The Hot Corner is filled with amazing talent, but which players should you draft in 2012?
In past years, the third base position has been pretty consistent, the same players producing the same amount year in and year out. However, this season we have some new faces at the position, and not since Alex Rodriguez made the switch from shortstop to third base have we seen the type of talent become 3B eligible.
It will be easy for me to tell you to draft Hanley Ramirez (SS, FLA) and Miguel Cabrera (1B, DET) as they are probably the best players at their current positions and are making the switch across the diamond. It would be easy for me to tell you to draft Jose Bautista (OF, TOR) as he also holds eligibility at the hot corner, but I am not going to do that. It’s a given that these players are the best at their real position so it’s safe to say they will be among the best at third as well.
The Top Third Basemen to draft in 2012 are:
Evan Longoria (3B, TB) has been one of the most consistent players at the position since breaking into the Majors back in 2008. Last season a “down year” for Evan still saw 31 HR, 99 RBI and 78 Runs Scored, his .244 AVG was less than stellar, but a BAbip of .239 normally means Longoria was extremely unlucky. In Evan's 4 seasons in the majors he is averaging 34 HR with 115 RBI and a .274 AVG. If Longoria can turn his unluckiness around, his numbers are going to sky rocket, and you’re going to want him on your roster.
The next two players on this list had injury riddled 2011 campaigns, but should continue to find starting roster spots in 2012. Ryan Zimmerman (3B, WSH) barely reached the 100 games played mark in twenty eleven and had an off year in the games he did play. With only 12 homers and 49 RBI in 395 at bats his numbers were much smaller than his career averages. With signings to the pitching rotation the Nationals are looking like a real squad, and Zimmerman will no longer be the reason why they win. Hopefully this will allow him to take a more relaxed and have a patient approach to the plate boosting his offensive production. Alex Rodriguez (3B, NYY) is starting to show his age, or the effects of his steroid use as his body begins to break down. Only 99 games played for A-Rod in 2011, and he still hit 16 HR with 62 runs batted in and 67 runs scored. His batting average and on base percentage were both up from the previous year allowing me to believe that although he may be getting older his bat, power, and talent aren’t going anywhere. Alex will fall further down the list, but can be a great addition to any fantasy baseball team.
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The youngest of the players to draft this year, is Brett Lawrie (3B, TOR). I was a bit critical of Lawrie last year. He was kept in the minors a bit too long for someone of his talent and there was a lot of talk that something internally wasn’t right. Then he went down with an injury and just couldn’t find the field. When he was finally called up he slowed down all of his critics including myself, with 9 homers 25 runs batted in, scored 26, and stole 7 bags, while hitting .293 with a .373 on base percentage. Those numbers over a full season eclipse the 30 / 90 / 90 / 25 mark. Patience like his isn’t seen often at such a young age, but he is getting on base and doing a great job at it. His ability to run, hit for power, and make contact with the ball is going to make him a great pick in this year’s fantasy draft.
Aramis Ramirez (3B. MIL) is another player who has been pretty consistent over the years. In 2011, Ramirez hit .306 with 26 big fly’s, 93 runs batted in, and 80 runs scored. He had a bit of an off year in 2010, but he showed that was more of an abnormality than anything else and it shouldn’t worry you one bit. Ramirez will be joining the Brew Crew this year, and while he won’t have Prince Fielder (1B, DET) hitting around him, he will have Ryan Braun (OF, MIL), Rickie Weeks (2B, MIL), and Corey Hart (OF, MIL) in the lineup. Miller Park is an upgrade for Ramirez who should find it easier to hit homers and with the players around him drive in plenty of runs.
The Panda is back. 2010 wasn’t as kind to Pablo Sandoval (3B, SF) as he would’ve liked with a decline in every single fantasy category from the previous year. 2011 was a bounce back year for Pablo, as he nearly doubled his HR output, and with a .315 average nearly .050 points higher than his 2010 average. If Pablo can stay fit and healthy he can certainly put a charge on the ball. Buster Posey (C, SF) will be back from injury as well which will certainly help Sandoval in the batting order. I’d like to see more runs batted in, and runs scored but I think that is more to do with the anemic offense around him and less to do with the Panda alone.
Notable Third Basemen I’d be willing to start on my team:
Emilio Bonafacio (3B, MIA) will have a new position in 2012, with Hanley Ramirez rumored to make the move to the position. Emilio will continue to have 3B eligibility for the season and with his speed ability (40+ stolen bases) and a .296 AVG he will be a great player to have. He won’t hit for much power, but will get on base, steal bags, and score runs which will definitely help your fantasy teams.
David Freese (3B, STL) is coming off one of the best playoff performances of all time. His 2011 regular season wasn’t that much different. Freese hit .297 with 10 homers and 55 RBI in 97 games played. With the loss of Albert Pujols (1B, ANA) and the need for offense in St. Louis, Freese should get more playing time in 2012. With the extra playing time Freese should see a major increase in all power numbers, while maintaining his .300ish average.
Written by Justin Mandaro exclusively for The Fantasy Fix.
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