Here is the fifth article in the series for our 2012 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of third base. The top half of the position is fairly strong, but if you are looking to find power late in the draft at this position, you are going to have a difficult time finding anyone to hit 20 home runs.
Here is a look at the top 20 fantasy baseball third basemen for 2012 with my comments. A longer list with 2012 fantasy baseball projections is available in the 2012 FBT Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is on sale now.
1. Jose Bautista – was on a tear the first half of the season, hitting .334 with 31 home runs and 65 RBI in 84 games. After the All-Star Break, he was not quite as good, batting .257 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI in 214 at bats. Impressive that he still hit 43 home runs despite drawing walks five percentage points more than he did in 2011.
2. Evan Longoria -bad luck masked some small improvements as his hit% was 10 percentage points lower in 2011. On the positive side, he cut down on his strikeouts and boosted his walk rate. Disregard his batting average from last season because that will come back to its normal levels. For those people drafting at the end of the first round, they are in for a treat this year with Longoria sliding that late and into the second round in some drafts.
3. David Wright – his strikeout rate remained stuck in place for the third straight season, making it hard to see him hitting .300 again any time soon unless he has another fluky 40% hit percentage like he did in 2009. Missed two months with a stress fracture in his lower back, a condition that could become chronic as he gets older making him more of a risk in keeper and dynasty leagues. Moving in the fences at Citi Field should give him an extra three to five home runs this season provided he is healthy.
4. Adrian Beltre – loved hitting in Rangers Ballpark where he launched 23 of his 32 home runs on the season, while hitting .326 compared to .271 on the road. Power was off the charts after the All-Star Break where he hit 13 home runs in 128 at bats.
5. Ryan Zimmerman – missed time with an abdominal injury that affected him all season as he beat ground balls into the dirt for a good portion of the season at a 50% clip, by far the worst percentage of his career. Again, another value play at third base as his injury-marred numbers are causing him to go in drafts later than he did in 2011.
6. Alex Rodriguez – has one season of more than 500 at bats in the last three years and is slowly starting to wear down at age 36. Slugging percentage has declined four consecutive seasons making 30 home runs look like likely in 2012. Lack of double digit stolen bases the last two seasons cuts into his value as well.
7. Pablo Sandoval – quite a difference in performance when one is healthy and in shape. Hit .325 after the All-Star Break with 15 home runs and 41 RBI in 231 at bats. Watch for spring training news on him to make sure that his weight has not ballooned back up.
8. Michael Young - consistent as they come with 600+ at bats in eight of the last nine seasons. Despite his lack of power, all of the stats add up nicely at the end of the year just because of the amount of at bats he accumulates. Has hit over .300 every other year over the last five seasons which would put him under this season if he continues the trend.
9. Kevin Youkilis – has fallen short of 500 at bats the last three seasons and given his age projecting over 500 at bats is a stretch. Batting average against right-handed pitching has fallen for three straight seasons knocking him down the third base rankings a peg or two.
10. Brett Lawrie – don’t make the mistake of pro-rating his numbers out over a full season when projecting his 2012 stats. Keep in mind that he turned 22 this month, has yet to go through a slump and pitchers will have a record on him for his second year in the league. That being said, he has a lot of promise and 20-20 third basemen don’t grow on trees.
11. Aramis Ramirez – finally had his first healthy season in the last three years just in time for a new contract. Has hit good in Miller Park in his career with a .270 batting average and 15 home runs with 62 RBI in 300 at bats. With Ryan Braun possibly out 50 games, Ramirez is the favorite to hit fourth in the lineup.
12. Mark Reynolds – he is good at three categories and at a weak position, that may be enough to roster him depending on the makeup of the rest of your team. Strikeout rate was at 37% last season making around a .240 average the best we could possibly hope for with a little bit of luck thrown in. Second straight season of single-digit stolen bases which impacts this value as well. Struggled mightily at Camden Yards, hitting just .176 in 261 at bats compared to .264 on the road.
13. Ryan Roberts – finally got a chance for full-time at bats at age 30 and he delivered for the most part. Walk rate and aggressiveness of manager will give him a chance to match his stolen base total. Needs to be able to hit right-handers better (.238 for career) in order to get batting average above .250.
14. Martin Prado – was off to a solid start before missing the majority of June with a staph infection in his right calf. Came back the second half of the season and did not seem quite like the same player as he hit .228 over the last two months of the season. Overall, he had some bad luck with a h% of 27 instead of being in the 33-34 range which means his average is headed up in 2012.
15. David Freese – injuries has plagued him his first few seasons in the major leagues so despite three years of time, he only has 573 career at bats with 14 home runs, 91 RBI and a .297 batting average. Hit .307 in his minor league career so the average is legit. Keeper league owners keep in mind that he is already 28-years-old despite his limited time in the major leagues. Is likely to get drafted a round or two higher in some leagues as people remember his playoff performance where he hit .397 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 63 at bats.
16. Mike Moustakas – batting average was about where I expected it to be with a career minor league average of .282. What was surprising however was his lack of power as he slugged just .367 in 338 at bats and four of his five home runs came in September. Still needs work against left-handed pitching as well with a .191 batting average in 89 at bats.
17. Edwin Encarnacion – did little the first two months of the season with just one home run in his first 146 at bats, but then his 16 home runs in his last 335 official plate appearances. Has always had power in his bat, it is just a question of how much playing time he gets.
18. Chase Headley – career batting average is .303 on the road and .229 at home in PETCO Park. If your league has daily transaction, then he has a little bit more value as you can get him in and out of your lineup. With that said, he still has not shown any power no where he hits and his stolen bases his what keeps his value afloat. The Padres has prospects coming up at third base so he could be traded at some point this season which could give him a boost in value.
19. Casey McGehee – bad luck accounted for his drop in batting average with a 25% hit rate and more ground balls at 50% led to his decline in home runs. His numbers this year are probably somewhere in between 2010 and 2011. Could see time at first base or third base in Pittsburgh.
20. Lonnie Chisenhall – held up against left-handed pitching nicely which is a good sign for a young left-handed hitter. Actually hit five of his seven home runs against southpaws so power against right-handed pitching needs to improve. As does his plate discipline with just eight walks and 49 strikeouts in 212 at bats.
Instead of spending money on outdated magazines written by fantasy owners with no experience of winning fantasy baseball leagues, order the 2012 FBT Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide today so you can start dominating the competition in your fantasy baseball league.