2013 MLB Fantasy Keeper Rankings: Third Base

Tuesday October 16th, 2012

Peter Stein:  Now that the 2012 season is over, it is time to start thinking about the 2013. For many owners, that includes deciding on keepers, although keeper systems vary from league to league. In some leagues, keepers can be held onto for an indefinite period of time, while others build upon the previous year’s draft value. Regardless of your league’s keeper setting, this piece identifies the top keeper player at each position. I chose a time period of five years; therefore, the player at each position should produce the most total fantasy value over the course of the next five years. That is, of course, assuming another Mike Trout doesn’t jump onto the scene.

Here is the second installment of the 2013 fantasy keeper focus:

Third Base

Winner: Miguel Cabrera

Honorable Mention: Chase Headley, David Wright, and Ryan Zimmerman

We all know about Cabrera’s ridiculous offensive achievements in 2013. The only complaint about Cabrera is his defense at third base. However, the Tigers seem to be doing just fine right now. Even though he may not always look pretty, Cabrera has held his own defensively. Furthermore, he doesn’t look like he will be switching positions anytime soon with Fielder at first and Victor Martinez likely to DH next season.

The thing that most people don’t realize about Cabrera, since he has been mashing for over a decade now, is that he is only 29 years of age! That’s right, the Triple Crown winner has many more MVP-caliber years ahead of him. Whether or not he will surpass a .330/44/139 season again, he will still be elite for the next five years. Of course there will be a drop off at some point, but this would not be until the last year or two of this five-year window. As long as he stays at third base, Cabrera will out produce (by a long shot) anyone else playing the position.

Chase Headley broke out in a big way in 2012: .286/31/115 and 17 steals. The second half production was absolutely silly: .308/23/73 in just 289 at-bats. I have always been very high on Headley but felt that the confines of Petco Park had too much of a negative impact on his power and production. Even in his robust 2012 season, the splits were significant: .936 road OPS compared to .812 at home. Headley is only 28 years of age, in the prime of his career, and will continue to provide fantasy owners a nice balance of average, power and speed over the next five years. Also, if he leaves San Diego, his value will increase even more.

Just a quick note about Headley, he will never out produce his 2012 season. It’s not getting any better than that. The second half surge is just unsustainable, evidenced by his .212 ISO in 2012 (career .145) and his absurd HR/FB ratio of 21.4% (10% career). It is just not feasible to continue to hit one in every five fly balls out of the park, especially playing 81 games at Petco.

Doesn’t David Wright seem a lot older than 29 years of age? Ironically, Wright, Cabrera and Headley are all practically the same age. Anyway, Wright jumped back onto the scene after a down and injury riddled 2011 season. However, his season was the opposite of Headley’s: strong first half, weak second half. Look at the splits:

First half: .351/11/59 and 9 steals

Second Half: .258/10/34/ and 6 steals

It will be interesting to see who the better player is between Wright and Headley over the next five years. They actually have very similar skill sets, and I think a lot of this will depend on injuries and the team around them.

Zimmerman, like Headley, is also 28 years of age. Unfortunately for Zimmerman, after a stellar 2009 season, it has only gone downhill since.  Still, the final numbers in 2012 were elite: .282/25/95 and 5 steals. He also really came on in the second half of the season after struggling with a shoulder injury during the beginning of the year. His splits, like Headley and Wright, are alarming as well:

First half: .243/8/40

Second Half: .319/17/55

Zimmerman was actually on a similar tear as Headley, but at a rate that appears to be more sustainable given his prior success. Injuries are certainly a concern with Zimmerman, but his second half of 2012, the fact that he’s 28, and the strong lineup that he has around him, means that the best of Zimmerman perhaps might be yet to come.

Left off this list, but given great consideration, were Aramis Ramirez and Adrian Beltre. Beltre (33 years old) and Ramirez (34 years old) will simply experience too much decline over the next five years, although they could easily out produce the aforementioned honorable mention players in 2013.

(*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***)

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Fantasy Baseball Analyst, Peter Stein. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Peter on Twitter (@peterWstein)***

 

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Posted on October 16, 2012, in Players: Fantasy Baseball Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. If the ground rule is “over the next five years” I will acknowledge yourchoices but without hesitation choose Manny Machado the 20 year old with Baltimore at third base for about two months. His defensive skills are phenominal, particularly since he has been a short stop. He was brought up from AA to tighten up the Orioles’ pathetic defense, which he did considerably. He is a natural third baseman! He he is one of 4 rookies to hit a homerun in each of his first three games in the Majors-that list starts with Mickey Mantle. His relative inexperience may disqualify him from current serious consideration, but I think it would be a mistake to fail to add him to your radar screen for future consideration.
    Born a Brooklyn Dodger Fan while growing up in Kansas as a Pale Face who knew their adding Jackie Robinson was brilliant on so many levels!

  2. I dont think Machado is quite ready to produce at this level, especially during his first few full big league seasons. In four or five years, he might absolutely be among the best. I still think he will have some struggles next season. His minor league numbers this year were not too impressive, and although you are right he did have some major league success this year, I think he will have his struggles next season.

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