2013 Midseason Position Rankings: Third Base

Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

Third base isn't what I was expecting. But that makes for interesting rankings. Here are some of my thoughts about our consensus third base ranks.

Third base has been a very interesting position so far this year. I came into the season thinking that third base was going to give first base a run for its money in terms of depth and fantasy production. And if Chris Davis didn't exist, Miguel Cabrera may have been able to make it close. Injuries and some poor performances have left third base with much to be desired. The top of the position is rich and better than it has been for a long time, but it drops off quickly. There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel and Manny Machado, Kyle Seager and Nolan Arenado are hope that it's not a freight train.

Here are our top-20 third basemen:

Rank

Name

Ray

Jason

Zack

Kevin

Daniel

Alex

Dan S.

Avg

1

Miguel Cabrera

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

147

2

David Wright

2

2

2

3

3

2

4

136

3

Adrian Beltre

4

4

3

2

4

3

2

132

4

Hanley Ramirez

3

3

5

4

6

5

3

125

5

Evan Longoria

5

5

4

6

2

4

5

123

6

Manny Machado

6

7

6

10

5

6

10

104

7

Ryan Zimmerman

7

9

8

5

7

7

9

102

8

Josh Donaldson

8

6

12

9

12

8

7

92

9

Pedro Alvarez

10

10

9

7

9

11

8

90

10

Kyle Seager

12

8

7

8

13

9

11

86

11

Pablo Sandoval

9

11

10

11

8

12

12

81

12

Matt Carpenter

13

13

13

12

10

10

6

77

13

Chase Headley

14

15

11

13

11

15

17

58

14

Aramis Ramirez

11

12

15

17

16

14

18

51

15

Martin Prado

20

16

14

24

15

18

13

34

16

Chris Johnson

16

18

20

19

19

17

14

31

17

Nolan Arenado

15

14

18

18

17

20

29

18

Todd Frazier

17

17

19

13

16

26

19

David Freese

19

14

16

20

16

20

Juan Francisco

15

15

The Top-5

No surprise that Miggy is the unanimous number one in our rankings and if you don't know why, you don't have a pulse. I feel like David Wright is the clear cut number two third baseman and only three rankers had him lower. He has a chance to go 25/25 with a .300 average and more than ninety runs and RBIs. Three, four and five were a fairly consistent group with varying orders and understandably so. Beltre, Hanley and Longo are all studs when they are on the field but each one of them has been bitten by the injury bug over the past few seasons. Only Cabrera has had more home runs, runs and RBIs at the position than Adrian Beltre since 2010 while Hanley Ramirez is the only player who might be able to join Wright in the 25/25 club. Evan Longoria is the third base counterpart to shortstop's Troy Tulowitzki. When they're on the field, they're MVP candidates. When they're on the field...

Manny Machado

Yeah, I'm an Orioles fan. What of it? Machado gets his own blurb. Be thankful I'm not filling the site with articles about Henry Urrutia like Craig Goldstein or Eddie Gamboa like Andrew Ball. Anyway, Machado deserves the praise, don't ya think? He just turned 21 years old, he's chasing the single season doubles record and he's been the catalyst for a playoff team since he was called up last year. Jeez, after that sentence you'd think I was writing about Mike Trout. Some people point to Machado's anemic walk rate and high BABIP and will cry regression. The kid is hitting 23.3% of batted balls on a line, doesn't strike out much and is hitting in front of a monster middle-of-the-order. Machado had a great approach in the minors and I think the BB% is more likely to regress (move toward the mean - not always a bad thing) to his minor league numbers than anything else.

Josh Donaldson and Kyle Seager

Daniel Kelley and I were the lowest on Donaldson, ranking him at twelve while most had him somewhere between seven and nine and even as high as six. Jason was the most optimistic about Donaldson and, even with all of the blacked out games in his area of California, he probably sees Donaldson more than any of us. I don't think Donaldson is the sixth best third baseman but I'm not sure he should have been as low as he was on my board. I would actually split the difference of the consensus at eight and mine ranking of twelve and slot him in at ten. Donaldson is good. He's very good. And I think what he's doing is pretty sustainable. He's shown power in the minors and the ability to take a walk. He doesn't strike out and has a strong batted ball profile. The main reason I think I am too low on Donaldson is because of my ranking of Kyle Seager. Take a look at their numbers side by side:

Name

Team

Age

G

PA

H

2B

3B

HR

R

RBI

SB

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

LD%

GB%

FB%

Kyle Seager

Mariners

25

96

420

108

24

1

16

57

46

3

8.6%

15.7%

0.196

0.309

0.286

0.352

0.483

0.362

130

23.0%

36.1%

40.9%

Josh Donaldson

Athletics

27

96

403

108

23

1

16

50

61

2

9.9%

16.9%

0.204

0.331

0.303

0.370

0.507

0.378

143

21.1%

44.6%

34.4%

Crazy, right? These two have almost identical stat lines 96 games into the year. The reasons that Seager gets the nod for me include the fact that he is two years younger, has more speed (although hasn't shown it this year) and hit batted ball data. The 2% difference in LD% could just be a difference in classification by the scorer on a few batted balls but Donaldson has a ground ball rate 8.5% greater than Seager. I would like to see Donaldson hit a few more balls in the air to keep his ISO over .200. Also, I think Seager's BABIP is right around where it should be and I could Donaldson's coming down a little which would make their batting averages very similar as well.

Pedro Alvarez

I thought for sure that I would be the highest on Pedro Alvarez when I was starting my rankings and I came in middle of the pack. Alvarez was probably the most similarly ranked player after the top five or so and I think there is good reason for that. We all know what Alvarez is and it seems like we all feel the same way about how that compares to the rest of the player pool. He's going to hit .240. He's not going to steal bases. He's going to strike out a ton, walk at an average rate and clog up the bases. He can also unclog the bases with one swing of the bat. I've been talking about the value of "knowing what you're getting" recently and Alvarez is a perfect example of that. Sure, you can take a guy like Nolan Arenado with a lot of upside and he might be a superstar. But what if he's not? You can't depend on guys like that. And Pedro Alvarez is nothing, if not dependable. Yes it's only his second year doing it but we all knew the power this guy had coming up through the Pirates' system. The question always seemed to be if he could hit enough to make use of the power. Well, the operative word in that question is "enough". And that's about all Alvarez does - he hits just enough. I think he can hit another sixteen home runs and finish the year with forty bombs. Even with the average, the home run and RBI totals make him a top ten guy for me.

Chase Headley

Sigh.

Oh... you wanted more analysis than that? Well, how's this for analysis? Chase Headley has finally done it. He lost me. I was a big Chase Headley fan since he broke into the league in 2008 and after failing to be what I had expected him to be, I kind of let him go. Then, last year, he finally did it! He was everything I dreamed of and more. So, of course this year, I'm all like "I knew Chase Headley could it. I've liked him for a while. It was only a matter of time. I told you guys." (Flash forward to four years from now and replace Chase Headley with Yonder Alonso. When will I learn?) Back to reality and Headley is who you all thought he was. He was dealing with an injury early in the year so we'll give him a little slack. But not much. His run production is back to pre-2012 numbers and his ISO stands - well, let's call it how it is - sits at .129. He's striking out in more plate appearances than he has since his rookie year and hit walk rate is down. Having said that, I believe he is a good hitter and his batting average will be around the .285 it's been the last two years. He has some of the better speed at the position and I'm still slightly bullish on the Padres offense now that everyone is back and healthy.

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