Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The surprise winner as the best fantasy third baseman in 2009 is Arizona Diamondbacks' Mark Reynolds.
Coming into Draft Day last March, Reynolds was best known for striking out a lot - good if you are a starting pitcher, not so good if you are a hitter. The 26-year-old struck out 204 times in 2008, but when he hit the ball it went a long way - 28 home runs.
Because he was viewed as a one-dimensional player, Reynolds' 2009 ADP (Average Draft Position) was near 200, meaning he was a 17th-round selection or later in most drafts. Those who drafted him there, and those who picked him up early on as a free agent, got a lot more value than they could have ever expected.
Though he still swung and missed a lot in 2009 (223 K's), he also connected a lot more. Reynolds batted .260 (up from .239 in 2008) and blasted 44 homers. He scored 98 runs on a weak hitting Diamondbacks offense and knocked in 102. As an added bonus, Reynolds stole 24 bases in 2009, more than doubling his total of the previous season.
With all those statistics, Reynolds easily edged out his more well-known competition.
Had Alex Rodriguez come into the season healthy, he likely would still have beaten Reynolds' numbers. But "A-Rod" had hip surgery in March and didn't play his first major league game until May 8th.
Rodriguez struggled early on, hitting homers, but his batting average slipped in the .230s. From July through the end of the season, Rodriguez was back to his old self - hitting .289 in July, .315 in August and .337 in September. Despite what Reynolds accomplished in 2009, it will be Rodriguez, not the Arizona third baseman drafted first in 2010.
Evan Longoria started the season as if he was going to conquer the world, at least the baseball world. Through May 9th, Longoria was hitting .367 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 30 games. He slumped horribly in June hitting just .233 and even worse, .189 in July. Longoria would rebound to build a respectable year's total, but after the start, more was expected. He was a low second-round selection in 2009 and he'll be at least that in 2009 as he's still just 24- years-old.
Like Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman started strong, then wilted in the summer heat. The Nationals' third baseman was hitting .319 at the end of May with 11 HRs and 35 RBIs. Still his numbers were solid across the board, except for speed. If he could just steal double-digit bases, he'd be a top-three at the position.
A newcomer joined the list and cracked the top-five to boot. San Francisco sensation, Pablo Sandoval, who had never hit more than 20 homers in the minors in any season, blasted 25 in his first full major league season. And he didn't sacrifice average as so often happens, he still hit a stunning .330 in a lineup that afforded little protection. The lack of protection might limit his upside, unless the Giants can find better protection than Bengie Molina, a nice hitter, but not one that strikes a pitcher with fear. Sandoval will likely go in the third-to-fourth round next season, a huge jump from his 2008 ADP of 232.
Selected Third Basemen Statistics