Corner infield is where you better lock up a couple of power hitters. If you miss out on the top power hitting middle infielders or outfielders, you can compensate by loading up on stolen bases and runs. That is not the case with the corner infielders. While the amount of 25-plus HR slugging first basemen on my list might go twenty-five players deep, at the third base position it may only go nine or ten deep, if that. That’s why you’ll get no argument from me if you choose to draft him with your first overall pick.
1. Miguel Cabrera (39 HR, 136 RBI, .337 avg., 3 SB)
Cabrera is on a level all by himself. It’s possible that the next third baseman in your draft won’t be taken until the third round. A strong argument could be made for drafting Cabrera first overall, ahead of Mike Trout or Ryan Braun. Cabrera has 100-plus RBI for nine consecutive seasons. He has 321 career home runs. He has a .318 career average and has hit over .324 the last four seasons. Doesn’t if feel as if Cabrera has been around forever? He only turns 30 in April!
2. David Wright (20 HR, 83 RBI, .290 avg., 12 SB)
3. Hanley Ramirez (22 HR, 66 RBI, .266 avg., 22 SB)
4. Adrian Beltre (28 HR, 90 RBI, .288 avg., 4 SB)
5. Aramis Ramirez (24 HR, 103 RBI, .291 avg., 7 SB)
6. Evan Longoria (500 AB, 27 HR, 86 RBI, .273 avg., 6 SB)
7. Ryan Zimmerman (450 AB, 19 HR, 78 RBI, .289 avg., 3 SB)
Wright has become one of those every-other-year players since 2008. If the trend continues, this should be a down year, but I’m not superstitious like that. Was that a black cat that just crossed in front of me?!?
I put Hanley third because he has shortstop eligibility, and you don’t see many third basemen that can steal 20-plus. Seattle has to be wondering where was this Adrian Beltre when he was there. He has driven in over 100 runs each of the past three seasons and hit .321 in two of those seasons! Keep in mind this is not the same Texas offense, though.
I dare you to find anyone who ranks Aramis Ramirez as high as I do, but I think he has found a home in Milwaukee. A notorious slow starter, if he gets off to a hot start you can up my projections a notch or two. He’s also not as much of an injury risk as Longoria and Zimmerman. Zimmerman is already battling a shoulder injury. Despite ranking Zimmerman seventh, I’d stay away.
8. Chase Headley (16 HR, 79 RBI, .285 avg., 17 SB)… but who knows?
9. Brett Lawrie (18 HR, 71 RBI, .268 avg., 17 SB)
10. Pablo Sandoval (400 AB, 14 HR, 60 RBI, .293 avg., 1 SB)
Quick– who led the NL in RBI last year? If you guessed Chase Headley, give yourself a gold star. Headley had one of the best under-the-radar seasons of all-time, playing in San Diego and hitting 31 HR and driving in 115. Throw in 17 stolen bases and a respectable .286 average and you have the potential for a top three third baseman. Headley’s 2012 season came out of no where, though. He had never hit more than 12 HR in a season prior to 2012. He only hit four in 381 at-bats in 2011, so you have to wonder.
The 23-year-old Lawrie should come cheaper this year than 2012 as many owners invested heavily in him last year and were burned to the tune of 11 HR and 48 RBI. The issue with Sandoval will always be his weight, but he is a career .303 hitter. If he can only keep his weight under 303.
11. David Freese (400 AB, 14 HR, 67 RBI, .293 avg., 2 SB)
12. Martin Prado (11 HR, 66 RBI, .297 avg., 9 SB)
13. Pedro Alvarez (27 HR, 77 RBI, .237 avg., 0 SB)
14. Mike Moustakas (23 HR, 74 RBI, .258 avg., 5 SB)
These third base rankings are going to have more tiers than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. And if you get past this point without a third baseman, your team is bound to tip over. Lame, I know. i’ll make up for it. Freeze– guess who has the highest career average out of this group? Exactly– David Freese (.296). Prado is a .295 career hitter, but both those two won’t give you much pop. Moustakas and, especially, Alvarez have pop, but both will hurt you in average. Alvarez has the potential to hit 40 HR… and strike out 200 times.
15. Will Middlebrooks (400 AB, 16 HR, 63 RBI, .266 avg., 5 SB)
16. Todd Frazier (17 HR, 66 RBI, .270 avg., 2 SB)
17. Kyle Seager (17 HR, 65 RBI, .255 avg., 11 SB)
18. Manny Machado (14 HR, 64 RBI, .255 avg., 5 SB)
19. Michael Young (8 HR, 69 RBI, .283 avg., 2 SB)
20. Trevor Plouffe (17 HR, 48 RBI, .236 avg., 2 SB)
21. Kevin Youkilis (400 AB, 14 HR, 54 RBI, .240 avg., 0 SB)
Middlebrooks has a chance to jump a few tiers, but wrist injuries always scare me. Machado is only 20 years old, but didn’t seem phased by playing with the big boys (7 HR in 191 AB and a .262 avg.) last year. Seager and Frazier have good potential. Young and Youkilis are over the hill.
BEST OF THE REST
Lonnie Chisenhall, Juan Francisco, Alex Rodriguez, Jordan Pacheco