The corners of the infield should really be classified as a Tale of Two Positions. Where at First Base you have perhaps the deepest position in the infield, Third Base is exact opposite. The hot corner is top heavy and represents a potential problem in any format once outside of the top-ten. Even within it there is a fair amount of risk based upon the youth. Rookies such as Brett Lawrie show up within the top band and more young players are inside the top-20 than many would probably like. First Base represents far less such risk. While there are a couple options that are challenges, the players seem far â€œsafer.â€
In head-to-head formats, power absolutely HAS to come from the guys manning the right side. On average each starter produces 22 home runs. Getting behind by not drafting someone that can replicate that at First Base will be a problem. The good news is that 19 players are projected by FantasyPros911 to better that mark. First base also has the most 100-RBI players of any position and 20 players will better the positional average of 81.
What many forget is the same is needed out of Third Base and it is not as readily available. Only 13 players are expected to crack the 19-home run average at the position and just 11 will better the 75 RBI mark. The cliff is steep and needs to be watched.
Bearing all this in mind, the HVaC scores for the positions are adjusted in different ways. At third, we need to add a scarcity factor to help each player and underscore the need to own a marquee player at the position. On the other side of the infield we can leave the scores neutral. Plenty of depth is available to let each player stand on his own. At both spots, we can play down steals. While they are a bonus to come out of the players here it is far from a necessity. It would be far worse to miss out on the other power categories than to focus on adding speed.
Need a review of the HVaC method? Check that out here.
So how do the rankings play out and what do you need to know? Check it out here starting with First Base.
- Miguel Cabrera breaks away at the top of First Base, but the next three are all close. Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, and Prince Fielder are all within a point of each other and can ostensibly be interchanged with a shift of only a few RBI or runs scored.
- A couple of interesting names inside the top-ten are David Ortiz and Paul Konerko. Ortiz is on this list at number six, but obviously that would change if he is not eligible at the position in your specific league. Konerko is often overlooked but has been a source of consistency over the years. Projections of 29 home runs and 94 RBI to go with a .286 average make him a solid even though not sexy selection.
- At numbers 10 and 11 overall, both Michael Morse and Lance Berkman have strong cases but are both likely looking at some sort of regression. Morse came out of nowhere last season. While he has hit in the minors he needs to prove it can be done twice. Berkman will be dealing without Pujols in the lineup and has an age factor to worry about as well. Good projections, but be careful.
- One enigma is Mark Teixeira. He is projected to put up 100 runs and 116 RBI to go with 36 home runs, but his continued drop in average makes him a challenge to own. That one spot kills his rank and drops him to number 14 overall at the position. Five other players will go 30-100-100, so those numbers do not make the Yankee unique. Playing for New York will mean a tax has to be paid to own him in terms of spots and rounds. Largely, his numbers in the three categories do not separate him enough to ignore the declining average that has been seen.
- Once outside the top-15, the next major group is largely interchangeable and includes some of the younger players. Paul Goldschmidt, Brandon Belt, Gaby Sanchez, and Yonder Alonso are within only a point or two and all have upsides and downsides with their selection. Also in this group are seasoned veterans Justin Morneau, Carlos Lee, and Carlos Pena. Ultimately in a head-to-head it is tough to make a case to start these players at First Base itself but all are worth either a bench spot or CI start.
There are a few things worth noting at Third Base as well.
- To put the difference between the corners in perspective, the tenth ranked Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez would be number 13 if he only qualified at First Baseâ€¦and it drops very quickly from that point on for the guys playing third. A second example is Kevin Youkilis. He checks in as the number nine ranked third basemen but is 15th at first base.
- Jose Bautista claims the top spot here and it is not even close. He showed last season that 2010 was no fluke. Guessing that he will fall off the face of the earth could cost a fantasy owner far more than just not owning Bautista.
- To say that there is risk in drafting David Wright is probably an understatement at this point. Wright is already injured this Spring and could not stay on the field last year, costing many. The issue is that when healthy he is one of the best at the position and the Metsâ€™ decision to move the fences in can only help him. He has great potential, but huge risk given how early Wright is going in drafts.
- The point was made about the youth at third in the opening paragraphs. Lawrie finds himself as the fourth ranked player here. His blend of power, average, and speed make him a rare combination that has the upside to blow away most players that will be compared against him. The Royals will play Mike Moustakas and he could easily be a 20-home run threat to go with run and RBI totals in the seventies. Moustakas finds himself at number 14 overall. World Series hero David Freese gives owners a balanced production though nothing spectacular at any one spot. The numbers allow him to check in at number 11 overall. Just beware of the injury history.
- Two players somewhat buried here that should be watched are Pedro Alvarez and Ian Stewart. Alvarez played himself out of the job last year and he never found his way back. Stewart is looked at by many as a potential breakout candidate. Check out this site for more detail on Stewart.
Here is how everything plays out at First Base for the top 30â€¦
…and at Third Base.