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NL Third Basemen: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National 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.

Mike Lowell500118.2368584563
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 31B:R    T:R02-7.6-7.8

The Marlins and everyone around the majors treated Lowell as an absolute pariah this winter as a recipient of a $25.5M/3 firmed extension a year ago, which pays him upward of eight million per year in 2006 and 2007. He also combusted at the plate, registering the lowest marks of his career in every major statistical category. However, nothing in his skills truly changed, leaving his BA and power erosion unexplained. Baseball insiders may know the reason for Lowell's offensive outage, but lacking any logical explanation for the downturn, I expect a full rebound with his move from Dolphins Stadium to Fenway Park. The Red Sox essentially stole an All-Star third baseman, and if he performs as expected, Lowell will win Comeback Player of the Year in an absolute walk. I see nothing wrong with bidding into the low teens, albeit with the full knowledge that the afflicting phenomenon could return in 2006 to ruin your purchase.

Lenny Harris7022.314113053OD
FLO Marlins4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 40B:L    T:R0-12.61.8

Harris accumulated 68 of his 78 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter, appearing in five games more than his PA total as a defensive sub at first and in the outfield. Even this fluke BA did not provide him positive roto value, and as one of the only veterans returning to the Marlins, he easily could slip toward his .211 2004 average. Do not bid on Harris and only employ him as roster filler as a last resort.

Sean Burroughs28471.2501174203
SD Padres4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 25B:L    T:R-1-1-7.8-8.1

I understand why the Padres needed to divest themselves of Burroughs, but I fully expect the kid to mature into a solid big league regular. He still owns decent patience and overall plate discipline, and only his persistently poor 2.20 G-F prevents him from demonstrating acceptable power. Leaving PETCO for Tropicana Field and likely entering into a platoon with Ty Wigginton significantly improves his chances of rebounding in 2006. Although I see a lot more immediate upside in Wigginton's skills, which could enable the former Pirate to push Burroughs out of the lineup, a set platoon makes sense for all parties. Expect Burroughs to build on his .270/.343/.319 performance against right-handers, hopefully adding the power sorely missing from his major league game while earning several bucks of fantasy value regardless of his extra-base output.

Trent Durrington143.21402533
MIL Brewers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:R    T:R-1-2-1.2-1.2

Compiling a .293/.383/.402 line with a 30/42 SB% and a 41:63 BB:K in 331 AB for AAA Nashville(PCL) did not persuade either the Brewers to keep Durrington on the 40-man roster or Durrington to remain in the organization following his outright from the roster. Now he barely seems likely to find an NRI, and given his persistently poor performance when promoted to the majors, even his SB upside does not warrant much fantasy attention. He may never earn positive roto value.

Scott Rolen19646.2355281283
STL Cardinals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 30B:R    T:R-1-1-1.22.1

Rolen recovered from his 2004 calf problem by spring training and then registered slightly shallow April numbers, including a .268/.355/.463 with 3 HR, 12 RBI, and an 11:11 BB:K in 82 AB, which portended further improvement. Unfortunately for his owners, he sprained his left shoulder in early May, required surgery to repair a small labrum tear later that month, and then did not return until the middle of June. A perfectly awful month resulted in him heading back to the DL after the All-Star break before finally deciding in mid-August to undergo season-ending surgery to fully repair his torn labrum. Looking at his year as a whole, only his BA drop truly troubles me, and thanks to his overall superb skill levels, Rolen should rebound to an All-Star level if fully recovered by April as expected. However, although I want to recommend pushing bidding past $20, a combination of the multitude of acceptable NL third base options and general concerns regarding Rolen's BA and power prevent me from endorsing him as a franchise anchor this summer.

Carlos Baerga15840.2532190183
WAS Nationals4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 36B:S    T:R-2-2-4.1-6.8

Moving into a Lenny Harris or Julio Franco role might extend Baerga's career a couple more years, but with little power or patience remaining in his skills, he appears unlikely to aid any fantasy team. Do not even add him as roster filler unless he lands in a very comfortable hitters' park.

Bobby Hill9325.2690110123
PIT Pirates4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 27B:S    T:R-2-2-0.8-1.1

Ostensibly acquired by San Diego to compete for the second base job with Josh Barfield, Mark Bellhorn, and Geoff Blum, Hill does not even look likely to break camp in the majors with several superior candidates available to occupy the reserve jobs after Barfield joins Khalil Green in the middle infield. Although Hill still possesses some value due to his generally positive OBP, the complete disappearance of his speed without an accompanying power surge renders him nearly useless to roto owners. You cannot risk owning him with the expectation of any fantasy upside until we see some improvement in his quantitative stats.

Mike Edwards23959.2473151233O
LA Dodgers4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R-2-2-5.9-6.9

Finally given a chance to play regularly by Jim Tracy, Edwards failed to fulfill the promise of his minor league stats. He posted a 2.04 G-F while demonstrating patience at the plate after his initial month in the majors. Now he moves to Pittsburgh with Tracy, seemingly destined to spend the summer in Indianapolis barring an injury-induced opening on the big league roster. Despite my past support of the minor league veteran, Edwards needs to produce better numbers in the majors before he deserves a place on anyone's fantasy squad.

Third Base Week concludes tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Only Mike Lowell meets with my enthusiastic approval among possible draft targets from today's third basemen. Sean Burroughs and Lowell are the two players likely to earn a profit on their respective costs, since I expect Rolen will earn his salary in very few leagues while the others here barely belong in the majors at all.

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