Third Basemen

Middlebrooks Gets A Chance With Youkilis Hurt

Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis has visited the disabled list five times since the start of the 2009 season, including his current stint due to a back strain. He's 33 years old, has hit just .205/.307/.345 since last year's All-Star break, and has a $13MM club option in his contract for 2013, so you can't fault the team for starting to think about their long-term future at the hot corner. That future is top prospect Will Middlebrooks, who was called up to the show yesterday and made his big league debut against the Athletics last night.

Middlebrooks, 23, went 2-for-3 with an infield single, a double, and a walk in his first Major League game on Wednesday. He had a monster month of April in Triple-A, whacking nine homers to go with a .333/.380/.677 batting line in exactly 100 plate appearances. That comes on the heels of a .285/.328/.506 showing (23 HR) at mostly Double-A in 2011, the breakout season that propelling him from interesting guy to the 51st best prospect in the game according to Baseball America.

The biggest concern about Middlebrooks' game is his plate discipline, or lack thereof. He really didn't improve on it a great deal during his short time in Triple-A either. His career walk rate coming into the season was just 7.5% of all plate appearances, right in line with his seven walks in those 100 minor league plate appearances this year. His 18 strikeouts are a touch below expected given his 26.8% career strikeout rate coming into the season. It typically takes between 150-200 plate appearances for walk and strikeout rates to stabilize according to FanGraphs, so the tiny bit of info we do have about WMB's plate discipline isn't overly reliable at the moment. Given his homer surge, it's fair to wonder if opposing pitchers have been pitching him more carefully, though you'd think that would result in more walks.

Anyway, you'd expect most young players to struggle with walks and strikeouts when they're first called up, so Middlebrooks' discipline issues won't be out of the ordinary for a rookie. The one thing the right-handed hitter will give fantasy owners is big power numbers, though it should be noted that Baseball America says his home run power is "to the opposite field and are line drives that carry out of the park" in their subscriber-only scouting report. Opposite field power is good, but that wouldn't allow him to take advantage of Fenway Park's most prominant feature, the 37-foot wall in left field that turns routine fly balls into doubles with regularity. Baseball America also cautions that Middlebrooks might not top a .275 batting average given his strikeout issues, but I was thinking something like .250 for his age-23 season anyway. Modest expectations, really.

The biggest problem for fantasy owners and WMB alike is Youkilis, who presumably will not stay on the disabled list forever and eventually reassume his starting third base job when healthy. Middlebrooks might only be manning the hot corner in Boston for another two weeks or so before returning to Triple-A. Youkilis hasn't done much with the bat in quite some time, but I would be surprised if manager Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox pull the plug on him before a few hundred plate appearances this season. Middlebrooks' fantasy value is dependent on how the club plays him more than anything. There's 20+ homer power here if given regular playing time, which makes him a fantasy option along the lines of Mike Moustakas or maybe even declining Aramis Ramirez.  Middlebrooks is definitely a name to remember for the future, but he might not offer enough to be worth a roster spot in 20120

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Recent Call-Ups: Frazier, Pomeranz, Smyly, Wilk

Three teams have made a quartet of interesting call-ups in recent weeks, but are any of the players worthy of a spot on a fantasy roster? Let's dig in...

Todd Frazier | 3B | Reds

Frazier, 26, was Cincinnati's last roster cut before the start of the season and now he's back with the club following Miguel Cairo's hamstring injury. He's hit .261/.335/.453 in parts of four seasons at Triple-A but didn't get his first taste of the show until last year. Baseball America has considered Frazier as one of the team's ten best prospects for a half-decade now, ranking him ninth this year because of his "plus power to all fields."

The problem for Frazier and fantasy owners is playing time. He's a corner infielder and outfielder by trade, and the Reds have those spots covered with Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, and Jay Bruce. Even the unconventional left field platoon of Chris Heisey and Ryan Ludwick has no room for Frazier because like those two guys, he's a right-handed hitter. Rolen looks pretty much done - .171/.209/.244 so far - plus he isn't exactly Mr. Durable, but it will probably take an injury to get Frazier into the lineup with an regularity. Dan Szymborski's ZiPS system thinks he can hit 20 homers with 13 steals given regular at-bats in the show, but that's just not going to happen right now. Unless injury earns him a steady lineup spot, Frazier is a non-option in 12-team mixed leagues.

