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AL Third Basemen: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Third Basemen without 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.

Jose Hernandez23454.23163112831
CLE Indians4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36B:R    T:R01-9.6-10.3

No public explanation exists for Hernandez's disappearance. While his patience drooped, a lower walk rate does not account for his plummet from 26 extra-base hits to half that total. He even bumped up his contact rate and maintained his extreme platoon split, albeit at an OPS 300 points below his 2004 mark against all pitchers. Expecting no less than a marginal rebound makes the most sense, but Hernandez also turns 37 next summer and has not signed this winter, effectively preventing me from recommending him as more than roster filler regardless of where he lands.

Joe McEwing18043.2391641631
KC Royals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:R    T:R00-10.1-10.1

With only an annual quartet of steals giving him any roto utility, McEwing simply does not belong on any fantasy roster even if he earns his way back onto the Royals with a good camp. Poor plate discipline and negligible power provide no upside, so since he offers nothing more than his mediocre speed, you cannot risk owning him anywhere.

Robb Quinlan13431.2315140173
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R00-3.1-3.4

A fairly atrocious first half surprisingly resulted in a brief demotion for Quinlan to AAA Salt Lake, where he crushed PCL pitching for a couple weeks until returned to the Angels. Unfortunately, he headed to the DL with a disk problem in his neck scarcely three days following his recall, which sidelined him for most of the summer. The good news is that he rebounded down the stretch and compiled a .289/.318/.542 output against southpaws last year, likely securing a job as Casey Kotchman's platoon partner to begin 2006. Although his playing time should diminish as Kotchman gains experience, Quinlan retains relatively solid skills and looks like a wonderful Dollar Days target for your corner or utility slot.

Russ Johnson184.22200053
NY Yankees4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:R    T:R-1-1-0.8-0.6

Another decent year in the minors led to two months in the majors for Johnson. He registered a .292/.377/.477 performance with a 39:50 BB:K in 281 AB for AAA Columbus(IL), and though he lacks significant power or speed, he still possesses the overall skill levels necessary to reemerged as a viable fantasy option. Of course, after four years of negative roto value, you should wait until his BA improves before even considering Johnson as roster filler.

Lou Merloni50.00001013
LA Angels4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34B:R    T:R-1-2-0.8-0.9

With his return to Cleveland failing to result in the acquisition of Nomar, Merloni seems set to spend the summer at AAA Buffalo, since the club's four bench spots already appear assigned to Ramon Vazquez, Eduardo Perez, Josh Bard or another catcher, and an outfielder, likely Jason Dubois. After missing nearly all of 2005 due to torn ankle ligaments, Merloni probably will not receive so much as a mid-season promotion unless injuries create an opening.

Terry Tiffee15031.207115193
MIN Twins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:S    T:R-3-3-8.8-7.9

The biggest sleeper in Minnesota's infield derby, Tiffee unfortunately failed to fulfill his previous promise, demonstrating little skill with the Twins and posting an unimpressive .266/.313/.454 output with a 15:24 BB:K in 229 AB for AAA Rochester(IL). While Tiffee turns 27 in April and excelled at the plate the past two seasons, his steady stream of groundballs offers little possibility of a power surge. Require the return of his formerly respectable patience before considering Tiffee for any team.

Scott Spiezio473.06411023
SEA Mariners4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:S    T:R-5-5-6.4-6.2

With additional injury problems merely forestalling the inevitable, Spiezio finally earned his release from Seattle in September, not even two years into his three-year contract. He tallied a mere .064/.137/.149 line last summer, scary numbers for a pitcher and unfathomable for someone perennially earning double-digit value in Anaheim earlier this decade. Despite some minor hints of a skill rebound, Spiezio does not warrant any further fantasy consideration until he both secures a regular big league job and begins echoing his Anaheim stats. The low likelihood of either of those scenarios occurring in 2006 could lead to a shockingly premature conclusion to his career.

Third Base Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Hew toward the multitude of third base options listed over the previous couple of days in an attempt to avoid acquiring most of the players presented today. Only Robb Quinlan deserves any attention in spring drafts, while even great camps from Hernandez and Tiffee will not elevate them to more than reserve picks after their 2005 performances.

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