Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
With the World Series over, those of us who play fantasy baseball are already looking ahead to next year's draft. And the best way to get ready is by analyzing last year's results.
In the fourth part of a series, we will evaluate the third base position.
Overall, getting production from your third basemen is getting harder and harder as the quantity of "fantasy-worthy" third sackers continues to drop. In 2006, there were 10 third basemen who hit 25 or more home runs, seven who knocked in at least 100 runs and four who scored 100 runs. Through the next four seasons, the number of quality third basemen has sunk to the point where in 2010 there was not a single third basemen who scored 100 runs. There were only five players who knocked in 100 runs and six 25+ home run hitters.
The continued failure to produce quality third basemen around baseball will force the rise in ADP (Average Draft Position) of the few very good ones - namely, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Zimmerman.
Expect to pay a premium if you wish to have third base as a "worry-free" position in 2011.
In 2004, Adrian Beltre put together a magnificent "contract year" for the Dodgers, batting .334 with 48 home runs and 121 RBIs. He signed a lucrative contract with Seattle and proceeded to underachieve for five seasons. Well, 2010 was once again a contract year and Beltre did it again, putting together a fine season, easily the second best of his 13-year career. For those who drafted him in the 15th round (ADP 156) and hoped for the best, he was easily the "best bargain" at the position beating out Milwaukee's Casey McGehee and Cincinnati's Scott Rolen. Beware if you select Beltre early in your 2011 draft, his first season in Seattle was a disaster (batting average .255, 19 HR, 87 RBI).
While Beltre was the nicest surprise at the hot corner, David Wright was the best all-around fantasy player at the position in 2010. He rebounded from a "powerless" 2009 (10 HR, 72 RBI) to hit 29 homers and knock in 103 runs. Throw in 19 stolen bases and a respectable .283 batting average and Wright edges out Evan Longoria for the top spot.
At the other end of the spectrum was the underachieving Mark Reynolds who was coming off a 44 home run, 102 RBI, 24 stolen base season. Much was expected as he was selected near the end of the third round (ADP 36), but he came up short in almost every category. He scored 19 less runs, hit 12 less homers, knocked in 17 less runs, stole 17 less bases and his .198 batting average not to mention his 211 strikeouts had his fantasy owners cringing on every swing.
However, Reynolds was "edged" out by San Francisco third basemen Pablo Sandoval for the title of "Most Disappointing Third Baseman of 2010." Kung Fu Panda was drafted just ahead of Reynolds (ADP 28) after a solid 2009 season (25 HR, 90 RBI, .330 batting average) but slumped to 13 HR, 63 RBI with a .268 batting average which had fantasy owners cutting him from their rosters about halfway through the 2010 season.
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