“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
I hate to admit when I am wrong (my ex-wife can attest to that), but I was. During our first RotoAnalysis Staff Mock Draft, I was totally unprepared for the third base position. I figured I could coast along after the top names passed by and still make a decent selection later on. Did I end up with Michael Young as my starting third basemen? Sure did! Luckily, you don’t have to repeat my mistake, and the lists below will hopefully make the process a little easier. Mostly though, it is by looking deeper at players and the position that will allow us to make better decisions as March gets closer.
My Top 12
1. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers – His stats last year speak for themselves and he is in everyone’s top 3 overall this season. The only chink in the armor I can see is his HR/F% (home runs per fly ball rate) in 2012 was 25% and in 2011 it was 20%. So there is a chance his HR totals this year may not reach 44. Clearly I’m nitpicking here.
2. Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers – Adrian’s at bats since 2009: 2009-449, 2010-589, 2011-487, 2012-604. If he can stay on the field, he produces. Beltre’s 95 Runs, 36 HR’s, 102 RBI, 15 SB and a .321 average was great. Just plan on one stay on the DL with a hamstring and you will be fine.
3. Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays – Every new season seems to be the year Longoria will win the MVP. Another run down on at bats: 2009 – 584, 2010-574, 2011-483, 2012-273. In those 273 at bats last year, Evan had 17 HR, 55 RBI and a .289 average. He is the ultimate high risk, high reward pick. Especially if it will cost a second rounder.
4. David Wright – New York Mets – Wright rebounded last year with 91 Runs, 21 HR, 93 RBI, 15 SB and a .306 average. However, his xBA (expected batting average) was .278 so I believe all the counting categories can be repeated, but adjust for his batting to move towards the xBA.
5. Chase Headley – San Diego Padres – Last season even surprised the people who have been loyal to his ability for the past couple of seasons. But 95 Runs, 31 HR, 115 RBI, 17 SB and a .286 average seemed out of the realm of possibility. Unfortunately, so does a repeat. His career high in HR/F% was 11 in 2008 and last season it was 21. Couple that with his xBA of .268 and plan on some adjustment.
6. Aramis Ramirez – Milwaukee Brewers – Aramis got off to a slow start with the Brew Crew but his second half fueled his final stats. He finished with 92 Runs, 27 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB and a .300 average. He will be 35 and one of these slow starts may be hard to overcome. But we should be able to get one more good year out of him.
7. Hanley Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers – He was profiled in the SS preview already but he offers a 20/20 option at two positions.
8. Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals – Ryan came alive in the second half as well with a 59 Run, 20 HR, 64 RBI, 2 SB and a .289 average. I do not think he can maintain this for 2 halves, but with a healthy 550+ at bats he can get to the top 5 of this list.
9. Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants – Another 3B with health issues. His at bats from 2009 on: 2009-572, 2010-563, 2011-426, 2012-396. I think he can have a big year, but his health history makes me weary. In those 426 AB’s in 2011, he put up 23 HR and 70 RBI, so all we can do is wait for 550 healthy plate appearances and dream.
10. Brett Lawrie – Toronto Blue Jays – On the surface his numbers last year really aren’t that bad. Lawrie had 73 Runs, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 13 SB and hit .273. And there is room for growth: his HR/FB% in 2011 was 17% and in 2012 was only 9%. He will be in a loaded lineup so his runs and RBIs should both improve. I put him ahead of Prado on the premise that his ceiling is much higher.
11. Martin Prado – Arizona Diamondbacks – With the move to Arizona from Atlanta, it seems that Prado will be able to get back to the 15 HR he had in 2010. Last season he was able to produce 81 Runs, 10 HR, 70 RBI with 17 SB and hit .301. He is rock solid.
12. Will Middlebrooks – Boston Red Sox – In his debut Middlebrooks filled the stat line well in only 267 at bats. Middlebrooks had 34 Runs, 15 HR, 54 RBI, 4 SB and hit .288. All of us would happily take those numbers times 2 for the season. My only worry here is that he injured his wrist last season and that may depress his power numbers. But the opportunity will be there for him to become a Fenway favorite.
Kyle Seager – Seattle Mariners – It seems that Seager is a bit better than we thought he would be. With 62 Runs, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 13 SB and an average of .259 you could do worse at 3B. He is a bit limited by the ballpark and the team’s lack of scoring which keeps him out of the top 12.
