2011 Projection Review: Third basemen

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What follows is a review of some of my 2011 projections for Rotoworld.com. I’m highlighting my preseason top five for each position and some other notables.

Catchers
First basemen
Second basemen

Third Basemen

Preseason Top 5

Alex Rodriguez – Yankees – $33 – #1
Projection: .284/.383/.541, 37 HR, 101 R, 114 RBI, 10 SB in 545 AB
2011 stats: .276/.362/.461, 16 HR, 67 R, 62 RBI, 4 SB in 373 AB

Rodriguez was doing fine until his body broke down, coming in at .295/.366/.485 in the first half. Still, he was a zero after that and it’s hard to see why manager Joe Girardi kept him in the cleanup spot all along. Even prorating A-Rod’s stats to 545 at-bats would have given him a mere 23 homers and 91 RBI.

Evan Longoria – Rays – $32 – #2
Projection: .296/.381/.542, 31 HR, 98 R, 114 RBI, 12 SB in 568 AB
2011 stats: .244/.355/.495, 31 HR, 78 R, 99 RBI, 3 SB in 483 AB

Leading up to his big finish, Longoria was hitting .229/.324/.447 on Aug 16. Injuries were behind his struggles to hit for average initially, and given the way he ended 2011, he’ll enter next season as one of the favorites for MVP honors in the AL.

David Wright – Mets – $31 – #3
Projection: .294/.378/.509, 27 HR, 95 R, 100 RBI, 18 SB in 595 AB
2011 stats: .255/.345/.427, 14 HR, 60 R, 61 RBI, 13 SB in 389 AB

The Mets are going to bring in the fences at Citi Field in an attempt to return Wright to superstardom. The problem here is that Wright hasn’t exactly been a stud in road games lately, either. Wright needs to stop worrying about the strikeouts and try to get his old swing back.

Jose Bautista – Blue Jays – $25 – #4
Projection: .265/.372/.533, 37 HR, 95 R, 103 RBI, 6 SB in 563 AB
2011 stats: .302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 105 R, 103 RBI, 9 SB in 513 AB

I wish I had been gutsier in projecting a higher average for Bautista. He came in at .260 during his breakthrough 2010 campaign, but that looked like the result of some pretty awful luck on balls in play. I did project a slight increase, but I should have gone further.

Ryan Zimmerman – Nationals – $25 – #5
Projection: .297/.372/.509, 28 HR, 93 R, 96 RBI, 3 SB in 589 AB
2011 stats: .289/.355/.443, 12 HR, 52 R, 49 RBI, 3 SB in 395 AB

It just wasn’t a good year for the supposed elite at third base (or my projections for them). Zimmerman managed to hit for a solid average when healthy, but the power wasn’t there and his RBI total was shockingly low. That’s not really his fault, though: he hit .293/.409/.478 with RISP.

Others

Pedro Alvarez – Pirates – $17 – #11
Projection: .252/.331/.482, 30 HR, 81 R, 96 RBI, 3 SB in 548 AB
2011 stats: .191/.272/.289, 4 HR, 18 R, 19 RBI, 1 SB in 235 AB

A catastrophe. Alvarez failed to resemble a major leaguer offensively or defensively in 2011. The Pirates need to make him a full-time first baseman and stick him in Triple-A at the beginning of next year.

Adrian Beltre – Rangers – $22 – #6
Projection: .280/.329/.488, 27 HR, 86 R, 98 RBI, 7 SB in 586 AB
2011 stats: .296/.331/.561, 32 HR, 82 R, 105 RBI, 1 SB in 487 AB

The projection doesn’t look too bad until one notices that I had him achieving that kind of production in an extra 100 at-bats. Beltre led the majors in RBI per at-bat this year. He came in at .216, while actual major league RBI leader Matt Kemp was at .209. If Beltre had maintained that production over the course of 586 at-bats, he would have driven in 126 runs.

Chipper Jones – Braves – $9 – #19
Projection: .280/.392/.454, 17 HR, 67 R, 63 RBI, 2 SB in 421 AB
2011 stats: .275/.344/.470, 18 HR, 56 R, 70 RBI, 2 SB in 455 AB

Aramis Ramirez – Cubs – $17 – #10
Projection: .280/.350/.492, 25 HR, 75 R, 94 RBI, 1 SB in 514 AB
2011 stats: .306/.361/.510, 26 HR, 80 R, 93 RBI, 1 SB in 565 AB

Mark Reynolds – Orioles – $18 – #7
Projection: .230/.318/.471, 36 HR, 85 R, 93 RBI, 10 SB in 552 AB
2011 stats: .221/.323/.483, 37 HR, 84 R, 86 RBI, 6 SB in 534 AB

It’s hard to get excited about a season in which a guy hits .221, but unlike that other high-strikeout slugger in Chicago, Reynolds made the adjustment to the AL pretty well. He hit .231 with 35 homers in 451 at-bats from May 1 onward. The Orioles should keep him around, preferably as a first baseman.

Pablo Sandoval – Giants – $18 – #8
Projection: .296/.352/.489, 22 HR, 74 R, 83 RBI, 5 SB in 568 AB
2011 stats: .315/.357/.552, 23 HR, 55 R, 70 RBI, 2 SB in 426 AB

Ian Stewart – Rockies – $11 – #12
Projection: .261/.345/.471, 22 HR, 67 R, 75 RBI, 6 SB in 459 AB
2011 stats: .156/.243/.221, 0 HR, 14 R, 6 RBI, 3 SB in 122 AB

Michael Young – Rangers – $17 – #9
Projection: .291/.343/.436, 16 HR, 84 R, 86 RBI, 5 SB in 594 AB
2011 stats: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 88 R, 106 RBI, 6 SB in 631 AB

It’s kind of odd how we think of Young as this consistent hit machine, yet he’s never had a season that was just slightly better that his previous season and he’s been way up and down lately. I thought 2009 would prove to be Young’s last exceptional season. Now I imagine 2011 will be it. He was terrific, but he is 35 and he’s been pretty average three of the last five years.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.