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RotoAuthority Rankings 2014: Third Base

The RA Rankings roll on over to the hot corner today, an exceptionally top-heavy position. You'll see some true stars go in the first couple rounds, a strong but question-marked middle class, and difficult-to-roster back end. In deep leagues, get your CI elsewhere!

We started this series with the Outfield, continued to Catcher, and hit First Base on Tuesday. Next week, we'll finish the infield and move, finally, on to pitchers. Sorry DH's, no article for three names (spoiler: David Ortiz would be first).

These rankings are the product of the whole expert team at RotoAuthority. Tiers and round suggestions are meant to be relative--where you value third basemen in general will depend on your league settings and personal strategy.

Tier 1: Captain Obvious (First or Second Pick)

1. Miguel Cabrera


Tier 2: The Stars (First or Second Round)

2. Adrian Beltre

2.5 Edwin Encarnacion

3. Evan Longoria

4. David Wright

The only question mark with Beltre is his age--otherwise he's a nearly-flawless four-category stud. If you have loose enough eligibility requirements (read: play in a Yahoo! league), Encarnacion can play third and belongs here. He's elite at either corner. Longoria and Wright have health concerns in the recent past, but play at an extremely high level. Give Longoria the edge because he spent all of last season healthy and Wright did not.

Tier 3: Question Marks Already? Yup. (Fifth to Seventh)

5. Ryan Zimmerman

6. Matt Carpenter

7. Pedro Alvarez

8. Josh Donaldson

Zimmerman didn't do much for most of the season, then broke out like crazy in September. Too bad, that's more consistency than anyone else in this tier can brag about. He has, perhaps, the lowest ceiling and highest floor of the group. Carpenter BABIP'd his way to greatness last year, but has the lineup and profile of someone who can continue to produce--but don't expect him to repeat last year's value. Alvarez probably will repeat, though: lots of homers, a horrible batting average, and roller coaster up and down weeks. Donaldson is a big-time regression candidate, but even the chance of a repeat is growing tantalizing here, given the talent that remains.

Tier 4: I Told You We Should Have Drafted Someone Already (Eighth to Tenth)

9. Pablo Sandoval

10. Manny Machado

11. Brett Lawrie

12. Kyle Seager

13. Aramis Ramirez

13.5 Jedd Gyorko

If Sandoval really is in shape in camp and playing well, he could be great value here, but he's just too inconsistent to rank higher. A lot of industry people are down on Machado--he might be one of those "so overrated he's underrated" types. Zig where others are zagging, because he could grow into his upside, even partially, and return a ton of value. It's make-or-break for Lawrie, but, like Machado, he could bust into another tier. Seager is steady and decent. Yes, it's boring, but it's a lot less risky than everyone else in this tier. Ramirez has faced recent injuries and is pretty old; many are assuming the Big Decline is coming. But he's kept hitting so far.... Gyorko is more interesting at second, but he can play third in Yahoo! style leagues.

Tier 5: It's Worth a Shot (Eleventh-Fifteenth)

14. Chris Johnson

15. Martin Prado

16. Chase Headley

17. Xander Bogaerts

18. Todd Frazier

18.5 Jurickson Profar

Johnson is a BABIP product, true...but his track record suggests that high BABIP's (albeit not quite as high as last year's) are something he can do. Expect him to be very overlooked on draft day, so if you're scared off by the risks in Tiers 3 and 4, wait for him. If you want dependability, Prado is the guy for you. He may go earlier, thanks to 2B eligibility, and if your league makes position flexibility extra useful, go ahead and bump him up a tier. Headley still has a lot to prove, but the very fact that his 2012 happened means he's got to be fantasy relevant. Bogaerts is well worth the flyer (especially if he can play SS in your league), but he's as unpredictable as any other prospect. Frazier was one of my favorite targets going into last year, but a lousy BABIP and disappointing power took some of the shine off. A BABIP rebound could make him a useful player if expectations stay in check. It seems too early to give up on Profar as an impact player.

Tier 6: How Do We Not Have a Third Baseman Already? (after the Fifteenth)

19. Will Middlebrooks

20. Matt Dominguez

21. Mike Moustakas

22. Nolan Arenado

23. Anthony Rendon

24. David Freese

25. Mark Reynolds

26. Matt Davidson

Middlebrooks was pretty horrid last year, and the Red Sox aren't exactly excited to keep him in the lineup. Never a good sign when a young player's team is already disenchanted. Dominguez has some power. I guess. Moustakas showed life for a brief moment last year. Maybe it'll just take a little longer for George Brett's teachings to take hold? Arenado plays for Colorado. That's enough for me. Rendon was a prospecty type before. Freese is a warm body in a good lineup, which could be good for some runs and RBI. Reynolds has a lot of power, but nothing else at this point. Milwaukee could be good for him. Davidson may win the 3B job with the White Sox and ZiPS projects him for 21 homers. Worth a shot, I suppose....

My strategy has been to target a player from the top tiers as often as possible. Especially in auctions, where I have more control over who ends up on my team, I've found them worth the extra dollars. What I really don't want is to spend high picks or dollars on Tier 3 question marks. I'd rather hope that a Tier 4 player drops far enough to be valuable, or just wait on a Tier 5 guy. Don't mess with Tier 6 if you can help it.

In an odd sense, third base actually might be more scarce in shallow leagues, relative to other positions. If you need a MI, then 2B and SS get a lot more scarce, but the CI position just means you roster another 1B. Without those positions, the bar gets set higher...high enough that a lot of third sackers can't meet it. 

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