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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.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Early 2012 rankings -- third basemen

Prior to the moves of Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez to third base, the position was one of the weakest in fantasy baseball.

Evan Longoria, who batted .244 last season, would have been No. 1. David Wright, who hit .254 and was limited to 389 at-bats by injury, would have been No. 2, and Adrian Beltre -- who has been very good the last two years but was consistently mediocre in the previous five campaigns -- would have been ranked third.

Now, the position has a pair of hammers at the top -- the player we believe is the second-best overall (Cabrera) and the player who, until last year, was a consensus top-two or top-three overall choice (Ramirez).

Let's get to our final pre-spring training rankings among the infielders ...

Note: All players are ranked at the positions at which they are expected to spend the most time in 2012, not all positions at which they are eligible. ... Stats are from 2011.

Rank, player, team R-HR-RBI-SB-Avg.
1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 111-30-105-2-.344
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins 55-10-45-20-.243
3. Evan Longoria, Rays 78-31-99-3-.244
4. David Wright, Mets 60-14-61-13-.254
5. Adrian Beltre, Rangers 82-32-105-1-.296
6. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox 68-17-80-3-.258
7. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 67-16-62-4-.276
8. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 52-12-49-3-.289
9. Pablo Sandoval, Giants 55-23-70-2-.315
10. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers 80-26-93-1-.306
11. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays 26-9-25-7-.293
12. Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks 86-19-65-18-.249
13. David Freese, Cardinals 41-10-55-1-.297
14. Mark Reynolds, Orioles 84-37-86-6-.221
15. Mike Moustakas, Royals 26-5-30-2-.263
16. Chipper Jones, Braves 56-18-70-2-.275
17. Chase Headley, Padres 43-4-44-13-.289
18. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates 18-4-19-1-.191
19. Danny Valencia, Twins 63-15-72-2-.246
20. Placido Polanco, Phillies 46-5-50-3-.277

Last three out: Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians; Brent Morel, White Sox; Ian Stewart, Cubs.

Eligibility notes: Jose Bautista is eligible at third base, but primarily is an outfielder. ... The Rangers' Michael Young should be eligible at third base in many leagues, but he will be Texas' DH (he will top our rankings at that "position"). ... The Braves' Martin Prado is an outfielder, as is the Marlins' Emilio Bonifacio.

Key stats: You likely will have to wait a couple of weeks for Ramirez to be eligible at third, but he should be worth the temporary inconvenience. The .306 career hitter had an injury-marred 2011. Prior to last season, however, he averaged 25 home runs, 78 RBI and 39 steals from 2006 to '10.

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NEXT: Designated hitters

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