Drew Pomeranz | SP | Rockies

Part of last summer's Ubaldo Jimenez trade, the 23-year-old Pomeranz got his feet wet with the Rockies last September and allowed eleven runs in 18 1/3 innings across four starts. The southpaw made the team's rotation out of Spring Training, though he was sent to the minors for one start because off days allowed Colorado to avoid using their fifth starter. Pomeranz was recalled to make his first start of the season against the Diamondbacks on Sunday, allowing five runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Considered the 30th best prospect in the game before the season by Baseball America, Pomeranz has frontline stuff but must master his control to realize his potential. He walked 38 batters in 101 minor league innings last season (3.4 BB/9), but he also struck out 119 for a 10.6 K/9. Walks can be problematic when Coors Field is your home park, but the strikeouts do mitigate the risk somewhat. The NL West is also full of big-time pitcher's parks, which will help further. Pomeranz can be useful to your fantasy team if you pick and choose your spots. His next two starts are likely to come against the Brewers and Mets, but after that the Rockies run into a slate of games against the Dodgers, Braves, Padres, Dodgers (again), Giants, Diamondbacks (sans Chris Young and maybe Justin Upton), and then an interleague series with the Mariners. I'm buying Pomeranz right now, both for that short-term stretch and for the long-term upside in a keeper league.

Drew Smyly & Adam Wilk | SP | Tigers

The runners-up to Duane Below in the fifth starter's competition, both Smyly and Wilk are back in the big leagues and in Detroit's rotation. Doug Fister is on the shelf with an oblique strain and the team decided to keep Below in the bullpen after two early-season relief appearances. Smyly, 22, allowed one run in four innings to the Rays in his first start before shutting out the White Sox over six innings the second time out. The 24-year-old Wilk allowed two runs in five innings to those same ChiSox in his only start so far.

Neither Smyly or Wilk offers the same upside of Pomeranz, though Baseball America did rank Smyly as the Tigers' third best prospect before the season. Not only was Wilk much further down the list at 22, but he was also listed as a reliever. Below was 21st. Smyly is a bit of a personal fave as a true five-pitch - four-seamer, cutter, curveball, slider, changeup - left-hander with a strong but short minor league track record. He walked just 36 of the 501 batters he faced last season (7.2% and 2.6 BB/9) while striking out 130 in 126 innings (25.9% and 9.3 K/9). He also advanced three levels after being a 2010 draft pick. Smyly's next two starts are must-sits against the Rangers and Yankees, but after that the Tigers will go on to play the White Sox, Mariners, Athletics, White Sox (again), Twins, Pirates, Indians, and Twins (again). There is some definite fantasy value to be gained but matching up with Smyly over the next month.

Wilk will enjoy that same cushy schedule, but he has much less margin for error as a finesse southpaw - low-to-mid-80s fastball, curveball, change. His minor league walk rates are fantastic (1.2 BB/9 in 2011), but he doesn't miss many bats (just 6.7 K/9) and AL hitters will punish his mistakes. You might luck into a decent start or two next month, but Smyly is the better play both in terms of probability and upside. Fister suffered a bit of a setback in his rehab recently, so both Wilk and Smyly appear to have some short-term job security.

2012 Position Rankings: Third Base

Third base offers quite a bit of variety in fantasy, with some extreme power hitters, a few high average guys, and some all-around players that impact all five categories. The talent pool figures to get even deeper once Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and possibly even Mark Trumbo pick up hot corner eligibility at some point this season. As always, the rankings are based on standard 12-team mixed leagues with 5x5 scoring.

