Sunday, August 24, 2014
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Third Base

Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies third baseman Cody Asche. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

After delineation, deliberation, and anticipation, here are your 2014 Fantasy Baseball rankings.

Over the next several weeks, we will unleash the top players at each position, culminating in a handy guide to help you through your draft.

Two weeks ago, we took a look at the top 20 catchers.

Last week, we took a look at the top 20 first basemen.

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  • Last Thursday, we took a look at the top 25 second basemen.

    Today, Third base:

    1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

    2013: 148 G, .348 AVG, 1.078 OPS, 44 HR, 137 RBI, 90 BB, 94 K

    I'm not really sure what needs to be written here. He’s the best. He’s the back-to-back MVP in the AL (even if he shouldn’t have been) and is the #1 or #2 pick in any draft, interchangeable with Mike Trout. The only negatives I can think of: he loses bash bro Prince Fielder, he’s now 30 years old, and this might be his last year eligible at third base. That’s all I can think of.

    2. Evan Longoria, Rays

    2013: 160 G, .269 AVG, .842 OPS, 32 HR, 88 RBI, 70 BB, 162 K

    The three 3B’s slotted behind Miggy are all lumped together, but I’d select Longoria first from that group. He’s normally an injury waiting to happen, but played 160 games last year en route to his best season as a pro. I think he does it again. So does ESPN, who has him slated for 36/106, huge numbers you can get in the late-second/early-third rounds.

    3. Adrian Beltre, Rangers

    2013: 161 G, .315 AVG, .880 OPS, 32 2B, 30 HR, 92 RBI, 50 BB, 78 K

    I was tempted to place Beltre second, but at some point he has to slow down a tick, no? Beltre turns 35 during the first week of the season, and since 2008 there have only been 11 players reach 30 homers and 90 RBI in a season at that age. Basically, this is just about the age power hitters start to break down. The good news, he’s just not a one trick pony. He led the AL in hits, so if his power declines, he’ll still be worth it for you.

    4. David Wright, Mets

    2013: 112 G, .307 AVG, .904 OPS, 18 HR, 58 RBI, 55 BB, 79 K

    Injuries have derailed Wright in two of the last three seasons, which have kept his numbers down. If healthy, he’ll provide you with 25/90 easily. He’s another category-filler, even stealing you bases on occasion. He ran more last year, amassing 17 thefts in just 112 games, two more than the previous year when he played 156 games. A 20/20 season will make owners happy somewhere early in the third round.

    5. Josh Donaldson, A’s

    2013: 158 G, .301 AVG, .883 OPS, 37 2B, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 76 BB, 110 K

    One of the darlings of 2013, Donaldson finished fourth in the MVP voting in a loaded AL. Pretty impressive. Will we see an encore? One thing that stands out as to why it might happen again were his 76 walks, proving he has a keen eye at the dish. I’d tread with a bit of caution, but if the four big guns are off the board, you’d be happy to score Donaldson.

    6. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals

    Carpenter was already discussed during the second basemen rankings:

    Carpenter exploded in his first full season in the majors, assaulting the ball to all fields and finishing 4th in the NL MVP vote. Is an encore possible? It’ll be hard to top 55 doubles and 73 XBH’s. But rest easy that he’s definitely a multi-category maestro, lacking mostly in homers. In Yahoo! leagues, his ADP is currently 60! If you can get him there he’s a steal, but I wouldn’t wait that long. I’d take him ahead of Pedroia and others.

    7. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals

    2013: 147 G, .275 AVG, .809 OPS, 26 HR, 79 RBI, 60 BB, 133 K

    There’s always risk in taking Zimmerman too high, as he’s guaranteed to miss time. Since 2007 - the only time in his career he reached 162 games - he’s surpassed 150 only one other time. Across the board, he’s a consistent .275/25/85 player, but you run the risk of losing him for DL stint or two.

    8. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

    Encarnacion was already discussed during the first basemen rankings:

    There’s something I don’t trust about Encarnacion, and I can’t explain it. Guys have bust out seasons all the time, but for some reason, I’ve felt that his explosion of home runs in recent seasons has been fluke-ish. You can’t knock the numbers, however, and Encarnacion is a solid source of HR, RBI and OBP. Somewhat surprisingly, he doesn’t strike out often. STEAMER projections from Fangraphs have him at 33 HR and 100 RBI for the year and I think that’s a decent assessment.

    9. Kyle Seager, Mariners

    2013: 160 G, .260 AVG, .764 OPS, 32 2B, 22 HR, 69 RBI, 68 BB, 122 K

    Safeco Field has destroyed Seager’s power. Of his 45 career homers in 2+ seasons, 32 of them have been in a road park. What could help this year is the addition of Robinson Cano, either for his run producing numbers, or run scoring numbers. He’s even-keeled in all categories, not dipping too far in average or strikeouts to bother you. He’s got 30-homer potential to boot.

    10. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates

    2013: 152 G, .770 OPS, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 48 BB, 186 K

    He'll hit a home run or strike out. Alvarez does a lot of both, but as one of the premier power hitters in the NL, you’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. In a points league that doesn’t penalize much for K’s you can get away with him being drafted a little higher. But beware in category leagues, as he’ll sap you with bad average and on-base percentage (.293 in 2013)

    11. Manny Machado, Orioles

    2013: 156 G, .283 BA, .746 OPS, 51 2B, 14 HR, 71 RBI, 29 BB, 113 K

    Machado had left knee surgery last October to repair a torn medial patellofemoral ligament. There’s no word yet on a timetable for his return, although it seems like April is a possibility. He’s got all-world talent and led the league in doubles a year ago. Not bad. You’ll lose some valuable games early on, but could be a steal if he begins to fall because of the injury.

