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NL Third Basemen: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National 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.

Pedro Feliz569142.25020810693O
SF Giants4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R780.4-3.8

Feliz will remain at third base exclusively in 2006, since the swap of Edgardo Alfonzo for Steve Finley eliminated the Giants' only true competition for infield playing time. Losing shortstop eligibility definitely hurts Feliz given his unimpressive skills and reasonable chance of slipping back into a platoon as soon as San Francisco finds a superior option. Nothing here suggests Feliz deserves to play every day, especially with a .295 OBP dragging down the lineup. You do not want him as your starting third baseman, but if your lineup features a solid BA foundation, he at least looks like a decent corner option.

Vinny Castilla494125.25312664533
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 38B:R    T:R671.71.6

Castilla moving from Washington to San Diego netted the Nationals Brian Lawrence and left Castilla in the only big league park noticeably worse for hitters than RFK. He adds nothing to a Padre lineup that contains only a single player certain to perform above average at the plate and could completely collapse to his 2002 output at any time. Consequently, given his already meager totals last year, do not risk owning him anywhere in 2006. Drop out of any bidding that exceeds two bucks due to his complete lack of upside.

Edgardo Alfonzo368102.2772432363
SF Giants4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R55-1.5-3.8

Two awful seasons sandwiched around merely a minor uptick in 2004 resulted in Alfonzo's move to the Angels for Steve Finley this winter, providing his new club with additional infield depth if Dallas McPherson or Casey Kotchman fail to emerge as expected. Of course, beyond depth Alfonzo adds relatively little to the Angels given his current skill set. He missed over a month with quad problems, watched his patience and power continue to disintegrate, and no longer even belongs in a lineup against southpaws. However, Alfonzo only turned 32 in November and held his contact rate above .90, so feel free to select him for your corner slot as Dollar Days approach.

Jeff Cirillo18552.2814234293
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36B:R    T:R446.55.7

Returning to Milwaukee resulted in Cirillo's best year since departing Colorado for Seattle in 2002. Although he no longer possesses great patience or much power at all, his rediscovered plate discipline drove an across-the-board surge that earned him another one-year deal. While the acquisition of Corey Koskie pushes Cirillo firmly into a reserve role, rendering him mostly useless to fantasy teams, he should not hurt you whenever needed as roster filler.

Russell Branyan20252.25712311233
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:L    T:R3313.110.7

Recently released by Milwaukee, Branyan may head overseas since few teams recognize his offensive potential when placed in a strict platoon. Branyan again crushed right-handed pitching for a .280/.405/.538 output in 182 AB, though in one of Ned Yost's few obvious missteps, Branyan batted twenty-one times against southpaws and made nineteen outs. Hopefully he will land somewhere like Minnesota, San Francisco, or Philadelphia where he can partner with a similarly limited third baseman to emulate an All-Star for a fraction of the going rate, but regardless of his destination this summer, Branyan still only belongs on fantasy teams prepared to sacrifice BA for power.

Wes Helms16850.2984240183
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 29B:R    T:R327.23

Seemingly signed to replace Jeff Conine in Florida, Helms still possesses the skills that provided his 2003 breakout. Although he does not deserve to start over potential stars like Mike Jacobs and Josh Willingham, Helms will not hurt you for a minimum ante and just might produce double-digit homers if he finds a couple hundred at-bats.

Willy Aybar8628.3261103123
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22B:S    T:R2188

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Los Angeles(N) for my comments on Aybar.

David Bell557138.24810610533
PHI Phillies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 33B:R    T:R23-7.3-0.5

With only 2006 remaining on the insane four-year deal he signed after 2002, Bell could lose his starting job at any time, even to off-season pick-up Abraham O. Nunez. Another year in one of the game's best hitters' parks merely led to yet another terrible season despite little overt deterioration in his skill set. Perhaps the only good news here arose in Bell's continued slaughtering of left-handed pitchers, which guarantees him indefinite employment if not everyday at-bats. Pending free agency in a great players' market may prompt a significant rebound, but gambling more than a few bucks on that premise seems quite unwise.

Ryan Zimmerman5823.39706063
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 21B:R    T:R108.48.2

Please refer to our Post-2005 Prospect Review: Washington for my comments on Zimmerman.

Ty Wigginton15540.2587250203
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:R    T:R103.71.2

I expected a dramatic breakout here and instead watched Wigginton slip into the minors by June, only returning for occasional playing time down the stretch. Considering he abused AAA pitching for a .293/.390/.507 output in 280 AB for AAA Indianapolis(IL) and rebounded to a .267/.353/.644 May performance after an obnoxiously poor .145/.161/.200 April line, I offer Lloyd McClendon's lack of faith in Wigginton as the cause for most of his value drop. Moving to Tampa this winter provides a superb chance for him to reemerge as a fantasy threat. He should break camp as no less than Sean Burroughs's platoon partner at third base and may supplant Burroughs or push Jorge Cantu to first base by the beginning of summer. With respectable skills and plenty of roto upside, Wigginton belongs on the roster of anyone who can acquire him for a couple of bucks in the endgame.

Edwin Encarnacion21149.2329313253
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 22B:R    T:R111.60.6

Compiling a .309/.384/.546 performance with 15 HR, 54 RBI, a 7/9 SB%, and a 33:53 BB:K in 291 AB for AAA Louisville(IL) earned Encarnacion the starting job in Cincinnati at the end of July, however he completely flopped down the stretch. The good news is that a weak BA did not impede his power or patience, and with only a surprisingly low contact rate limiting his average, Encarnacion appears primed for a significant step forward. Batting at the end of perhaps the league's best overall lineup provides plenty of opportunities for success, so do not let him slide for much less than $10 in any league. Even bidding toward the teens is not a bad idea given his long-term upside, making Encarnacion a sleeper in any league.

Third Base Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Only the relatively young players discussed today merit targeting, and I even hesitate to recommend Ryan Zimmerman based on all the publicity afforded the rookie. Stick to bidding on Wigginton and Encarnacion to acquire players with the best chance of returning serious profit on your initial investment.

Click here to read the previous article.

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