Five Best 3B in Baseball.

     The Five Best at the “Hot Corner” in the game of baseball today are…

  • Alex Rodriguez:  Once his career is all said and done, I won’t mind if people say that he wasn’t the greatest ever.  But I will mind if they don’t include him in that discussion.  Some put a lot of emphasis on the postseason, and rightfully so, but even if he never has the great postseason that everyone expects from him, it will be tough to make a valid argument against 700+ home runs from an infield position other than first base.  His value on an individual basis has been diminished slightly because he moved off of the more difficult position of SS.  But 3B aren’t exactly supposed to be this great offensively, either.  If Alex Rodriguez is again the best player in baseball in 2009, as he was in 2007, then I will definitely not be surprised.  He has been the best player in baseball multiple seasons already.
  • David Wright:  What can’t David Wright do?  Play defense? Check that off.  Hit among the best players in baseball?  Color in the according circle.  Field questions from the media while no one else seems to as your team is collapsing?  Circle me silly.  And yet, it still isn’t enough.  Kind of reminds me of AROD actually, except Wright doesn’t make well over $20 million a year, which people definitely despise Rodriguez for doing.  Over the past three seasons, David Wright has three of the top 6 Win Share totals among 3B.  The other three belong to Miguel Cabrera (2), and to Alex Rodriguez (1).  So what can’t David Wright do?  Apparently, he cannot hit in the clutch, or so some think, even though Wright has batted .307/.407/.483 in “Late and Close” situations in his career. 
  • Chipper Jones:  The thing that separates Chipper from the top 2 3B is not performance, necessarily, but performance over a period of time.  Chipper is 36 now, and isn’t exactly staying on the field that much.  The past two seasons, Jones has played in 128 and 134 games.  But the two previous seasons, 2004 and 2005, Jones played in only 109 and 110 games.  If Chipper could stay healthy he may move up a slot, but he hasn’t been on the field enough the past four seasons.  Don’t take what I am saying the wrong way, because Chipper IS a Hall of Famer.  But he happens to slot in nicely at number 3 in this ranking, rather than higher up.  When we think of Chipper, think Edgar Martinez, except for one thing, Jones could field third well enough to stick around there, meaning he has/had more value.  
  • Aramis Ramirez:  This is where it drops a little, but far from a ton.  Aramis Ramirez, believe it or not, is a really good player.  He definitely gets less coverage than the first three 3B mentioned, but that is because two play in New York; one is a Hall of Famer already and appeared in 11 straight postseasons at one point.  Chicago is a media haven, but New York is even greater when talking about coverage.  Oh, and the other three 3B are better, which may be helpful in adding to why Ramirez gets less props.  But Ramirez has five straight seasons of OPS+ of 126 or greater.  His defense used to be regarded as semi-atrocious, but apparently he worked on it, and now he is good enough to be regarded as not “semi-atrocious.” 
  • Ryan Zimmerman:  This is where it gets dicey.  Evan Longoria may pass Zimmerman this season, but I have one season at the Major League level to analyze Longoria.  Zimmerman isn’t the hitter–or hasn’t been yet–that Longoria is most likely going to continue to be.  But one thing that Zimmerman does well is his field the position.  And three seasons of fielding the position well and batting a little above the average is greater in a ranking like this, than that of one good season.  Don’t forget either, Zimmerman is merely 23 years old, Longoria is 22.  Both are very young and BOTH have most likely not had the best seasons of their career yet.  I do however believe that Longoria moves into the top 5 after another season, might even move up to number 4. 

22 Comments

Zimmerman? I don’t know.. If Chipper is in there why not Lowell?

http://thewrightway.mlblogs.com/

Joe, what are the exact criteria you look at when evaluating players in each of the positions? batting average, on-base-percentage, slugging, defense, etc.?

Your rankings are very similar to mine other than Ryan Zimmerman. I live in the Washington, DC area and can tell you that Zimmerman has been a slight disappointment. Here are my rankings but again I tried to look at all aspects of the game…
http://the1constant.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/11/rankings_the_top_10_third_base.html

http://the1constant.mlblogs.com/

I take into account multiple things, level boss. No stat that I rely on solely. OPS+ is the stat offensively that I generally use, but I do look at OBP on its own too, and some others. Win Shares is the stat that I look at most for overall worth, because it does take into account both sides of the ball. As far as the defensive side, John Dewan’s Plus/Minus is what I use. I have yet to find a defensive metric that I could rely on exclusively, and feel comfortable doing so, but the Plus/Minus seems to be pretty accurate, and has a good reputation among some baseball minds that I at least respect.

