Monday, January 28, 2013

Ranking the top third basemen in baseball

by: Chase Fitzgerald
Staff Writer

I made up this list by asking a couple of people to send me their top ten players for each position. Whatever position each player was on the list, they got that many points. The player with the least amount of points, got the top spot. If a player wasn’t on a top ten list, they got an “11”. I want to thank all the people that voted and there will be a top ten list coming out every Monday. Enjoy.

1. Miguel Cabrera
Last season’s stats: HR: 44 RBI: 139 AVG: .330 OPS: .999 OBP: .393 SLG: .606
Miguel Cabrera extinguished all doubt about who is the league’s top third baseman when he captured the AL MVP and the triple crown. He led the AL in just about every category you can imagine and also leads all third baseman in just about every category. Cabrera did have a lot of trouble making the transition to third and his defense was below average at best but, his hitting more than made up for it as he proved he was easily the best hitter in the American league and maybe in the entire league. There is no doubt that Cabrera is the best third baseman in the MLB.

2. David Wright
Last season’s stats: HR: 21 RBI: 93 AVG: .306 OPS: .883 OBP: .391 SLG: .492
David Wright might be the most under rated third baseman in the entire league. He always seems to put together a great season but since he is on the Mets, it usually goes over shadowed. If the Mets were contending, he would have been in the MVP conversation. He was third in the NL in WAR and was probably the NL’s best player until a late season drought. His play this year earned him a giant 8 year extension to guarantee him being a Met for life. The Mets are lucky to have him.

3. Adrian Beltre
Last season’s stats: HR: 36 RBI: 102 AVG: .321 OPS: .921 OBP: .359 SLG: .561
Beltre was the second best second baseman this season and lost out on the number 2 spot by just one vote. He had a tremendous year and carried this team throughout parts of the season when Josh Hamilton was having his problems. He had the second best season of his career offensively and maybe the best defensively earning him a Gold Glove. The Rangers may have lost Hamilton but they still have Beltre and if he repeats his numbers from last season, they should be in good shape.

4. Aramis Ramirez
Last season’s stats: HR: 27 RBI: 105 AVG: .300 OPS: .901 OBP: .360 SLG: .540
Aramis Ramirez was signed by the Brewers this offseason to replace Prince Fielder. Even though he didn’t replicate Prince’s numbers, he came pretty damn close. The Brewers didn’t play well this season but it wasn’t Ramirez’s fault. He played some of the best baseball of his entire career including posting his highest WAR ever. He led the majors in doubles and was great protection for Ryan Braun all season. His fielding isn’t the best but he improved greatly this year posting a positive defensive WAR. Ramirez did what he was asked this season and that was to make him and Braun one of the scariest 3 4 combos in the league.

5. Chase Headley
Last season’s stats: HR: 31 RBI: 115 AVG: .286 OPS: .875 OBP: .376 SLG: .498
Chase Headley played out of his mind this season which resulted in him finishing third in MVP voting and making the Padres watchable. Headley had his breakout year finally putting it all together also sweeping the NL awards for third baseman winning the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. There was a lot of talk all year about the Padres trading Headley while his value was high but I think they made the right decision by keeping their superstar to build around. Headley isn’t higher on the list because it was only one season but, he is slowly turning into one of my favorite players partially because we share the same name and I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps getting better.

6. David Freese
Last season’s stats: HR: 20 RBI: 79 AVG: .293 OPS: .839 OBP: .372 SLG: .467
David Freese had a huge coming out party two seasons ago in the playoffs and by just watching him play you knew he was going to be a great player. He hasn’t disappointed. Obviously Freese wasn’t amazing this season but he definitely proved that he is one of the better players in the league. As you can tell, I am extremely high on Freese and wouldn’t be shocked to see him become a superstar next season. His power numbers were down this year but he was fourth out off all third baseman in on base percentage and was sixth in OPS. Freese has all the potential in the world and I expect him to reach at least some of it next season.

7. Ryan Zimmerman
Last season’s stats: HR: 25 RBI: 95 AVG: .282 OPS: .824 OBP: .346 SLG: .478
If Wright is the most underrated third baseman then Zimmerman has to be second. Every single year he plays excellent baseball and excluding two seasons ago where he only played 100 games, he has had over .800 OPS with at least 25 homeruns. He didn’t have his best season last year but he was still one of the main reasons for the Nationals’ amazing run this season. He was rewarded with a huge extension last offseason which he well deserved. All you need to do is watch one Nationals game to see how important he was to the team. The reason he isn’t higher on the list is because he hasn’t looked like his old self since 2011 but I think that changes next season.

8. Evan Longoria
Last season’s stats: HR: 17 RBI: 55 AVG: .289 OPS: .896 OBP: .369 SLG: .527
I know I’m going to get a lot of criticism for putting Longoria so low but that is due to his injury this season and his low average the year before. He looked to be having a rebound year last season but was derailed by injuries. He did come back at the end of the year but wasn’t playing like he was in April. He may be the most clutch player in all of baseball but he did have a .244 batting average the year before and that is just awful. One good year though can sky rocket him up this list but for now, he’ll remain at number 8.

9. Brett Lawrie
Last season’s stats: HR: 11 RBI: 48 AVG: .273 OPS: .729 OBP: .324 SLG: .405
Brett Lawrie is one of my favorite players in all of baseball but he had a very disappointing year. I expected him to burst into the league this season after having a very impressive rookie season. By comparison, he hit 9 homeruns last year in 150 at bats and in over 300 more at bats this season, he only hit 2 more. I am still very high on Lawrie and he will turn into a great player. He is a very interesting case with some voters having him as high as sixth with others not having him ranked at all. He has to get back his power stroke and get back to his 2011 form.

10. Todd Frazier
Last season’s stats: HR: 19 RBI: 67 AVG: .273 OPS: .829 OBP: .331 SLG: .498
This spot was incredible close between Frazier and Jordan Pacheco who both ended up with the same number of votes. I decided to go with Frazier because Frazier’s OPS was about 80 points higher than Pacheco. Frazier is one of the better stories of the year as he went from not making the team in spring training to finishing third in the rookie of the year voting. He was willing to play any position at any time and was alright with splitting playing time with Rolen even though Frazier was obviously the superior player. Frazier will get the chance to be the full time third baseman next season and I can’t wait to see if he can improve, or if this year was a fluke.

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