Now that we have completed our consensus position rankings for 2014, it is time to address rankings for those of you in AL only and NL only leagues. Ray has already begun posting his NL only positional rankings and you can find them here:
In case you missed the consensus mixed league position rankings and projections that we have published to date, you can find the links to each post below:
I will be posting my AL only rankings over the course of the next week. Today, we'll take a look at third base.
All I really have to say about Miguel Cabera is "Enjoy your last year with him as your third baseman." It was a nice surprise for fantasy owners when the Tigers signed Prince Fielder and moved Miggy to third but Fielder is gone and soon Cabera's third base eligibility will be too. The AL has a strong crop of third basemen highlighted by Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria. Beltre is one of only three players to hit at least 30 home runs each of the last three seasons and had Longoria stayed healthy in 2012, he may have been the fourth. They are both top thirty players for me.
I went back and forth on Donaldson or Seager for the 4th spot and I ended up going with Seager. I love the 20+ home run power from both but Seager can add double digit steals and has "done it" the last two seasons. Brett Lawrie versus Manny Machado was another close call for me but I had to give the nod to Machado. In dynasty leagues, it's not that close for me as I think Machado's power continues to develop and can become a better base runner. For 2014, I went with Machado because I think he will hit significantly better than Lawrie with just as much power. I like the chances of Lawrie swiping double digit bags more than I do Machado but Manny will slot in again at the 2-spot for the Orioles whereas Lawrie is slated to bat 7th in the Toronto lineup. I think Machado finishes the year with more runs and RBIs and wins 5x5 roto categories 3 ½ to 1 ½. Also, I'm not too worried about Machado's injury and don't think he will miss much of the season. He was one of the most durable players in the game for the year and a half before his knee injury and Lawrie has faced a few injuries of his own.
I'm definitely on the Xander Bogaerts bandwagon but I'm far from the leader. I believe he will hit for a strong average and decent pop with the potential to be a superstar. David Freese and Mike Moustakas lack that potential so while I think their seasons could end up somewhat similar, Bogaerts took the 8th spot. Mike Moustakas has a little more power than Freese and if this spring is any indication, he's ready to unleash it. He won't hit for the average that Freese likely will though and you can't count on either of them for more than 140 games. Moustakas is only 25, however, and he could be a post hype prospect who puts it together this year. Freese seems to be the fallen angel (I swear that pun was not intended but I guess I'm just innately witty). He was a hero in St. Louis but fantasy owners have soured on him. I'm not a huge fan but he's solid across the board and maybe the change of scenery and new lineup will revamp him a little bit.
I'm probably lower on Will Middlebrooks than most people and if I could have dropped him more, I might have. The power seems to be legit but he strikes out a lot and I think the projections that have him hitting above .250 are optimistic. He swings and misses a ton and his plate discipline needs improvement. Matt Dominguez quietly had a nice rookie campaign in 2013. I believe in the 20 homer power and a .254 BABIP would lead you to believe he can bring his average up a bit. The Astros lineup won't be great but Dexter Fowler will be a boost and a bounce back year for Jose Altuve to go along with Chris Carter and Jason Castro could lead to more runs being scored than some may have expected. Trevor Plouffe went on a torrid stretch in 2012 and ended the year with 24 home runs but last season his ISO dropped nearly eighty points and he's a career .254 hitter. He's the best of what's left at this point and could hit 15 to 20 homers but he doesn't offer much else.
I like Marcus Semien a little bit and I like him better than the rest of the group because he has an opportunity to play every day. A little mix or power and speed is about as rosy as you will get at this point but it beats the timeshare of Maicer Izturis with Ryan Goins and the platoon situation on in Chicago involving Conor Gillespie and Jeff Keppinger. It looks like Carlos Santana will start out as the everyday third baseman for the Indians this year which leaves Lonnie Chisenhall out in the cold but if the experiment doesn't work, Chisenhall could get another shot. Mike Aviles should get close to 400 plate appearances as a utility man again so I like his chances at playing time a little better than some of these guys. Playing time is a big deal in league-specific leagues so he has an edge at this point. I ranked Matt Davidson at 20 on the chance that neither Gillespie nor Keppinger are getting the job done and the fact that he has some power. I wouldn't really feel great about drafting him but he's a flyer in this format.
You can follow Zack on Twitter at @FantasyNinja8.