“The Wright way,” I could see Lowell vs. Zimmerman, but Lowell is not as good as Chipper. And this is coming from someone who is a Red Sox fan, and actually likes the way Mike Lowell plays. Lowell has an above average bat, and is good defensively, but Chipper is Chipper, he is still a great hitter, like, really great, when he is on the field.

Amazin86er, I know Zimmerman hasn’t lived up to the original hype, yet, but he has been an above average all around player. Others could claim that fifth spot, but I feel pretty confident in my top 4 on this particular ranking. If I didn’t go with Zimmerman, I might have gone with Longoria. The only thing holding Evan back was a lack of games played.

I have to agree with Wright Way. Lowell should be on the list.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com

Haha, he is probably 7th, Julia, and I have no problem with him at 5, but I can’t please everyone with these lists. :)

Lowell actually has a better case to be in this ranking then Youkilis did in the 1B ranking. I’m all screwed up trying to stay objective now. Each time I rank a Red Sox player I always think extra hard to see if I am ranking him too high because I see him play. Or too low because I am trying to make a point of staying objective, and trying to account for the bias that I might have.

Longpria will 100% pass Zimmerman this season. For me Zimmerman has been a letdown. Have to agree with Julia where is Mike Lowell?

Bob, http://bostonsports.mlblogs.com/

Joe, i like your new series of the “Five Best –”.. i hope you can do evaluations of all the positions plus starting pitching, middle relief, and closers (and managers)

I did this a little last season, never finished though. I do have my SS one already done, but it was in December I think. Here is the link: http://statisticianmagician.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/12/five_best_shortstops_in_the_ga.html

yep, i saw that one about ss
perhaps before the season starts we could see your opinion of all the positions – it would be a very cool series

I definitely hope to get them in before the season starts. The way I have been blogging I could get them all in by the end of the week it seems. I wish I could blog consistently. I will go through periods where I don’t say much. Right now, football just ended for me (eagles fan) so baseball is starting to overwhelm my mind.

http://statisticianmagician.mlblogs.com/

I think you’re correct in leaving Lowell off that list. Hard for me to argue.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

i see i’m late for this party. i couldn’t agree more with you about the great david wright. the sad thing is the last two years ny sports radio ( which i listen to on the internet) has completely trashed the guy for being “unclutch” “over-rated” these guys are so clueless it’s infuriating.

i’m glad you’re a blogging fiend at the moment. keep it up

It is aparent that no one is staying up late on the east coast catching the West Coast Games! Lowell and Zimmerman. Not one of you mentioned Garrett Atkins. Even in Zimm’s breakout year of 2006, Atkins had better stats in every offensive category except 3B!

I know theres little love for the NL West on the East Coast, but come on, Atkins is a no brainer!!!!!!!!!!!

Atkins past two seasons of OPS+ are 112 and 97. And according to the +/-, he is one of the more poor fielding 3B that there are. So I have to disagree about the “no brainer” part of that statement.

I think Chipper has shown over the past few years that when someone can hit behind him and protect him that he is among the elite hitters in baseball. I was also upset that 2 years ago he was snubbed in the Gold Glove voting. It would go to David Wright who didn’t have nearly as good a season. But hey, it is part of the game. Wright also benefits from playing in the biggest market in baseball. Nice list though.
http://hardballblog.mlblogs.com/

Gold Glove awards generally end up going to the lesser guy most of the time anyway it seems. But at least they don’t give Gold Gloves to Bobby Abreu. Oh, wait, they did give him one back in 04′ or something.

What can’t David Wright do? Not a clutch hitter, as some would say…he has come through many times no matter what is said. Great list though!

Thanks! Did you have an account already, Jen? Or did you create one? I was thinking about this the other day, since you are a Mets fan. But your three superstar position players all fell at number 2 on my lists (3B, SS, CF).

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