  1. Jose Bautista, TOR - Bautista showed that 2010 was no fluke last year, mashing 43 homers and lowering his fly ball rate (and thus raising his BABIP) enough to bring his average over .300. He might not hit .300+ long-term, but power is getting harder to come by and he's as much of a lock for 35+ dingers (and all the run production numbers that come along with them) as anyone.
  2. Evan Longoria, TBR - Despite missing almost the entire month of April, Longoria hit 31 homers and fell just shy of 100 RBI in 2011. His BABIP dropped to .239 after three straight years of .300+, though the only significant change in his batted ball profile was a slight increase in his infield fly ball rate. Expect his .244 batting average to rebound in 2012.
  3. Adrian Beltre, TEX - Beltre missed more than five weeks with a hamstring strain, but he was still a top four producer in batting average (.296), homers (32), RBI (105), and runs (82) among qualified third baseman. Given the lineup around him and his home ballpark., good health in 2012 could result in the best all-around season at the position.
  4. Pablo Sandoval, SF- Kung Fu Panda shook off his sophomore slump to produce his second .300+ average, 23+ homer season in the last three years, though a wrist problem cost him a shot at 30 long balls. It's an unfavorable park and a lineup without much help, but at 25 years old, Sandoval has a chance to produce some serious fantasy value over the next few years.
  5. David Wright, NYM - CitiField has not been kind to Wright, who has hit .284/.364/.463 in the three years at his new digs (.309/.389/.533 beforehand). Injuries have played a part as well, and it's worth noting that his road performance (.288/.352/.479) has suffered since the move as well. The walls moved this offseason, so hopefully he'll break some of the bad habits he's developed over the last three years.
  6. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS - Zimmerman is one of the most unheralded great players in the game, but injuries have held him back from true superstar status. He missed two months with an abdominal problem last year and has lost time to injury in three of the last four years. When right, there's .280/30/100/100+ potential here.
  7. Aramis Ramirez, MIL - There isn't much difference between Wrigley Field and Miller Park, but Aramis will benefit from having a better lineup (even without Prince Fielder and potentially Ryan Braun for 50 games) around him and not having to face Milwaukee's pitching. Another 25+ HR with close to 100+ RBI and a respectable average is in the cards.
  8. Kevin Youkilis, BOS - Injuries have robbed Youk of playing time in each of the last three seasons, which in turn has cut into his production. He didn't hit at all away from Fenway Park in 2011 (.191/.317/.349), but that's more likely to be a fluke than a sign of imminent danger. He's still capable of big numbers given his ballpark and teammates, but he has to stay on the field first.
  9. Alex Rodriguez, NYY - Once the best fantasy player in the world, A-Rod has spent time in the DL in each of the last four seasons. He missed the 30 HR, 100 RBI level for the first time since 1997 last year, but the power output has been declining steadily into his mid-30s. He's still an RBI machine and will hit for average, but his body has betrayed him lately. He could have a huge year given his unmatched talent, but it's very unlikely.
  10. Brett Lawrie, TOR - Few rookies made a bigger immediate impact that Lawrie last year (.293/9/25/26/7 in just 43 games), so he set a really high standard for himself in 2011. The talent is there for 20-20 with a near-.300 average over a full season's worth of playing time, but be careful not to overrate him based on that late-season cameo.
  11. Mark Reynolds, BAL - Only seven players have hit 30+ HR in each of the last three seasons, and Reynolds is one of them. He's not going to hit for average at all (.238 career), but he stays in the lineup (145+ games in each of the last four years) and draws enough walks to reach base and score runs at a respectable rate. The homers and run production are valuable by themselves, but his ability to flirt with double-digit steals in underrated.
  12. Michael Young, TEX - The first and almost certainly the only player to appear in our rankings at three different positions, Young is the same guy we've ranked two times before. He'll hit for an average that's anywhere from solid to steller with strong run production numbers given his lineup and ballpark, but don't expect much power or many steals.
  13. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR - Encarnacion is generally under-appreciated, but he's become a better all-around player over the last few seasons and now contributes solid production in each of the five categories. He's not a star, but he is entering his prime years and could get even better.
  14. Chase Headley, SD - Switch-hitters with power, patience, and above average defense at the hot corner are supposed to be stars, but Headley has been smothered by Petco Park: career .229/.319/.336 at home but .303/.364/.441 on the road. You'll get a solid average and double-digit steals (plus a healthy OBP if you're in that kind of league), but don't be surprised if he winds up with single-digit homers.
  15. Ryan Roberts, ARI - Tatman broke out with 19 HR and 18 steals last year, though his track record is very limited and his 24.3% line drive rate might not last. Roberts is in a good hitter's park with a strong lineup around him, and a full season of playing time might just turn into 20-20 with close to triple-digit RBI and runs scored given his walk rate. Lots of risk though.
  16. Emilio Bonifacio, FLA - Bonifacio is unlikely to repeat last season's .372 BABIP, but he's a classic slash-and-dash type that is expected to post higher than average BABIPs. Even if his average creeps away from .300, he'll still have value because he'll steal more bases that pretty much anyone else at the position.
  17. David Freese, STL - Destined to be overrated on draft day given his World Series heroics, Freese played in 100+ games for the first time since 2008 last year, and even then it was only 101 contests. He's missed time with hand, ankle, and foot problems in recent years, though he's produced whenever he's been on the field: .298/.354/.429 with 15 HR and 98 RBI in 667 big league plate appearances, a full season's worth.
  18. Chipper Jones, ATL - One of only 21 players in baseball history with a .300/.400/.500+ career batting line (min. 5,000 plate appearances), Chipper can still hit. His batting average has sunk into the .265-.275 range, but he hit 18 HR for the second time in three years in 2012. It's all about health. If he stays on the field, he'll provide some value.
  19. Daniel Murphy, NYM - If you could build a hitter for CitiField, Murphy is probably what you'd end up with. He hits a plethora of line drives and ground balls, which are conducive to a high BABIP (and by extension, batting average). Don't expect many homers or stolen bases, but he could surprise in the run production categories.
  20. Martin Prado, ATL - Prado excels at putting the ball in play (just 8.8% strikeouts in 2011), but he doesn't have a ton of power (28 HR in over 1,200 plate appearances over the last two years) and his value to closely tied to his BABIP. His line drive rate fell off a cliff last year, so expect a slight rebound in batting average in 2012.
  21. Danny Valencia, MIN - The stellar debut season was followed by a brutal sophomore campaign, but there are reasons to expect his BABIP (and batting average) to rebound given his batted ball profile. I doubt Valencia will repeat the .311 mark he put up in 2010, but he's better than a .246 hitter. Fifteen bombs from any position is valuable as well.
  22. Ian Stewart, CHC - Last season was just brutal for Stewart, who hit .156/.243/.221 in 48 games with the Rockies while missing time with knee and wrist problems. He's still only 26 though, with big left-handed power and a move into a ballpark that favors such hitters. There's bounce back potential here (meaning .250 average and 20 or so homers), and even a smidgen of breakout potential.
  23. Pedro Alvarez, PIT - Strikeouts, left-handers, and conditioning continue to be an issue for the former second overall pick, who missed close to two months with a quad strain last year. Alvarez has huge raw power, but he doesn't figure to hit for much average and he won't steal any bases. The power and run production potential is considerable though. I think he's underrated at the moment.
  24. Mike Moustakas, KC - Moose's debut was underwhelming last year (.263/5/30/26/2 in 365 plate appearances), and the Royals did look for a platoon partner this winter to make life easier for him. There's legitimate 30 HR power here, but I wouldn't expect him to tap into it right away. Moustakas is an intriguing player, but the ride figures to be bumpy at first.
  25. Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE - Chisenhall showed some power during his debut last season, though most of it was into the gaps rather than over the fence. The lefty swinger has shown a platoon split throughout his career, but luckily for him he's on the dominant side and his home ballpark is friendlier to his kind.

