Unlike Shortstop, Third Base is a fantasy-rich position, with guys from David Wright to Casey McGehee to Chris Johnson contributing big numbers in 2010. There are a number of options for you to choose from in 2011. And there are a variety of types of players, from old staples (Wright), to younger guys (Alvarez), to relative unknowns or guys who have flamed out (say, Brandon Wood). While a guy like Pedro Feliz might cut it for your local nine, he simply does no in the fantasy world. So enough jibber-jabber, what more can be said about this position other than this: Stay away from Pedro Feliz. Just Kidding. Stay away from him for sure, but remember, if you miss on top value, there’s probably a guy on the cusp waiting in the later rounds.
If a guy puts up studly numbers in the majors, and no one is there to see it, does it really happen?
Zimmerman has been quietly putting up great numbers for years with next to nothing for a lineup. With the additions of Werth ad LaRoche, the development of Ian Desmond, and the (hopeful) emergence of Danny Espinosa added to the speed of Nyjer Morgan and whatever Rick Ankiel does for a team, the Nats figure to have a fairly decent lineup this year. Zimmerman turns 27 this year, so if you believe in the year-27 rule as I do, you should expect a breakout year from Zim. Bill James modestly has him at 27 homers and 95 RBI (throw in 40 doubles too). I think Zim can do better. I got him a few rounds after David Wright, but I think this is the year Ryan Zimmerman puts himself in the discussion as a top third baseman.
Sticking with the theme of young guys on formerly crappy lineups (mark my words, the Pirate hitters are on the up and up), we get to the hefty Alvarez. The Pirates, in my opinion, will benefit immensely from some seasoning in 2010. McCutchen, Walker, Tabata, even Garrett Jones make up a pretty solid young core of mashers atop that lineup and Alvarez sits right in the middle. In limited time and a mediocre lineup, Alvarez managed 64 RBI and smacked 16 homers. Both I and the ever-wise Bill James believe Alvarez is the real deal and will continue improving in 2011- to the tune of .277, with 27 homers, 35 doubles, and 103 RBI. The only concern with Alvarez is his high K rate. Even striking out a lot, he is a dangerous fantasy player. However, if he can gain a bit more discipline and even out the K:BB rate, look out, as his 2011 could go from a great improvement to a monster breakout.
Man, for what we expected out of Pablo in 2010 boy oh boy was he bad. Sure he had some strong months (April, August), but other than those, he was pretty much worthless. The big fella can hit though. You don’t ‘accidentally’ hit .330, you just don’t. It’s a lot to ask the older Giants to hit like younger guys, but guess what- Sandoval is one of those younger guys! His rebound is inevitable, whether it be from better diet or better pitch recognition, the Panda is going to learn something. But what do I know, right? So let’s ask Mr. Bill James. What’s that Mr. James? You say Panda is going to hit .308? With 18 homers? and 38 doubles? How about 78 RBI? Suffice to say, if you miss out on the big guys, Sandoval should be floating around in your later rounds waiting to be picked up for a rebound year.
The ‘Inception’ Play
This is a tough one, as I am (as always) tempted to say ‘this is the year’ for Brandon Wood. But nay, this year I will resist. Instead I tout for you the young David Freese. Remember him? He burst onto the scene before getting hurt in June to the tune of a .296 average. His first two months were sweet, and he faltered as he got hurt, but the guy is a real prospect AND entering his age 27 season. With no one else really to compete with him for the third base job, Freese should see regular playing time and figures to produce. Here’s a nice article from bleacherreport on what to expect. Freese figures to be a good producer in a solid Cardinal lineup, with Bill James projecting 10-15 homers as does CAIRO. James likes him as he has him hitting a robust .295, but even if Freese slips to around .275, with 85 RBI and 15 homers, you could do a lot worse in the late late rounds than this Red man.
I’m out. Third base should be the least of your worries this fantasy offseason. Go Patriots and Falcons.