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NL Third Basemen: Day Three
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National League Third Basemen with 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.

17.  Morgan EnsbergHOU AstrosAge: 31B:R   T:R

Ensberg's awful BA completely obfuscates an otherwise solid season. He managed a respectable .463 SLG and impressive .396 OBP, buoyed by an utterly remarkable 101 walks in only 387 at-bats. Shoulder problems caused most of his problems, and if fully recovered in 2007, Ensberg should reemerge as a solid $20 option despite the presence of Mike Lamb and Mark Loretta. He remains a perfect fit in a lineup with far too few players capable of posting acceptable OBPs, so feel free to bid well into the teens to secure his services.

18.  Corey KoskieMIL BrewersAge: 33B:L   T:R

After posting a half-season of remarkably solid stats in his first year with Milwaukee, Koskie suffered a weird concussion while chasing a pop-up in early July that not only ended his 2006 campaign but now jeopardizes his 2007 debut. Retaining Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino gives the Brewers the flexibility to allow Koskie to return at a slower pace, but with his at-bats dropping in six straight seasons and no guarantee of good health this summer, he appears one of the riskiest options available to fantasy owners. I see no reason to bother bidding more than a few bucks on a player with a questionable batting average and significant injury questions that also could affect his power potential.

19.  Willy AybarLAD/ATLAge: 23B:S   T:R

Acquired with Danys Baez in July for Wilson Betemit, Aybar appears highly unlikely to emerge as the Braves' new starting second baseman despite a skill set that suggests more offensive upside than any of the club's current alternatives. He instead seems likely to fill Betemit's old utility role, most likely seeing the majority of his playing time as Chipper's primary sub at third. The good news is that Aybar's impressive plate discipline gives him a solid foundation for future growth, so although I won't recommend targeting him in most leagues, grabbing him during Dollar Days just might net a fantastic keeper if injuries create playing time for this promising youngster.

20.  Jose BautistaPIT PiratesAge: 25B:R   T:R

Bounced through three big league clubhouses in 2004 as a Rule 5 pick before returning to the Pirates, Bautista reestablished his prospect credentials at AA Altoona in 2005 before earning another shot in the majors with a .277/.370/.426 performance on a 14:19 BB:K in 101 AB for AAA Indianapolis(IL) last spring. He sizzled at the plate during his first two months, compiling 10 HR, 27 RBI, and .268/.360/.503 averages in 183 first-half at-bats before collapsing after the break to the tune of an awful .207/.313/.350. Considering Bautista only turned 26 in August and owns decent plate discipline and intriguing power potential, I want to forecast continued improvement. Unfortunately, with Chris Duffy, Xavier Nady, and Adam LaRoche now respectively starting at center, right, and first, plus Freddy Sanchez certain to play every day, the only everyday job available for Bautista involves forcing Jose Castillo off second base, possibly by pushing Sanchez to his left. We could see him reach 20 homers and 75 RBI with a little luck, however given his BA difficulties and the competition for at-bats in Pittsburgh, I don't consider Bautista a particularly good gamble. Only rebuilding teams should bid much more than the minimum in the hope of landing a solid keeper.

21.  Joe RandaPIT PiratesAge: 37B:R   T:R

With injuries reducing him to part-time status and few teams looking for a mediocre veteran third baseman thanks to the cadre of promising youngsters emerging at his position in recent years, Randa effectively retired after completing his twelfth season in the fall. Doomed to spend most of his career on second division Royals' squads, Randa finally reached the playoffs after a mid-season trade landed him in San Diego in 2005. Unfortunately, his return to Pittsburgh last year prevented a repeat of that success, leaving little reason for Randa to remain in baseball with his skills clearly on the decline. He possesses negligible fantasy value even if he unexpectedly plays in 2007.

Third Base Week concludes tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Aybar and Bautista respectively offer intriguing BA and power potential, and both players could emerge as solid keepers given their base tools and solid skills. However, most owners should view them merely as potential trade bait, instead focusing on players far more likely to return decent 2007 numbers. Ensberg falls into that latter category, and if bidding stalls in the teens after his 2006 struggles, take advantage of that misdirected concern to grab someone capable of turning a 50% profit for you at a salary of $20 or less.

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