Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The hot corner ended up being a position of power for fantasy owners in 2012, but it didn't start that way.
Three of our top six fantasy third basemen had below average starts to the season before turning it on in the second half. And our top guy didn't even have eligibility at the position going into the season.
Injuries or subpar performance kept players such as Evan Longoria, Alex Rodriguez, Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Youkilis, Chipper Jones, Will Middlebrooks and Brett Lawrie off the list entirely.
And Trevor Plouffe, Todd Frazier and Chris Johnson each had torrid stretches but couldn't maintain top-10 production for the entire season.
These players did:
1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers - The obvious choice for No. 1, considering he won the first Triple Crown since 1967 and outpaced all other full-time third basemen by eight homers, 24 RBIs, 14 runs scored and 78 points in OPS. Cabrera finished with 44 homers, 139 RBIs, 109 runs and a .330/.393/.606 slash.
2. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers - Beltre hit .317 or higher in five of the six months this season. After slumping in July and homering just once in the first 20 games of August, Beltre hit .377 with 17 homers, 34 RBIs, 28 runs scored and a 1.232 OPS in the final 38 games. Overall, the Rangers third baseman batted .321 with 36 round-trippers, 102 RBIs, 95 runs scored and a .921 OPS, wrapping up a three-season stretch in which he hit .314/.353/.558 with an average of 32 homers, 103 RBIs, 87 runs scored per season.
3. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers - Ramirez initially looked like a poor choice to replace Prince Fielder as Ryan Braun's protection but he soon proved to be more the capable of watching the 2011 NL MVP's back. After hitting .151 with one homer in the first 14 games of the season, Ramirez hit .315 with 48 doubles, 26 taters, 99 RBIs, 84 runs and a .945 OPS in the last 135 games. He finished with a .300 average, 50 doubles, 27 long balls, 105 RBIs, 92 runs and a .901 OPS, he ninth season in 10 years with at least 25 homers.
4. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres - As late as July 13, Headley was a long shot to make this list. He was hitting .266 with eight homers, 42 RBIs, 39 runs and a .777 OPS; not terrible, but not great either. Then, Headley transformed into a superstar as quickly and unexpectedly as Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk, hitting .309 with 23 homers, 73 RBIs and a .984 OPS in his final 74 games (Headley's career high in homers for a season prior to 2012 was 12). Headley ended up leading the National League in RBIs with 115.
5. David Wright, New York Mets - Wright's season traveled in the opposite direction of Headley's. In fairness, he couldn't have gone much higher after hitting .353 with 14 homers, 65 RBIs and a 1.029 OPS in the first 88 games of the season. At the time, Wright's BABIP was an incredibly fortunate .387, but that slipped to a moderate .292 as Wright hit .247 with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and a .694 OPS in the final 68 games. Wright still improved significantly from 2011 but his final line of .306, 21 homers, 93 RBIs, 91 runs, 15 steals and an .883 OPS has to be considered a bit of a disappointment considering the peaks he reached in July.
6. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals - Fantasy owners who stuck with Zimmerman after his rough start to the season -- he hit .218 with three homers and a .590 OPS in the first 55 games -- were rewarded with an elite .321 average, 22 homers, 73 RBIs and a .967 OPS in the final 90 games.
7. Hanley Ramirez, Miami Marlins/Los Angeles Dodgers - We're still scratching our heads as to why Ramirez has become a .250 hitter during what is supposed to be his prime. A trade to Los Angeles improve his average slightly but his 2012 season was still significantly below the standards he set from 2006-10. Still, when judged as a single season without considering past performance or potential, Ramirez' .257 average, 24 homers, 92 RBIs, 79 runs scored and 21 steals don't look so bad.
8. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals - For some, Freese's 2012 season might be disappointing following his Ruthian 2011 postseason effort. But there's value in consistency. Freese hit .294 with an .829 OPS in the first half and .293 with an .850 OPS in the second, finishing with 20 homers, 79 RBIs, 70 runs and a .293/.372/.467 slash.
9. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates - Remember what I said about there being value in consistency? Yeah, Alvarez had none of that. The Pirates third baseman put together a 2-for-30 streak in April, a 5-for-47 streak in mid-May, a 4- for-41 streak from May 29 to June 15, a 5-for-32 stretch in August and a 9- for-58 streak in September. In between those maddening slumps he managed to hit .244 with 30 homers, 85 RBIs and a .784 OPS.
10. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners - Seager was probably on your fantasy team at some point this season. He had eligibility at three infield positions and finished eighth among third basemen with 86 RBIs. His 20 homers also tied for 10th at the position and he added 13 steals. Unfortunately, there's a reason Seager was often available on the free agent wire -- he hit .259 with a .738 OPS. Owners could only stand the music of the Silver Bullet Band for so long before they had to turn the dial.