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2012 OPS projections: top 10 third basemen

Feb 8, 2012, 11:00 PM EDT

Evan Longoria, Carlos Corporan AP

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).

  1. atlsp - Feb 8, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Matthew, I’m curious where you’re projecting Chipper Jones (since it’s not anything over .800). The guy’s played 18 seasons and never had an OPS below .800.

    Of course, there’s always the question of how healthy he’ll be but I feel he’s such a natural hitter he can maintain production for as long as he can stay on the field.

    • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:16 AM

      Dartboard says:

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      Chipper is at .797: .269/.364/.433 with 15 HR in 416 AB. His line drive rate is down, strikeout rate up, so I’m not sure that average is going back up.

  2. Ari Collins - Feb 8, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    Huh. Way higher on A-Rod than I would’ve expected, far more optimistic than any other projection I’ve seen. He hasn’t had an OPS that high in three years, and that many ABs in five.

    I’d also take the over on Beltre and the under on E5.

    Pretty good projections overall, though, even with those quibbles.

    • proudlycanadian - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:35 AM

      Len will be happy with the Arod projection. I think that Matthew missed big time on Lawrie, but it is OK by me if the Jays are under rated going into the real season.

      • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:35 AM

        Lawrie seems about right. What did you expect him as? .820 sounds HUGE to me. The best 3rd baseman in the game, Longoria, had an .850 last year, and a .873 his rookie year. Do you expect him at .870, .900? That is projecting MVP type numbers.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      Actually A-Rod had 522 AB’s in 2010 while I realize it’s not the 523 AB’s predicted by Matthew I would say it certainly is close enough for “government work” as they say. As for his OPS, I certainly will be happy with that number. And if he can stay reasonably healthy and play about 140+ games it should be doable. Just my opinion but I think he will this year.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Obviously, it’s all about the endpoints, but A-Rod was sporting an OPS right around .900 before he hurt his knee last year. Players as good as A-Rod always seem to come through with at least one big year in their late 30s. I think he’s very capable.

  3. hamispig - Feb 8, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    Are you thinking that the Tigers won’t play Cabrera like they say they will?
    Just curious how he got left off the list.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:19 AM

      He was included on the first baseman list. Matt explained himself there.

  4. hittfamily - Feb 8, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    With Longo’s defense, I believe you are predicting the MVP Matthew.

    • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 6:30 AM

      Agree. Unless there is a breakout star, a .943 OPS with his defense would almost guarantee an MVP. If his defense was the same as this year, his WAR would be like 11. A .943 is really high for him. Why would anyone predict a .100 point jump in anyone?

      His contract is incredible. The more I look at it, the more Jealous I get. He made less than 1 million dollars last year, or roughly 1/27 of what A Rod made. Matt Moore is even better. 5 years, 15 million!!!!! 3 team options. 8 years, 40 million!!!!!!!!! The Rays management, from the scouts, to Madden, to Friedman, are the best in the game. As much as I love my Tigers, I am envious. They have homegrown talent, and make the best of what they have.

      They traded Matt Garza because they had Hellickson and Moore ready to go. Friedman was brilliant enough to trade Garza, and not Shields. Garza netted, what, 3 top 50’s? Shields wouldn’t have gotten a kitchen sink, yet he finished 3rd in the Cy Young race. Garza would have cost virtually the same as Shields in arb. The Rays get Evan Freaking Longoria for 6 years, 17.5 million, while my Tigers pay Prince that for 120 games of service.

      Rays Fans Suck. Sorry Hitt. I know you are a Rays fan, but your buddies suck. It is a premiere team, with premire players. Jennings would be a superstar in our media, and I hope he is there too. Longoria, Price, Zobrist, Shields, Moore, Jennings, Hellickson, Joyce: 8 probable allstars, all under 30, all locked up for 3 years or more, and 10,000 people show up to the game. It is so pitiful, and a shame.

      But yeah. If Longoria turns another triple play with bases loaded and a week to go, and hits another 3 run homer in the 8th during the last game of the season, then later in that game hits the extra innings walk off homer to win the win wild card, and hits .943 OPS, you are right, he is the MVP. If not, Verlander, Miggy, or Prince will claim it.

      • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:14 AM

        Great post Hittfamily. You too Hittfamily. Good luck to your Rays, and good luck to your Tigers. Too bad no one was around, because I would have loved to have a discussion on this one.

