Fake Teams 2013 Consensus Third Base Rankings: Part 1

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, so it should be no surprise he comes in as our # 1 fantasy third baseman in our 2013 Consensus Third Base Rankings.

Bret opened Third Base Week here at Fake Teams with the State of the Third Base Position earlier this morning, and now I bring you our 2013 Consensus Third Base Rankings, along with player profiles for third baseman ranked 1 - 13. It should be no surprise that Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is the unanimous #1 ranked third baseman in our rankings after winning the Triple Crown in 2012.

Two third baseman who just missed making our top 10 are Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks and Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, but both could easily be in our Top 10 at this time next year. One player who did make the top 10 is Padres third baseman Chase Headley, and deservedly so, after his breakout 2012 season.

Let's take a look at our 2013 Consensus Third Base Rankings, followed by player profiles for third baseman ranked 1 - 13:

Rank

Player

Team

Ray

Bret

Jason

Craig

Score

1

Miguel Cabrera

DET

1

1

1

1

108

2

Adrian Beltre

TEX

2

2

2

2

104

3

Evan Longoria

TB

3

3

5

5

96

4

David Wright

NYM

6

4

3

4

95

5

Hanley Ramirez

LAD

7

5

4

3

93

6

Ryan Zimmerman

WSH

5

9

8

6

84

7

Aramis Ramirez

MLW

4

7

7

11

83

8

Chase Headley

SD

8

10

6

7

81

9

Pablo Sandoval

SF

9

6

10

10

77

10

Brett Lawrie

TOR

10

8

9

9

76

11

David Freese

STL

11

11

11

8

71

12

Will Middlebrooks

BOS

12

13

13

12

62

13

Manny Machado

BAL

13

12

15

14

58

14

Martin Prado

ATL

15

15

14

15

53

15

Pedro Alvarez

PIT

14

16

12

18

52

16

Alex Rodriguez

NYY

17

14

17

13

51

17

Mike Moustakas

KC

16

17

18

16

45

18

Kyle Seager

SEA

18

19

16

17

42

19

Todd Frazier

CIN

19

18

19

20

36

20

Chris Johnson

ARZ

20

22

23

19

28

21

Kevin Youkilis

CHW

23

23

21

21

24

22

Trevor Plouffe

MIN

22

24

20

NR

18

23

Lonnie Chisenhall

CLE

21

20

NR

NR

15

24

Chris Nelson

COL

24

25

24

NR

11

25

Luis Cruz

LAD

NR

NR

22

23

11

Below are the player profiles for our 2013 Consensus Third Base Rankings, for third baseman ranked 1 - 13:

1. Miguel Cabrera, DET

There aren't many better hitters in the game than Miguel Cabrera. I have been predicting a 40 home run season from him for several years now, and he finally hit the 40 mark in 2012, winning the AL Triple Crown. He hit .330-.393-.606 with 44 HRs, 109 runs and 139 RBI last season, and has now hit 30+ home runs eight times, and driven in 100+ runs nine times, in his ten year career. He is a career .318 hitter, and has already hit 321 home runs in his career, yet he won't turn 30 until mid-April.

2013 Projection: He is a Top 2 or 3 pick in 2013, and one could argue that he should be the #1 pick in 2013 drafts. I see him hitting .315-.320 with 40 HRs, 100 runs and 125 RBI in 2013.

2, Adrian Beltre, TEX

If you have been reading me for awhile, you know Beltre is one of my favorite players in the majors going back to his time in LA almost 10 years ago. Beltre is the best defensive third baseman in the game, and he seems to be getting better at the plate as he gets older. He hit .321-.359-.561 with 36 HRs, 95 runs and 102 RBI last season, his 10th season with 20 or more home runs in his career, and his third straight season with 100+ RBI. Beltre his .300 or better in five of six months last season, and hit 22 of his 36 home runs in the second half. He turns 34 in April, so there is a chance we start to see his production start to fall below expectations.

2013 Projection: I think we see one more excellent season from Beltre, as I see him hitting .310 with 33 HRs, 90 runs and 105 RBI in 2013. He is a 3rd round pick in mixed leagues and an early second round pick in AL only leagues.

3. Evan Longoria, TB

Longoria may have the injury prone tag, but when healthy, he is one of the better fantasy third baseman in the game. He played in just 74 games last season, so about half a season, yet he still put up a .289-.369-.527 performance with 17 HRs, 39 runs and 55 RBI. Double those stats and you get a 35 HR, 80 runs and 110 RBI for a full season. For a power hitter, he doesn't strike out a ton, knows how to take a walk, and hits for .280-.290 batting average year in and year out.

2013 Projection: If he can stay healthy for a full season, he should put up a .290 batting average with 30+ HRs, 90 runs and 95 RBI in 2013. He is a 3rd round pick in mixed leagues and a 1st - 2nd round pick in AL only leagues.

