- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
It's never too early to prepare for the 2007 fantasy baseball season! So many things can change between now and next opening day, but in order to give you a head start on your research, here are my early third base rankings, each of the top 25 at the position:
1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: "E-Rod," "K-Rod" and "Double play-Rod" were only three of the many insulting nicknames -- among the tamer ones -- that I heard Yankee fans call A-Rod at games this season, his worst since he was a 21-year-old in 1997. That's right, 2006 was his worst season in nearly a decade, as he managed his worst OPS (.915), fewest homers (35), most errors (24) and worst at-bat per strikeout ratio (4.1) in nine seasons. Still, while Rodriguez earned the label of disappointment from countless Yankee fans, how bad really is it for fantasy when a "down year" earns a player .290-35-121-15 numbers and a No. 22 ranking overall on the Player Rater? Sure, A-Rod was one of the first two players picked in 2006 drafts, so of course he was a relative disappointment, but before the fantasy world crucifies him as the Yankee populous has, don't forget that he's only 31 years old, still in the latter stages of his prime, and he was the 2005 American League MVP, with a .321 batting average and 48 homers. Is he a No. 1 pick overall for 2007? No, definitely not, but after Albert Pujols, A-Rod's as good a bet as a No. 2 candidate as anyone. He'll be a first-round pick yet again, and all it might take is one key hit in a big game for him to mount an extended hot streak, silencing his increasing number of critics.