Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Lukewarm Corner: Fantasy Baseball Sleeper Third Basemen 2012

One look at the field of fantasy third basemen for 2012 and you will see there are a few elite players at the top before things start to get pretty thin, talent-wise. Grabbing one of these top flight picks early is not the only strategy, however. Don’t fret if you don’t walk away with Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria or Adrian Beltre. There are several players who turn out to be great sleeper picks at third base in 2012. Here are some of the third basemen of note:

Casey McGehee (PIT)
This is a player to watch in spring training. He had a disastrous season in 2011 and should evade your fellow fantasy owners come draft day. Pedro Alvarez should get the nod at third base but he has struggled against lefties, whereas McGehee has had more success against them in the past. As a result, Casey could see some AB at third base spelling Alvarez against LHP. In addition, Pittsburgh’s situation at first base is murky so he may see time there as well. Only 2 years removed from a 23 HR, 104 RBI season, the new Pirate may regain some of the pop he showed in 2010.

Ian Stewart (CHC)
On the surface it is easy to write off Stewart entirely. After all, if a player doesn’t produce at Coors Field, how can he be expected to put up numbers anywhere else, right? However, it is not quite that simple. Stewart’s undoing is his propensity to strike out, which wore thin with the Rockies brass last season, leading to a minor league demotion and eventually to a trade to the Cubs. Stewart has 20-25 HR power and Chicago has a hole in their line up to fill with Aramis Ramirez moving north to Milwaukee. As long as you have batting average help elsewhere on your roster, you can settle for the power numbers he’ll bring.

One of the things that make Encarnacion such a sleeper for 2012 is that your fellow fantasy owners should pass on him due to the fact that Toronto is crowded at third base (Brett Lawrie) as well as at first (Adam Lind). Encarnacion has been playing some left field in winter ball and may see some AB there (as long as Eric Thames continues to struggle against LHP). Also, EE may see the lion’s share of at bats from the DH slot in 2012 giving him some fantasy upside. Health is a concern, however.

Scott Sizemore (OAK)
The Tigers gave up on Sizemore after he struggled to hit big league hitting during brief stints in both 2010 and 2011, shipping him to Oakland. As an Athletic, he started to show both patience and power. A full season with his new club may yield some decent numbers. Keep in mind he is expected to hit in the bottom third of a weak offense so as long as you temper your expectations for big run producing numbers, Sizemore should be a pleasant surprise in 2012.

Don’t fret if you miss out on the big names at third base for 2012. You may just find a diamond in the rough hiding at the hot corner.

* Casey McGehee photo by Spaluch1 [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons 
* Edwin Encarnacion photo by Keith Allison (Flickr: Edwin Encarnacion) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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