Consensus Position Rankings/Projections: Top 30 Third Baseman for 2014, Part 1

Ronald Martinez

It's Third Base Week at Fake Teams, where we publish our consensus Top 30 fantasy third base rankings for 2014. Check out where the Fake Teams writers rank Adrian Beltre, Pedro Alvarez and Xander Bogaerts.

Alex Kantecki opened Third Base week here at Fake Teams with the fantasy state of the position earlier this morning. Now we bring you our consensus fantasy third base rankings for 2014. We used a points system for each of the 30 third basemen ranked by each of the Fake Teams writers who participated in the consensus rankings series.

Below you will find links to all of our position rankings and projections that we have published to date:

Catcher: Part 1| Part 2

First Base: Part 1| Part 2

Second Base: Part 1| Part 2

Shortstop: Part 1| Part 2

We feel that providing you our consensus position rankings, you get an average ranking from the Fake Teams writers, rather than hearing me spew my rankings nonsense throughout the offseason. You will see some players ranked higher by one Fake Teams writer than the others, so this helps the reader see both sides of the argument for/against a certain player who might be getting too much love this offseason.

Each of the position rankings will be split into two parts, rankings, player profiles and projections for third basemen ranked 1 - 15 in part 1, and rankings, player profiles and projections for third basemen ranked 16 - 30 in part 2 to be published on Wednesday morning. Consensus rankings should bring about discussion amongst you, our readers, and the Fake Teams writers who participated in this series.

In addition to the rankings, we are now offering your 2014 projections for each player ranked, courtesy of Dan Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter. He has spent all offseason on his projections, and to learn more about how he calculates his projections, you can read his explanations here: Part 1| Part 2| Part 3. Part 1 details his projection approach, Part 2 details how he calculates his hitter projections and part 3 details how he calculates his pitcher projections.

We didn't stop at just providing you rankings and projections, as we are also providing you with auction values, courtesy of Dan, along with the Equivalent Fantasy Average for each player ranked, courtesy of Daniel Kelley. The equivalent fantasy average can be used to compare players at the same position.

Here is a brief explanation of Equivalent Fantasy Average, from Daniel's Fantasy Average Positional Breakdown piece a few weeks ago:

Those who have been around the last week or two probably saw my Fantasy Average piece, in which I attempted to use standard deviations to present every offensive players' fantasy contributions in terms of a batting average-like number. That presentation is a useful ranking tool and, since it's on a scale we're all familiar with, is a heck of a shorthand for overall strength. If your guy hit ".300" by Fantasy Average, he's a heck of a player.

And all of this is consolidated, with player photos, into statistical tables thanks to the work of Jason Hunt.

2014 Third Base Rankings

Now let's take a look at part 1 of our Top 30 Fantasy Third Base Rankings for 2014:

Rank Player Team Ranking Points Ray Matt Brian Alex Daniel Joe Jason Zack
1 Miguel Cabrera DET 256 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Adrian Beltre TEX 243 2 4 4 2 3 2 2 2
3 Evan Longoria TBR 238 4 2 2 4 4 3 3 4
4 David Wright NYM 238 3 3 3 3 2 5 4 3
5 Ryan Zimmerman WSN 219 6 5 7 6 6 4 6 5
6 Josh Donaldson OAK 208 5 6 11 5 11 7 5 6
7 Pedro Alvarez PIT 207 7 7 8 8 5 6 8 8
8 Matt Carpenter STL 192 8 10 5 7 7 19 7 9
9 Kyle Seager SEA 184 9 18 10 9 8 8 11 7
10 Pablo Sandoval SFG 177 11 14 6 11 15 9 9 12
11 Manny Machado BAL 176 16 8 12 10 10 10 12 10
12 Chase Headley SDP 172 12 13 9 12 12 13 10 11
13 Xander Bogaerts BOS 152 14 9 13 15 17 14 16 14
14 Brett Lawrie TOR 150 15 11 17 17 13 12 13 16
15 Nolan Arenado COL 141 18 17 14 14 16 11 15 18