    12. Pablo Sandoval, Giants

    2013: 141 G, .278 AVG, .758 OPS, 14 HR, 79 RBI, 47 BB, 79 K

    The abnormally-large Kung Fu Panda lost 30 pounds this offseason, and even better news; he’s going to be a free agent. That normally means good numbers because he wants to get paid. Expect an uptick across the board.  

    13. Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox

    2013: 94 G, .227 AVG, .696 OPS, 18 2B, 17 HR, 49 RBI, 20 BB, 98 K

    He’s dating one of the hottest sports reporters on the planet (see: Jenny Dell). That’s good enough reason to see him break out. Seriously, Middlebrooks is primed for a nice season, and while he’s only going in the 21st round in Yahoo! drafts, I’d plan ahead to grab him well before that.

    14. Xander Boegarts, Red Sox

    2013: 18 G, .250 AVG, .684 OPS, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 13 K

    Boegarts will team with Middlebrooks in the Red Sox infield and should make for some offensive fireworks. He took over as a starter during the playoffs and looks to be the starting shortstop this year. He can do it all; hit for power, average, and maybe even steal a few bases. Boegarts is young and risky, but could pay off huge.

    15. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers

    2013: 92 G, .283 AVG, .831 OPS, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 36 BB, 55 K

    Ramirez enters his 17th season with plenty of wear. In three of the last five seasons, he’s missed a significant amount of time. His best years are well behind him, but he’s not a bad backup to count on.

    16. Jurickson Profar, Rangers

    2013: 85 G, .234 AVG, .644 OPS, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 26 BB, 63 K

    Profar was the #1 prospect in baseball, and could be in Boegarts territory. Needs to cut down on big strikeout total, which will come with time. Again, young and risky, but definitely worth a slight reach in the teens.

    17. Chase Headley, Padres

    2013: 141 G, .250 AVG, .747 OPS, 35 2B, 13 HR, 50 RBI

    Nearly an MVP a few years ago, his power all but vanished in 2013. Every category dipped in a major way because of a knee that needed to be surgically repaired. Prepare for a swing back in the other direction, north of 20 homers with better average.

    18. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays

    Lawrie was already discussed during the second basemen rankings:

    I’ve been high on Lawrie for years, and this is a big stepping stone season. Fact is, he’s only 24 and can still improve from his subpar totals the last two years. He’s another player who could pay huge dividends and is going in the 11th round of Yahoo! leagues. He's definitely a breakout candidate. I like him for 20-plus homers and 90 RBI this year.

    19. Martin Prado, D’Backs

    Lawrie was already discussed during the second basemen rankings:

    “Pardo”, as Charlie Manuel used to call him, had some of his best power numbers last season and plays in a hitter paradise in Arizona. His average is dipping, but he can still get you about 50 extra-base hits. A potent D'Backs lineup should provide solid RBI opportunities.

    20. Chris Johnson, Braves

    2013: 142 G, .321 AVG, .816 OPS, 34 2B, 12 HR, 68 RBI, 29 BB, 116 K

    Johnson was a pleasant surprise, finishing 2nd in the NL in batting average. He’s a doubles-machine, but probably not much more than a utility bat in deeper leagues because of lack of power and RBI ability. Still a good backup to have.

    21. David Freese, Angels

    2013: 138 G, .262 AVG, .721 OPS, 9 HR, 60 RBI, 47 BB, 106 K

    Last year was a fall from grace. At least he’ll have help from some Angels, which is where he was dealt this offseason (see what I did?).  Could be a nice bounce back candidate hitting behind Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton.

    22. Kelly Johnson, Yankees

    Johnson was already discussed during the second basemen rankings.

    23. Trevor Plouffe, Twins

    2013: 129 G, .254 AVG, .701 OPS, 14 HR, 52 RBI, 34 BB, 112 K

    His homers dipped by 10, but his average went up by 20 points. Who is he? Fangraphs says 18 homers and 56 RBI over a full season. Only draftable in larger leagues.

    24. Nolan Arenado, Rockies

    2013: 133 G, .267 AVG, .706 OPS, 29 2B, 10 HR, 52 RBI, 23 BB, 72 K

    Anyone who plays for the Rockies should at least be considered. Arenado, a rookie last year, hit well after the all-star break, so a breakout is possible. 

    25. Todd Frazier, Reds

    2013: 150 G, .234 AVG, .721 OPS, 29 2B, 19 HR, 73 RBI

    Decent source of power off the bench, but not stable enough in all categories to warrant a starting position. High home run total really the only reason he’s drafted over Asche and others. 

    Five more just in case:

    26. Cody Asche, Phillies

    2013: 50 G, .235 AVG, .691 OPS, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 15 BB, 43 K

    This isn’t a homer ranking. I think Asche is borderline draftable in deep and/or NL-only leagues. He could surprise with a little bit of power. He’ll have a normal lineup in front of him (I think), so his RBI totals could be decent.

    27. Mike Moustakas

    28. Daniel Descalso

    29. Juan Uribe

    30. Jedd Gyorko

    Contact Pat on Twitter: @PatGallen_975

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