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2012 OPS projections: top 10 third basemen

Evan Longoria, Carlos Corporan

Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria (3) hits a two-run home run to also score teammate Johnny Damon as Houston Astros catcher Carlos Corporan, left, reaches for the pitch during the sixth inning of an interleague baseball game on Sunday, June 26, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

AP

My top 10 third basemen, by OPS:

.943 - Evan Longoria (Rays) - 566 AB - .850 in 2011
.901 - Alex Rodriguez (Yankees) - 523 AB - .823 in 2011
.885 - Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) - 571 AB - .798 in 2011
.871 - David Wright (Mets) - 597 AB - .771 in 2011
.868 - Kevin Youkilis (Red Sox) - 488 AB - .833 in 2011
.868 - Pablo Sandoval (Giants) - 565 AB - .909 in 2011
.854 - Aramis Ramirez (Brewers) - 511 AB - .871 in 2011
.841 - Edwin Encarnacion (Blue Jays) - 532 AB - .787 in 2011
.836 - Adrian Beltre (Rangers) - 573 AB - .892 in 2011
.826 - Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays) - 559 AB - .953 in 2011

- The big-name third basemen were largely disappointments last season, with injuries taking a toll in numerous cases. I’m expecting a lot more from most of them this year. Longoria and Zimmerman, at least, should both still be on the upswings of their careers. I’m not sure Wright is, but the changes at Citi Field should help him in the power department.

- Mark Reynolds (.823) and David Freese (.808) were the other third basemen to come in over .800. I know a lot of people will be quite high on Freese after his big postseason, but he has an extensive injury history and Busch Stadium is as tough of a park on right-handed power hitters as any in the NL.

- The Royals’ Mike Moustakas was further back. I expect him to hit for more power as a sophomore, but my guess is that it’ll be another year or two before he starts hitting for average. I have him at .268/.316/.426 with 17 homers in 556 at-bats.

- At the bottom of the list are Chone Figgins (.652 in 343 at-bats) and Juan Uribe (.680 in 389 at-bats).