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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

2011 fantasy baseball rankings: Third basemen

Second base, normally a weaker position, has as many top-100 players as third base.

Unless a trimmed-down Pablo Sandoval is back to his 2009 self and Mark Reynolds decides to hit above .200 and not strike out every 2.5 at-bats, it could be a down year for the hot corner.

All of which makes Kevin Youkilis’ switch back to third base in Boston even more important.

Youkilis batted .307 with 19 homers and 62 RBI, despite being limited to 362 at-bats by injury last season, and he hit .309 with averages of 28 homers, 105 RBI, 95 runs and a .960 OPS in 2008 and ’09.

He’s a top-four player at the position, and if Alex Rodriguez plays as he did in 2010, Youkilis is in the top three at third.

That brings us to our fifth position breakdown of the season:

Rank, player: R-HR-RBI-SB-Avg.
1. Evan Longoria, TB: 96-22-104-15-.294
2. David Wright, NYM: 87-29-103-19-.283
3. Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 74-30-125-4-.270
4. Kevin Youkilis, Bos: 77-19-62-4-.307
5. Ryan Zimmerman, Was: 85-25-85-4-.307
6. Adrian Beltre, Tex: 84-28-102-2-.321
7. Aramis Ramirez, ChC: 61-25-83-0-.241
8. Casey McGehee, Mil: 70-23-104-1-.285
9. Pablo Sandoval, SF: 61-13-63-3-.268
10. Mark Reynolds, Bal: 79-32-85-7-.198
11. Pedro Alvarez, Pit: 42-16-64-0-.256
12. Chris Johnson, Hou: 40-11-52-3-.308
13. Scott Rolen, Cin: 66-20-83-1-.285
14. Ian Stewart, Col: 54-18-61-5-.256
15. Chipper Jones, Atl: 47-10-46-5-.265
16. Placido Polanco, Phi: 76-6-52-5-.298
17. Chase Headley, SD: 77-11-58-17-.264
18. Danny Valencia, Min: 30-7-40-2-.311
19. David Freese, StL: 28-4-36-1-.296
20. Alberto Callaspo, LAA: 61-10-56-5-.265

Preseason top 100 players (8): Longoria (13), Wright (15), Rodriguez (16), Youkilis (27), Zimmerman (31), Beltre (40), Ramirez (72), McGehee (85).

Short hops
Longoria had his home-run total drop from 33 in 2009 to 22 last season, and he drove in nine fewer runs (froms 113 to 104). He did, however, set career highs in batting average and steals. ... Wright has had at least 26 homers in five of his last six seasons, and he’s had 102 RBI or more five times in that span. ... Rodriguez’s .270 average and four steals were his lowest totals since 1995, when he had 142 at-bats as a skinny shortstop for the Mariners. ... Sandoval reported to camp in much better shape, and he could be poised for a bounce-back season. ... Alvarez displayed impressive power in his 347 at-bat stint as a rookie, and he capped the season by batting .311 with five homers and 26 RBI in 103 at-bats in September. ... The Braves’ Jones has batted .264 and .265 the last two years, but he’s been tearing it up this spring and could be a late-round bargain.

NOTE: Statistics are from the 2010 season. ... Players are listed only at the positions at which they are expected to spend the most time in 2011.

THIS WEEK: Shortstops, Thursday; third basemen, today; designated hitters, Sunday.

LAST WEEK: Catchers, March 7; first baseman, March 8; second baseman, March 9.

NEXT WEEK: Outfielders, starting pitchers, relievers and overall top 100.

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