Battle of the New York Third Baseman: David Wright or Alex Rodriguez?

I was reading Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster on Thursday morning and his thoughts on Mets third baseman David Wright. In his commentary, he states that Wright's back injury is a lingering issue for him and he questions whether Wright is still an elite third baseman. I have been wondering the same about Alex Rodriguez of late, including a discussion I had recently with my Yankee fan brother. Both have missed time due to injuries the past few seasons, so drafting them in 2012 comes with some risk, as fantasy owners are left to wonder whether either can return to the Top 5 third baseman of years past, or will they continue to disappoint.

With third base looking like a thin position on draft day this season, I am curious who FakeTeam readers would prefer to take a risk on this season.

My thoughts after the jump:

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Shandler mentions Wright's back injury as a concern going forward, but fantasy owners should also recall the head beaning Wright took several years ago. Many Mets fans, at least the ones I know, believe he hasn't been the same since the beaning. Wright was beaned in the head by a Matt Cain 94 mph fastball back on August 16, 2009, and suffered a concussion.

It just so happened that 2009 was Wright's worst year, in terms of power, as a major leaguer. In 2009, he hit .309-.390-.447 with just 10 HRs, 72 RBI, 88 runs and 27 stolen bases. The stolen bases and triple slash line are valuable, but teh drop in power was a concern. But, there is a disturbing trend in his power numbers. Let's take a look at his ISO, SLG and K% for the past 6 years:

ISO/SLG/K%

2006: .220/.531/17.1%

2007: .222/.546/16.2%

2008: .232/.534/16.0%

2009: .140/.447/.22.7%

2010: .220/.503/24.0%

2011: .172/.427/21.7%

Wright was on a Hall of Fame path before the 2009 season, and despite the comeback season in 2010, I worry that we have seen the best of Wright. Those who are optimistic about him in 2012 will focus on the fact that the Mets finally decided to move their fences in this offseason, so his power should return, right? He should improve upon his 14 home run output last season, but, like Shandler, I wonder if his back will present problems for him during the season, and continue to sap his power, and possibly force him to miss some time to the DL.

Wright ended the 2011 season hitting .247-.345-.423 with 3 HRs and 14 RBI in August and .216-.310-.363 with 3 HRs and 17 RBI in September, so I am not optimistic for a return of the old David Wright in 2012.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez missed time to the DL last season due to a torn meniscus in his right knee and also played with a thumb injury that surely impacted his power production. Over the last 4 seasons, ARod has missed a total of 111 games due to injury, and has missed at least 15 games due to injury in each year. And let's not forget he had hip surgery back in the spring of 2009.

In the past, ARod was a perennial first round pick, and the first third baseman off the board, but no more. Like Wright, his power has dropped over the past few year. Where he regularly hit 40+ home runs in a season, he has not eclipsed the 30 home run plateau in each of the past 3 seasons. Here is a look at his ISO, SLG, and HRs for the last 5 seasons:

ISO/SLG/HR

2007: .331/.645/54

2008: .271/.573/35

2009: .245/.532/30

2010: ..236/.506/30

2011: .185/.461/16

As you can see, it is pretty obvious that age and injuries have affected ARod's power output over the past 4 seasons, and I don't expect it to return in 2012. Shandler predicts him to hit just 23 home runs in 2012 with a chance for a 30-100 season as his "absolute ceiling".

I recently had a phone conversation with my brother who is a big Yankee fan, and when I told him that I think ARod will have trouble hitting 30 home runs again this season, he was beside himself. So, I offered to bet him, but he wanted an injury clause built into the bet. I said, ok, but I get odds then. Haven't heard from him since.

So, who would you rather have on your fantasy team in 2012?

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