If it wasn’t for a near record-setting season from Chris Davis and some late-season injuries, it’s entirely possible that we would have seen a second consecutive triple crown from Miguel Cabrera. If you’d like some historical context, look elsewhere, because it’s never happened before.
So, when taking an early look at the top third basemen for next year, it would seem like a no-brainer that Miggy would be No. 1, right? Well, third base is a strong position, so let’s take a look. Before we do: In case you missed them please have a look at our early looks at catcher, first base, and second base. Now, on to third base.
- Miguel Cabrera Nope. No surprises here. There isn’t a better hitter on the planet. Only Mike Trout rivals Miggy for overall value at any position. Third base doesn’t lack talent, but nobody does what Miggy does there – not even close.
- Adrian Beltre His average season since 2010: 87 runs, 32 HR, 100 RBI, .314 average. The days of Beltre being exclusively a contract year guy are long over. This guy is one of the best in the business.
- Evan Longoria Close call between Longo and the next guy, but Longoria gets the edge for being younger, more powerful, slightly more durable, and playing on a better team.
- David Wright He’s a genuinely great hitter. Beyond injuries, the only doubt is whether or not the Mets can put the talent around him that he needs to thrive.
- Josh Donaldson Plenty of talent around him in Oakland. His numbers did drop off after the All-Star Game, but 2013 was a tremendous season for Donaldson, who will be 28 next season. He doesn’t have the track record to crack the Top-4 here, but don’t make the mistake of assuming regression here. He can hit. We profile him here.
- Ryan Zimmerman He can still hit for a pretty reliable 25 homers and 80 or more RBI. But while Zimm is only 29, I can’t help but be alarmed by this: 2010: .307 AVG/.388 OBP, 2011: .289 AVG/.355 OBP, 2012: .282 AVG/.346 OBP, 2013: .275 AVG/.344 OBP. The power has remained steady, but it’s hard to be optimistic when he’s getting on base much less than before.
- Matt Carpenter You’ll get a high average and a lot of runs. Just not sure about the power. Far more valuable at the shallower second base position.
- Manny Machado Seems to have dodged a bullet with his injury, although it’s a concern. Machado’s already B contributor in pretty much every category. Right now, he isn’t excellent enough in any standard fantasy stats to be ranked higher, especially with the questions around the injury and how quickly he’ll respond. But remember, he’s only 21. There’s a lot of mileage left.
- Pedro Alvarez If you play Carp at second base, Alvarez and him will provide a nice balance with each other. Alvarez will conservatively hit for 30 homers and drive in 90 runs, but his average is an absolute drain. We profile him here.
- Kyle Seager If you do average out Carpenter and Alvarez, you’ll land at Seager. Not as powerful as Alvarez, not as good at reaching base as Carpenter, but he doesn’t have their struggles either. Important to remember that he’s only 26, and can provide the bonus of a few steals from a position that doesn’t usually provide them. We profile him here.
Just missed: Will Middlebrooks (hasn’t shown great month-to-month consistency, especially in average), Todd Frazier (see note on Middlebrooks), Chris Johnson (great breakout season, but not enough power and iffy placement in the Atlanta order), Pablo Sandoval (can’t stay healthy, and it’s not always a weight issue, either We profile him here), Chase Headley (aside from 2012, a very average hitter, but can get a few steals from third base We profile him here).