Baseball Press presents a returning miniseries entitled "Three Up, Three Down". We'll review player performances from last season and whether or not we feel they are capable of either improving upon last season's performance, or if the player had a "lucky" season in 2012.
So far, we've covered catchers, first basemen, second basemen, and shortstops for the upcoming 2013 season. Third base is one of the deeper positions in fantasy this year. A reigning American League Triple Crown winner and six every day players that had a batting average of .300 or better. Below are guys to grab, and three others to avoid.
- Atlanta Braves
Heralded as a top prospect in the Houston Astros organization at one time, Chris Johnson's minor league accomplishments did not follow him to the major league level until last season. In 2012, he posted a .281/.326/.481 triple-slash, with 15 home runs, while splitting time between the Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks. His off-season trade to Atlanta should not hurt his value because of his reverse platoon numbers against right-handed pitching. Even with Juan Francisco
on the 25-man roster, the 28-year-old Johnson should still see most starts, even against right-handed pitching because of this. A .280/.325/.480 triple-slash will be a good base line for this season, with 20 home runs well within reach.
Having been drafted two rounds behind former organizational top prospect Dustin Ackley
, Kyle Seager has seemed to live in Ackely's shadow until the second half of last season. In the second half of 2012, Seager hit 10 home runs, posted a .276 batting average, and stole six bases. What is really encouraging for fantasy owners entering this season though, were his last 120 at-bats of 2012, when he hit five home runs while posting a .298/.336/.496 triple-slash line. You can't necessarily cry small sample size over that many at-bats. Look for the 25-year-old Seager to completely step out of Ackley's shadow this season, becoming one of the premier young players to man the hot corner in the major leagues.Martin Prado
- Arizona Dimaondbacks
The trade between the Atlanta Braves and Diamondbacks was a win-win for both sides, as both teams acquired pieces they were looking for over the off-season. Martin Prado has been a very productive player over the past 5 seasons, as he's had a batting average over .300 during 4 of the 5 seasons while posting an on-base percentage close to .350 during all 5 seasons. Although he won't "wow" you in one particular category, he's a solid contributor that is an asset for any fantasy team. He's averaged approximately ten home runs per season over the past five years, but could see a slight increase due to playing his home games at Chase Field. When you factor in his ability to play third base, outfield, and shortstop (with the possibility of second base depending on your league) - he's a dream come true for fantasy owners.
David Freese is, and probably always will be, remembered for his Game 6 heroics in the 2011 World Series. Heading into last season, that post-season hype followed him on draft day, and quite honestly he did not let owners down. However, this year may be a different story though. There are a few good reasons to believe the Cardinals third baseman will not be able to repeat his 2012 production in 2013. His 20-percent HR/FB ratio from 2012 is not likely to be reproduced. His .290 batting average seems impossible, considering he struck out in 21.5-percent of his at-bats, but maybe it was made possible by an inflated BABIP of .352. A BABIP that high is puzzling though, because he is not a speedster and posted a ground ball rate of 52-percent. Did you follow all of that? It doesn't add up to what his final numbers were, even though he was uncharacteristically healthy last season. Bottom line is, do not expect him to be as lucky in 2013.
After a terrific 2011, Micheal Young posted an awful season in 2012 while with the Rangers. He was acquired by the Phillies during the off-season and is expected to play third base - despite his awful defensive skills. Regardless of his defensive value, Young figures to bat somewhere around the middle of the order behind Ryan Howard
and Chase Utley
, possibly giving him a chance to drive in runs. However, although Young is a contact hitter (14% K-rate, .334 BABIP for his career), his ground ball percentage has been creeping towards the 50% mark over the past few years, and even hit 53.2% in 2012
. Although we expect a slight bounce back year for Young, when you mix in an aging platoon player and an everyday defensive position that you haven't played in several years, it's a bad mix for fantasy managers. In addition to age and platoon splits, Young also moves from a very "hitter happy" stadium in Texas to a more neutral ballpark in Citizens Bank Park.Mike Moustakas
- Kansas City Royals
As mentioned, the third base position is deep in fantasy baseball, so why limit yourself to drafting a player that can only contribute in one category. Royals slugger Mike Moustakas profiles as that type of player - a home run only player. Although he profiled very well at the minor league level, he hasn't made the transition to the major league level yet. However, at 24, Moose could be valuable in years to come, but I wouldn't count on him in 2013. His inability to make contact and take walks really limits his value to fantasy owners looking for a solid contributor. Perhaps owners in deeper leagues could take a shot on him as a bench player with the occasional start at the corner infield or utility position. Pass on Moustakas for this season, as a 20 home run season might be wishful thinking.
Reggie Yinger and Nate Springfield contributed to this article.