Player Profiles

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# 1 Miguel Cabrera (DET)

Photo Credit: Kim Klement - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.348 103 44 137 3
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
652 0.442 0.636 13.80% 14.42%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.327 103 37 120 2
Auction Value: $ 35.99 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.308

I wrote about Cabrera in our consensus first base rankings a few weeks back. Here is an excerpt:

He will turn 31 in mid-April and is his peak years of production, so one can expect him to hit over .300 with 35-40 home runs, 100 runs scored and 120+ RBI once again in 2014. Should he get the Bonds treatment, the home run and RBI totals will come down a bit, but not that much. His HR/FB% has improved in each of the last two seasons, so another run at 40 home runs is pretty much guaranteed, barring a serious injury.

He is the best hitter in the game, but I have slight concerns that as he ages, we could see more nagging injuries going forward. Last season was the first of his career where he did not play 150 or more games.

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# 2 Adrian Beltre (TEX)

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.315 88 30 92 1
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
690 0.371 0.509 7.25% 11.30%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.302 83 27 87 1
Auction Value: $ 19.51 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.285

Beltre is one of the best players in the game, and has a good chance to be a Hall of Famer, in my opinion. Beltre will turn 35 in the first week of the season, but age hasn't stopped him yet, as he is still an elite hitter. Last season, Beltre hit .315-.371-.509 with 30 HRs, 88 runs and 92 RBI, his third straight season with 30 or more home runs, 80+ runs and 90+ RBI. Last season was his fourth straight season with an ISO of .190 or higher, although it was his first under .200 in the last four years as well.

Heading into 2014, Beltre will be hitting behind Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus, and Prince Fielder, so his RBI total could rise back over 100 once again. Fielder and Choo both get on base at a career .389 on base percentage, so he should step to the plate with men on base quite a bit this season. Among all fantasy third basemen, Beltre ranks second in HRs, runs, RBI, SLG and batting average over the last three seasons.

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# 3 Evan Longoria (TBR)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.269 91 32 88 1
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
693 0.343 0.498 10.10% 23.38%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.271 80 32 94 2
Auction Value: $ 16.82 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.283

Longoria is coming off his third 30 home run season of his career, as he hit .269-.343-.498 with 32 HRs, 91 runs and 88 RBI in 160 games. The 160 games represent a career high in games played for Longoria, after missing 88 games in 2012.

He experienced a drop in batting average last season, mainly due to a change in his batted ball profile. His line drive rate dropped from 22% to 19%, while his fly ball rate jumped from 41% to 45%. Should he continue to opt to hit less line drives and more fly balls, we could see another slight drop in his batting average and bump in his home run total.

Longoria is entering his age 28 season, and I think there is a little more power in his bat, so we could see a 35 home run season from him in 2014.

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# 4 David Wright (NYM)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.307 63 18 58 17
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
492 0.390 0.514 11.18% 16.06%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.293 76 18 74 15
Auction Value: $ 14.00 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.280

Wright is still one of the best fantasy third baseman, but he has missed 50 or more games in two of the last three seasons, and I am worried this is becoming a trend with him. Wright, when healthy last season, hit .307-.390-.514 with 18 home runs, 63 runs, 58 RBI and 17 stolen bases in just 112 games.

Wright has always been a solid line drive hitter, so his average should stay in the .280-.300 range, and last season he saw his fly ball rate rise to almost 40%, so more power could be on the horizon. Gone are the days of 30 home runs from Wright, but we should expect 20-25 home runs if he can play 140-150 games in 2014. Heading into 2014, I see something along the lines of his 2012 season where he hit .301 with 21 home runs, 91 runs, 93 RBI and 15 stolen bases, with maybe a few more home runs.

I am curious if the Derek Jeter retirement announcement may be motivation for him to take over as the face of New York baseball, as we could see him put up a season like 2010, where he hit 29 home runs, drove in 103 and stole 19 bases.

