Fantasy Baseball: 2011 Third Base Rankings

Here is my early look at the Third Base rankings for 2011. There were only 3 third baseman who hit 30 or more HRs in 2010, with Jose Bautista leading the way with 54. The other two were Alex Rodriguez and Mark Reynolds. There were 6 third baseman who had 100+ RBIs, 9 with a .280 BA or higher, and only 3 had double digit SBs.

There are probably 6 third baseman capable of hitting 30 or  more HRs in 2011, but a few of them, namely Jose Bautista and Pedro Alvarez, will also post low BAs along with their power.

Here are my 2011 Third Base Rankings:

1. David Wright, NYM-I could go either Evan Longoria or David Wright as the top third baseman in 2011, but lean toward Wright due to his SB totals. Wright hit .283-.354-.503 with 29 HRs, 103 RBIs, 87 runs scored and 19 SBs in 2010. Wright's ISO returned to the pre-2009 levels of .220, but his K rate increased and his BB rate decreased. Bill James projects him to perform at a level very similar to 2010.

2. Evan Longoria, TB-others may rank Longoria ahead of Wright in 2011, and they may be right, but I am concerned that his numbers may drop with the loss of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena. Longoria hit .294-.372-.507 with 22 HRs, 104 RBIs, 96 runs scored and 15 SBs in 2010. Longoria's ISO dropped from .245-.213, yet his K rate dropped and his BB rate increased for the second consecutive year. 

3. Alex Rodriguez, NYY-in most years, ARod would be the consensus choice to be the top ranked third baseman, but he is getting older, and his hip injury has sapped some of his power. ARod hit .270-.341-.506 with 30 HRs, 125 RBIs, 74 runs scored and just 4 SBs. Besides his contract year in 2007, ARod has not hit 40+ HRs since 2005, and I don't see him getting there in 2011. 

More after the jump:

4. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS-Zimmerman had the highest WAR of all third baseman in 2010 with a WAR of 7.2. It would have been better had he not missed time in September.  Zimmerman hit .307-.388-.510 with 25 HRs, 85 RBIs, 85 runs scored and 4 SBs in just 525 ABs in 2010. Along with the solid power and BA, he increased his BB rate to 11.4% and lowered his K rate to 18.7%. Zimmerman will be hitting in a Nats lineup minus Adam Dunn, but the Nats did sign outfielder Jayson Werth. I own Zimmerman in the UBA league and think he can go 30-100-.300 in 2011.

5. Kevin Youkilis, BOS-yeah, I know, Youk did not play 3B in 2010, but he will in 2011 with the Red Sox acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez to play 1B. Youkilis was injured in 2010, but still hit .307-.411-.564 with 19 HRs and 62 RBIs in 362 at bats. I can see him with a 25-90-.310 line in 2011 in the new Big Red Machine lineup in Boston.

6. Aramis Ramirez, CHC-ARam disappointed fantasy owners in 2010, hitting just .241-.294-.452 in 465 ABs but did manage 25 HRs, 83 RBIs and 61 runs scored. His triple slash stats were impacted by his career low BABIP of .245. I see his BABIP bouncing back to his career BABIP of .287 in 2011, with ARam approaching 30 HRs and 90-100 RBIs. Injuries have impacted his performance the last two years, so he is an injury risk, but when healthy, he is a very productive power hitter.

7. Adrian Beltre, FA-as of this writing, Beltre still has not signed with a team, so his ranking may be impacted by where he signs in the coming weeks. Beltre had another solid walk year performance in 2010, hitting .321-.365-.553 with 28 HRs, 102, RBIs and 84 runs scored in the Red Sox lineup. Beltre is good for a 25-85-.270 line wherever he signs, which is solid production for a third baseman.

8. Jose Bautista, TOR-Bautista had a huge breakout season in 2010, hitting 54 HRs, 124 RBIs, 109 runs scored and 9 SBs with a triple slash line of .260-.378-.617 in 2010. He benefitted from a huge increase in his HR/FB rate from 12% to 22%, while also lowered his K rate and increasing his BB rate. I don't think anyone thinks Bautista can hit 50 HRs again, but I can see him hitting 30 or so, with 85-90 RBIs in 2011.

9. Pedro Alvarez, PIT-in his rookie year, Alvarez hit .256-.326-.461 with 16 HRs, 64 RBIs, and 42 runs scored, but he struck out an alarming 34% of his 386 plate appearances, while walking almost 10% of the time. Alvarez struggled in each of his promotions to AA and AAA the last two years, but stepped it up each year to post solid power numbers, and I can see him doing the same in 2011. I think he can go 25-90-.270 in 2011, and Bill James projects him to go 27-103-.277.

10. Casey McGehee, MIL-McGehee confounded his skeptics in 2010 by hitting .285-.337-.464 with 23 HRs, 104 RBIs, and 70 runs scored, after hitting .301-.360-.499 with 16 HRs and 66 RBIs in 2009. McGehee flourishes with runners in scoring position, hitting .324-.372-.571 with 11 HRs and 86 RBIs in 2010. For his career, he has hit .335-.381-.561 with RISP, so I am a bit more confident he can continue to hit for power and drive in runs going forward. Couple that with the fact that he changed his batting stance a few years ago, McGehee should be drafted as a top 10 third baseman in 2011.

11. Mark Reynolds, BAL-Reynolds was recently dealt to the Orioles for a couple of middle relievers, so he will move to the AL East in 2011. Reynolds has plenty of power, can steal a few bases, but holds the major league record for strikeouts. I think 2011 is a make or break season for Reynolds as he needs to improve his eye at the plate and basically have a bit more luck with balls in play. Reynolds BABIP in 2010 was .257, which resulted in a career low BA of .199. Reynolds still his 32 HRs, drove in 5, scored 79 and stole 7 bases. If he can get back to his career BABIP of .323, Reynolds could raise his BA to around the .240-.250 range with his usual 35 HR power in 2011.

12. Michael Young, TEX-Young had a solid season in 2010, hitting .284-.330-.444 with 21 HRs, 91 RBIs and 99 runs scored. Young was the subject of trade rumors recently, possibly to Colorado. Why, I have no clue.They already have about 15 infielders for 4 positions, so if he is traded to Colorado, he would lose at bats for sure. Assuming he stands pat, Young should continue to hit double digit HRs, drive in 80-90 runs and scored around 100 runs.

Sleeper:

Pablo Sandoval, SFG-Sandoval is another guy who could be playing for his job in 2011. Next year will be a make or break season for Kung Fu Panda after his disappointing 2010 season which saw him hit just .268-.323-.409 with 13 HRs, 63 RBIs and 61 runs scored. This, after he hit .330-.387-.556 with 25 HRs and 90 RBIs in 2009. The Giants front office has demanded that Pablo lose weight this offseason, and keep it off, or he could start the season in AAA. I could see him losing the weight, and having a season somewhere in between his 2009 and 2010 seasons. I am thinking a 20 HR, 80 RBI and .290 BA in 2011.

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