Third base looked like it was going to be a weaker position heading into fantasy drafts this season, but several young players stepped up their game in the first half. Combine that with the promotion of Will Middlebrooks in Boston and the power outburst of Trevor Plouffe in Minnesota and suddenly the position has a little depth.
Here is a look at the top 18 third basemen for the first half of the 2012 fantasy baseball season.
1. Jose Bautista - his power shows no signs of fading with 27 home runs in 86 games. The only negative has been his .244 batting average so far, though he has risen it each month of the season after batting .181 in April.
2. David Wright - has made huge strides in cutting down his strikeout rate and has even walked more than he has fanned this season (50-47). Hit .392 on the road with a .615 slugging percentage which was 102 point higher than his home number.
3. Adrian Beltre - Texas has agreed with him so far, where he is hitting .347 with nine home runs and 34 RBI in 44 games this season. He has hit over .300 every month of the season.
4. Martin Prado - runs scored is back to his 2010 level and he has already set a career high in stolen bases with 11 which has helped his value at third base significantly.
5. Brett Lawrie - has a slight chance at 20-20 if he can improve his stolen base success rate after going 11-for-19 the first half of the season. Strike zone judgement has not held up in his second year with just 17 walks in 327 at bats.
6. Alex Rodriguez - his RBI total is down but he had added nine steals which is more than he stole in the last two seasons combined. Power has dropped against right-handed pitching with only six home runs in 209 at bats compared to seven long balls in 96 at bats against southpaws.
7. Mike Moustakas - showing the power that never got a chance to shin in the major leagues in 2011 with 15 home runs in 298 at bats. He still has a lot of work to do against left-handed pitching with a .221 average and just one home run in 86 at bats.
8. David Freese - numbers are right in line with what he did last season and his .294 average this year at this point is the lowest of his career which says something. The key for him has always been his health so as long as he can hold up the second half of the season…
9. Aramis Ramirez - came out of the gate slowly with a .214 average in April, but has raised his average every month since then. Has managed only one home run against southpaws in 73 at bats.
10. Chase Headley - a lot of his value is tied up in his stolen bases since he produces so little at PETCO Park. This year he has only two home runs at home in 162 at bats, so a trade to a new team could give his stats a boost the second half of the season.
11. Kyle Seager - if you were every going to play home/road matchups for hitters, this is your guy. Batted just .157 at home in 134 at bats with two home runs compared to .313 on the road the first half of the season.
12. Trevor Plouffe - was hitting under .156 on May 27th and then exploded in June, batting .327 with 22 runs, 11 home runs (including five over four consecutive games) and 21 RBI.
13. Pedro Alvarez - still strikes out too much and can’t hit left-handed pitching, but with 16 home runs and 50 RBI he provides a little bit of value. Hit just over .200 the first two months of the season before batting .262 in June.
14. Ryan Zimmerman - has never gotten untracked this season with one home run in each of the first two months of 2012. He battled shoulder problems for much of the first part of the year which likely contributed to the drop in power.
15. Will Middlebrooks - did not have quite enough at bats to rank higher on the list but should move up in the second half rankings. Nine walks in 171 at bats isn’t going to cut it so expect his batting average to take a dip the second half of the year.
16. Chris Johnson - nothing really impressive about any of his numbers. Needs to pick it up against left-handed pitching after batting .207 against them before the All-Star break.
17. Michael Young - has not homered since May 7th and his .353 slugging percentage is the lowest it has been since 2002 when he slugged .382.
18. Pablo Sandoval - another guy that will rank higher the second half of the season when he has enough at bats to compare against other players at this position.