January 12, 2011
Rankings Review: Third Base
This is a review of my 2010 third base rankings. This time around, not only will we use auction values for mixed leagues, but also the dollar value for AL- and NL-only leagues. These dollar values come from Graphical Player 2011, and I think these will do a good job illustrating how much I missed by on the players I missed, though, broken record style, the why is more important than the result when it comes to these rankings. All PECOTA projections, dollar values and statistics in the parentheses are from 2010.
David Wright (.313/.415/.541 PECOTA, .283/.354/.503 2010; $25.6 mixed/$30.8 NL): Wright's power returned, but his on-base percentage took a hit, which cut into his run totals. That being said, he was just shy of standing alone atop Third Base Mountain by a penny anyway, so there isn't much to complain about in terms of what he offered.
Evan Longoria (.288/.378/.534 PECOTA, .294/.372/.507 2010; $25.6 mixed/$31.1 AL): Longoria and Wright had the same value in mixed leagues, though with a few more third basemen of note in the NL, Longoria's single-league value was a smidge higher. They don't make third basemen better than this pair these days, so I won't pat myself on the back too much for putting them up top.
Alex Rodriguez (.288/.403/.578 PECOTA, .270/.341/.506 2010; $21.0 mixed/$27.2 AL): I thought PECOTA was overshooting Rodriguez's home runs (39) and stolen bases (17) last year, and pegged him for a low-30's homer total (he ended with 30). That's why he came below Wright and Longoria in the rankings, and based on his values, it looks like that is where he ended up.
Ryan Zimmerman (.286/.356/.508 PECOTA, .307/.388/.510 2010; $20.4 mixed/$26.3 NL): Thought Zimmerman's projection was low, and popped him into the five-star category despite a four-star looking forecast. If he hadn't missed 20 games with injury, he would have finished ahead of Rodriguez—as is, he's 60 cents behind, so I'll take it.
Pablo Sandoval (.321/.366/.529 PECOTA, .268/.323/.409 2010; $2.6 mixed/$12.2 NL): I bought into Sandoval as a "pudgy Nomar" type player; the problem is that Sandoval bought into Ben & Jerry's with the same kind of intensity. I was half-right, I guess.
Mark Reynolds (.256/.354/.488 PECOTA, .198/.320/.433 2010; $7.7 mixed/$14.3 NL): From the rankings: "To say I am skeptical of Reynolds would be an understatement, but I've talked it over with some folks I trust in order to get past my bias a bit; the fact that PECOTA doesn't expect him to retain all of his 2009 production, but still put up a worthwhile fantasy season, is also helping. I fully expect him to strike out 300 times and fail to drive in runners all season now, just because I caved in."
Do two half-rights make a whole right?
Ian Stewart (.263/.352/.485 PECOTA, .256/.338/.443 2010; $3.4 mixed/$12.5 NL): Stewart didn't retain all of his ISO from 2009 despite the help of Colorado, and he also appeared in fewer games due to injuries. He may get more playing time this year, and be four-star worthy again, but Jose Lopez could also play the role of Miguel Olivo, with Stewart starring as Chris Iannetta, and screw someone's draft up miserably.
Chone Figgins (.283/.375/.372 PECOTA, .259/.340/.306 2010; $3.4 mixed/$16.1 AL): Figgins didn't seem to have much to lose by heading to Safeco, given he didn't have any power to the park could limit, but a career-low batting average derailed his value. Looking back, Figgins probably should have been a three-star player to begin with, since his value is wrapped up in R, SB and average, three categories.
Michael Young (.299/.362/.444 PECOTA, .284/.330/.444 2010; $19.4 mixed/$25.4 AL): Young retained his value in roto leagues, but he was a killer in head-to-head thanks to an inability to hit outside of Texas (.260/.299/.380).
Aramis Ramirez (.298/.379/.498 PECOTA, .241/.294/.452 2010; $5.9 mixed/$13.8 NL): Ramirez's 2010 splits should read injured/healthy instead of first- and second-half: .207/.268/.380 pre All-Star break, and .276/.321/.526 afterward.
Chipper Jones (.296/.405/.471 PECOTA, .265/.381/.426 2010; -$2.2 mixed/$8.7 NL): Unless you drafted Chipper in a league where OBP counted, this move didn't work out. Injuries didn't help, but he wasn't exactly tearing things up when he was on the field, either.