Honorable Mention: Wilson Betemit, BAL; Mat Gamel, MIL; Casey McGehee, PIT; Alberto Callaspo, LAA; Scott Sizemore, OAK; Jimmy Paredes, HOU

Other Positions: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Shortstop

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Third Baseman Rankings

It's time to dissect the hot corner, as we've already ranked catchers, first basemen, second basemen, and shortstops.  Average draft position from Mock Draft Central is in parentheses.

  1. Evan Longoria (1) - $24.69
  2. David Wright (1) - $24.46
  3. Alex Rodriguez (2) - $21.56
  4. Ryan Zimmerman (2) - $19.43
  5. Jose Bautista (5) - $17.06
  6. Mark Reynolds (11) - $14.64
  7. Pedro Alvarez (8) - $13.44
  8. Adrian Beltre (5) - $11.07
  9. Pablo Sandoval (13) - $8.91
  10. Aramis Ramirez (9) - $8.72
  11. Casey McGehee (10) - $7.48
  12. Martin Prado (7) - $7.32
  13. Edwin Encarnacion (40) - $6.83
  14. David Freese (41) - $5.14
  15. Ian Stewart (10) - $3.14
  16. Chase Headley (37) - $2.99
  17. Omar Infante (27) - $2.90
  18. Chris Johnson (36) - $2.66
  19. Miguel Tejada (24) - $2.14
  20. Juan Uribe (28) - $0.50

Scott Rolen falls off this list with a 485 AB projection, but if you can plug in someone decent on his off days Rolen performs at more of a $7 pace.  It's a similar story for Michael Young, who I can't give more than 450 ABs to right now until his situation clears up.  Likewise, Chipper Jones is very much worth owning during times that he is playing regularly.  Others to watch who did not make the top 20: Danny Valencia, Brent Morel, and Wilson Betemit.  As for Kevin Youkilis, once he qualifies at third base he'll rank fourth on this list at $20.22.

I've given A-Rod 540 ABs, and if you agree he's something of a bargain at 17th overall.  But Zimmerman a few picks later is on the upside of his career and is right there in value with A-Rod.

