In 2010 fantasy baseball, the third base position is very top-heavy. Six third basemen posted an OPS of .880 or higher in 2009 and four drove in 100 or more RBI. Yet beyond the top few players at the position, there are few reliable options for fantasy starters. This lack of depth makes third base a critical position in fantasy baseball in 2010.
1. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Though he has barely been in the league for two seasons, Evan Longoria has already established himself as an excellent hitter. Longoria hit 27 and 33 home runs respectively in his first two years, reaching 113 RBI with 100 runs scored in 2009. He has also added a combined 16 stolen bases in his first two seasons. Longoria is one of baseball’s best rising stars and he is a good bet to be the top 2010 fantasy baseball third baseman.
2. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
After preseason hip surgery, Alex Rodriguez played a strong 2009 season. While playing in Coors East is helping to keep his power numbers high, Rodriguez is no longer one of the elite home run hitters. Rodriguez hit 35 and 30 home runs and drove in 103 and 100 RBI in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Last season, his average dropped to .286 which matched his lowest mark in a decade. He continues to put up solid stolen base numbers with 14 in 124 games in 2009. Age may be catching up with Rodriguez, but he remains a frontline 2010 fantasy baseball third baseman.
3. Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks
2009 was a monster breakout year for Mark Reynolds who led all third basemen by far with 44 home runs. He also drove home 102 RBI and scored 98 runs, all career highs for the third year slugger. To add to the power numbers, Reynolds stole 24 bases in 2009, third among third basemen. Reynolds has two questionable aspects: his batting average was .260 in 2009 and just .239 in 2008, and his 2009 represented a huge performance spike which may be difficult to repeat.
4. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
The Washington Nationals have little to brag about, but they do have one of the best young third basemen in the game. Ryan Zimmerman is coming off of a 33 home run, 110 runs scored, 106 RBI performance in 2009. All were career highs, as were his .292 average and .888 OPS. Zimmerman is exhibiting the benefits that come with playing in a deeper lineup; after back to back seasons as one of the NL’s worst hitting teams, the Nationals were a middle of the road offense in 2009.
5. David Wright, New York Mets
In 2009, David Wright experienced a power outage. After becoming a reliable 30 home run 100 RBI hitter, Wright hit just 10 homers, drove in 72 RBI, and saw his slugging percentage plummet by nearly .100 points. Not all can be blamed on new Citi Field, as Wright hit five home runs at home and five on the road. However, at least some of Wright’s game remained intact, including 27 stolen bases and a .307 batting average. Even if Wright’s power numbers remain low, his speed, average, and run scoring numbers make him a top five 2010 fantasy baseball third baseman.