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The All-Time MLB Team, Third base: nominations and ballot

Who was the best ever at the hot corner? Time for you to tell us...

Brooks Robinson in Playing Position

In the end, I went with six nominees. Five were in the top seven by bWAR (a little odd how the most recent players, Adrian Beltre and Chipper Jones, didn’t get enough support. Maybe the SnakePit is just full of old fogeys!), but after Chuck’s story, I could hardly not acknowledge his nominee! So, here are the candidates, with extracts from the comments in the nomination thread where appropriate.

Buddy Bell

ChuckJohnson56: “My nomination is a guy who ranks 13th in WAR for 3B but more importantly 3rd in dWAR. Don’t get this wrong, WAR sucks in all variations but this is what this project is based on so have no choice. There’s been a lot of support of late, rightfully so, for Scott Rolen, but this guy is at least as worthy a candidate and if you value defense especially with infielders then he’s a better candidate.” As Chuck mentions, Bell ranks behind just Beltre and Robinson for dWAR, and has a higher rate than the former, who appeared in 528 more games. Bell’s OPS+ of 109 is better than Robinson’s 105. He was a five-time All-Star and won the Gold Glove at third on six occasions.

Wade Boggs

Xerostomia: “There is something special about being a career .326 hitter, and only had 745 strike outs in his career. That is just amazing as current generation of players are now striking out 30-40 times a month (extreme example), whilst he would go an entire season with barely 40 strike outs. Sure, a 2-run home run is fun and all, but I still prefer a 2-run double. I am picking Boggs, for no reason other than he is a tougher out (and someone needs to be on base for a dinger to have more value (career OBP .415).” From 1986-89, Boggs drew 442 walks while striking out 177 times, and hile posting an OPS+ of 160. In 1988 he led the AL in walks with under 40 K’s - the only to do that since Ted Williams in 1954.

George Brett

He is one of only four players in MLB history with 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, and a career .300 batting average, and his total of 3,154 hits is the most by anyone at this position. Famous for his role in the 1983 Pine Tar incident, his 1980 campaign was one of the most all-round impressive in baseball history. He batted .390, still the closest any qualifying American League hitter has come to hitting .400 since Ted Williams in 1941. He also had more home-runs (24) than strikeouts (22). The OPS+ of 203 as he won the MVP award, is the highest for a season by a 3B in the major leagues. He’s also the only nominee here to have inspired a Lorde song.

Eddie Mathews

Jack Sommers: “He blazed the path for slugging third basemen. When he retired in 1968 he ranked 6th all time in HR. He was a 12 time all star, and an underrated fielder (+33 career fielding runs). His career stats, whether counting stats or rate stats, are just a hair behind Schmidt. He formed a devastating double punch along with Hank Aaron through the 50’s and 60’s.” Jack’s right about Mathews being a pioneer: he was the first third-baseman to hit forty HR in a season, with 47 in 1953 at the age of just 21. No player that age has hit more than 42. He had three other forty-HR seasons, yet still walked almost as often as he struck out, leading the league four times in bases on balls.

Brooks Robinson

Smurf1000: “I always felt he was the best defensive 3B of all time. Jim Palmer definitely thought so.” And so does dWAR, where Robinson’s value of 39.1 is more than a dozen wins more than any other third baseman. He played all 23 years with the Baltimore Orioles, winning the American League MVP in 1964, when he batted .317 with 28 home-runs. But it is for his defensive skills that he is most renowned, and the metrics bear this out. No other third baseman has been worth four dWAR in a season: Robinson reached that mark twice, in 1967-68. He’s the only player ever to do it in consecutive years, and also the only one to do it while hitting 20 HR, as he did in 1967.

Mike Schmidt

Justin27: “Clearing the Bases by Glen Waggoner and Mike Schmidt is a good read. Honestly, I had no idea who he even was (well beyond knowing the name and he was a Phillie) before picking up the book at the library.” MrRBI17: “He feasted on fastballs. Schmidt had a controlled, smooth swing with tremendous pewer. He definitely struck fear into pitchers. And his glove work seemed just fine to me. Plus,I got to see him cuss and throw his golf club a ways at the Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament which further endeared him to me!” Diamondhacks: “Schmidt w his 10 Gold Gloves and 148 ops+ was the best all around 3B. He could run some too. Certainly the best career third baseman I ever saw.”

Poll

Who was the greatest third-baseman ever?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Buddy Bell
    (0 votes)
  • 6%
    Wade Boggs
    (6 votes)
  • 19%
    George Brett
    (18 votes)
  • 10%
    Eddie Mathews
    (10 votes)
  • 29%
    Brooks Robinson
    (27 votes)
  • 34%
    Mike Schmidt
    (32 votes)
93 votes total Vote Now