David Freese – St. Louis Cardinals – Freese recorded his first 500 at bat season in the majors in 2012. Following up only 240 at bats in 2010 and 333 in 2011, we found out what he is capable of: 70 Runs, 20 HR, 79 RBI, 3 SB and a .293 average. However, I worry about his ability to stay on the field and his xBA last year of .265 also makes me a bit nervous.
Kevin Youkilis – New York Yankees – In Kevin Long do we trust? He worked wonders for Granderson when he was written off. So why can’t the “Greek God of Walks” rebound? Youk still had 72 Runs, 20 HR, and 73 RBI last season but hit .235. No, that is not a typo. If he can return to his 30% hit rates and he can maintain the 15 HR second half, Youk could be a bargain late in drafts.
Pedro Alvarez – Pittsburgh Pirates – Pedro’s power was never questioned, but if we take a look at his HR/FB%, it may not appear all that sustainable. In 2011 it was 10%, but in 2012 it was 25%. Yes he put up 64 Runs, 30 HR, 85 RBI with a .244 average. The average is probably the one stat I am willing to bet repeats.
Thrift Shop – My Sleepers
Todd Frazier – Cincinnati Reds – In his second chance with the Reds, Frazier made the most of his 422 at bats. He had 55 Runs, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 3 SB and hit .273. His second half of 12 HR and 45 RBI shows his power potential for this year. Just note the xBA of .261 and plan accordingly.
Trevor Plouffe – Minnesota Twins – Entering his magical 27th year old season. Plouffe had 24 HR and 54 RBI for the Twins and his xBA of .262 offers hope that he can raise his average. You could do worse late in mixed drafts. Yes, Michael Young, I’m looking at you again.
Chris Johnson – Atlanta Braves – Lost in the trade of Justin Upton was the fact that this CJ has a chance to be the starting third basemen for the Braves. It appears they will score some runs this year. In his 488 at bats last season, Johnson had 48 Runs, 15 HR, 76 RBI, and 5 SB while hitting .281. Unlike Plouffe, his xBA of .254 warns of a possible dip in average, but with opportunity comes stats.
Moving on Up
Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles – Only 21 and with 191 at bats under his belt Manny was able to produce 24 Runs, 7 HR, 26 RBI, 2 SB and hit .262. We are still learning exactly what Machado can do, but he has talent and opportunity. He makes for a nice wild card late in drafts.
Mike Moustakas – Kansas City Royals – As I look at Moustakas, I wonder which half to project his stats based on: 1H – 37 Runs, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 2 SB and hit .264 while in the 2H – 32 Runs, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 3 SB and hit .221. If he can get back to the gains he made in the first half and do it for a full season, Mous will move up this list. At age 24, he definitely has time to do this.
Lonnnie Chisenhall – Cleveland Indians – Overcame injuries and logged 142 at bats last season. He put up 5 HR, 16 RBI and hit .268. If he wins the job and can get 500+ plate appearances, there is a chance Terry Francona could help him harness his potential and he could go for 15 HR and 60 RBI in the late rounds.
Going Deeper – Minor Leagues
Jedd Gyorko – San Diego Padres – profiled in the 2B preview, if they deal Headley midseason he will get a shot. Hit 24 HR with a .328 average in Tucson last year.
Mike Olt – Texas Rangers – He’s probably one injury away from playing in Texas and has the ability to produce this year given a chance. Was hitting .288 with 28 HR in AA Frisco before his call-up.
Luis Jimenez – Los Angeles Dodgers – He is 25 and put up 16 HR and 17 SB while hitting .309 in Salt Lake City last year in AAA. Keep him on your radar if you agree that Luis Cruz may not keep the 3B job all year in LA.
Josh Vitters – Chicago Cubs – The Cubs were able to turn around Rizzo, so maybe Vitters could be next. He has always been a Cub minor leaguer, but Vitters was raking in AAA with 17 HR and 6 SB batting .304 until his call-up. Like Olt, he should do better the second time around and Ian Stewart is not the healthiest roadblock to have.
Greg Jewett is a contributor to RotoAnalysis. Look for his work all season long on RotoAnalysis.com and follow him on Twitter @GJewett9!
Photo Credit: http://www1.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Pedro+Alvarez+San+Francisco+Giants+v+Pittsburgh+BZd49dcf4NUl.jpg