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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:
B = Bats.  T = Throws.  Age = Player's Age as of October 1, 2006.
Proj. = Rotohelp's projected 2006 stats and fantasy values for each player.
2006 = Each player's final 2006 stat line and fantasy values.
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2006.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement; aRAR = RAR adjusted to
consider a player's 2006 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players by position 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 all players in the league where they began the season.

19.  Jeff KeppingerKC RoyalsAge: 26B:R   T:R

Last spring Keppinger nearly won the Mets' second base job, but he instead returned to AAA Norfolk(IL), where he posted .300/.353/.359 averages with 2 HR, 26 RBI, and a 28:21 BB:K in 323 AB. New York dealt him to Kansas City for Ruben Gotay in July, yet apparently neither Keppinger's .354/.407/.465 performance with a 12:9 BB:K in 127 AB for AAA Omaha(PCL) nor his equally respectable stats with the Royals pleased Dayton Moore. Kansas City re-signed Mark Grudzielanek despite the reasonable chance that Keppinger could post similar stats for a tenth of the cost, and then earlier this month the Royals DFA's Keppinger, eventually dealing him to the Reds for minor league pitcher Russ Haltiwanger. Keppinger now enters camp with little chance of landing a bench job thanks to the club's commitment to carrying three catchers. He could produce perfectly solid stats if given the chance, but until you see some club actually give him a starting job, he won't contribute to fantasy teams as more than roster filler.

20.  John HattigTOR Blue JaysAge: 26B:S   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Toronto for my comments on Hattig.

21.  Terry TiffeeMIN TwinsAge: 27B:S   T:R

Tiffee actually spent more than two months with the Twins this summer, but Ron Gardenhire never really used him once Nick Punto won the third base job. Instead Tiffee spent most of the year at AAA Rochester(IL), where he slumped all the way to a .273/.314/.377 performance with 4 HR, 38 RBI, and a 20:50 BB:K in 308 AB. The minor league deal he signed with Baltimore probably only will lead to a brief stint as injury filler since Tiffee needs to rediscover his lost power stroke to receive another extended look in the majors.

22.  Tony BatistaMIN TwinsAge: 32B:R   T:R

Few moves last winter proved worse than the one-year contract Minnesota awarded Tony Batista, who hasn't posted an above-average offensive season since nearly the beginning of the decade. His struggles directly contributed to the club's early struggles, and his release in June unsurprisingly coincided with the Twins' surge into contention. Batista hasn't signed anywhere for 2007 and won't add anything more than an occasional homer even if somehow does find a big league job this year.

23.  Sean BurroughsTB Devil RaysAge: 26B:L   T:R

Acquired last winter from San Diego for Dewon Brazelton in a trade that helped neither team, Burroughs played terribly in the majors, somehow hit worse in the minors, and also missed much of the season with back problems. The minor league deal he landed with Seattle assures him of nothing other than a decent chance of a regular job in Tacoma and the opportunity to resurrect his squandered potential. I don't envision Burroughs returning to positive fantasy value with the Mariners this summer.

24.  Howie ClarkBAL OriolesAge: 32B:L   T:R

Although Clark briefly poked his head back into the majors, he spent most of the year at AAA Omaha(PCL), where he registered an unimpressive .263/.342/.351 output with 3 HR, 27 RBI, and a 36:28 BB:K in 308 AB. Signing with San Diego for 2007 doesn't provide him any clearer path to playing time since the Padres still possess decent depth of superior corner options on their 40-man roster. Unfortunately, Clark lacks the skills to emerge as more than roster filler even if he lands a job on San Diego's bench.

25.  Andy MarteCLE IndiansAge: 22B:R   T:R

Ranked among the top prospects in the game a year ago, Marte nevertheless found himself traded first by the Braves for Edgar Renteria and then by the Red Sox in a larger deal for Coco Crisp. Neither franchise generally allows future stars to depart the organization, so although Marte appears prepared to anchor the hot corner in Cleveland for years to come, his struggles last summer didn't surprise me. He only managed a .261/.322/.451 performance with 15 HR, 46 RBI, and a 34:81 BB:K in 357 AB for AAA Buffalo(IL), a far cry from the .276/.373/.508 he posted at Richmond in 2005. Hopefully he just suffered from boredom from repeating a level since he only turned 23 in October and faces no real challenge for playing time after the Indians dealt Kevin Kouzmanoff to the Padres. Marte's discipline and power potential at least make him a good gamble, and although he may drag down your BA in the short term, his long-term upside places him along side any young third baseman in the league. Take advantage of the current dip in his value to snag Marte anywhere under $10 in all AL keeper leagues.

26.  Josh FieldsCH White SoxAge: 23B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Chicago(A) for my comments on Fields.

27.  Luis RodriguezMIN TwinsAge: 26B:S   T:R

Somehow Rodriguez spent the entire year with the Twins yet only played about once every three days. He added little at the plate or in the field, instead just basically serving as the club's backup shortstop. Minnesota non-tendered him in December, but he immediately signed a minor league deal and will compete with Rule 5 pick Alejandro Machado to return to his old job in 2007. Of course, even if Rodriguez remains in the majors, he won't see sufficient playing time to warrant consideration as anything more than roster filler in any fantasy league.

28.  Ramon VazquezCLE IndiansAge: 30B:L   T:R

Vazquez broke camp with the Indians, headed to AAA Buffalo in mid-May, returned to Cleveland four weeks later, headed back to Buffalo at the trade deadline, spent one last day in the majors in August and then found himself DFA'd. He only managed 166 AB throughout the season, so although the minor league deal he signed with the Rangers gives him a great chance to remain in the majors, essentially sitting out 2006 leaves him with little obvious short-term upside. As Vazquez no longer possess much power or speed, even his respectable plate discipline only insures a decent BA in Texas, likely resulting in no more than a couple bucks of fantasy value regardless of his playing time.

29.  Edgardo AlfonzoLAA/TORAge: 32B:R   T:R

The exchange of Edgardo Alfonzo for Steve Finley last winter seemed a decent challenge trade, but while Finley at least provided decent outfield support for San Francisco, Alfonzo's career ground to a complete halt. Los Angeles cut him after just seven weeks, and while he quickly signed with Toronto, the Jays also dropped him in less than a month. After a brief stint in the Atlantic league, he finished his season with an unimpressive stint for AAA Norfolk after returning to the Mets and now appears closer to retirement than earning regular work in the majors. Don't expect Alfonzo to return to positive value barring a shocking return of his seemingly lost bat speed.

30.  Antonio PerezOAK AthleticsAge: 26B:R   T:R

I expected Antonio Perez's inclusion in the Milton Bradley-Andre Ethier exchange would insure a big win in that trade for Oakland, but Perez instead finished as the least valuable fantasy player among all AL hitters. He seemingly never recovered from the bout of dizziness that affected him at the end of camp. I suspect that the general lack of playing time afford him behind Marco Scutaro on the Athletics' bench caused most of his problems, but Perez enters 2007 in a similar situation unless new manager Bob Geren can create a more equitable rotation. Counting on Perez in any capacity appears a mistake until he proves that last season wasn't just an unfortunate fluke.

Third Base Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Only Andy Marte merits a spot on your fantasy team from these third basemen as perhaps half of these guys might not even return to the majors any time soon. Keppinger isn't bad, and Fields certainly will skyrocket in value if he finds any playing time, but right now spending more than a reserve pick on anyone discussed above other than Marte is a mistake.

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