Bautista is this year's Reynolds, minus the 24 bags Reynolds swiped in '09.  Fantasy owners are showing extra caution by taking him in the fifth.  I like Bautista for 35+ home runs this year, and if he hits .280 instead of .260 you can add three bucks to his value.  Reynolds himself will seriously hurt your average at .230 or so, but he too should reach 35 homers along with ten steals if he gets to 550 ABs with Baltimore.  Meanwhile Beltre in the fifth round won't be good value if he drops back to .289-23-89-78-5 or so.  Maybe I'm not giving him enough credit for playing in Texas.

Alvarez seems in line for 30 homers and 100 RBIs, but fantasy owners are anticipating that by taking him in the eighth round following his solid rookie campaign.  I like him, but he's not coming at a discount.  I'm not worried about his reported offseason weight gain.

Speaking of weight changes, Sandoval reportedly worked off about 30 pounds.  I expect a return to form, but with a short leash given Mark DeRosa's presence.

Encarnacion and Freese are probably the last two draftable third basemen.  Their $5-7 projections are predicated on 550+ ABs, a level neither has reached in the bigs.  But if they get there I can see EE approach 30 home runs and Freese flirt with 20.  I'm not sure why Stewart is going in the tenth round.  I've got him at $4.72 ABs which would only be worth a few bucks.  If he gets 600 he's up to $13, but you've got Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez in the mix if he falters.    

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Third Baseman Rankings

Next up, our third baseman rankings for 12-team mixed 5x5 leagues using 14 hitters (including one 3B and a CI) and 9 pitchers.  I moved the games played requirement from 20 to 10 to gel with Yahoo leagues.  Average draft round is in parentheses.

  1. Alex Rodriguez (1) - $27.55
  2. David Wright (2) - $22.74
  3. Evan Longoria (1) - $20.11
  4. Mark Reynolds (2) - $18.19
  5. Ryan Zimmerman (3) - $16.19
  6. Kevin Youkilis (3) - $14.80
  7. Pablo Sandoval (4) - $14.38
  8. Chone Figgins (7) - $12.72
  9. Aramis Ramirez (6) - $11.81
  10. Gordon Beckham (8) - $10.42
  11. Ian Stewart (11) - $8.10
  12. Michael Young (8) - $7.19
  13. Adrian Beltre (16) - $5.52
  14. Jorge Cantu (15) - $4.49
  15. Martin Prado (20) - $4.35
  16. Alex Gordon (19) - $4.21 
  17. Mark DeRosa (21) - $3.78
  18. Chipper Jones (12) - $3.32
  19. Garrett Atkins (24) - $2.79
  20. Kevin Kouzmanoff (28) - $2.28
  21. Jake Fox (28) - $2.22
  22. Chase Headley (21) - $0.11
  23. Edwin Encarnacion (27) - $0.03
  24. Jhonny Peralta (18) - $0.03

Aramis has a 525 AB projection; 575 would boost him above Youkilis.  Beckham is a solid upside pick with position flexibility, as he'll play second base for the Sox.  Stewart is projected at 520 ABs and would move up a few spots with more.

Beltre, Gordon, and Fox are some later picks that could be mild sleepers.  Chipper in the 12th round, not a fan.

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Edwin Encarnacion A Second Half Sleeper?

A reader emailed asking whether Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion is primed for a big second half.  He's owned in only 51.4% of ESPN leagues, though he was a tenth-round pick coming into the season.

Encarnacion recently came off a chip fracture in his wrist, an injury that is known to linger.  The Reds might not have much confidence; they were linked to Scott Rolen earlier this month.  But hey, that's why you're getting him on the cheap.  Tiny samples, but Encarnacion's five extra-base hits in 34 July plate appearances plus two HRs in his rehab stint might be positive signs.

EE is still only 26, and he's shown that when he's right he can bang out 5-7 homers in a given month.  I'd snag him and see how the rest of July goes.  Along similar lines, it's time to grab Alex Gordon if he was cut following news of hip surgery.  He'll return this week.

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Third Base Rankings

Time to post up the third baseman rankings.  These dollar values apply to 5x5 mixed leagues with the standard categories and roster size.  I used 20 games for eligibility.