4. David Wright, NYM

Wright just signed an 8 year deal with the Mets that will keep him in New York through 2020. Wright is coming off a solid season at the plate, where we saw a bump in power and a huge improvement in his strikeout rate. Wright hit .306-.391-.492 with 21 HRs, 91 runs, 93 RBI and 15 stolen bases last season, and ranked in the top 8 in each of the 5 x 5 categories amongst all fantasy third baseman. He displayed better plate discipline as well, as he improved his walk rate to 12.1% and saw a dramatic drop in his strikeout rate from 21.7% to 16.7%. In fact, his walk and strikeout rates have improved in each of the last two seasons, yet there is some cause for concern, as his home run production has been a roller coaster ride over the last 5 seasons. Let's take a look:

2008: 33 HRs

2009: 10 HRs

2010: 29 HRs

2011: 14 HRs

2012: 21 HRs

Do we see another drop in power in 2013?

2013 Projection: I see Wright hitting .295 with 24 HRs, 90 runs, 100 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 2013, and see him being drafted in the 3rd-4th round in mixed leagues, and late 1st-early 2nd round in NL only leagues.

5. Hanley Ramirez, LAD

Hanley was our # ranked fantasy shortstop for 2013, and here is what I wrote about him in our Shortstop Rankings:

Well, I guess I was wrong on Hanley last season. He put up his 5th 20 home run, 20 stolen base season in his seven year career in 2012, hitting .257-.322-.437 with 24 HRs, 79 runs, 92 RBI and 21 stolen bases. While his home run total jumped back to 2009 levels, his 19.8% strikeout rate was the worst of his career, and his 8.1% walk rate was his worst since 2007. He batted fifth in the Dodgers lineup after the trade that brought Adrian Gonzalez from Boston to Los Angeles. I imagine he will continue to bat fifth in 2013, so he should be presented with plenty of RBI opportunities with Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez hitting ahead of him.

2013 Projection: I see Hanley improving his batting average slightly, hitting .265 with 25 HRs, 85 runs, 95 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 2013. He should be the top shortstop off the board in fantasy drafts, going in the second-third round in most mixed league drafts, and I could see him as a late first round, early second round choice in NL only leagues.

6. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS

Zimmerman struggled out of the gate in 2012, hitting .224 in April, .262 in May and .218 in June with just 5 home runs through June 30th. He then received a cortisone shot, or two, and started hitting like the Zimmerman we all expected. Zimmerman's second half splits included hitting .368 in July, .315 in August and .281 in September with 20 home runs over the last three months of the season. Does this portend a huge bump in power in 2013? That question is tough to answer as he had offseason shoulder surgery to cure his shoulder woes, but I do see him eclipsing the 30 home run level next season. He ended the season hitting .282-.346-.478 with 25 HRs, 93 runs, and 95 RBI in 145 games.

2013 Projection: I could see him putting up a 2009-type season which saw him hit 33 home runs, score 110 runs and drive in 106 runs. He should be drafted in the 4th round in mixed leagues and 2nd round in NL only leagues in 2013 drafts.

7. Aramis Ramirez, MIL

Aramis Ramirez is perhaps one of the more underrated fantasy third baseman in the game. Written off by some after signing with Milwaukee last offseason due to his terrible home/road splits while with the Cubs, Ramirez proved the critics wrong with a fantastic 2012 season. Hitting behind Ryan Braun, ARam hit .300-.360-.540 with 27 HRs, a league leading 50 doubles, 92 runs, 105 RBI and a career high 9 stolen bases. His .240 ISO was his best since 2006, when he hit 38 home runs and drove in 119 runs. He ranked in the top 5 in four of the five 5 x 5 categories amongst all fantasy third baseman, and ranked 7th in stolen bases, and that explains my reasoning for ranking him at my 4th ranked fantasy third baseman for 2013.

2013 Projection: I see Ramirez putting up another season like 2012, hitting .290-.300 with 25-28 home runs, 90 runs and 100 RBI, and see him being drafted in the 5th-6th rounds in mixed leagues and 3rd round in NL only leagues in 2013.

8. Chase Headley, SD

As you all know by now, Chase Headley had a breakout season in 2012, hitting .286-.376-.498 with 31 HRs, 95 runs, 115 RBI and 17 stolen bases, setting career highs in HRs, runs and RBI in a season. His 31 home runs eclipsed the number of home runs he hit in the last three seasons combined. When wondering whether he can duplicate his 2012 power breakout, just drink this in first: his HR/FB rate over the last five seasons:

2008: 10.7%

2009: 7.6%

2010: 6.4%

2011: 4.3%

2012: 21.4%

That was quite a jump in his home run per fly ball rate, and add in the fact, as of this writing, he plays half of his games at Petco Park, one can easily see that 2012 was a career year for Headley. Of his 31 home runs, 13 were hit at home and 18 were hit on the road, so there is a chance he will be a 20+ home run hitter, but i doubt he exceeds 30 home runs again. In the last three months of the season, he hit 23 home runs and drove in 77 runs, leading the NL in both categories.

2013 Projection: I see Headley hitting .285 with 21 HRs, 85 runs, 85 RBI and 16 stolen bases in 2013, and see him drafted around the 6th-8th rounds in mixed leagues and 3rd round in NL only leagues.

