Baseball preview: Third basemen

Who is the best third baseman in the major leagues? If it took you more than a couple seconds to answer this question, then you probably shouldn't be playing fantasy baseball.

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is obviously the top third baseman in the majors, but the three-time AL MVP can only be on one person's team. So, who are the other top-notch third basemen? Well, as I wrote in a blog entry a couple weeks ago, there are four third basemen that rank among the top young superstars in baseball.


Even though he is only 25, New York Mets third baseman David Wright has become one of the best players in the majors. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera has shown more power than Wright, but he lacks the ability to steal bases. In my opinion, the dual threat of speed and power is what makes Wright more valuable than Cabrera.

Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has shown that he has the potential to become a perennial All-Star if he can continue to put up impressive statistics. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun would also be considered in this category, but he's been moved to left field. He'll still qualify as a third baseman in most leagues, but I won't rank him here. Braun would be in the top five if he were on the list.


Atlanta's Chipper Jones or Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez are good choices if you'd like a veteran third baseman that is going to hit around .300 with at least 20 home runs and 95 RBIs. The biggest question mark for Jones and Ramirez is whether they'll be able to stay healthy or not.

1. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees – Rodriguez has developed into one of the best power hitters in the history of the game. He has hit at least 35 home runs in 11 of his 12 full seasons. At a minimum, he'll hit .310 with 35 home runs and 100 RBIs. Rodriguez will likely hit 45-50 home runs and pick up another 130-140 RBIs. And if you need another reason to draft him -- Rodriguez will also steal at least 15 bases.

2. David Wright, New York Mets – In three seasons as a starter, Wright has averaged 27 home runs, 108 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. There's a big gap between him and Rodriguez, but he's still the second-best third baseman available. Wright will also hit at least .300 and score around 100 runs.

3. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers – It remains to be seen how Cabrera adjusts to the American League after being traded to Detroit from the Florida Marlins in the offseason. He showed the ability to hit for average and power in the National League, so it will be interesting to see how he does in the AL. I think he'll hit at least .325 with 30-35 home runs and 110-120 RBIs. Wright gets the edge because Cabrera can't steal as many bases or score as many runs as the Mets third baseman.

4. Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs – His .283 career batting average is misleading because he's hit at least .290 in each of the last four seasons. Ramirez will hit close to .300 again this season. He'll also have between 25-30 home runs and 100-110 RBIs. If he can stay healthy for the entire season, then he'll eclipse those predictions.

5. Garrett Atkins, Colorado Rockies – With a .302 career batting average, Atkins has emerged as a solid hitter for the Rockies. He's had at least 25 home runs and 110 RBIs in each of the last two seasons. I know people say that Coors Field has a reputation for boosting power statistics, but Atkins hit more home runs on the road last season.

6. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves – He'll turn 36 during the first month of the season, but Jones has hit at least 20 home runs in 13 straight seasons. Jones will have at least a .310 batting average with 20-25 home runs and 95-105 RBIs.

7. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals – I know that I said in a previous post that Zimmerman would set career-highs in batting average, home runs and RBIs this season. I haven't changed that stance. The 23-year-old third baseman has gained a lot of valuable major-league experience. He's going to hit around .290 with 25-35 home runs and 120-130 RBIs. I would have put him ahead of Jones in the rankings, but I like the experience that Jones brings to the table. Zimmerman will be in that position one day soon.

8. Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox – Remember when the Orioles were rumored to be getting Lowell and starting pitcher A.J. Burnett in a trade from the Florida Marlins? Lowell was viewed as a throw-in and the trade never materialized. Instead, the Red Sox got him along with starting pitcher Josh Beckett and the move helped them to win the World Series last season. The 2007 World Series MVP probably won't hit .324 again this season, but he'll hit at least 20 home runs and could pick up close to 100 RBIs again.

9. Chone Figgins, Los Angeles Angels – Figgins would rank higher in the list, but he has very little power. He makes up for the lack of power with his blazing speed. He'll hit around .300 with 40-50 stolen bases and 85-95 runs scored. If you've got plenty of power in other positions but need a stolen-base threat, then take Figgins.

10. Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners – In three seasons in the American League, Beltre has steadily increased his batting average. It was .255 in 2005, .268 in 2006 and .276 last season. He won't come close to his 2004 numbers (.334 average, 48 home runs and 121 RBIs), but I think he'll hit .280 with 25-30 home runs and 100-110 RBIs.

And the best of the rest…

11. Troy Glaus, St. Louis Cardinals

12. Edwin Encarnacion, Cincinnati Reds

13. Hank Blalock, Texas Rangers

14. Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks

15. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

16. Eric Chavez, Oakland Athletics

17. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

18. Ty Wigginton, Houston Astros

19. Melvin Mora, Orioles

20. Kevin Kouzmanoff, San Diego Padres

21. Casey Blake, Cleveland Indians

22. Joe Crede, Chicago White Sox

23. Scott Rolen, Toronto Blue Jays

24. Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Phillies

25. Mike Lamb, Minnesota Twins

Player to watch: Troy Glaus, St. Louis Cardinals – Glaus was slowed by a foot injury last season as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. He had season-ending surgery in September, so it will be important to monitor his performance in spring training. He's never hit for a high batting average, but he has above-average power. I'd expect him to hit .260 with 20-25 home runs and 85-90 RBIs if he can play most of the season.

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