Miguel Cabrera's ridiculous bat is back at third, to the glee of many fantasy owners. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
We've already gone over first basemen and second basemen, so if you've missed those, have a look. They explain the rationale behind the tiered system, and how they work, in addition to being rankings. As for the hot corner, let's dive in.
|Cabrera, Miguel||1B, 3B||DET|
Miguel Cabrera isn't eligible at third base from day one, but the Tigers intend to stick him there after signing Prince Fielder. If the experiment fails after five games, he'll still be eligible in many leagues for 2012, so it's safe to consider him as being listed here. The worst thing that happens is you all of a sudden have an extra Miguel Cabrera, a "problem" with no shortage of solutions.
Jose Bautista isn't a third baseman anymore, but he played there enough to retain eligibility in 2012. Along with Cabrera, he's the only other guy I see cracking the $30 mark.
Wright would be my preference from this group as he still steals bases, but other than that, there's really no wrong way to organize them here. Longoria might be the best of them, but thanks to a pitcher's park and good but not great lineup around him, he might end up far more valuable in reality than fantasy. Alex Rodriguez is of course capable of being The Best third baseman here, but that would require he plays 150 games, and betting on that when these others are available might be unwise. Adrian Beltre's bat loves his home park, and you should love it through him.
Aramis Ramirez isn't getting a park or lineup upgrade in his move to Milwaukee, and it's rare he goes unscathed through an entire season, so expecting him to be a high three-star is best, even if a best-of scenario has him in the low fours. Michael Young still has Arlington, much like Beltre, but he doesn't have the upside since he's so batting average dependent. Still a great pick at the right price, though, especially in head-to-head leagues where you can skip his road starts.
Kevin Youkilis has a four-star bat, but he has awful health as of late -- he's averaged just 119 games per year since 2009, and is a year older in 2012. If healthy, he's going to be a bargain for whoever acquires him, but that's a big risk. Pablo Sandoval is another with four-star potential, but it's more likely he settles in at a very productive $15 or so. Mark Reynolds remains far more useful in fake baseball than real baseball, even if he hits .230. Thanks, homers. Brett Lawrie is kind of a borderline three-star for me, just given we haven't seen him over a full season, but I like his bat a lot -- like Eric Hosmer at first, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and place him with more established guys.
|Two-Star ($9 and under)|
If Chase Headley can stay healthy, hit for average, and keep on stealing bases, the lack of RBI and R won't be a big problem for him. Any one of those three things fails, though, and he's going to be worth just a buck or two. Martin Prado has little value in the outfield except in super deep leagues (or NL-only), but he's a two-star guy easy with third base eligibility still there. Emilio Bonifacio needs to keep playing time -- third base isn't likely with Hanley Ramirez there -- but even if he's just a super sub, he should still be able to help you with steals.
Chipper Jones would be a three-star player if you could guarantee health and a competent Braves' offense, but I'm not sure which one of those is less likely in 2012. (Kidding: Chipper being healthy is less likely.) Jed Lowrie is another with huge potential but a penchant for injury, and he's getting a reputation as a slow healer, too. Unlike the Red Sox, though, the Astros don't have real replacements for Lowrie, and he'll get at-bats as long as he's on the field. Chris Davis is going to be worth -$10 or play every day and earn his keep. There is no in between.
I like Mike Moustakas a lot, but I don't 2012 like him. He should be useful in short time, but not a necessary piece in your standard formats. Mike Aviles should look good with that swing in Fenway Park -- the Monster is your friend, Mike. David Freese is probably going to be overrated due to his playoff performance, but before he was hurt in 2010, he was a neat little fantasy player at third. Pedro Alvarez could easily bust out of this tier, but not if his gut is busting out of his pants like it was in 2011.
This tier reeks of disappointment, but there's a hint of promise in here, too. A heathy Scott Rolen could be useful, and Edwin Encarnacion's power is a nice addition to deep leagues. I like Lonnie Chisenhall's future, but I'm not sure the first year of that is going to be great from a fantasy perspective. Either way, these are the kinds of players you throw $1 at and hope; little lost, lots of potential gain.