        31 hour shift is over. Goodnight HBT.

        Semper Fidelis

      • Ari Collins - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:22 AM

        Rays fans don’t suck. The Rays stadium is in a godawful place that’s far far away from where the actual people live. It’s also a godawful place itself.

        Also, there are a LOT more candidates for MVP than just the Tigers players, don’t you think?

      • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:21 PM

        “Also, there are a LOT more candidates for MVP than just the Tigers players, don’t you think?”

        No. I mean other than Longoria if He does what this post is about. No.

        Pujols, Longoria,Cabrera, Prince, Kinsler, Cano, Tex, Crawf….errrrr, Ellsbu…..errrrr, Grande…..errrr,

        If Longoria has 556 AB and hits .943, the discussion is open. If he hits .930 in 600 AB it belongs to him. No other likely player will even come close. Grandy, Ells…I have to see it again. Kinsler, too few RBI’ out of the 2 hole ( I know it sounds stupid but .267/.361/.488 with 84 RBI’s won’t do it). Pujols, Longoria, Cabrera, Prince, Cano, Tex. Legitimate contenders.

  5. topprospect - Feb 9, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    How about Hanley Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera?

    • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 9:43 AM

      This is a blog, not a news service. No one has made public anything yet, but stay tuned, you can bet Calcaterra will take someone else’s reporting or statistics, hyperlink them somewhere in his story, then summarize everything someone else has worked to do.

      Lord knows he did it to me.

      They have a deal with baseball prospectus, a pay site, so you won’t get any info from them, other than these teasers. However, there is no need to subscribe to Keith Law’s “insider” paysite, because it will be summarized here.

      Craig: When are you going to steal the info from BP like you do at every other site, especially subscribed sites. Let Matthew feel what you make every other journalist feel:

      Likely post : “Here is what baseball prospectus has to say about third baseman. Matthew (Matthew’s name is hyperlinked, which usually makes summarizing, condensing, and selling advertisement of someone else’s work OK in Craigs book, but because he has a deal with Matthew, he will only give you the top 10 OPS guys and call them the “10 best”) did a great job compiling it all, and it took him months to do the math. However, I, Craig Calcaterra, will offer a 2 sentence comment on his work, so therefore, his information now belongs to me: my comment is…

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      I’m listing Hanley with the shortstops. He would have come in third here, or fourth if you wanted to put Cabrera in the top spot.

      • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:06 PM

        Of course Hanley is with the Shortstops. Is there still anyone who doesn’t believe Hanley is moved? The best guess is he moves 200 miles north from “Macando” to Tampa? Tampa has almost doubled it’s payroll, and with Tim Beckham, Re,id Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, and Hak Ju Lee, they have a logjam at SS, but no one ready today. They need a right handed bat. This deal will be done by spring training.

        Of those who will be disposed of, likely Beckham, who should be moved to third anyway, for Hanley, will leave an immense dissapointment.

      • hittfamily - Feb 9, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        No wait, I ripped that idea off from gator. Then I lost m hat. But he ripped it off from Craig, so it must be accurate, because Craig only repeats what others say. Phew, thank goodness I tracked that rumor down, now all I have o do I find out who’s story Craig read, then summarized, then sold advertisements to, then I will be all right!!!!! Baseball prosepectus here I co…..wait…Craig has a deal with them…He will link to them, but he lets them advertise on his site as actual topics?


        Thats pretty shitty

        Yep. Go Dale Jr. Don’t take no cow rapin idiot to figure out all the “top 10” lists are actually advertisements for the only site he won’t steal from.

        Why’s that Cledus?

        Cow nanny. Also, BP pays Craig not to steal from them, kind-a-like a steer horn. Don’t mess with Craigis.

  6. hammyofdoom - Feb 9, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    You know, I’ve never liked A-rod (especially being a Sox fan) but I have always feared the dude. I still remember when he thought he hit a pop up off of tim wakefield and he actually whacked it over the green monster. However, I highly doubt he’ll be elite again and I think .901 would fit the elite category. Other than that though this list is pretty solid

  7. philliesblow - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    So if Cabrera isn’t rated as 3B, where’s Babe Inge on this list?

    A Jack Handy moment: If Prince can wear Fielder on the back of his jersey, why can’t Inge wear Hitter on his?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Inge is at .662, one point ahead of Don Kelly.

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