Total Run Index Sneak Peeks: Third Basemen
Miguel Cabrera took his first steps toward the Hall of Fame when he won his second consecutive MVP award. There are only two players in baseball history that have won two MVP awards that did not get into the Hall of Fame. Odds are good that Cabrera will have a better fate than Roger Maris and Dale Murphy. Of course, Barry Bonds is the third name on that list and he is still waiting because of some other indiscretions.
Some people might debate about whether Miguel Cabrera really is the best player in the American League. Mike Trout beat him out in WAR for the second season in a row by a wide margin. Not only that, Josh Donaldson beat him out according to Fangraphs. In spite of the WAR advantage, Cabrera is a better offensive player than Donaldson. It will be interesting to see where Donaldson finishes according to TRI.
1. Miguel Cabrera— Detroit Tigers
Cabrera’s defense will keep him from being a true MVP, but that doesn’t matter to 99.9 percent of fantasy players. All you need to know is that he is the best offensive player in the game and probably will be for another couple of years at least. If you remove the below average defense, he is essentially the modern day Albert Pujols at third base.
2. Josh Donaldson— Oakland Athletics
Donaldson’s true value came in the combination of very good offense and Gold Glove quality defense. The converted catcher shocked everyone by taking to the position and producing offensively. Winning teams always have players that surprise. Often times, those same teams have players that play above their heads. Donaldson’s future is uncertain at this point. I don’t know that I would gamble on him doing this again.
3. David Wright— New York Mets
Three years ago I was down on Captain America. His last two seasons are proof that every players has their own career arc and you won’t know what it is until it is done. As it turns out, the Mets made a good decision to give him the long-term extension. As long as he is healthy, Wright is a good bet to be a strong fantasy player for the foreseeable future.
4. Adrian Beltre— Texas Rangers
Some players manage to slip through the cracks and Beltre is one of those guys. He often gets overlooked in fantasy drafts because he is not dominant offensively and he is on the wrong side of 30. Yet, he continually produces 20+ home runs and nearly 100 runs and RBI a season. That’s excellent production at third base.
5. Evan Longoria— Tampa Bay Rays
Longoria is a consistent threat to win the American League MVP award. He has everything you want in a player (including the defense). The key for him is getting through an entire season healthy. He played in over 150 games last season for the first time since 2010. If he continues to play regularly he will surpass 30 dingers and produce 100 runs and RBI a season.
6. Ryan Zimmerman— Washington Nationals
If anything, TRI is great for showing you where the gaps are at particular positions. There is a bigger difference between the fifth and sixth spots than there is between the second and fifth spots. So, if you don’t get in on the top five guys you might as well wait. Zimmerman is a poor man’s Longoria. If healthy, he is a consistent producer, but that has been spotty through the years.
7. Kyle Seager— Seattle Mariners
Seager has been a silent assasin the last two seasons. Plus, he is eligible at second base in some leagues, so he has even more value than some of the guys above him on the list. He seems to be just getting started as each season has been better for the last. He might be good enough to break the 20 run barrier this season in TRI.
8. Chris Johnson— Atlanta Braves
Anyone that invests heavily in Johnson is a fool. He had a .394 BABIP last season in line to his .321 mark. To put this in perspective, he would hit only .270 with a BABIP closer to .340. Even a .340 BABIP would be well over the league average. I’m just not sure how we would expect him to hit much better than .280 in a normal season. That is with a very low walk rate and a pedestrian home run rate. Consider yourself warned.
9. Pedro Alvarez— Pittsburgh Pirates
If we start with the positives we would point out that Alvarez has surpassed 30 home runs two seasons in a row. He has always finished with K rates between 30 and 31 percent in each of his four seasons in the big leagues. That is remarkable consistency and a sign that Alvarez will never be an elite offensive performer. Last season some progress following the first couple of months, b ut that kind of inconsistent performance has also been a hallmark. When he’s on he is an elite fantasy prospect. When he’s not he’s not even worth having.
10. Pablo Sandoval— San Francisco Giants
Sandoval is someone we would commonly refer to as a tease. He had a great year a couple of years ago and he has moments of brilliance (like the 2012 World Series) interspersed with long periods of mediocrity. There has been some rumbling about possibly being moved and if that happens you need to pay attention. San Francisco is a terrible place for hitters.