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We can do our best to maintain a sense of mystery, but picking the best fantasy players at 3B and SS is really a pretty obvious exercise. The talent is much deeper at 3B, but there is very little to argue about the top 10 players. At SS, the talent pool is so shallow that there is nothing worth arguing about.
1. Miguel Cabrera, DET: The easiest call of the draft. When you thought he could do no better last year, Miggy went out and hit a career high .348, along with 44 HRs for the second straight year.
2. Adrian Beltre, TEX: All his numbers were slightly down last year, but .315, 30 HRs and 92 RBI is nothing to complain about. Could get a boost with Prince Fielder likely hitting ahead of him.
3. David Wright, NYM: Never have been confident ranking Wright this high, and he missed 50 games last year, but the promise is still great. A full season could get you 30 HRs, 100 RBIs, .315 AVG and 20-25 SBs - but will you get a full season?
4. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR: His potential to hit 40 HRs and stay healthier than Wright makes him a decent third choice, though he is no better than a .270s hitter and doesn't run much.
5. Evan Longoria, TAM: Played a career-high 160 games last year, but didn't provide the numbers boost everyone expected from that fact. AVG dropped 20 points to .269, though he's still a good bet for 30 HRs, 90 RBI.
6. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS: Incredibly slow starter always manages to rally and makes his numbers look good by September.
7. Pedro Alvarez, PIT: Entering his key 27th year, his 36 HRs, 100 RBI last year beg for a higher ranking, but with an AVG in the .230s, he's feast or famine. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see him break 40 HRs this season.
8. Manny Machado, BAL: Coming off a terrible injury, but only 22. Probably a bargain here, but he hasn't displayed as much HR power as the guys ahead of him on this list. Key stat: 51 doubles.
9. Matt Carpenter, STL: Gets a boost from multi-position eligibility, though he's ranked higher at 2B. Like Machado, doesn't have the HR clout, but delivers pretty much everything else, including runs as the Cards' leadoff hitter.
10. Josh Donaldson, OAK: Breakout season of .301/24/93 last year seemed to come out of nowhere, and also kind of late (just turned 29). Lot of reason to believe he won't be that good again, but one of only two or three guys left on this list who could hit more than 20 HRs.
11. Jedd Gyorko, SD: Bit of a gamble ahead of some reliable veterans, but his 23 HRs as a rookie suggest the power you want from this position.
12. Kyle Seager, SEA: An uptick from his 2012 season (20 HRs, 89 RBI, .259) was expected for 2013. Instead, he had roughly a repeat, minus 20 RBI, which is making some people rank him lower, but he probably will hit just ahead of Robinson Cano, which would be good for anyone.
13. Pablo Sandoval, SF: Never have been a huge fan of his streaky hitting, and his AVG has now slid three years in a row. Best case scenario: 15/80/.280.
14. Brett Lawrie, TOR: Just hasn't put it all together yet, but has potential to deliver SBs with decent power stats if it turns out to be his breakout year.
15. Martin Prado, ARI: Looking more like an AVG and RBI bet at this stage, but 82 RBI last year might make him a bargain this low.
16. Chase Headley, SD: His near MVP year of 2012 proved to be a high water mark, as he couldn't muster more than 13 HRs, 50 RBI last year. A low-risk comeback bet.
17. Nolan Arenado, COL: 133 games last year didn't produce startling numbers - 10 HRs, 52 RBI - but he's highly regarded, and is in the right park for a young hitter to build his numbers.
18. Aramis Ramirez, MIL: Only played 92 games last year, and may have finally started his slide to retirement, but wouldn't be surprised if he manages one more 20 HR/30 doubles season.
19. Will Middlebrooks, BOS: Some obvious power, with 32 HRs in fewer than 170 career games the last two seasons, but hasn't proven himself an everyday lineup resident just yet.
20. Chris Johnson, ATL: .321 career high average last year was a shocker, and if he can manage around .300 again with a little uptick in HRs from 12 to 15, and RBI, from 49 to 60, he could prove a bargain.
Just missed: Todd Frazier, CIN: .234 AVG last season sullied a 19 HR, 73 RBI campaign, but if he can pad those numbers just a bit, he makes the top 15.
Sleeper: Xander Bogaerts, BOS: Multi-position talent actually makes the top 20 at the shallow SS position (see below). Reportedly can hit and run, and SBs would help him move up the rankings at 3B. But, we need to see a few more games out of the rookie.
Sleeper who isn't really a sleeper: Mike Moustakas, KC: No longer the next big thing, but he's still a young player with a young team on the rise. Took a step back last year from a 20 HR 2012, but could still produce a breakout season.
