May 05, 2011

We knew coming into the season that third base would be as shallow as any position on the board this side of catcher. If that weren't bad enough, the pool has been decimated by injury. Evan Longoria just returned from the DL, but Ryan Zimmerman and Pablo Sandoval are now on the shelf, leaving many owners scrambling for a solution at the hot corner. Below are a few options, along with a handful of other waiver wire gems this week.

Ian Stewart, Rockies -- If you find a fantasy owner who hasn't been charmed and subsequently burned by Stewart at one point or another over the last few seasons, he's undoubtedly lying to you. When a guy posts a career 16 percent home run/fly ball ratio while bringing eligibility at third base and second base (he no longer has second-base eligibility), it's easy to overlook an alarmingly high strikeout rate and fall in love with the potential. More often than not, Stew has let us down. But after a terrible start that saw him sent to the minors, Stewart was brought back to the majors in the past week and he should start at third with Ty Wigginton headed to the DL. Stewart racked up an encouraging .361/.500/.750 line with three homers during his short demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs. If you're panning for third basemen, Stewart has the best chance to be gold, and should be added in all 12-team mixed leagues and deeper.

Mike Fontenot, Giants -- With Sandoval out for 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his hand, the Giants have shifted Miguel Tejada to third with Fontenot starting at shortstop. As someone who has seen more of Fontenot on a baseball field than he cares to remember, it's hard to imagine him as an everyday shortstop. The good news is he should get regular at-bats and he carries eligibility at short, second and third. The Giants actually hit him third on Tuesday, which is almost as laughable as playing him at shortstop, but these are thin times in Fantasyland at third base and second base, and Fontenot has decent speed and power. Mixed leaguers with middle infield and corner infield requirements should take a look.

Jack Hanahan, Indians -- The journeyman infielder seems to have found a home with upstart Cleveland, posting a .284/.356/.481 line in 148 at-bats this season. He isn't getting super lucky, evidenced by a sustainable .306 BABIP, and his 10 percent walk rate shows he's willing to take a free pass. Did I expect to be recommending Hanahan as a third-base solution at any point this season? Of course not. But these are the harsh times in which we live. Hanahan can bridge the gap for any owners who just lost Zimmerman or Sandoval.

Scott Sizemore, Tigers -- Detroit finally ended the brutal Will Rhymes experiment, bringing Sizemore back up from Triple-A Toledo. No, he isn't a third baseman, but he immediately rewarded the Tigers, going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI in his first game back. Manager Jim Leyland pronounced Sizemore his everyday second baseman and No. 2 hitter, a nice spot in front of Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and, eventually, Victor Martinez. He posted an impressive .408/.495/.605 line in 23 games at Toledo this year, bringing back memories of his .308/.389/.500 with 17 homers and 21 steals across Double-A and Triple-A in 2009. Deep mixed leaguers, or perhaps Gordon Beckham owners (I'm only half-kidding), should take a look.

Justin Smoak, Mariners -- I remain perplexed by Smoak's low ownership rate considering his pedigree as a top prospect and his .296/.402/.531 line with four homers and 19 RBI this season. Sure, his .339 BABIP is a little high, but a 15 percent walk rate suggests an ability to remain in an elite OBP stratosphere. His power numbers may not have been all that impressive in the minors, but scouts always believed he had raw power, and he's still just 24 years old. While he struggled at the plate as a rookie in 2010, he still did hit 13 homers in 348 at-bats. Smoak should be owned in all but the most shallow of leagues.

Alex White, Indians -- The top pitching prospect in Cleveland's system, White allowed two runs on six hits while striking out four in his major league debut against the Tigers on Saturday. He may be in the rotation for just the duration of Carlos Carrasco's DL stint, but the team was no doubt encouraged by his first start. He faces Jered Weaver and the Angels Saturday before drawing a great matchup against the Mariners next week. If he can impress in those two starts, he has a chance to stick in the rotation. After posting a 25 strikeouts to eight walks in 23.2 innings at Triple-A Columbus, White's a great guy to take a chance on if you're looking for a high-upside add.

Let me know what you think 140 characters at a time on Twitter, @MBeller.

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