Fantasy Baseball Focus: National League third base
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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!
Power-hitting third basemen used to be the norm, but in recent years the production has dwindled a bit. Third base has a nice mix of proven veterans and rookies to buy low on. Miami’s Hanley Ramirez will more than likely (if he doesn’t get traded) have at least one more shot to show the Marlins he still can be a threat. World Series hero David Freese is back and has fantasy owners salivating like rabid dogs.
Could this be the last year for the great switch-hitting Chipper Jones? Those who have been playing through the years knew drafting Jones was a for-sure pick. You can still draft him now, as long as you know what you will be getting. Solid play for around 130 games. But what if he goes out with a monster year? Which fantasy owners will take that risk? How about the decline of David Wright? Will anyone draft him and hope his numbers will go up just because the Mets altered the fences a bit or with hopes he will be traded to a team with a little more protection? All are valid questions as we dig into the third base crop.
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 third basemen
- Aramis Ramirez, Brewers — 2011 stats: .306/.361/.510 – 26 HR – 35 doubles – 93 RBI
- Pablo Sandoval, Giants — 2011 stats: .315/.357/.552 – 23 HR – 26 doubles – 70 RBI
- Hanley Ramirez, Marlins – 2011 stats: .243/.333/.379 – 10 HR – 20 SB – 16 doubles only 92 games
- David Freese, Cardinals — 2011 stats: .297/.350/.441 – 10 HR – 16 doubles – 55 RBI only 97 games
- Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals — 2011 stats: .289/.355/.443 – 12 HR – 21 doubles – 49 RBI
Atlanta Braves – Chipper Jones
Starter: Chipper has been around a long time. He managed to gut out 455 at-bats last year, denying critics who said he can’t finish 100 games a year. While most players would take his season any day, he’s just not what fantasy owners expect out of him. If you are a realistic owner who expects realistic stats (while drafting him in a realistic position), then he’s a perfect fit on your team. If you’re one of those who draft him in the first five rounds and expect him to contribute 24/7 like a top-five round pick, then you’re going to have a frustrating season. He hit 18 home runs with 70 RBIs and managed 33 doubles last year while hitting a .275/.344/.470.
Miami Marlins — Hanley Ramirez
Starter: Hanley had a horrible year in 2011 and cut his career stats basically in half. It was a miserable year for him and fantasy owners. We can speculate here all we want on what went wrong, what bad habits he picked up, etc. But it’s not going to solve what problem he had. Most of us would like to forgive and forget. Some of us will not. Bottom line: It was the first blip in his career, so there’s no reason to think it will continue. I do, however, express patience with him if he struggles from the start. I’m sure all the distractions in the offseason and adjusting to third base will affect his start. I expect somewhere close to his season average by the time the season ends: .306/.380/.506 with 25 HR and 41 SB.
New York Mets – David Wright
Starter: Wright had an extremely disappointing year last season, and if you were like the Mets are now, you were quietly trying to trade him. Nobody likes the guy in the league who’s trading his big star because everyone is asking the questions: Do they have a secret deal going? Why is he giving up? Why is that *** trading him to the guy leading the league? All are valid questions, and you should get those. The Mets will catch the same backlash if they trade him, as well, and one rumor that won’t die is the Phillies rumors. Wright only appeared in 102 games last year, and if he can stay healthy, he should bounce back. I do expect a decrease in RBI opportunities as Jose Reyes is no longer hitting in front of him. Wright strikes out a lot, and he would only be a steal if you can get him past round three.
Philidelphia Phillies — Placido Polanco
Starter: Polanco, unfortunately, hits like a second baseman, but not even a top one. He’s nothing flashy, not much power, not much in RBIs but he doesn’t strikeout much either. He’s a Punch-and-Judy hitter, if you’ve ever heard that expression. He won’t help you and he won’t hurt you either.
Washington Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman
Starter: Zimmerman had a season like Wright did, appearing in one less game and having similar stats except for average. Zimmerman hit .289/.355/.433 in a down year, which isn’t bad. He had multiple nagging injuries last year, and understandably, he has a lot of fantasy owners a little skeptical. His abdominal tear last year wasn’t your normal injury, and I look for him to rebound back to his 25 HR, 90 RBI days.
Chicago Cubs – Ian Stewart
Starter: Stewart is going to be given a shot at third base, which doesn’t mean you should do the same. He only played 48 games last year and played them pretty bad. At his best, he’s a .250 hitter with 15-20 home runs. That’s about it.
Cincinnati Reds – Scott Rolen
Starter: Rolen had an injury-plagued year last year and only saw action in 65 games. He is lucky to get more than 120 games in a year and likely competes with Chipper on games played. Only problem is, he won’t touch Chipper’s production.
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