Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the fifth of the off-season fantasy reviews our post-season analysis of the 2011 fantasy baseball season moves to the third base position.
Injuries took their toll at the position with perennial stars David Wright, Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez failing to dominate as in past seasons. Instead, "newcomer" Alex Gordon played like the top draft choice the Royals expected when they selected him second overall in 2005 (behind Justin Upton).
Alex Gordon, Kansas City - Gordon upped his game in 2011, with a nice balance of power and speed. The combination of .303 batting average, 101 runs, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 17 stolen bases and an OPS of 0.879 pushed him to the top of the list. These are not spectacular numbers, but in a "down season" they were enough to lead all third basemen. As a late-round selection (ADP 281), or free agent in many leagues, Gordon was easily the best bargain at the position.
Adrian Beltre, Texas - Beltre, who in the past has been known to only performed in "contract years," played like an All-Star all season long, even after signing a big contract with the Texas Rangers. He showed great power, hitting 32 homers in just 124 games. A lack of speed is his only downfall.
Michael Young, Texas - The multi-positional, multi-talented Young played more games at third base than at first or second which he was also eligible for in most leagues. He led the league in hits (213), batted .338 and while many others around him spent time on the disabled list, Young played 159 games. He's the ultimate team player for the Rangers and for fantasy lineups with holes in their infield.
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay - This was actually the worst production of Longoria's four seasons in the big leagues. He posted career lows in hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs - After an injury-filled 2009 and a poor 2010, Ramirez rebounded with a solid season. He batted .306 with 80 runs scored, 26 HR, 93 RBI and an OPS of 0.871. A better surrounding cast would help, but this is probably as much production as you can reasonably expect at age 33.
Mark Reynolds, Baltimore - If batting average or strikeouts count in your league, Reynolds likely doesn't even make the top-10, but he is a huge power guy. His 37 homers was his highest total since 2009 and the most by any third baseman this season. The characteristic that set him apart from other third baseman in the past, speed, has been missing from his game for two seasons. He stole just six bases this season.
Ryan Roberts, Arizona - For the first time since arriving in the majors, Roberts was offered the opportunity to play full-time and he rewarded management's decision with a solid season. The Diamondbacks's third baseman scored 86 runs, hit 19 homers, knocked in 65 and stole 18 bases. He also started enough at second base to be multi-positional.
Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco - Sandoval made huge improvements over his previous season and played like the guy who was a high fantasy draft choice in 2010. He batted .315 with 23 homers, 70 RBI, 55 runs scored and an OPS of 0.909 on a team that struggled to score runs. He'll have better run totals when the Giants offense improves.
David Wright, New York Yankees - Injuries held Wright to 102 games played, but he didn't play up the his standards even in those few game. He posted lows in batting average (.254), slugging percentage (.427) and OPS (0.771). Based on his solid batting history over eight years, I won't hold this season against him on Draft Day 2012.
Kevin Youkilis, Boston - Youkilis was another star third baseman felled by injuries. A career-low batting average (.258) and mediocre numbers across the board in a great hitting lineup led fantasy owners to regret selecting him in the third round. Like Wright, Youkilis could be undervalued next season by fantasy owners who look at statistics but don't evaluate the underlying factors that caused them.