9. Pablo Sandoval, SFG

Sandoval has had two hammate bone injures in each of the last two seasons, playing just 117 games in 2011 and 108 games in 2012, after playing 153 and 152 games in 2009-2010. As fantasy owners, we expect more power from out third baseman, and Sandoval's home run totals have fluctuated over the last four years:

2009: 25 HRs

2010: 13 HRs

2011: 23 HRs

2012: 12 HRs

His fly ball rate hasn't fluctuated much over the last four years, but his HR/FB rate has fluctuated from 14% in 2009, to 7% in 2010, to 16% in 2011 to 9.5% last season. On top of the power fluctuation, other than his 90 RBIs in 2009, he has driven in more than 63 runs just once, in 2011, where he drove in 70. He definitely helps in the batting average category, so if you can grab power elsewhere, he is a nice fallback if you don't grab one of the top 8-9 third baseman in your 2013 drafts.

2013 Projection: I see Sandoval hitting .290 with 16 HRs, 65 runs, and 70 RBI in 2013, and should be drafted in the 9th-10th rounds in mixed leagues, and 4th round in NL only leagues.

10. Brett Lawrie, TOR

Lawrie was the recipient of much love and hype prior to 2012 drafts, and I was amongst those heaping the praise on him, so I am at fault for assisting in overvaluing him last season. He played only 125 games due to injury, hitting .273-.324-.405 with 11 HRs, 73 runs, 48 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 2012, so he was a big disappointment to fantasy owners. I still think we haven't seen the best from the soon-to-be 23 year old Lawrie, as he has the power/speed to put up multiple 20-20 seasons in the years ahead. Lawrie's power drop can be attributed to a low 29.8% fly ball rate in 2012, so a bump to the mid 30's should result in a 20 home run season from him in 2013. He will have to improve his stolen base success rate to reach 20 stolen bases, as he was successful in just 13 of 21 stolen base attempts last year.

2013 Projection: I see Lawrie hitting .285 with 20 HRs, 90 runs, 70 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 2013, and see him drafted in the 9th-10th rounds in mixed leagues and 6th-7th rounds in AL only leagues.

11. David Freese, STL

How do the Cardinals keep producing such good hitters? Their scouting and player development staff are known to be the best in the business, finding guys like Freese and Allen Craig every few seasons. Freese hit .293-.372-.467 with 20 HRs, 70 runs and 79 RBI in 144 games last season. But I wonder if his power output has peaked, as he hit 20 home runs in 2012 with a HR/FB ratio of 20%. The reason was his extremely low 26.2% fly ball rate. He hits too many balls on the ground to be anything more than a 20 home run hitter. But, that doesn't mean he isn't valuable to fantasy owners. You will just have to find some power elsewhere.

2013 Projection: I see Freese hitting .290 with 18 HRs, 65 runs, and 70 RBI in 2013, as something tells me that the loss of hitting coach Mark McGwire may affect the Cardinals hitters. Freese should be drafted around the 12th round in mixed leagues and 5th-6th round in NL only leagues.

12. Will Middlebrooks, BOS

Middlebrooks surprised many with his performance in his rookie season in 2012, as he hit .288-.325-.509 with 15 HRs, 34 runs and 54 RBI in 267 at bats last season before missing the last six weeks of the season with a fractured wrist. But, there are some warning signs that fantasy owners should take note of on draft day. Middlebrooks walked just 13 times in 267 at bats last season while striking out 70 times. His 21.4% HR/FB rate ranked third amongst all fantasy third baseman last season, and I wonder if that is sustainable. His .335 BABIP also is a cause for concern whether his batting average could suffer in 2013.

2013 Projection: I see Middlebrooks hitting .270 with 20 HRs, 70 runs, and 80 RBI in 2013, and he should be drafted in the 10th-12th rounds in mixed leagues and 6th round in AL only leagues.

13. Manny Machado, BAL

Machado is the Orioles shortstop of the future, but was their third baseman of the present in 2012, after receiving the call up last season, about a half year-year before many expected. Machado made it to The Show as a 20 year old and hit reasonably well, given his age. He hit .262-.294-.445 with 7 HRs, 24 runs and 26 RBI in 191 at bats. One can project those stats out for a full season and see a 20 HR, 75 run, 75 RBI season from him in 2013. I think he could come close, but don't see him hitting for that much power as he will struggle at times. A few things he has going for him is he plays half his games at Camden Yards and does hit just under 40% of his batted balls in the air, so a 20 home run season is not out of the question. He will have to improve his plate discipline as he walked just 9 times in 191 at bats last season. His minor league stats say the plate discipline will improve, but when? That will be the difference between a solid 2013 and a struggling 2013.

2013 Projection: I see Machado hitting .260 with 16 HRs, 70 runs, 75 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 2013. He should be drafted around the 15th round in mixed leagues and 7th-8th round in AL only leagues.

I will be back on Wednesday morning with player profiles for the rest of our Top 25 Fantasy Third Baseman for 2013.

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