Kevin Kouzmanoff (.277/.328/.463 PECOTA, .247/.283/.396 2010; $1.0 mixed/$11.9 AL): Park effects are important when looking at a player like Kouzmanoff. That is why both PECOTA and I were excited to see him leave Petco, even if it was for the Coliseum in Oakland, which hates offense, but not to the obsessive degree that Petco does. Despite this, Kouzmanoff had his worst season ever, and failed to do anything useful in a mixed format, though scarcity made him worthwhile by default in AL-only leagues.
Chase Headley (.267/.355/.439 PECOTA, .264/.327/.375 2010; $6.9 mixed/$16.1 NL): Headley wasn't as poor as you would think with that line, thanks to going 17/22 on steals, picking up 58 RBI and coming around to score 77 times. He's never going to help your batting average (or on-base, if that's your thing) as a Padre, but if he's going to steal some bases for you then he's worth a look in available formats at the right price.
Adrian Beltre (.275/.325/.455 PECOTA, .321/.365/.553 2010; $26.0 mixed/$31.5 AL): Looking back, I should have put Beltre in the high four-star category. It's not so much his 2010 season that convinced me, but the fact he was just terrible in Safeco for years while continuing to rake on the road. Fenway wasn't the lone reason he returned to this level either, as he tore things up outside of Boston's friendly confines on a regular basis. 2010 was a highpoint, so considering him as a five-star for 2010 might be too much (especially without any steals) but, as our newest fantasy contributor Jason Collette said on many an occasion before the season began, Beltre and Boston were a perfect fit.
Jorge Cantu (.288/.353/.467 PECOTA, .256/.304/.392 2010; -$3.1 mixed/$8.7 AL): Cantu was described as a "boring" option with first base eligibility, but he failed to replicate his 2008-2009 campaigns or meet his forecast. Playing in Texas didn't help either, as he was actually worse there.
Edwin Encarnacion (.262/.350/.474 PECOTA, .244/.305/.482 2010; -$-0.7 mixed/$10.8 AL): E5 was a liability unless you picked him up for $1 in a mixed league, but the AL was lacking real, quality third basemen, so he had use there. You would think his power numbers came from hitting in Toronto, but he had twice as many homers on the road in 2010.
Alex Gordon (.265/.350/.446 PECOTA, .215/.315/.355 2010; -$13.2 mixed/$1.0 AL): Remember when Alex Gordon was drawing comparisons to George Brett, and was supposedly a better hitting prospect than Billy Butler? Seems like those days never existed, especially after Gordon raked at Triple-A, again, but failed to make an impact at the major league level—again. Three stars made sense given his past, but with failure becoming more present than success in his career history, it is a view which will have to be revised.
Mark DeRosa (.273/.355/.447 PECOTA, .194/.279/.258 2010; -$19.1 mixed/-$4.5 NL): It's hard to reach a season forecast when an injury limits you to 104 plate appearances. DeRosa should be what we're used to in 2011 as long as he's healthy, but 2010 was a lost year.
Placido Polanco (.305/.355/.425 PECOTA, .298/.339/.386 2010; $6.7 mixed/$15.7 NL): Polanco should have seen a bump in his numbers by moving from pitcher-friendly Comerica to that bandbox in Philly, but he was basically the same player that he was in 2009. He was still worth rostering, especially in the NL, but not as productive as PECOTA envisioned.
Andy LaRoche (.254/.350/.408 PECOTA, .206/.268/.287 2010; -$17.3 mixed/-$3.3 NL): A hot September had me thinking LaRoche could turn into something, but it wasn't meant to be. Don't expect to see him mentioned in this space again unless he magically turns into a hitter.
Miguel Tejada (.301/.340/.451 PECOTA, .269/.312/.381 2010; $6.1 mixed/$14.4 NL): Tejada's value may not match up with his numbers above, but the fact he became shortstop eligible again has a lot to do with that. One man's third baseman trash is another man's shortstop treasure.
Scott Rolen (.273/.355/.426 PECOTA, .285/.358/.497 2010; $10.8 mixed/$18.5 NL): Rolen had the "best chance of being a three-star guy", and as evidenced by his season, he made the most of that chance. My concern with Rolen mostly had to do with the lineup around him—without a lot of R and RBI, Rolen wouldn't be that much better than three-star worthy—but the Reds turned out a fantastic offensive effort and Rolen had a very good fantasy year because of it.
