While first base is understandably being touted as a stacked position in the American League this year, third base has quietly become a pretty deep position as well. There are a couple of weak options here, but most of the 3B who went for double-digits are worth it in my opinion. If you're in an A.L.-only league, don't push for two first basemen if the prices aren't right. There are plenty of guys on the other side of the diamond who are worth pursuing.
THREE DIFFERENT PLAYERS, THREE SIMILAR PRICES
Evan Longoria $33, Adrian Beltre $30, Brett Lawrie $30
I like Longoria a lot, and think this price is fair. However, it's worth noting that he has only cracked $30 in earnings once ($30, in 2010). Everyone is hoping that Longoria is going to become a big time, $35-40 stud, but in the rich A.L.-only hitting environment in might not happen. If he's healthy, Beltre might actually be the better bet than Longoria. Since leaving the putrid hitting environment at Safeco, Beltre has put up tremendous numbers and will continue to call Arlington his home for some time. If he stays on the field, 40 HR isn't out of the question. I don't get the Lawrie price at all. Yes, he tore it up in 150 big league at-bats last year, but you can't simply project his stats over 550 AB and pay $30. Lawrie is likely to have his slumps as pitchers adjust to him. He could be a Roto stud in the long haul, but I'd stop at $23 this year. Of course, this just means that I won't own him.
THE SECOND TIER
Alex Rodriguez $24, Michael Young $22, Kevin Youkilis $20, Mark Reynolds $19
A-Rod in the second tier? Yup. Despite the HR/RBI, he hasn't been elite since 2008 and hasn't stayed on the field for a full season since 2007. It pains me to say it, but this bid might actually be a little high. If you buy him, hope for 130 games and a killer year at bat per at bat. I think the days of $30+ production are gone. Young wasn't the Rangers MVP, but he put up a $30 season last year. I'm more comfortable with this price simply because paying for a repeat of the .338 batting average seems like a mistake. But the Rangers did prove that they could find a way for Young to play, he seemed happy with the arrangement, and all was well that ended well. Youkilis is finally getting discounted for the fact that - like A-Rod - he doesn't stay on the field over the course of an entire season. Youk is fairly productive when he plays, but it's time to stop paying him for 2008. He's on the wrong side of 30, and third base could wear him down faster than first did. Reynolds carries his Roto teams when he's riding a hot streak and kills them when he's doing nothing but striking out. But when all was said and done he earned $19 last year. If you have strong BA players who can neutralize the damage Reynolds will do to your average feel free to add his prodigious power to your squad
Mike Moustakas $15, Edwin Encarnacion $14, Brent Morel $11, Lonnie Chisenhall $10
Is this the year Moustakas breaks out, or is his development curve somewhat slower? Moustakas struggled in his first exposure to Major League pitching, but struggling after every promotion is his m.o. The power will come eventually, the question is do you want to pay a little extra in the hopes of a breakout or let someone else take the chance? Encarnacion is popular among a few fantasy analysts, but at this point you have to look at him for what he is: a 29-year-old oft injured iron glove who hasn't really panned out as the perennial 30 HR bat some had hoped for. Moving to DH might help, but I wouldn't count on Encarnacion doing anything more than what he did in 2011. Morel's September (8 HR, 19 RBI) salvaged his season and has made him a sleeper for some. But a closee look at that September outburst shows that Morel hit most of his home runs off of some pretty bad pitchers. There's no obvious candidate to spell Morel if he struggles, but I'd stay out of double digits for him. Chisenhall also feasted on September pitching. His BB/SO is alarming, though he has youth on his side and has more of a prospect sheen than Morel does. I'd worry somewhat, though, that Chisenhall doesn't necessarily have an ironclad lock on the job and could lose it to Jack Hannahan - at least in the early going.
THE BARGAIN BIN
Mike Aviles $8, Danny Valencia $7, Chone Figgins $5, Alberto Callaspo $4, Scott Sizemore $4.
Here is where the depth at the position led to some bargains. Aviles seems likely to get most of the at bats at shortstop for the Red Sox, and if his batting average holds up is a steady power/speed combo at $8. I'm not a Valencia fan, but at $7 he's a nice bargain. He might not be as good as he was in 2010 but he isn't as bad as he was in 2011 either. Split the difference and you've get a bargain at $7. Figgins could be a bargain if he bounces back, but wow that's a big if. Very few hitters have ever recovered from such a plunge at his age and stage of career. The Mariners to seem committed to one more go round with Figgins, though, and at this price he could be a steal if all he does is steal 20 bases. Callaspo is a bargain here. He's boring, but thanks to his batting average is a runs/RBI producer who gets double digit value every year. Sizemore was injured after the CBS auction and is now out for the season.
Wilson Betemit $3, Kyle Seager $2, Jack Hannahan $1, Brandon Inge $1.
Betemit is penciled in as the Orioles starting DH, but I don't see him getting 550-600 AB; it's more likely the O's cycle in other players as the season goes along. Sure, Betemit has 20 HR potential if he plays, but he's never been a consistent performer. Seager will back up Figgins at third. Without a starting job he holds limited appeal. Hannahan could take the job in Cleveland from Chisenhall in the short-term, but he'd just be warming the position. His defense is his biggest asset, which is something that doesn't help you out. Inge is being given a chance to start at second, but it doesn't seem realistic that he'll supplant Ryan Raburn. He's probably just a low average, light power back up.