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Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Team: Third Base

Much like second base, the Diamondbacks haven't gotten consistently great production from third base, with five different players for the six best seasons by fWAR. Will third base follow the trail blazed by second base, and give the starting spot to the 1999 third baseman? Or will we see an upset?

A much younger Matt Williams has no idea he'll be considered a windmill in fifteen years
A much younger Matt Williams has no idea he'll be considered a windmill in fifteen years
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The roster so far:

  • Catcher: Miguel Montero, 2012
  • First Base: Paul Goldschmidt, 2015; Mark Grace, 2001
  • Second Base: Jay Bell, 1999
Third base simply hasn't looked real good for the Diamondbacks (by fWAR, anyway) throughout their history. Only six seasons have surpassed the 2 fWAR level. No player has surpassed 4 fWAR. There hasn't been a lot of negative value there, either, which is good. The team has managed to be consistently average there for most of its history.

Troy Glaus, 2005

The big acquisition of the 2004-2005 offseason also tops the alphabetical list, as he failed to live up to expectations in the desert before being traded for Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson. (One could easily argue that the return for Glaus was pretty good, as Hudson went on to be very good at second base for a few years.) This assessment, though, is a bit unfair to Glaus, who was good if not great in his lone season for the Diamondbacks. Sure, he didn't live up to the numbers he had posted a couple years in Anaheim, but he was substantially better than he had been the previous two years. In short, the Diamondbacks got the player they had reason to expect, if not the player they hoped for.

His numbers in the desert? He hit 37 home runs (second most among Diamondbacks third baseman all-time) and posted an OBP of .363 (highest among all Diamondback third basemen) to go with an OPS+ of 126, 3.2 fWAR and 3.4 bWAR. His offense was really good, his defense not very good. He anchored the lineup for a disappointing team, and hasn't been remembered particularly fondly.

Jake Lamb, 2015

The surprise appearance on this list belongs to Lamb, who had just 390 plate appearances in a year cut short by injury. Still, that was enough for the sixth-best season at third base in franchise history, by fWAR. His defense was above-average, his offense below-average, but he did fairly well at getting on base; his .331 OBP was above-average, but still not spectacular. He also hit 6 home runs. He might have posted substantially better numbers had he not missed time with a foot injury, at which time he was posting absolutely insane numbers (.414/.514/.690.) Obviously some regression would have happened anyway, but missing nearly two months right when he was finding his stride couldn't have helped. But he did provide above-average value at a position that was otherwise a black hole for the D-backs all season.

Mark Reynolds, 2009

Reynolds earned the nickname "Special-K" during his time in the desert, but he only mastered two of the three true outcomes. In 2009, he led the major leagues in strikeouts with 223 (the all-time record) but also blasted 44 home runs, most by any Diamondbacks third baseman. He wasn't very good in the field, but wasn't terrible either, being around replacement level. Reynolds was a monster in the power/speed department, stealing 24 bases. And I'm obligated to point out that he was doing all this while apparently dealing with major visual impairment. Pretty impressive, really. He was worth 3.3 fWAR and bWAR during the 2009 season, which was the best year of his career. Of course, he also was responsible for the term "fatburger" in these parts, thanks to his mammoth home runs.

Ryan Roberts, 2011

Tatman was a fan-favorite in the improbable run to the division title in 2011, providing good value offensively and defensively at the hot corner. In fact, among players who played the majority of their games at third, Roberts is second only to Craig Counsell in 2002 in regard to defensive value. He also posted career highs in most offensive categories, including an OPS+ of 108, 19 home runs, 18 stolen bases, and 66 walks (to only 98 strikeouts.) He also hit two home runs in the NLDS, one a grand slam. But the game that most epitomized both the 2011 team in general and Roberts in particular was a matchup with the Dodgers on September 27th. In a 1-1 game, Micah Owings gave up 5 runs in the top of the 10th. But the D-backs came back, and after John Mcdonald reached on an error to make it 6-2, and Aaron Hill drew a bases loaded walk to make it 6-3, Roberts blasted one to left for a walk-off grand slam, all 6 runs scoring with two outs. It really ain't over till it's over, folks.

Matt Williams, 1999

The other D-back elected to start the All-Star game in 1999, Williams was enjoying a bit of a resurgence. Although it is often forgotten, the Diamondbacks had initially acquired Travis Fryman, before flipping him (along with another player and cash) to the Indians for Williams. And in 1998, Fryman had been the better player. But Williams came back strong in 1999, posting good numbers, if not as good as he had for the Giants in the mid-90s. He hit .303, with 35 home runs and 142 RBI (not only the most in franchise history at third, but tied with Gonzo's 2001 for most by any player.) His defense was also a plus (although not generally spectacular, Williams had come up as a shortstop and was generally very good defensively; he actually got two starts at shortstop in 2001.) Williams was worth 4.0 fWAR and 4.1 bWAR.