This is the fifth article in the series of our 2013 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of third base. The depth of this position has changed quite a bit from last season with Jose Bautista, Mark Reynolds, Edwin Encarnacion and Alex Rodriguez (if out for the season) no longer options. Hanley Ramirez also qualifies here but it likely to be played at shortstop so keep that in mind when making up your fantasy baseball cheat sheets.
With that said, there are still solid options in the 11-20 range at this position so I would not feel the need to fill this spot as early in the draft as I would second base or shortstop. Also, with a lot of younger players at this position later in the draft, there is a better possibility of finding a breakout candidate than somewhere else in the infield.
Here is a look at the top 20 fantasy baseball third basemen for 2013.
1. Miguel Cabrera - won the AL Triple Crown, thanks to phenomenal numbers at home with 28 home runs in 295 at bats. Hit over .300 every month of the season except for April when he hit .298.
2. Evan Longoria - two injury filled seasons in a row, but he is still just 27 so if health holds up 35-40 home runs is possible.
3. David Wright - had a perfect first half of the season with a .351 average and more walks than strikeouts. Hit .258 after the break with a big jump in his strikeout rate. Hit more home runs at home for the first time since they moved to Citi Field.
4. Adrian Beltre - posted 100+ RBI for the third straight season and you could argue he has been more consistent than both Longoria and Wright during that stretch. Only caveat is that Beltre is 34 this season so some risk is there.
5. Ryan Zimmerman - flexed his power the second half of the season with a .319 average and 17 home runs and 55 RBI in 298 at bats, but his ground ball rate spike from last season did not entirely go away. More likely to hit 25 home runs than 30 if he does not get that fixed.
6. Aramis Ramirez - set a career high with nine stolen bases and drove in 100+ runs for the first time since 2008. He is a solid player when healthy which he has been for two years in a row, but injury history and age carry some risk.
7. Hanley Ramirez - walk rate fell and strikeout rate rose for the second straight season. Still a solid 20-20 player, but some key indicators are starting to head in the wrong direction.
8. Chase Headley - guaranteed to be the most over drafted player at third base this season. His fly balls flew over the fence at 2.5 – 5 times the rate of previous seasons so while he has value as a five category player, expecting anything more than 20 home runs again is a stretch.
9. Pablo Sandoval - battled injuries for the second year in a row and his lack of conditioning makes him a risk to reach 500 at bats. On the flip side, when healthy, he could easily hit .300 with 20-25 home runs and 90-100 RBI. Lack of depth at third base likely means he gets drafted higher than he should be given some of the risk.
10. Brett Lawrie- not quite ready for a 20-20 season given his 50% ground ball rate last year. If he hits first in the order again, RBI opportunities will be limited.
11. Will Middlebrooks - batting average will come down given lack of walks and strikeout rate. Hit .276 in minor league career so the .288 was a little inflated. But for a position lacking depth, finding 25+ home run hitters is worth a little extra.
12. David Freese - healthy for the first time in his career, but he turns 30 in April so it’s not like he is a young player with lots of upside. I would not full price expecting a repeat of last season given his ground ball rate and past injury history.
13. Todd Frazier - finally got an opportunity and was able to exhibit the same skills he had flashed in the minor leagues. Power is legit so 25 home runs over a full season is within reason.
14. Mike Moustakas - it was a tale of two halves for the rookie, hitting .268 the first half of the season with 15 home runs and .211 the second half with only five long balls. Also struggled to hit on the road with a .205 average. Fly ball rate means 20+ home runs should be a given but needs to control the strike zone better to get his average higher.
15. Kyle Seager - no real upside except a little in batting average, but there is nothing wrong with another 3-4 seasons of what he produced last year.
16. Martin Prado - for a guy who had a less than 50% success rate on stolen bases in his career, his 17-for-21 effort on the base paths was a surprise last season. The move to Arizona should do little to impact his fantasy value.
17. Kevin Youkils - has not reached 500 at bats since 2008 so make sure you grab a backup for him if you own him..
18. Michael Young - fly ball rate took another big drop leading to single digit home runs. Still good for batting average given his contact rate but age and move to National League mean other categories headed down.
19. Pedro Alvarez - still has trouble with left-handed pitching and his strikeout rate did not improve so what changed? Finally the Pirates left him in the lineup and let him play through his struggles but most importantly, his fly balls flew over the fence at an extremely high rate. With the expected regression, his home run total is going to fall back into the 20-25 range.
20. Manny Machado - more valuable in a keeper league right now as age and skipping Triple-A means he is likely a couple of years from moving up the list.