The hot corner was once the place of royalty in Major League Baseball. Some of the greatest players to ever play to game manned third basemen, including the great Mike Schmidt, Eddie Matthews, George Brett, and Brooks Robinson.
Furthermore, it was not long ago that third basemen provided fantasy owners with depth comparable to that of first base. The two corner infield positions were a deep and reliable source of homeruns and RBI, and often times runs and average as well.
While there are still some high-end talents to be had at third base, over the years the number of quality options has thinned out like Bruce Willis’s hair.
Grabbing an elite third basemen is now a much wiser move than it was when third base was amongst the deepest positions in fantasy baseball.
In turn, waiting too long and getting stuck with a low-end third basemen could be quite costly.
Let’s take a look at the 2010 rankings for third base. Projections for 2010 have been included for each player.
1. Alex Rodriguez (2010 Projections: .302 AVG, 115 R, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 18 SB)
A-Rod is healthy and ready to have a monster 2010. He finished 2009 off strong, proving that the struggles he had after returning in May from a hip injury were nothing more than rust. A-Rod should not slide past the third or fourth pick in any draft.
2. Evan Longoria (.285, 105 R, 37 HR, 118 RBI, 10 SB)
Longoria has passed A-Rod in value in keeper and dynasty leagues, but not yet in yearly leagues. Longoria’s huge 2009 season proved that his rookie season, 2008, was no fluke. The kid is the real deal, and at only 24 will continue to get better in the coming years.
3. David Wright (.308, 90 R, 15 HR, 82 RBI, 25 SB)
Wright’s power outage in 2009 was a big disappointment. Unfortunately, I don’t think a return to previous power numbers is in the cards. The Mets’ new stadium, Citi Field, is an extreme pitcher’s park. What’s worse, Wright’s power numbers on the road were just as poor. However, Wright still does enough in the other categories to be considered the third best option at third base.
4. Mark Reynolds (.260, 90 R, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 18 SB)
Yes, Reynolds strikes out way too much, and that will prevent him from ever posting an average that will truly help your fantasy squad. However, his speed/combo power is rare, making him a very nice four category player. Obviously avoid him if your league counts strikeouts. He ranks below Wright just in case David start hitting lots of homeruns again.
5. Ryan Zimmerman (.285, 112 R, 30 HR, 106 RBI, 2 SB)
After a disappointing 2008, Zimmerman bounced back in a huge way in 2009. He posted his career best in nearly every offensive category, and proved to be the star in the making everyone thought he would be back in 2007. At only 25, and with an improving Nats offense, there is no reason why Zim can’t repeat his 2009 season.
6. Kevin Youkilis (.310, 95 R, 25 HR, 95 RBI, 5 SB)
Hitting in the heart of the Red Sox order will guarantee Youk plenty of opportunities to drive-in and score runs. He’s another one who also qualifies at first base, but he has more value here at third, since first is much deeper than third. Nothing flashy, but indeed dependable.
7. Pablo Sandoval (.310, 83 R, 28 HR, 90 RBI, 2 SB)
Kung-Fu Panda seems to be everyone’s new favorite player. His 2009 season was a huge breakout, but it is asking too much for him to take another huge step in 2010. Look for his 2010 numbers to be similar to his 2009 numbers, but with a dip in his batting average. Sandoval also qualifies at first base.
8. Aramis Ramirez (.302, 80 R, 26 HR, 105 RBI, 1 SB)
Ramirez spent about half of 2009 on the shelf, but put up great numbers when he was on the field. Ramirez always misses some time, but as long as he stays healthy enough to approach 500 at-bats he will be productive enough to be an asset to any fantasy team. Of course the possibility of another major injury lingers. He ranks below Sandoval because of the injury risk.
9. Chone Figgins (.295, 105 R, 3 HR, 60 RBI, 42 SB)
Figgins put up great numbers in 2009 while batting at the top of the powerful Angels order. It seems that the move to Seattle will negatively impact his totals in 2010. However, the Mariners line-up is going to be much improved in 2010, and Figgins will see little drop off assuming he is batting in the two hole directly behind Ichiro.
10. Michael Young (.312, 87 R, 18 HR, 76 RBI, 10 SB)
Young saw a nice increase in the power department in 2009. Batting in what will be a strong Rangers line-up should help him at least maintain his 2009 totals in 2010. Young has always posted excellent batting averages, something there is no reason to think will change this season.
Also check out our fantasy baseball rankings 11-20, third base.