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# 5 Ryan Zimmerman (WSN)

Photo Credit: Brad Barr - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.275 84 26 79 6
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
633 0.344 0.465 9.48% 21.01%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.279 83 25 90 4
Auction Value: $ 16.16 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.282

Zimmerman was having a poor 2013 season through August, then he went and hit 11 home runs with 22 runs and 18 RBI in the month of September to improve his season stats. So, instead of a disappointing season, he had a decent season at the plate, hitting .275-.344-.465 with 26 HRs, 84 runs, 79 RBI and 6 stolen bases.

His runs and RBI were down from his 2012 totals, but the Nationals struggled to score runs until late in the season, so we should see his runs and RBI bounce back to the 80-90 range in 2014. His HR/FB% rose to 17.6% last year, a career high, so we could see a boost in home runs from Zimmerman this season should it remain in the 17% range, or improve from that level.

I think he has another 30 home run season in him, and he enters spring training fully healthy, unlike 2013 when he was recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

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# 6 Josh Donaldson (OAK)

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.301 89 24 93 5
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
668 0.384 0.499 11.38% 16.47%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.279 83 23 91 4
Auction Value: $ 15.97 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.281

Among qualified third baseman, Donaldson had a higher WAR than Miguel Cabrera last season, 7.7 WAR vs Cabrera's 7.6 WAR. Donaldson had a breakout season in 2013, hitting .301-.384-.499 with 24 HRs, 89 runs, 93 RBI and 5 stolen bases in 158 games. His .300 batting average was buoyed by a bump in his batting average of balls in play to .333 from .278 in 2012.

Donaldson owns a solid eye at the plate and growing power, so we could see him repeat his performance in 2014. I could see some regression in his batting average to the .280 range, but that is still very respectable.

Looking at his splits from 2013, he hit right-handers and left-handers equally well, hitting .285 vs righties with 13 HRs and 57 RBI in 403 at bats, and hitting .335 with 11 HRs and 36 RBI in 176 at bats vs lefties. That was a huge improvement from his splits in 2012 where he hit .229 vs lefties and .246 vs righties, so maybe he made an adjustment at the plate last season.

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# 7 Pedro Alvarez (PIT)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.233 70 36 100 2
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
614 0.296 0.473 7.82% 30.29%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.246 67 34 95 1
Auction Value: $ 11.19 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.276

Alvarez ranks as our 7th ranked third baseman on the heels of a huge power season at the plate. Alvarez hit .233-.296-.473 with 36 home runs, 70 runs and 100 RBI last season, but that came with another 186 strikeouts (30% strikeout rate), and a drop in his walk rate to under 8%. The high strikeout rate is easy to deal with when you tie for the National League lead with 36 home runs with Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and you drive in 100 runs on a team that struggled to score runs at times in 2013.

Alvarez will always be a high strikeout hitter, but when you have a 25% HR/FB rate over the last two seasons, you have special power. He followed up his 25% HR/FB rate in 2012 with a 26.3% HR/FB rate last season, second only to Orioles first baseman Chris Davis among qualified hitters. A bump in his fly ball rate, while maintaining the 25% home run per fly percentage could result in a 40 home run season for Alvarez. Not counting on it, but there is a slight chance. The risk with Alvarez is that the strikeouts become such a problem, he goes into a prolonged slump, gets benched and tries to change his swing.

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# 8 Matt Carpenter (STL)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.318 126 11 78 3
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
717 0.392 0.481 10.04% 13.67%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.298 104 11 71 3
Auction Value: $ 17.15 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.279

I wrote about Carpenter in our consensus second base rankings a few weeks ago. Here is an excerpt:

Carpenter might be one of the top 2-3 leadoff hitters in the game, as he is an extreme contact hitter, which is good thing. His 27.3% line drive percentage ranked sixth amongst all qualified hitters last season, so he should be able to maintain his high batting average in 2014. With that said, I don't see him scoring 126 runs again. I think 90 runs is more likely in the low run scoring environment we are experiencing in MLB over the last few seasons.