1. Hanley Ramirez, LAD: Far and away the obvious No. 1 at SS. He really turned a corner last year, with 20 HRs, 57 RBI, 10 SBs and a heady .345 AVG in an 86-game sample. The risk is that last part.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, COL: Huge promise once again. The numbers in proportion to opportunity (25 HRs, 82 RBI, .312 AVG in 447 ABs, 126 games) suggest he should be No. 1, but he hasn't played in more than 143 games since 2009; injury always seems to rear its ugly head.
3. Jean Segura, MIL: A good example of how shallow this position is when a guy who had 1 HR and 13 RBI in the second half last year can get ranked this high, but 44 SBs trumps all else. If he hits a little closer to .300 this year (.284 last year) he could swipe 50+ bags.
4.Ian Desmond, WAS: Another player with huge promise going into 2013 who seemed to plateau. Of course, 20 HRs, 80 RBI, 21 SBs and a .280 AVG isn't a bad plateau to be on.
5. Jose Reyes, TOR: You know you used to be good when you No. 5 on the downside of your career. Still a lot of extra-base hit potential, can still hit around .300 and should manage to be among SB leaders if he stays healthy and plays enough games - just 93 GP last year.
6. Ben Zobrist, TAM: Does a little bit of everything on the stat sheet, which is not something you can say about the rest of the guys left on this list.
7. Elvis Andrus, TEX: Just four HRs last year, but 67 RBI makes for an interesting line; you want him for the 40+ SB potential, though.
8. Everth Cabrera, SD: Another potential 40+ SB guy, who does pretty much nothing else, though his AVG did jump from .246 in 2012 to .283 in 2013.
9. Andrelton Simmons, ATL: The real riser on this list. He's 23, and if he can hit better than last year's .248, while nudging his 17 HRs, 59 RBIs and six SBs from last year upward, he will be in the top five at the position next year.
10. Starlin Castro, CUBS: Again, this is how talent-poor this position is. Castro still qualifies as a fantasy starter even after a dismal 2013 season. Yet, he has shown extra-base power, speed and multi-hit game potential at times, and facing his last chance as a starter, who knows?
11. J.J Hardy, BAL: Unlike many guys on this list, he won't give you SBs, but pretty reliable 25 HR/75 RBI power and an uptick in AVG last year to .263 make him decent choice if you like to wait until late to draft your starting SS.
12. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE: Two years removed from a career year of 25 HRs, 92 RBI and 17 SBs, the HRs have collapsed into the teens, the RBI into the 60s, and the SBs into the single digits, which makes him a borderline fantasy starter at this position.
13. Jimmy Rollins, PHI: In his MVP year of 2007, he had 88 extra-base hits and was king of what was then a deep position. In 2014, his best hope is to give you 30+ doubles and more than 20 SBs, but even those numbers could be a stretch.
14. Alexei Ramirez, WHITE SOX: An intriguingly successful season in 2013. Seemed like he stopped trying to hit HRs, ending up with just six, along with just 48 RBI, but had career highs in SBs (30), hits (181) and doubles (39). I might consider taking him before Rollins and Cabrera.
15. Xander Bogaerts, BOS: He'll still be a rookie this year, having played less than 20 games in 2013, but is the rare rookie with World Series experience and forecasters love his overall talent.
16. Jhonny Peralta, STL: Ranked this low, he's a possible sleeper. Hit .303 last year, with 11 HRs and 55 RBI, but missed 50 games with a drug suspension. Being in the Cards lineup could be a boost.
17. Jurickson Profar, TEX: Multi-position qualifier and former top-ranked prospect would make a good bench investment, with the hope he grows into something valuable by late summer.
18. Jed Lowrie, OAK: Another multi-position player coming off a not terribly impressive career year.
19. Erick Aybar, LAA: Once looked like a future top five SS, but HRs have deflated into single digits, and he couldn't get near the 20 SB threshold last year. A low-risk bet on a comeback.
20. Jonathan Villar, HOU: Truly exciting speedster who I wanted to make my sleeper at SS, but the shallow talent pool suggested otherwise. He only hit .243 in 58 games, but walked 24 times and stole 18 bases, hinting at much bigger numbers to come.
Just missed: Zack Cozart, CIN: Zero SB potential, not much power, but 63 RBI last year was still . . . something. Only about half the guys ahead of him on this list could do that.
Sleeper: Javier Baez, CUBS: I know - a real stretch. Basically Castro would need to utterly fail right from Opening Day, or the Cubs would have to have some other infield catastrophe, like Darwin Barney being hit by a bus. Still, a top five prospect, and we likely will see him at some point in 2014.
Sleeper who's not really a sleeper: Derek Jeter, NYY: After a career-high in hits at age 38, time caught up with him last year. But, who will be surprised if The Sure Thing somehow manages one last great season?
Next week: Outfielders.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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Posted on Dec 11, 2017