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Third Basemen in the NL West

Who was the best last season?

Third Baseman Ryan McMahon fielding a badly thrown ball.
Third Baseman Ryan McMahon fielding a badly thrown ball.
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Last season, who was the best third baseman in the NL West? Let’s narrow our candidates to those who are known to be returning to the NL West, and to those who played at least 100 innings at third base last season.

That leaves nine players. We need to narrow the field to three finalists so you can vote for the best in the NL West. Highlights follow:


Of our nine players, the two best defenders at third base were Ryan McMahon (highest DRS and OAA) and Manny Machado (second highest DRS and OAA). The Fielding Bible ranked McMahon second in the Majors and Machado eighth in the Majors.

Looking at DRS earned in all positions played in 2021, The Fielding Bible showed Ryan McMahon ranked first in the Majors with 22 DRS.


On Base Percent. Justin Turner’s .361 OBP was highest. Ranking second and third were Evan Langoria’s .351 OBP and Manny Machado’s .347 OBP.

On Base plus Slugging. Manny Machado’s .836 OPS was highest. Very close behind him were Evan Langoria’s .833 OPS and Justin Turner’s .832 OPS.

Homers. Justin Turner’s .0441 homers per PA was highest. Extremely close behind was Manny Machado’s .0438 homers per PA.

Base Salary in 2022.

In 2022, Manny Machado’s $30 Million base salary is by far the highest. In second and third place are Evan Langoria’s $19.5 Million and Justin Turner’s $16 Million.

Sometimes, players with the highest salaries are less exciting than a younger player. You may want to nominate a relatively young player who exceeded expectations and has a bright future, such as Ryan McMahon.

Ryan McMahon.

What did writers at Purple Row (SB Nation website that covers the Rockies) think about Ryan McMahon? A few samples follow:

“Offensively, the power is undeniable — his HardHit% is 68% while his Average Exit Velocity of 73 moves him into the low end of ‘great.’ Moreover, McMahon was better at the plate in 2021 than he was in 2020, but he remains a work in progress.” — Renee Dechert

“We have yet to see Ryan McMahon’s bat reach its full potential.” — Skyler Timmins

“Just looking at McMahon’s stats at the hot corner, he topped the [Gold Glove] finalists in fielding percentage, Baseball Reference’s Defensive Runs Saved, and Statcast’s Outs Above Average. The first of those is obviously a rate stat, but the last two are counting stats, making his relative performance more impressive. Especially when you add in that he was just as impressive when playing second base.” — Robert Walgren

“McMahon has proven himself with the glove at two positions so it wouldn’t be out of the question that he can provide quality glovework at another infield position [Shortstop].” —Skyler Timmins

“While Skyler Timmins has explored the possibility of Ryan McMahon moving to short, I just don’t see that the Rockies moving their Gold-Glove-nominated third baseman to short.” — Renee Dechert

Manny Machado.

What did one writer at Gaslamp Ball (SB Nation website that covers the Padres) think about Manny Machado? A few samples follow:

“He was a finalist for the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove as well in 2021.” — Ben Fadden

“His third season (yes, it’s already been that long) was arguably his best in a Padres uniform but at the end of the day, that didn’t matter to him because the team didn’t make the postseason.” — Ben Fadden

“Last season, FanGraphs said Machado was worth $35.2 million, which means he actually was underpaid for his performance, not overpaid. ... Personally, if Machado’s deal was an overpay then what do we call Gerrit Cole (9 years/$324 million) and Corey Seager’s contracts (10 year/$325 million)?” — Ben Fadden

“Fast forward to mid-September and Machado was seen chewing out Tatis in the midst of San Diego getting swept by the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend and seeing their playoff hopes fade away.” — Ben Fadden

Evan Longoria & Justin Turner.

What did writers at McCovey Chronicles (SB Nation website that covers the Giants) and True Blue LA (SB Nation website that covers the Dodgers) think about Evan Longoria and Justin Turner? A few samples follow:

“Evan Longoria’s season ended on June 5th when he and Brandon Crawford collided while attempting to field a routine ground ball to the true shortstop position.” [He resumed playing almost daily on 14 August.] — Steven Kennedy

“With Belt back and hopefully healthier years from Longoria and La Stella, Flores will see less time in the field.” — Steven Kennedy

“In the 138-year history of the Dodgers, only three have played more games at third base than Justin Turner’s 819, with an outside chance for Turner to move into second place in 2022. Ron Cey is the only Dodgers third baseman with more career WAR with the team (47.7) than Turner (32.0).” — Eric Stephen

“Turner also tops several Dodgers postseason categories, thanks to being a key component in last last eight playoff runs.” — Eric Stephen


The following table compares nine of the players you could nominate in the comments section.

Data from The Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, and Spotrac.

Last season, among returning third basemen who do you nominate as the best in the NL West? Would you pick from the players listed above, or bring your own pick?

We need to narrow the candidates down to three or thereabouts, for a poll next week. This will be done largely on the basis of recs in the comments, though the decision of the third base judging committee i.e. me, will be final in this regard. Just identify the player in the subject line, and make your case in the body of the comment. If you agree with a choice already made, give it a rec. If you don’t see your choice, post a new comment. Poll to follow next week!