Preseason Position Power Rankings: Couch Side’s top five third basemen for 2013
Editor’s note: Couch Side is very pleased to bring back its annual MLB preseason position power rankings. This year, we will offer two positions every Wednesday and Friday. Each blog ranks the top 10 players at each position and is written by some of Couch Side’s best bloggers. The following is part six of what will be a 12-part series. Enjoy!
As older third basemen with aging knees trot their way over to first base or become designated hitters, a new wave of third basemen are showing us just as much power.
Like first base, a bit of pop is expected to come from third basemen as well as a quick glove and even quicker reactions. Defense is a must just left of shortstop. A solid bat also comes with the territory. While many consider shortstop the toughest defensive position in the game, third base is where screamers come down the line. And if those players don’t have the instincts to stop a smash, they won’t have a job for long.
Major League baseball still has a plethora of talent at the hot corner. In fact, last year a third baseman took home the first Triple Crown in more than 40 years. Talent will always lye closest to the away team’s dugout and with some hefty power hitters, this year is no exception. So here’s a look at Couch Side’s top 10 third baseman for 2013:
• A quick glance at five guys outside of the top 10: Brett Lawrie, Aramis Ramirez, David Feeze, Todd Frazier and Mike Moustakas … Further out who still deserve recognition: Will Middlebrooks, Trevor Plouffe and Manny Machado. Alright, now, let’s start the show!
10. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks (.301 BA, 10 HR, 70 RBI, 5.4 WAR): Prado makes my list simply because after Miguel Cabrera, this 29-year-old may be the best contact bat / on-base guy at the hot corner. His .359 OBP also isn’t anything to sneeze at. What a player!
9. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates (.244 BA, 10 HR, 85 RBI, 2.6 WAR): For fantasy purposes, Alvarez makes my top 10. Quite honestly, I think he is going to blow up this season. Yes, he strikes out a lot, however his power numbers easily forgive that. This may sound premature, but Alvarez could very well be the next Jose Bautista.
8. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants (.283, 12 HR, 63 RBI, 2.0 WAR): In a separate blog I wrote on Couch Side, I was forced to look up Sandoval’s defensive statistics. And considering this guy is pushing 280 pounds, he is quite nimble on his feet. Add those praises to his consistent and impressive bat, and Sandoval could easily be a top five third baseman. He just lacks power.
7. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals (.282 BA, 25 HR, 95 RBI, 3.8 WAR): After slumping at the beginning of the year in 2012, Zimmerman bounced back to have a very impressive second half. In 2012, Zimmerman more or less had his best year at the plate since 2009 when he set career highs in all batting categories. He has to be loving that revamped Nationals lineup and his numbers are every indication of that.
6. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers (.257 BA, 24 HR, 92 RBI, 1.2 WAR): Ramirez is slowly working his way back into the type of player he was in 2009 when he set career highs in every single hitting category. Last season, he obviously slumped for the Miami Marlins, but he really turned things around in the Dodger white and blue, batting in just four less runs than he did while in a Marlins uniform. That’s extrmely impressive, considering Ramirez played in 29 fewer games as a Dodger.
5. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (.289 BA, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 2.3 WAR)
I probably won’t make many friends ranking Longoria No. 5 on this list, but his injury does concern me. It seemed like Longoria took too long to heal from it, at least that’s what the experts said, and that just raises red flags. His numbers coming back, however, may place my own foot in my mouth as it was like Longoria didn’t miss a beat after injury. Check out the stats above and then consider that the 27-year-old was able to achieve them in just 74 games. I’m sure this youngster has many MVP years ahead of him. I’m just not buying into his big bat this season.
4. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (.321 BA, 36 HR, 102 RBI, 6.6 WAR)
Beltre had an absolute dream season last year. I mean who seriously sets a career high for batting average at 33 years old? Apparently, Beltre just gets better with age and improves with new scenery. Even as an older veteran, Beltre still has 40 home run potential and the baseball is obviously the size of a beach ball for the Dominican Republic native at this point in his career. Beltre is a lock to put up great numbers for you in your Fantasy Baseball leagues this year, so ride this old man all the way to the championship. Just pray that he doesn’t get injured along the way.
3. David Wright, New York Mets (.306 BA, 21 HR, 93 RBI, 6.7 WAR)
Is anyone surprised that I don’t have Wright in the top two? Well, even I have surprised myself. If it weren’t for Wright getting a massive contract and for the fact that he plays on the Mets, I would probably have him higher than No. 3. More times than most, after players receive a contract like the one Wright did this offseason, they usually don’t live up to the hype. Don’t believe me? Just remember Beltre playing for the Seattle Mariners and you should catch the drift. Wright is “Mr. Baseball.” He can field, hit and even steal a base or two, ranking just behind Hanley Ramirez as the second fastest third basemen on this list. My main beef with Wright, however, is that he has no one to bat in. New York’s lineup is really bad. And it’s just too bad that Wright’s stats will suffer because management won’t go out and spend like they used to.
2. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres (.286 BA, 31 HR, 115 RBI, 6.0 WAR)
Speaking of players who have nobody to bat in, hello Chase Headley. This 28-year-old Padre is yet to peak, I believe. Although he put up career numbers in a big way last year at what is arguably the most pitcher friendly park in baseball, Petco, Headley’s best days are still ahead of him. I can only base that off of the reason that he’s improved every single year since entering the league in 2008 and because I don’t think Headley will be a Padre for long. Contract extension dialogue started with him and the Padres this offseason, but there’s a reason only a one-year deal got done. I will go ahead and guarantee Headley is moved by the trade deadline this year and I would even go as far as saying to bet on the New York Yankees to make that move.
1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers (.330 BA, 44 HR, 139 RBI, 6.9 WAR)
I so badly want to only type ‘Triple crown winner, nuff said,’ but I have to give a little more praise to the best third baseman in all of baseball. What can’t this guy do? Oh ya, run or play defense. While this is true, who cares? The 29-year-old Venezuelan can flat out hit. I can’t believe last year’s A.L. MVP award was even considered a race. Cabrera won the Triple Crown for Pete’s sake. That should be all that you have to do to win a MVP award, especially since the achievement hasn’t been reached in more that 40 years. Let me just finish this blog by giving you some advice, draft this guy No. 2, right after Mike Trout.