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# 9 Kyle Seager (SEA)

Photo Credit: Christian Petersen - Getty Images
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.260 79 22 69 9
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
695 0.338 0.426 9.78% 17.55%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.265 78 23 76 9
Auction Value: $ 11.38 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.276

Seager followed up his breakout 2012 season with a near repeat, hitting .260-.338-.426 with 22 HRs, 79 runs, 69 RBI and 9 stolen bases in 12 attempts. Among his fantasy third base brethren, he ranked 7th in home runs, runs and led all third basemen in stolen bases.

His batted ball profiles indicates he hits line drives at a 20% rate, which should keep his batting average in the the .260 range, or higher with a little more luck with his batting average of balls in play. His fly ball rate increased to 45%, so it appears he attempted to take advantage of the decision to move in the fences at Safeco Park by hitting more fly balls.

He started the 2013 season off very hot, hitting .293 with 15 home runs, 54 runs and 44 RBI in 93 games in the first half, but slumped in the second half, hitting .212 with 7 home runs, 25 runs and 25 RBI. If he can put together two solid halves in 2014, we could see him approach 25 home runs, and with Robinson Cano hitting ahead of him, he could see his RBI increase as well. Should Seager bat second ahead of Cano, his runs scored and batting average could see a spike.

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# 10 Pablo Sandoval (SFG)

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.278 52 14 79 0
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
584 0.341 0.417 8.05% 13.53%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.281 64 16 82 1
Auction Value: $ 7.26 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.270

Sandoval had another disappointing season in 2013, hitting .278-.341-.417 with 14 home runs, 52 runs and 79 RBI in 141 games, his most since 2010. His batted ball profile shows that there was little change in the percentage of line drives, fly balls and ground balls he hit, and his .301 BABIP indicates that he was not lucky or unlucky.

I was amazed when I saw that his O-Swing% was 45.5% last season, second only to new Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski. But history shows he has always been a free swinger at the plate, and he makes enough contact on those outside the zone swings to keep his average respectable.

I read an article over the weekend that stated that teammates Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Matt Cain all pleaded with him to lose weight this offseason, and that is exactly what he did. I have seen pics of him this offseason, and I wouldn't be surprised if he lost around 40 pounds, so time will tell if the weight loss and/or his walk year will motivate him in 2014. Something to ponder on draft day.

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# 11 Manny Machado (BAL)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.283 88 14 71 6
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
710 0.314 0.432 4.08% 15.92%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.276 78 15 67 6
Auction Value: $ 7.63 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.271

Machado had a terrific first full season in the big leagues last year, hitting .283-.314-.432 with 14 home runs, 51 doubles, 88 runs, 71 RBI and 6 stolen bases in 156 games, but his season ended with a terrible knee injury running out a ground ball. He had offseason knee surgery and is apparently 6-8 weeks ahead of schedule, and has been cleared for baseball activities. Whether that includes running or running the bases is unclear at this point.

I owned him at $15 for the next two seasons in my AL only keeper league, but decided to deal him for Rays starter Alex Cobb ($9 for next two years) this offseason, as I don't see him hitting for much power over the next two seasons. A third baseman who hits less than 15 home runs is not valuable for fantasy purposes. It could take him a few years to reach his power peak and I was not willing to wait for that.

At this point, we don't know when he will return to game action, and it is possible he begins the season on the disabled list, which hurts his value on draft day.

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# 12 Chase Headley (SDP)

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.250 59 13 50 8
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
600 0.347 0.400 11.17% 23.67%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.260 70 16 72 8
Auction Value: $ 5.41 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.268

I recall watching an interview with Padres GM Josh Byrnes, during the Winter Meetings, and he stated that Headley was more injured than he, or the team, let on last season, so that could explain why he slumped so badly in 2013. I never thought he could repeat his 2012 breakout season, but he underperformed even lower expectations last season.

