Fantasy Third Base Rankings: AL-only Sleepers

Al Messerschmidt

If you happen to miss out on the upper echelon of American League third basemen this year, we have you covered. These young third basemen have yet to entirely prove themselves in the majors, but expect them to do so in 2014.

The AL is blessed with plenty of talent at the third base position heading into 2014, which means you'll find plenty of viable draft options outside of the top 10 third basemen in the league. In other words, missing out on Cabrera, Beltre and Co. doesn't mean you'll be stuck without a solid starter.

Let's take a look at three promising players flying under the radar at the hot corner.

Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox

After a tremendous 2012 campaign (.288/.325/.509), Middlebrooks slumped to a .227 batting average and was even benched during the Red Sox's World Series run.

But before you write the Sox third baseman off, there are several factors that indicate he's poised for a rebound in 2014. For one, he suffered from an astonishingly low .263 BABIP in 2013, the 25th-lowest total in the majors among players with over 350 plate appearances. That number figures to level out in 2014.

Middlebrooks also benefits from circumstance. He hits in one of the best, if not the best lineup in the major leagues, meaning he'll have plenty of opportunities to score and drive in runs, regardless of his own production. Additionally, he plays a large portion of his games in the favorable hitter's parks of the AL East, which plays a big role in positively influencing his power numbers.

Middlebrooks also showed flashes of what he is capable of, batting .322 with an .880 OPS in August. Now that Stephen Drew (presumably) is isn't a threat to his playing time, Middlebrooks could be set to return to his 2012 level of performance.

Matt Dominguez, Astros

One should always exercise caution when drafting a hitter on the Astros, but Dominguez provides plenty of power with little risk. (He's not ranked inside the top 20 overall in most lists, meaning he's an easy late-round steal.)

Last season, Dominguez hit 21 home runs in his first full season in the majors while also driving in a respectable 77 runs. He won't give you average or stolen bases, but he'll produce reasonable results in the power department at the very least, with potential to seriously go off.

However, don't necessarily write off Dominguez's batting average. The young third baseman batting .284 in 109 major league at bats in 2012, though that total dipped to .241 in 2013. Dominguez also batted .298 in 45 games with Houston's Triple-A affiliate in 2012.

That means the potential for a respectable batting average is there, but we haven't quite seen it yet. Don't expect Dominguez to post a high batting average in 2014 either; think of him like a poor man's Pedro Alvarez. He'll give you power and not much else. But for what he'll cost you, it's worth it.

Matt Davidson, White Sox

Davidson wasn't impressive during his cup of coffee in the majors last season, but don't let that small sample size fool you. Like Dominguez, Davidson won't offer much in the way of average, though he'll also likely be respectable in that department. (He batted .280 in 443 at bats at Triple-A.)

In those 443 at bats, Davidson hit 17 home runs and drove in 74 runs, which is where his true value comes from. He's averaged 86.5 RBI during his last four seasons in the minors, thanks in large part to his tremendous gap-hitting ability. (He averages one double per 14.8 at bats in his minor league career, equating to just over 40 two-baggers in a 600-at bat season.)

The book on Davidson is that he has the potential to hit for some pretty serious power. This is what Baseball America thinks of Davidson, via South Side Sox:

Davidson has big raw power and the ball jumps off his bat. He’s got a bit of a long swing and struggles to make consistent contact, which will keep his average low, but he’s selective enough to get to his power consistently.

That power is going to come at the price of a high batting average, but you can steal Davidson near the bottom of your draft, and he'll get plenty of playing time on the White Sox. In other words, he's worth the minimal risk.

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more position rankings or sleepers, 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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