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AL Third Basemen: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Third Basemen with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.  B = Bats.  T = Throws.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2005.
Age = Player's Age as of October 2, 2005.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement in 2005; Adjusted RAR = RAR modified to
consider a player's 2005 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed each player in the league where he started the season.

Pablo Ozuna20356.27601114273
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R98-5.7-7.5

Finally receiving a chance to contribute in the majors, Ozuna pushed Wilson Valdez off the roster last year and forced out Willie Harris this winter. Now Ozuna returns as the only viable backup shortstop and significant SB threat off the bench, positioning himself for a similarly valuable season due to his speed skills. A startling 5.80 G-F demonstrates that Ozuna clearly knows where his bread is buttered - like everyone else's bread, inside the crusts - so expect him to contribute several bucks of value on what should not cost you more than a couple bucks in the endgame. Try to slot him at UT so you can easily shift him to MIF once he re-qualifies at shortstop.

Joe Crede432109.25222621543
CH White Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:R893.36.7

The second most valuable White Sox third baseman in standard leagues, Crede finally fulfilled his promise as the former top prospect in the system by compiling a .289/.327/.622 performance in 45 post-season at-bats, providing timely production that consistently advanced Chicago to their title. Unfortunately, he did not approach that output during the season as a few minor injuries, including a broken finger, led to awful numbers in May and August, effectively sabotaging his otherwise impressive averages. He only needs to avoid the DL in 2006 to head toward a .270/30/90 season, and given he possesses plenty of power potential, you should consider bidding into the low teens if you can weather his possibly problematic batting average.

Aaron Boone511124.24316609613
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:R    T:R89-8.4-2.3

Boone remains the person most responsible for ARod's move to New York due to his untimely torn ACL two years ago. After an awful start that saw him carrying .151/.203/.252 averages as late as June 4th, he began hitting in Chicago and held a .300 average for the next few months before understandably wilting in September. Remaining reasonably patient, powerful, and effective on the bases provides him an excellent opportunity for a stronger rebound this year, so although contact issues could keep his BA low, Boone otherwise looks like a useful component of any fantasy team for somewhere around $10.

Mike Cuddyer422111.26312423553O
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R887.45

I still expect Cuddyer to win the starting third base job over Tony Batista this spring, but even if he opens the year on Minnesota's bench, Cuddyer should see regular playing time as the primary back-up at third, first, right field, left field, and DH. Consider him a virtual 10th man, and if he builds on his powerful second half, he will look like a steal anywhere in single digits given his likely defensive flexibility. A probable retreat from a career-worst 1.80 G-F even may push his homer total toward 20, making Cuddyer an especially good pick in keeper league endgames.

Alex S. Gonzalez34994.2699382473
TB Devil Rays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:R    T:R773.13.5

Even a strained neck could not prevent Gonzalez from spending most of the year as Tampa's starting third baseman, a gross misallocation of resources wisely corrected this year by the acquisition of Sean Burroughs and continuous trade rumors involving Andy Marte. Gonzalez now looks unlikely to land more than an NRI due to his meager offensive numbers and diminishing defensive utility, though he demonstrated surprisingly respectable power skills. He will not hurt you for a minimal ante even if he lands in another poor hitters' park.

Mark Teahen447110.2467557603
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 24B:L    T:R67-4.2-1.6

Mild back problems destroyed Teahen's April, an unfortunate development that reinforced his need for more AAA seasoning. The good news is that his skills nicely improved in the second half, and consistently impressive fielding virtually insures he will remain at third base indefinitely in Kansas City. Teahen only needs to cut his 2.11 G-F to develop into an intriguing offensive threat, so even if you miss your chance to grab him on draft day, try to deal for Teahen during the season before his almost certain breakout in 2007.

Corey Koskie35488.24911364493
TOR Blue Jays4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:L    T:R564.710.3

Heading home to Canada proved an unsatisfactory experience for Koskie, however his recent trade to Milwaukee presents an intriguing opportunity for him to key a perhaps unlikely playoff run. I highly doubt another fluke thumb injury will destroy this summer, and the developing Brewer lineup offers plenty of RBI opportunities for the sporadically productive veteran. While you should snatch him if bidding stalls below $10, also acquire a competent alternative to cover the lineup spot during his inevitable trip to the DL. Even the reasonable likelihood of Koskie ending his five-year streak of declining game and at-bat totals cannot convince me to project more than 400 at-bats here.

Dallas McPherson20550.2448263293
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:R33-0.21

Few players seem harder to evaluate than McPherson, who could spend the year anywhere from AAA Salt Lake to the DL to the heart of the Angels' order. He entered last season as perhaps the game's top power prospect yet failed to gain any significant traction in the majors. A herniated disk delayed his promotion to Los Angeles until late April, he suffered a couple more minor injuries over the summer, and then he eventually required season-ending hip surgery at the end of August. However, the removal of a bone spur from his hip should not at all affect his power, so given his overall skill levels, McPherson only needs a solid spring to reclaim a starting job, likely as no less than Juan Rivera's platoon partner at DH. As I consider McPherson a potentially dynamic sleeper even as a reserve, ignore his wasted 2005 and bid several bucks to secure your long-term solution at third base.

Glenn Williams4017.42503133
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:S    T:R323.33.5

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Minnesota for my comments on Williams.

Kevin Youkilis7922.278190113
BOS Red Sox4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R102.43.2

Two years on Boston's bench left Euclis with respectable .265/.376/.411 averages and a 47:64 BB:K in 287 AB, which were supported by outstanding marks of 4.60 #P/PA and a .82 G-F. He also crushed opponents' offerings for AAA Pawtucket(IL), registering a .322/.459/.592 performance with 8 HR, 27 RBI, 49 R, and a 35:29 BB:K in 152 AB. Now he moves into the starting lineup as the primary first baseman and likely #2 hitter, an ideal slot for someone with his on-base skills and seemingly limited power. Remember that he possesses much more value in sim leagues, but also set a .270/15/70 base for Youkilis as a full-time player. A .300/20/100 explosion similarly would not shock me, so take full advantage of any slack in the bidding to acquire a relative youngster possessing such an impressive skill set.

Third Base Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Those few owners that do not wish to spend significant sums on one of the established third base studs in the American League will find multiple viable options here all likely available for single-digit sums. Consider Crede and Boone perfectly viable fallback options while at least one player from Cuddyer, Teahen, McPherson, and Youkilis should be available for a minimum bid in most leagues, creating an outstanding opportunity to net a long-term keeper bringing plenty of profit to your franchise.

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