Top 15 Third Basemen For 2011: An Extremely Early Second Look

Third base is a shallow position and gets even shallower with players like Kevin Youkilis losing eligibility.  That’s not to say that some new options haven’t emerged.  Let’s take a look at how things currently look (remember, these remain extremely early rankings and will likely significantly change as the season progresses):

  1. Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees
  3. Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
  4. David Wright – New York Mets
  5. Adrian Beltre – Boston Red Sox
  6. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays
  7. Mark Reynolds – Arizona Diamondbacks
  8. Michael Young – Texas Rangers
  9. Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants
  10. Pedro Alvarez – Pittsburgh Pirates
  11. Aramis Ramirez – Chicago Cubs
  12. Casey McGehee – Milwaukee Brewers
  13. Ian Stewart – Colorado Rockies
  14. Scott Rolen – Cincinnati Reds
  15. Placido Polanco – Philadelphia Phillies


  • For those who want to believe that David Wright has “rediscovered” himself, the numbers are a bit deceiving.  Yes, he’s hitting .292 with 17 HR, 77 RBI and 17 SB.  Yes, he’s likely to go 20/20 this season, but he is one of the streakiest players in the league.  The highs and the lows are maddening, especially for those in head-to-head formats.  Maybe another hot streak pushes him back past Ryan Zimmerman, but right now I just can’t do it.
  • Beltre was a low-end option entering the season but may have found the perfect spot to call home.  Now, if he stays there or not is certainly going to help determine his ultimate value.  For now, hitting .328 with 22 HR, 80 RBI and 62 R may make him the best 3B this season and a great option for 2011.  If he leaves Boston, he’s a lock to fall.  In fact, once projections are done, he very well could fall regardless.
  • I’ve discussed Sandoval in detail already (click here to view), so I’m not going to go into too much detail here.  The fact is, if he isn’t able to get back to the power he showed in 2009, his value falls significantly.
  • The more home runs Jose Bautista hits, the more value he gains for 2011.  It’s easy to say that he won’t repeat these numbers and, the truth is, you are probably right.  The fly ball rate is significantly higher then his career mark (52.7% vs. 44.8%).  His HR/FB is among the elite in the league (21.4%).  Still, with a BABIP of .241, even if the power decreases you would have to think the average will increase.  At a weak position, he has a ton of value.
  • Alvarez is hitting .279 with 7 HR and 24 RBI in 29 games since the All-Star game.  It’s just a taste, but certainly gives us an idea of just how good he can be.  He has the potential to move even further up these rankings over the final few weeks, but as it is he should be considered a starter in all formats.
  • Among the players likely to lose eligibility, therefore are excluded from this list are Kevin Youkilis, Martin Prado, Gordon Beckham and Chone Figgins

What are your thoughts on these rankings?  Who is being overvalued?  Who is being undervalued?

Make sure to check out our other extremely early 2011 rankings:

Make sure to check out our other extremely early 2011 rankings:


  1. yummy says:

    No mention of the Johnson kid in Houston? Has been very solid since being called up.
    Avg .357 HR 6 RBI 35 Runs 25 SB 2

  2. Jim says:

    I’d like to see you defend your choice of Longoria at the top of the list. You mention David Wright’s streakiness. Take a look at Longoria’s season. He put up monster numbers over the first 6 or 7 weeks of the season but has been a below average player since then. He’s headed for a 20/20 season, too, having done most of his damage in those two categories during April and May. Longoria’s June, July and August have been awful and owners have suffered for it.

    No one seems to be talking about this. Longoria’s season has been a major disappointment, in my opinion.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Jim, that’s a very fair point. I think a big part has to do with Wright’s struggles from lack season, as well as the lack of true #1 talent at this point at 3B. You can make an argument for and against any of the Top 4 options as the #1 guy.

    It’s a gut pick at this point, but a lot will certainly change when all is said and done.

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    As for Johnson, a lot of his early success is luck based…at the end of the season, if he keeps producing he’ll definitely be in the discussion.