Headley hit .250-.347-.400 with 13 home runs, 59 runs, 50 RBI and 9 stolen bases in 141 games last season. His .319 BABIP was the lowest of his six year career, while his batted ball profile indicated he traded some ground balls for line drives, so one could argue he was unlucky at the plate.

I see him having a bounce back season in 2014, hitting 15-19 home runs with 70 runs and 70 RBI with a .275-.285 batting average. Fully healthy again, he could approach 20 home runs in the new dimensions of Petco Park.

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# 13 Xander Bogaerts (BOS)

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.250 7 1 5 1
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
50 0.320 0.364 10.00% 26.00%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.265 72 14 69 5
Auction Value: $ 6.43 Equivalent Fantasy Average: #N/A

I wrote about Bogaerts in our consensus shortstop rankings last week. Here is an excerpt:

Bogaerts has the bat to hit 15-20 home runs this season and to hit .260-.275 in his rookie season. He is the #1 fantasy prospect for 2014 right now, and should be drafted as a top 10-12 shortstop on draft day.

As spring training nears, it appears the Red Sox will stick with Bogaerts as their starting shortstop this season, and possibly going forward. He will be the #1 fantasy shortstop in due time.Dan Schwartz from Rotobanter projects him to hit .265 with 14 home runs, 72 runs and 69 RBI this season, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he exceeded his batting average projection.

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# 14 Brett Lawrie (TOR)

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.254 41 11 46 9
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
442 0.315 0.397 6.79% 15.38%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.275 58 15 64 13
Auction Value: $ 5.06 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.268

Fantasy writers (me) hyped this guy into the fantasy stratosphere a few years ago, but since then, he has done nothing but disappoint. He began his big league career with a bang, hitting .293-.373-.580 with 9 home runs, 26 runs, 25 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 171 plate appearances in 2011. But since then, he hasn't been able to stay healthy, playing in 125 games in 2012 and 107 games last season. Last season, he hit .254-.315-.397 with 11 home runs, 41 runs, 46 RBI and 9 stolen bases in 14 attempts.

His batted ball profiles shows that his line drive rate dropped by about 2%, he hit more fly balls and his BABIP dropped to .280, so he was a little unlucky last season. A bounce in his line drive rate would help his BABIP and batting average in 2014. Staying healthy could be just what he needs for the breakout every one has been expecting the last two seasons.

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# 15 Nolan Arenado (COL)

Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports
2013 FANTASY STATISTICS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.267 49 10 52 2
2013 SECONDARY STATISTICS
PA OBP% SLG% BB% K%
514 0.301 0.405 4.47% 14.01%
2014 ROTOBANTER PROJECTIONS
AVG R HR RBI SB
0.280 70 16 70 2
Auction Value: $ 6.83 Equivalent Fantasy Average: 0.269

The Rockies called up Arenado in late April to provide a boost to their lineup, but all he did was go out and win the Gold Glove at third base in his rookie season. He disappointed at the plate though, hitting .267-.301-.405 with 10 home runs, 49 runs, and 52 RBI in 133 games.

He was a little unlucky as his .296 BABIP was slightly below league average despite an excellent 23.8% line drive rate. His must have hit some line drives right at people, as a high line drive rate usually results in a higher BABIP. Should he be able to maintain the line drive rate, he should hit for a higher batting average in 2014. He has solid plate discipline as he doesn't strike out too much, nor does he walk too much, so he has a chance to improve upon his mediocre 2013 season.

Looking at his 2013 splits, one sees that he hit very well in the second half, hitting .298 with 3 home runs, 24 runs and 25 RBI in 60 games, after hitting just .244 with 7 HRs, 25 runs and 27 RBI in 70 games in the first half. That bodes well for him heading into 2014, and hopefully he can improve his power performance as well.

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more position rankings, or plain old fantasy baseball goodness, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one place to get all things fantasy.

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