I mentioned in the 1B thread that first base is no longer THE elite fantasy position. This is one of them...
1. Miguel Cabrera - The joke all offseason was how playing 3B would hinder his offensive production. A Triple Crown later, I would say those worries have been thwarted. Cabrera has a very good argument for the #1 player in all of fantasy this year. He leaned down to move to third, but he's not lost a bit of his batting eye or power without the extra weight. If he can stay away from the sauce, he is absolutely lethal. I was in a mock auction last evening where he went for $60+, and no one really barked about it. Hope for a top pick or plan to spend major cash for this guy.
2. David Wright - When Wright had a poor and injury-riddled 2011, I read a lot of fantasy analysts who wrote him off. Then 2012 happened, and he's being talked about as a first round pick in most things I've read thus far. His average draft position on sites like mockdraftcentral.com has been creeping up as well. You may have to pick him in the first round to ensure you get him. I see a guy who is truly more valuable in real baseball than fantasy, but that's not a knock on his fantasy value. He'll give you .300 with 20-30 home runs, 15-20 steals, and very solid run/RBI numbers.
3. Adrian Beltre - Fantasy owners took 3 years, but they've finally figured out that those days in Seattle were a very bad, no good 5 years. Beltre has averaged over .300 the last 3 years with 32 homers and 103 RBI. He doesn't steal like he once did, but with that production, you forgive that. Beltre has also been mentioned in the discussion at the back end of the first round, and he's shown to be worth that sort of level.
4. Evan Longoria - Longoria has really been living off of 2009 for 2 years of fantasy drafting at this point. However, just when there was good reason for a market correction, he's still being picked in early mocks as a second round pick. Count me out on that accord. While I believe Longoria hits for solid average with 25 home runs and 90+ RBI when healthy, it's whether or not he's healthy that I can't really trust at this point along with some major performance fluctuations. If you love you some Longoria, expect to pay big bucks for him.
5. Brett Lawrie - So far Lawrie has been going in the 4th-7th round range in mock drafts and the mock auction I was in had him as a $30+ guy. I love this kids skills enough to rank him this high, but be very careful. He's the type to pick up with another 3B as a "just in case" precaution. He hit for 11 home runs and stole 18 bases last year with a .273 average, but the world was expecting a full-season version of his 2011 debut. Lawrie has 20/20 skills with a good contact bat, but he hasn't done it YET.
6. Aramis Ramirez - All Aramis has done is hit 25+ HR, .300+, and average 99 RBI over the last two seasons in his age 33 and 34 seasons, but here he sits. I will gladly say I have likely underrated Ramirez, but I really think that good average, 25 homer guy is all there is anymore in Aramis. Depending on his cost, he could be a huge steal for owners this year as the position depth has increased so much that many will simply overlook Ramirez, assuming his best days are behind him.
7. Chase Headley - Real or mirage? His underlying stats would say mirage, and that's what you're paying for here. I do think Headley is a mid-level contact, 20 homer, 15 steal guy. However, he hit twice as many home runs on fly balls as any previous year in his career, and nearly doubled his career best ISO. He's just not that .280/30/100 guy that showed up last year, and that's okay because his expected value is very, very solid.
8. Ryan Zimmerman - If he wasn't ranked, he'd be my most overrated player. His injury issues have taken an obvious toll on his bat. Don't let his second half explosion skew your view of his declining skills. While defense doesn't affect most fantasy leagues, Zimmerman's injuries have cause him to go from an elite 3B defender to a negative-value defender the last two seasons. At the plate, Zimmerman had the highest HR/FB rate of his career and struck out at the highest rate of his career. He's not "washed up" by any means, and he's young enough to come back strong in his age 28 season, but there's enough to drop him this far.
9. Martin Prado - The Braves will miss Prado's attitude and willingness to play everywhere. Fantasy owners should enjoy it for this season as well as he's likely going to stay at 3B going forward if he signs his anticipated extension with Arizona. Prado changing to a hitter's park could exploit his line-drive swing for bigger fantasy numbers. He's a solid average guy and can steal 10-20 bases, but with his swing, he could sneak into 20 home runs this year as well, and that would be very valuable indeed.
10. Pablo Sandoval - He could be over drafted based on a performance in October. However, if people don't go nuts on him, this is a very good #10 player on any position's list, and he's more than worthy of holding down 3B for your fantasy team. He is only 26 this season, but for those expecting him to blossom into a 30+ HR guy may be disappointed.
Unlisted, underrated: Mike Moustakas - He had his struggles as a rookie, but this guy's power is legit light-tower stuff. He could be putting up 30-homer seasons this year, and he's going off as the 16th best 3B in early mock drafts. That's an incredible value at that spot in the draft.
Unlisted, overrated: Kevin Youkilis - He's no longer the Greek God of Walks, dropping over 3 points last year in his BB% and having a near-career high in K%. His ISO was down 30 points from 2011 and 80 points from 2010. That said, he did enjoy a bit of a power surge with the White Sox last year, but people are drafting him expecting him to be healthy now, rake in the Yankee lineup, and put up .300/25/100 numbers again. Go in expecting more like .250/15/75, and you'll draft him much more reasonably.
Position outlook: On top of a top 4 that could all go in the first 2 rounds of snake drafts and should all be elite-priced talents in auctions, the position has very good depth with guys like Moustakas, Youkilis, Pedro Alvarez, and David Freese making the list. And all of that is to say nothing of the uberprospect that is Manny Machado. You could see a lot of 3B players in Utility spots on fantasy teams this year because there is just that much depth at the position. You can go big early, or you can wait until around the 10th spot, and you'll likely be pretty happy either way. I personally have Miguel Cabrera #3 on my own personal board (more on #1 and #2 later) for mixed leagues, so the position has ultra elite talent, one of the biggest young rising stars in the game (who can't even crack the top 10), and enough depth to keep you interested at your draft or auction.
Personal sad - not being able to even talk about #10, Larry Wayne Jones...sigh.