2012 OPS projections: top 10 third basemen

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My top 10 third basemen, by OPS:

.943 – Evan Longoria (Rays) – 566 AB – .850 in 2011
.901 – Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) – 523 AB – .823 in 2011
.885 – Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) – 571 AB – .798 in 2011
.871 – David Wright (Mets) – 597 AB – .771 in 2011
.868 – Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) – 488 AB – .833 in 2011
.868 – Pablo Sandoval (Giants) – 565 AB – .909 in 2011
.854 – Aramis Ramirez (Brewers) – 511 AB – .871 in 2011
.841 – Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays) – 532 AB – .787 in 2011
.836 – Adrian Beltre (Rangers) – 573 AB – .892 in 2011
.826 – Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays) – 559 AB – .953 in 2011

– The big-name third basemen were largely disappointments last season, with injuries taking a toll in numerous cases. I’m expecting a lot more from most of them this year. Longoria and Zimmerman, at least, should both still be on the upswings of their careers. I’m not sure Wright is, but the changes at Citi Field should help him in the power department.

– Mark Reynolds (.823) and David Freese (.808) were the other third basemen to come in over .800. I know a lot of people will be quite high on Freese after his big postseason, but he has an extensive injury history and Busch Stadium is as tough of a park on right-handed power hitters as any in the NL.

– The Royals’ Mike Moustakas was further back. I expect him to hit for more power as a sophomore, but my guess is that it’ll be another year or two before he starts hitting for average. I have him at .268/.316/.426 with 17 homers in 556 at-bats.

– At the bottom of the list are Chone Figgins (.652 in 343 at-bats) and Juan Uribe (.680 in 389 at-bats).

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.