Coming off a historic season, the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera is clearly the top fantasy third baseman and arguably the top player in fantasy baseball in 2013.
Not only did Miggy set career highs in home runs (44) and runs batted in (139), he became the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski won it more than 40 years ago. He led all of baseball in homers and RBI and was second in batting average (.330) behind only San Francisco's Buster Posey, who won the NL batting title with a .336 average.
As a lifetime .318 hitter, Cabrera has hit .320-plus in seven of the past eight seasons with the exception being 2008 when he hit just .292.
With the exception of his rookie season (2003) when he played only 87 games, Cabrera has driven in 100-plus runs every year and has at least 125 RBI in three of the his five seasons in Detroit. He also has scored at least 109 runs in each of the past three seasons.
While he's unlikely to repeat as a Triple Crown winner, Cabrera is one of the most dangerous and consistent hitters in the game and should continue to put up MVP-caliber numbers that fantasy owners can take to the bank.
Monster Second Half for Headley
San Diego's Chase Headley has been a consistent source of stolen bases at a position that typically lacks speedsters. With double-digit steals in the past four seasons, Headley tied his career high with 17 steals last year. Of all third base-eligible players, only Hanley Ramirez had more steals (21).
It was Headley's power production, however, that was noteworthy.
Headley, who turns 29 this season, hit nearly as many home runs in 2012 as he had hit in the rest of his career combined. Before last season's career-high 31 home runs, Headley had never hit more than 12 in any season.
In addition to shattering his career high in homers, Headley drove in an NL-high 115 runs, which is more than 50 RBI higher than his previous career high (64) set in 2009 as well.
While he had a solid first half, Headley was as dominant as any hitter in the second half. In 75 games after the All-Star break, he hit .308 with 23 home runs and 73 runs batted in.
Can he carry that type of momentum over into the 2013 season?
Breakout Year for Alvarez
After a solid debut for Pittsburgh Pirates third base prospect Pedro Alvarez in 2010, he could not have frustrated fantasy owners much more than he did in 2011.
As a rookie, Alvarez, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, hit 16 home runs with 64 runs batted in with a fair (but not great) .256 average in 95 games.
Not only did he hit below the Mendoza Line in his second season (.191), but the slugger hit a mere four home runs in 262 big league at-bats in 2011. He spent 42 games in the minors that season.
From a batting-average standpoint, Alvarez hit much better from June to October (.259) last year than he did in March through May (.205).
While he will never win any batting titles, Alvarez had the type of power production last year that many expected in 2011. He finished the year with 30 home runs and 85 runs batted in, both of which were career highs.
Some More Third Basemen Notes
After an injury-shortened 2011 campaign, New York Mets third baseman David Wright played 156 games and had a strong all-around season in 2012. Hitting above .300 for the first time since 2009, Wright hit 21 home runs, stole 15 bases, scored 91 runs and drove in 93 runs. As much as any other third baseman, he's a strong contributor in all five roto categories.
Baltimore's Manny Machado is one of the game's top young players and won't turn 21 until early July. With tremendous promise, Machado played 51 games last season and should be the Orioles' everyday third baseman in 2013. Unless you're in a deep or AL-only league and need to start Machado, he provides plenty of upside as a bench guy.
Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria is my second-ranked third baseman, but the obvious concern is durability. Playing a total of only 207 games in the past two years combined, his 162-game pace over that span is for 37.57 home runs and 120.52 runs batted in. Of course, the question is how many of those 162 games will he miss?
In his first season with the Brewers, Aramis Ramirez hit 27 home runs and scored 92 runs to go along with 105 runs batted in, all of which are four-year highs. In addition, he hit .300 for a second consecutive season. After stealing a total of nine bases from 2003 to 2011, Ramirez stole a career-high nine bases last season alone.
Here are my third basemen rankings for the 2013 fantasy baseball season (based on Yahoo! eligibility):
1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
2. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
3. David Wright, New York Mets
4. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
6. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
7. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
8. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
9. Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays
10. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
11. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels
12. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
13. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
14. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates
15. Will Middlebrooks, Boston Red Sox
16. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
17. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
18. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
19. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
20. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
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