2011 stats: 105 R, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 9 SB, .302/.447/.608
3. Adrian Beltre, Rangers — 2011 stats: 82 R, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 1 SB, .296/.331/.561
4. Evan Longoria, Rays — 2011 stats: 78 R, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 3 SB, .244/.355/.495
5. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees — 2011 stats: 67 R, 16 HR, 62 RBI, 4 SB, .276/.362/.461
Starter: Selecting Reynolds all depends on the type of scoring your league does. If strikeouts count, look somewhere else. He has led the league in strikeouts four straight years, averaging an insane 209 per year. On the plus side, he also has averaged 37.7 home runs, 91 RBI and 12.3 steals, although 24 SB came in 2009. But, of course, there is some more bad news. He is a career .238 hitter over his five-year career. Pick all of your poisons with Reynolds, but the power is top notch.
Backup: Over his first two seasons, Bell has hit .209 with three home runs, 18 RBI and no stolen bases over 79 games. Not a fantasy player at the moment. The 30-year-old Betemit has played for six teams over his nine career. He is a spot starter who can give you the occasional home run and he isn’t a bad hitter. Only use him for deeper leagues as playing time will be inconsistent.
Starter: Youkilis has missed over 100 games combined over the last two seasons. When healthy, he is a high-average hitter with power. His 162-game averages of .290, 23 HR, 98 RBI, .883 OPS with 101 runs show the kind of fantasy value he has. If you draft him, be prepared to have a reliable backup for about 40 games this year.
Backup: Aviles would be a nice handcuff for Youkilis in deeper leagues. He hits for a good average and can steal 10-15 bases. Not a lot of power, but can produce some RBIs if he gets playing time in that lineup.
Prospect: Middlebrooks hit .285 with 23 home runs, 94 RBI and 10 stolen bases over 116 games split between three levels last season. He struggled at triple-A, however, hitting just .161 over 16 games. The 23-year-old, 6’-4”, 200 lb righty has power to all fields, hits for a high average and can steal bases. With a good start at triple-A, could get a look from the Red Sox by mid-season. Long-term-potential.
Starter: Over 126 games in 2011, Morel hit .246 with 10 home runs, 41 RBI and five stolen bases. Eight of his home runs came in September, along with 19 RBI. At 6’-2”, 220 lbs, the 23-year-old righty has the build to produce 25+ home runs a year. He stole 25 bases in 2009 at class-A ball, so he has some wheels, too. With just 57 strikeouts over 444 plate appearances in 2011, he has a very good understanding of the strike zone, which will only help his average. Considering where he will get drafted, and the potential he has, especially hitting at Cellular Field, I’m labeling him a sleeper pick for 2012.
Backup: Martinez is more of a defensive player as he has 16 home runs, 60 stolen bases and a .682 OPS over 2,099 career minor-league plate appearances. Only use him in the deepest of leagues.
Starter: Chisenhall hit .255 with seven home runs, 22 RBI and a stolen base over 66 games for the Tribe last season. The former 2008 first-round pick hasn’t shown the ability to be a high-average hitter and won’t steal many bases. He could be good for around 20 home runs and 75 RBI, but not in 2012. Deeper-league starter.
Backup: Over 400 career games, Hannahan is a .231 hitter with 24 home runs, 130 RBI and six stolen bases. He isn’t that good, and at age 31, isn’t going to be. It’s not looking good for you if he is on your roster.
Starter: Miggy won’t qualify at third immediately since he didn’t play a game there last season. By all accounts, he is their starting third baseman. Hopefully, your league’s rules allow for less than 20 started before a player is eligible because I don’t think he will last at third longer than that. He is, however, one of the game’s best, and most consistent, all-around hitters. He won his first batting crown last season, hitting .344, and has driven in at least 100 runs in eight straight seasons. His 162 game averages of .317, 101 R, 33 HR, 118 RBI and a .950 OPS make him fantasy gold. Hitting in front of Prince Fielder could earn him his first MVP award much like Ryan Braun last season. It’s hard to imagine him getting any better but 2012 should be a career year for Miggy. For-sure-pick.
Backup: Inge is a .235 hitter over his 11-year career, but he does supply power and RBIs while also being eligible at the catcher spot. A good option in most leagues, mostly due to his versatility. Once Miggy gets pushed to the outfield, and he will, Raburn should see increased playing time. He hits for a good average and can give you 15-20 home runs with good RBI totals in a loaded lineup.
Starter: The second-overall pick in the 2007 draft, Moustakas hit .322 with 41 doubles, 36 home runs, 124 RBI and a .999 OPS over 118 games in the minors in 2010, making him one of the top prospects in baseball. The 5’-11″, 230 lb monster, is a 23-year-old lefty with ridiculous power. He hit .263 with five home runs, 30 RBI and 18 doubles over 89 games as a rookie in 2011, and got better as the season went on. In 22 September games, he hit .352 with four home runs, 12 RBI and a .960 OPS. Tons of upside and could breakout in 2012 hitting in a lineup filled with talent. Long-term-potential.
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