Those who had between 10-19 games played at 3B in 2008: Miguel Cabrera ($27.84), Russell Martin ($8.71), Felipe Lopez ($3.75), and Pablo Sandoval ($0.49).  On to the rankings, draft round in parentheses:

  1. Alex Rodriguez - $35.14 (1)
  2. David Wright - $34.78 (1)
  3. Chris Davis - $18.22 (6)
  4. Aramis Ramirez - $17.45 (3)
  5. Evan Longoria - $16.78 (2)
  6. Garrett Atkins - $14.21 (7)
  7. Chipper Jones - $12.99 (5)
  8. Kevin Youkilis - $12.92 (4)
  9. Mark Reynolds - $11.27 (25)
  10. Adrian Beltre - $11.16 (18)
  11. Chone Figgins - $8.80 (7)
  12. Ryan Zimmerman - $8.52 (9)
  13. Aubrey Huff - $8.47 (8)
  14. Edwin Encarnacion - $8.20 (10)
  15. Alex Gordon - $7.67 (14)
  16. Carlos Guillen - $6.40 (21)
  17. Kevin Kouzmanoff - $6.17 (27)
  18. Mark DeRosa - $5.10 (16)
  19. Jorge Cantu - $3.83 (13)
  20. Ty Wigginton - $3.25 (18)
  21. Troy Glaus - $2.24 (25)
  22. Casey Blake - $1.46 (24)
  23. Hank Blalock - $0.88 (18)
  24. Melvin Mora - $0.36 (19)

Just missed the cut: Mike Lowell, Ian Stewart.

Clearly Longoria, Jones, Youkilis, Huff, and Cantu are being drafted based on their strong 2008 seasons.  Do you see any of these five regressing?

I like Davis, but the sixth round is usually not the place for a sleeper.  Atkins, Reynolds, and Beltre provide solid veteran value, though Atkins carries trade risk.  The late-round upside plays: Encarnacion (26 years old) and Gordon (25 years old).  Davis, Longoria, and Zimmerman are also capable of monster fantasy years but at those draft positions you're almost counting on it.

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Evan Longoria Arrives

Top third base prospect Evan Longoria is up in the bigs, and probably to stay.  So much for the Rays' cost-saving plan.   Other third base prospects like Andy LaRoche, Chase Headley, and Neil Walker may spend time in the Majors this year, but Longoria is easily the best of the four.

Longoria is as close to a sure thing as a prospect gets (although we said that about Alex Gordon a year ago probably).  The 22 year-old Longoria started slow in Durham, for what it's worth. He hit .262/.407/.595 with three homers and two steals in 42 spring ABs.

Assuming all third basemen will receive 500 additional ABs this year (for the sake of comparison), I have Longoria ranked 11th (after Ryan Zimmerman and before Mark Reynolds).  For the 500 ABs I have Longoria at .270-23-81-83-4. 

Though I have Longoria technically outranking Reynolds, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Alex Gordon, and Adrian Beltre, I wouldn't drop/trade any of them to accomodate him. These four are all off to decent-to-great starts and have a big league track record.  And some of them can steal bases.  I am on the fence with Edwin Encarnacion - I like him more than Longoria this year, but I'm not sure if Dusty will let him play through his slump.  Hank Blalock is another borderline call; I'd probably stick with him.

Here are some third basemen I would drop/trade to accomodate Longoria: Josh Fields, Troy GlausTy Wigginton, Mike Lowell, Scott Rolen, Casey Blake, and Melvin Mora.  You probably didn't need me to tell you most of those.  Aubrey Huff and Joe Crede give me pause, but...yes, I'd cut them for Longoria.  An arguable suggestion given their strong starts, but hey, that's my opinion. 

I'd also move the following first baseman to use Longoria in my CI slot: Joey Votto, Jason Giambi, Adam LaRoche, Kevin Youkilis, Casey Kotchman, and Richie Sexson.

2008 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Third Basemen

Sleepers, undervalued, profitable players, call 'em what you will.  In general, some guys who may not be getting enough respect in your mixed league.

  • We recently talked about Alex Gordon, who could certainly have fifth-round value this year.
  • Edwin Encarnacion looks like a slight bargain as a 15th round pick.  .290-25-90-85-10 wouldn't be out of the question.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff in the 21st round is solid.  He could match EE's upside projection, minus the steals.  The Padres kind of need him to.
  • Josh Fields isn't necessarily chopped liver because he's starting the season in Triple A.  It's a long season, a lot can happen.  He could still get 500 ABs and hit 25 homers with 10 swipes.  Same goes for Evan Longoria, minus the swipes.  But when you see everyone going nuts over Longoria remember that guys like Fields, Mark Reynolds, and Kouz can probably match him this year.
  • Hank Blalock has plenty of upside in the 20th round. 
  • Some feel Ty Wigginton could pop 30 homers (I don't).
  • I like Chase Headley as a deep sleeper.

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