With Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre, Pablo Sandoval, Aramis Ramirez and Chase Headley protected by their teams in February, SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League owners could find themselves on the hot seat when they draft the position on March 19.
Third base is a traditional source of power for fantasy baseball owners. Ideally, your hot corner hits 25+ home runs and knocks in 90+ RBI but in a 16-team league about half the owners aren't going to get that kind of production. If you don't get a power hitter, you need to gamble and get creative. Emilio Bonifacio, who is listed in the second base projections but is eligible at third, provides stolen bases at a power position. Remember, the CAIRO statistical projections are based on the SFRRC Fantasy Baseball League settings, so they should be a good representation of what you can expect. If you are reading this and you are not in an OBP or strikeout league, these tiers will not be as accurate.
This tier offers traditional value, with all four players capable of achieving the home run and RBI targets associated with the position. They also have injury histories which is worrisome. Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, and Ryan Zimmerman all missed substantial time in 2011. David Wright is the only player on this list to achieve 450+ at bats last year, which is still about 100 at bats below expectations.
Barring injury, Mark Reynolds is a reliable source of home runs and RBI. He's also a reliable source of strikeouts. Reynolds has value as a fantasy third baseman but you'll need to make sure you surround him with a few players that have better command of the strike zone. Brett Lawrie has only played a half season in the big leagues but his power/speed combination has fantasy league owners drooling. The remaining players in this tier illustrate why owners need to be creative. If you have other sources of power, Martin Prado can score runs and rarely strikes out. If he stays healthy - and that's a big IF for a 39-year-old - Chipper Jones offers value with a good command of the strike zone and a high on base percentage. Edwin Encarnacion provides roster flexibility, since he's also eligible to play first base.
With the dream of third base supplying power now long gone, this tier offers players with limited upside. Luckily, you shouldn't have to draft from this tier. Placido Polanco and Alberto Callaspo have ridiculous command of the strike zone but they have zero power. Scott Rolen is now 36-years-old and susceptible to injury. He had just over 250 at bats last year. Mike Moustakas, Danny Valencia and Ian Stewart are all young players with below-average power for this position.