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Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 Shortstops & Third Basemen

Third base traditionally is a power position, and this year that should prove to be the case again, as at least 15 of the top 20 players at the position are good for at least 20 HRs. If you're looking for stolen bases, you should probably look elsewhere, like shortstop.

This year, there is once again a ton of speed at shortstop, and because the position otherwise lacks offensive depth, it's a great place for fantasy managers to draft from to help satisfy their SB needs. That said, there also happen to be a handful of great all-around fantasy contributors at shortstop, but you'll have to strike early.

Third Basemen

1. Miguel Cabrera. He doesn't have a bit of speed, but his Triple Crown credentials more than make up for it.

2. Adrian Beltre. Eye-popping numbers, including a .920 OPS, 36 HRs, 102 RBI, .321 BA last year, yet he remains in Miggy's considerable shadow. Can he surpass 100 RBIs again in a softer Texas lineup?

3. Hanley Ramirez. At this position, his speed stands out, but with a new home and fresh start he should have the power and average numbers to fit in with the rest of these guys.

4. Evan Longoria. Injuries are a real concern, but he was on a full-season pace for more than 35 HRs last season.

5. David Wright. 2012 was a comeback year, where he found himself hitting above .300 again, and looks ready to join 30 HR/100 RBI club again.

6. Ryan Zimmerman. Bad start last year and still had 25 HRs and 95 RBI. Could go for 35/110 if he shows up on time this year.

7. Chase Headley. A gambler's ranking, as no one wants to believe his 31 HRs and 115 RBI last year were real, but he also had 86 walks, so it doesn't seem like he just got lucky.

8. Mark Trumbo. Improved last year on great 2011 rookie campaign, and should be a candidate for 35 HRs, 100 RBI this year.

9. Martin Prado. Rare among third basemen in lacking light tower power, but he's a doubles machine (42) who can hit .300 and steal 20 bases. Plus, he's also eligible at 2B, SS and OF.

10. Brett Lawrie. Another who won't put it in the seats too often, but at 23 he's a good all-around contributor awaiting a breakout season.

11. Pedro Alvarez. Frittered away half a season striking out, yet still hit 30 HRs. Scary power potential if this turns out to be his breakout season.

12. Aramis Ramirez. Still unbelievably consistent. One of three 3Bs who had .900 or better OPS - Cabrera, Beltre and Ramirez.

13. David Freese. Had 20 HRs, 79 RBI despite missing almost 20 games, and is a linchpin in a highly productive lineup.

14. Will Middlebrooks. Thrust into the spotlight after Kevin Youkilis left, his limited sample projects to more than 30 HRs and 100 RBI for a full season.

15. Kyle Seager. Had a quiet 20 HRs, 86 RBI last year for a team that didn't score much. I like him for 25/95 this year.

16. Michael Young. Fresh start in a lineup that should leverage his consistent hitting and RBI abilities.

17. Pablo Sandoval. Appears from spring training to be entering one of his fat years; 25 doubles and 63 RBIs in less than 400 at-bats last year suggest greater things if he stays healthy.

18. Trevor Plouffe. The only thing he really did was hit 24 HRs in 422 at-bats, but that's something.

19. Mike Moustakas. Still looking for a breakout year, and this could be it. Has the ability to be among the top five at the position when that does happen.

20. Mark Reynolds. The well-traveled king of strikeouts is a one-dimensional HR hitter, but is probably in the right park and division to get his 20-plus HRs again this year.

Sleepers:

Eduardo Nunez. Alex Rodriguez is out until July, and assuming he plays well enough this spring, he could also spell Derek Jeter at shortstop. Great all-around ability and a ton of speed, but still needs to make the team.

Daniel Descalso. Another freshly-minted postseason hero from the Cardinals who has Jose Reyes-like ability to pile up triples could be an intriguing pick-up.

Todd Frazier. A sleeper in the truest sense: Did anyone know that 51 of his 115 hits (in 422 at-bats) went for extra bases? That's a pretty good ratio, and 19 HRs suggests 25 should be easy in a full season.

Alex Rodriguez. He's gone for at least three months, and his job in New York is in doubt, but he should certainly be on your watch list heading into the All-Star break.

Manny Machado. Very small sample size last year showed he can do everything. Could be a good last-round draft pick for back-up purposes, or an early season pick-up.

Shortstops

1. Jose Reyes. I'm really gambling here, but he had a very strong finish last year and his speed combined with a bouncing ball an astroturf is a perfect storm. My admittedly hyperbolic estimate: .350 BA with 50 SBs and 20 triples.

2. Hanley Ramirez. As noted above, things are in alignment for him to have a comeback season. His hitting stroke came back late last year, and he's cushioned in a very good lineup.

3. Ian Desmond. The upstart in this group, he proved he could hit 25 HRs with more than 20 SBs last year. This year, I smell a 30/30 performance.

4. Troy Tulowitzki. Everyone in the world has him No. 1 at this position, but all I see is a gifted player who hasn't played more than 150 games or stolen more than 11 bases since 2009. All three preceding players can swipe 11 bases in their sleep.

5. Starlin Castro. Ranking him this high may prove how lacking the position is in fantasy value. He has the talent to be the multi-category stud the previous four already are, but has yet to prove maturity and consistency.

6. Jimmy Rollins. He scored 102 runs last year for a team that had trouble scoring runs, and continues to be a power/speed threat.

7. Ben Zobrist. Third in runs scored among shortstops with decent power and speed. He's a nice look-alike consolation prize if he's the top SS on the board when you pick.

8. Martin Prado. As noted above, you get everything but HRs.

9. Asdrubal Cabrera. 16 HRs and 35 doubles last year make him a decent contributor if you tend to wait until late to draft a shortstop.

10. Danny Espinosa. Promising power and speed. Streaky. If he can raise his average 30 points or so to near .280, he could be ranked much higher.

11. Alexei Ramirez. He was fifth in RBI at the position last year with 73, his most since 2008. Plus, he had a career-high 20 SBs.

12. Elvis Andrus. A candidate for 200 hits and 40 SBs, as well as an unlikely 60-plus RBI.

13. J.J. Hardy. Hits HRs in bunches, but had fewer bunches last year than 2011. He's worth consideration if you're really intent on getting power at this position from a back-up.

14. Derek Jeter. I've been wrong about him before, but I think the career fade begins this year. Best thing you can say is he's still capable of 200 hits a year, but not much fantasy pop.

15. Everth Cabrera. An alarming 44 SBs make him a top choice for back-up if you find yourself short in SBs at the end of the week.

16. Marco Scutaro. Doesn't have a lot of pop, but does something of value fantasy-wise every single day.

17. Eric Aybar. Slid last year in what should have been breakout season, but he's got nice extra-base hit potential and should steal and score a lot with his speed.

18. Alcides Escobar. Has a little bit of Jeter in him, with hits coming in bunches and nice speed and run-scoring ability.

19. Dee Gordon. Speedster should have broken out last year. Will it happen this year?

20. Eduardo Nunez. As noted above, he needs to survive the spring. He more than likely will get most at-bats at third, but he does have top-class speed.

Sleepers:

Josh Rutledge. Small sample size last year suggested propensity for extra-base hits.

Billy Hamilton. The minor league god of stolen bases may not make the team out of spring training, but is likely to surface at some point this season.

Jed Lowrie. He plays for a terrible team, but 16 HRs in less than 400 at-bats last year sounds promising.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade goes shopping for possible breakout fantasy players.

* Bleacher Report looks for pitchers worthy of late-round consideration.

* ESPN's Talented Mr. Roto explains the importance of "common fantasy sense."

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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