2011 Player Rankings: Third Basemen

I’ve done a fair amount of reading on third base rankings headed into the 2011 fantasy baseball season. While most prognosticators and enthusiasts recognize some elite talent at the tippy-top of the list, references such as “terrifying,” “black hole,” and, ahem, “talentless batch of hackers” have described the rest of the list, which I might venture to simply call not terribly deep. Third base will present many managers with a challenge, but I’m not so sure there aren’t some gems to be had in this list.

We’ll spend the next few days breaking down the rankings so I won’t spend much time dissecting, but I will be the third base guy for the season, so I’ll give you a little insight on what I’m currently thinking.

Here are the combined third base rankings for your consideration:

Tier 1
Evan Longoria
David Wright

Yup, that’s a pretty lonely looking tier. Evan Longoria and David Wright are in a class among themselves largely because of the five-category contributions. The lack of a guarantee that they will, indeed, significantly contribute in all five categories provides the hint that third base has some issues going forward.

Tier 2
Ryan Zimmerman
Alex Rodriguez
Kevin Youkilis

Yes, Youkilis won’t have third base eligibility for a couple weeks in most formats, but once he does, he’s going to be awfully valuable, and it’s my bet that most are going to be drafting him as their rep at the hot corner rather than first base on draft day. But no doubt the dual eligibility will be nice. Alex Rodriguez turns 36 in July and his 2010 w/OBA slid to it’s lowest level as a regular major leaguer representing the low end of a four year decline, so I have a little concern there.  A rebound could put him up a tier, but if the trend continues, he might be down one as well.

Tier 3
Adrian Beltre
Jose Bautista
Aramis Ramirez
Mark Reynolds
Martin Prado

This is where some red flags start to go up that we’ve all seen. Can Bautista prevent a Brady Anderson? Can Ramirez hit for a whole season? Can Reynolds avoid Mario Mendoza? The third tier could easily be two distinct tiers, but you really can’t have a dozen tiers, can you?

Tier 4
Pablo Sandoval
Casey McGehee
Pedro Alvarez
Michael Young
Ian Stewart

Tier 4 presents some opportunities. The Panda finds himself heading the “Best Shapers” list, but regardless of his girth (or lack thereof) I could see a nice bounce back. While Pedro Alvarez and Ian Stewart are both guys with some Batting Average issues, their power could put them up in tier 3 pretty quickly as well.

The Rest
Chase Headley
Scott Rolen
Chris Johnson
David Freese
Placido Polanco
Edwin Encarnacion
Danny Valencia
Miguel Tejada
Kevin Kouzmanoff
Juan Uribe
Brent Morel
Chipper Jones
Alberto Callaspo
Omar Infante
Casey Blake
Wilson Betemit
Jhonny Peralta
Mike Moustakas
Jose Lopez
Ty Wigginton
Lonnie Chisenhall
Brandon Inge

There are certainly varying degrees of quality, opportunity, and potential among ‘the rest’ but I don’t think you want any of them as your starting 3b. We’ll take a look at deep sleepers later, which will include many of these names. Also note that Michael Cuddyer and Neil Walker should have 3b eligibility early in the season, and they’d certainly find themselves within these tiers.

Tier 1
Evan Longoria
David Wright

We hoped you liked reading 2011 Player Rankings: Third Basemen by Michael Barr!

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

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And out of curiosity, if Michael Cuddyer qualifies for 3B in your league, he fits in which tier?