Mike Fontenot (.273/.346/.435 PECOTA, .283/.331/.375 2010; -$11.6 mixed/$1.6 NL): Fontenot should have been a one-star guy with emphasis on being an NL-only property, though I did at least mention he's worthwhile in deep leagues only.
Garrett Atkins (.284/.351/.460 PECOTA, .214/.276/.286 2010; -$20.9 mixed/-$4.4 AL): I didn't like Atkins' projection one bit, but even in my negative state I didn't envision this kind of collapse. Moving back to the NL might help, but that doesn't mean he's someone you should be using any auction money or a draft pick on.
Jeff Keppinger (.301/.364/.430 PECOTA, .288/.351/.393 2010; $3.3 mixed/$12.8 NL): There was apparently a playing time error that made me rate Keppinger a one-star second baseman but a three-star third baseman (the latter of which was correct). I'm comfortable with him in this spot, especially in an NL-only.
Casey Blake (.258/.339/.417 PECOTA, .248/.320/.407 2010; -$0.2 mixed/$9.4 NL): Moment of silence for the power of Blake's beard, as it has seemingly worn off—his 2010 looked a lot like his projection, which made him out to be basically an NL-only value or depth player in mixed leagues.
Casey McGehee (.269/.331/.425 PECOTA, .285/.337/.464 2010; $16.5 mixed/$22.7 NL): One of the drawbacks to ranking the same player at multiple eligible positions is that I'm reminded of whiffing on them each time their name pops up. I get it, McGehee. You were good. Drop it.
Mat Gamel (.262/.338/.447 PECOTA, .200/.294/.267 2010; -$20.8 mixed/-$5.1 NL): One reason I thought McGehee wouldn't last was Gamel, who had hit .278/.367/.473 at Triple-A in 2009. Instead, McGehee stuck and Gamel hit well at Triple-A.
Maicer Izturis (.286/.355/.427 PECOTA, .250/.321/.363 2010; -$10.6 mixed/$3.2 AL): Izturis received less playing time than the small amount he was projected for, cutting into his usefulness in all but the deepest leagues.
Omar Infante (.294/.352/.406 PECOTA, .321/.359/.416 2010; $7.7 mixed/$17.1 NL): It looks like I talked myself into part-timers like Infante, Izturis and Keppinger more at third base than at second (that or the PA projections in the depth charts, which I utilized to build the rankings, were higher for this group by the time third base rolled around). It worked out well for Infante, who ended up starting much of the time with injuries in the Braves' infield.
Brett Wallace (.267/.334/.445 PECOTA, .222/.296/.319 2010; -$17.6 mixed/-$3.4 NL): My biggest mistake with Wallace may have been failing to realize that he was nicknamed "Walrus" because he's enormous and not a third baseman. Not that knowledge of that keeps me from liking Sandoval.
Mike Lowell (.284/.344/.477 PECOTA, .239/.307/.367 2010; -$13.7 mixed/$0.8 AL): Between lingering thumb problems and a surgically repaired hip that just didn’t feel right, Lowell wasn't able to hit his projection before retiring at the end of the season.
Brandon Wood (-$21.7 mixed/-$5.8 AL) wasn't someone I had a lot of faith in, so it was nice of him to justify that for me. My lone comment on Mark Teahen (-$10.9 mixed/$3.0 AL) was that he "will, um, play every day. There's that". As Rob McQuown pointed out to me, even that modest expectation was too much. Emilio Bonifacio (-$11.4 mixed/$2.1 NL) didn't come off of the bench enough to boost steal totals as he should have. Brandon Inge ($7.2 mixed/$13.0 AL) was no better than his forecast, but third base was worse than expected, and his value benefited because of it. 70 RBI helped as well. David Freese (-$7.4 mixed/$4.7 NL) wasn't thought of as much by PECOTA, and though his season line doesn't look that impressive, he was pretty good until he began to play hurt and then missed the rest of the season. Pedro Feliz (-$13.7 mixed/-$1.0 NL) played in 137 games, and he didn't drive in many runs, score often, or hit for an acceptable batting average. Brendan Harris (-$21.3 mixed/-$5.4 AL) barely picked up any playing time, which kept him from reaching even the low levels of production expected of him. Alberto Callaspo ($1.1 mixed/$11.9 AL) was useful in AL-only formats, but in mixed he barely made his presence felt despite a full season of plate appearances. Matt Tolbert (-$16.8 mixed/-$1.7 AL) was another Twin who barely hit triple-digits in plate appearances, and therefore lacked value.