  5. Michael Keneski says:

    my take on wright-longoria is that even still has room to get beter whereas Wright has pretty much peaked and we know what he is.

  6. Jim says:

    Longoria certainly has a lot of upside left but I’ve owned him in a keeper league for 3 years now and it’s been a brutal experience. He has a couple of great months, which boost his overall numbers, but his slumps are just as long and painful as Wright’s. He’s still extremely young, but I worry about these prolonged slumps and how they might portend for his future.

  7. Jon Williams says:

    I think Ryan Zimmerman has earned the spot at the top of third base rankings. When the players below him on the list are at their best they are probably better.However, there is tremendous value in consistent reliability.

  8. carlito says:

    i agree with jon…. zimmerman is the top fantasy 3rd basemen imo

  9. carlito says:

    also i think bautista will be the next ensberg or beltre… major drop off next year after huge season.

  10. longoria is young, but the potential is there. plus you have to love their aggressiveness. if you factor in defense, i’m with you that zimm should be #1, but in fantasy you don’t factor in defense. zimm is good, but he doesn’t have the potential to lead the league in HRs like longoria does. I’d say in a keeper league long is #1. in a standard league, roll out a-rod one more year.

  11. Jim says:

    Zimmerman struggled with injuries earlier in his career, but he’s topped 600 ABs 3 times in 4 years and he’s been healthy this year, too. He’s got a better eye than Longoria and he’s show a lot more power this year, too. Longoria’s only edge over him this year is with the SBs, but that’s a fluke. I think Zim belongs at the top of the list, which kills me since I refused to pull the trigger on a Zim/Josh Hamilton offer for Longoria and Ethier a few weeks ago.

  12. GT says:

    McGehee is one of the most underrated players in baseball. Seems unlikely that Alvarez (or Aramis sheesh!) can outproduce him the rest of the way and into next season. You can say his value is tied to batting after Braun/Fielder, but both have had subpar seasons while Casey has been Captain Clutch for the Brewers.

    in late August…

    all in line with his career numbers. Expect more of the same consistent above average production in 2011.

  13. GT says:

    …also if 2010 WAR is any indication –
    Zim – 6.0
    Beltre – 5.6
    Longoria – 5.2

    Headley – 3.7
    Reynolds – 2.6
    Young – 2.5
    Stewart – 1.8
    Sandoval – 1.2
    Ramirez – (-)0.1

  14. Turk99 says:

    Any thoughts on Danny Valencia? His numbers confound me and i’m not sure what to expect for next year.

  15. Rotoprofessor says:

    Turk, I’ll cover Valencia in an article either over the weekend or early next week. He’s worth giving a more indepth look at to see if he has potential value moving forward.

  16. Blue says:

    Think format matters. If you are in roto and want upside longo is a good choice. But if youwant consistancy and power and don’t care about steals, then Zimmerman is your guy, especially in head to head. Longo is always hyped since he is young but Zimmerman is only 26 and entering his prime.

  17. blue says:

    sorry, zimmerman is actually 25, 1 year older than evan longoria.

  18. Eric says:

    apologies for a post on your earlier ranking, regarding jose bautista. this ranking is much more suitable.

    that being said, certain things need to be considered. wright and beltre are certainly not performing at a higher level than bautista this year. ill take zimmerman, a-rod, and longoria no problem (not without debate, though) over my man.

    please keep an eye on him, i want to see him climb your rankings. he is a dream player.

    PS hes amazing in the outfield too – who else on this list can say that?

  19. Matt Perkins says:

    I honestly don’t see why people love Bautista so much after a break out season. There are no signs he can or will repeat next year. It’s not like he’s just turned 27 and had the break out year. Last I checked he was never a stud prospect and his numbers coming into this year were nothing short of abysmal. If anything we should take a page from guys who have one huge season then fall back to earth the next year. Didn’t people learn from drafting Greinke based on 2009 numbers rather than his career average?

    A rule of thumb when it comes to fantasy baseball. NEVER DRAFT OR RANK A PLAYER BASED SOLELY ON WHAT HE DID DURING HIS CAREER YEAR.

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