Third base is a position that has been ravaged by injuries thus far in 2012. Of the preseason Top 12, three are currently on the DL, another has spent time on the DL and Adrian Beltre narrowly avoided a trip. Needless to say, the position has been frustrating, so let’s take a look at how we currently rank the Top 20 Third Baseman in the league (these will be our baseline rankings as we keep them updated):
- Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
- Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
- Hanley Ramirez – Miami Marlins
- Adrian Beltre – Texas Rangers
- David Wright – New York Mets
- Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
- Michael Young – Texas Rangers
- Brett Lawrie – Toronto Blue Jays
- Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees
- Aramis Ramirez – Milwaukee Brewers
- Edwin Encarnacion – Toronto Blue Jays
- Mike Moustakas – Kansas City Royals
- David Freese – St. Louis Cardinals
- Emilio Bonifacio – Miami Marlins
- Mark Trumbo – Los Angeles Angels
- Chipper Jones – Atlanta Braves
- Martin Prado – Atlanta Braves
- Pedro Alvarez – Pittsburgh Pirates
- Mark Reynolds – Baltimore Orioles
- Chase Headley – San Diego Padres
Currently on the DL – Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Youkilis, Evan Longoria
Out for the Season – Mat Gamel
- David Wright has gotten off to a tremendous start, though don’t read that as an indication that he is back to being among the top two or three options at third base. Unless he starts putting the ball in the air more (27.1% fly ball rate), he’s not going to hit for much power. He also has posted a BABIP of .427, which tells you that his average is likely to come tumbling down sooner or later. Yes, he has done a much better job of putting the ball in play (13.9% strikeout rate), which will help the average. I would just proceed cautiously.
- We all know the type of potential Brett Lawrie has, but right now he is simply burying the ball into the ground way too much (58.6% groundball rate). That makes it nearly impossible for him to hit for significant power. Until he gets there (and his 9 HR in 150 AB in ’11 shows its possible), we have to keep him suppressed a bit in the rankings. That said, the upside obviously keeps him as a good option in all formats.
- Right now Alex Rodriguez is healthy, which is always the biggest question hanging over him. That said, seeing him with just a 26.7% fly ball rate is a bit of a concern. His career worst is 37.2% (in 2011), and you would think that he would improve upon his early season number. It does need to be monitored closely, however. If it doesn’t improve, his upside is going to plummet and his potential value will go with it.
- Edwin Encarnacion is a risk, as his production has slowed of late. There are also some underlying numbers that are eye-opening. While his BABIP is down (.239), he’s also swinging for the fences (54.9% fly ball rate) and not hitting the ball with any real authority (9.8% line drive rate). You would think that the latter number is going to improve, but if he keeps posting an elevated fly ball rate the average may not rebound. His upside may not resemble his current numbers, so proceed with caution.
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