First off, thanks Grey for this opportunity. Second, please be gentle, Razzballers…this is my first time.
I’ve now played in a 12 team yahoo mixed league where we start two at each infield position and five in the OF (LF,CF,RF,OF,OF) for over five years. In this type of league setting, it’s much harder to cobble together a strong team throughout the year. You don’t find the Alex Gordons of the world out in the FA pool. If they start for their team, they’re getting drafted and chances are if they’re rehabbing and will be back ‘later in the spring’ – I’m looking at YOU Kendry(s) Morales – their backup is drafted as well. The late rounds of these types of leagues are integral to having a good year which makes it vital to know what players are being virtually ignored by their ADP. Sleepers become a regular part of your starting lineup so you’ve got to dig deeper than the headlines to find those late round gems. Sometimes it’s a player that everyone assumes is washed up – read: Lance Berkman – or a player coming off an injury that everyone has forgotten like Asdrubal Cabrera. You can’t drop Mike Morse in April and expect to find him in May when he picks it up. You’ve got to look ahead and take those risks early or in the draft if you wanna survive. With that out of the way, lets start with a review of 3B.
Third base is an interesting position for 2012. It will have a new top 25 caliber SS added to it by the end of April in both yahoo and ESPN leagues in Hanley Ramirez and may have the top 1B in baseball in the fold by May if the defensive
blasphemy experiment goes well in Detroit for Miguel Cabrera. The first 10 of the Razzball top 20 third baseman are well priced and won’t make you want to pull your hair out. If/when Miggy and HanRam join, you might put it at 12 useful 3B for the year. From a depth perspective, this to me is the least worrisome IF position to fill that has the ability for a lot of great pairings in leagues that start two. If you’re drafting Jose Bautista or Evan Longoria, I’d willingly hold my breath all the way down to Edwin Encarnacion while I bulk up at thinner positions such as SS and 1B (yes, 1B is thin this year and yes I fully expect to get flack for that statement). That said, I don’t see myself drafting a top tier 3B because of the abundance of useful ones. Waiting until round 5 on for 3B allows you to bulk up at 1B, OF, 2B and SS. In redraft leagues, I’ll be targeting a combo of these third baseman: Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Youkilis, & Mark Reynolds. My preferred path is Sandoval with Reynolds, but won’t argue with Youk in replacement of Pablo in this scenario. Both should counter Reynolds BA drain while netting you 55~60 combined HRs. My only hesitance with Youk – along with A-Rod, Aramis, & Zimmerman – are their health history. In leagues where each team already owns two 3B, finding a 3rd one to clean up when those guys go down is tough. These players handcuff you into drafting Swiss army knives like Emilio Bonifacio or Mike Aviles, something I prefer not to do as these players are priced for their eligibility, not their skill set.
Michael Young – His overall 2011 line seems like a nice 3B to fall back on in the 6th round until you look a little closer. Despite slugging .474 and having 106 RBIs, he only had 11 HRs. He also had a career high BABIP in his age 34 season. Since he’s not Forever Young, that means he’s 35 this year. I’d rather take a chance that Prado comes close to that line in the 16th round before I draft Young.
David Freese - His upside is .300 20/80/80/5 over 150 or 160 games. Considering he’s more brittle than the paper the constitution was written on, I’d rather take Moustakas 5 rounds later while he pimps his ride for someone else.
I’ll go for:
Mike Moustakas – It’s like the person typing about David Freese knew exactly what was coming next! He has struggled at the beginning of every new level of his career and last year was no different. I’m willing to believe in his August thru September line for this year in the 19th round as my secondary 3B.
Brent Morel – Though his 2011 was all over the place, he seemed to find his power stroke in the second half belting 8 of his 10 HRs in Sept/Oct. He’s not going to hit much higher than .260, but could give you 20 HRs. Hey, in the 23rd round [insert fungus joke here].
3B Situation to monitor: Colorado
We’ve got Casey Blake at the hot corner for the Rockies this year. Seriously, should someone that’s 38 not named Kate Beckinsale be at anything called the hot corner? But I digress, Colorado has what they believe to be their 3B of the future in Nolan Arenado moving up to AA this year. Casey has already recognized and accepted his role of mentor for whenever Arenado arrives. Colorado does not shy away from bringing prospects straight up from AA – as Juan Nicasio from last year shows – so don’t be surprised to see Nolan with the ballclub in June. Draft and stash accordingly.