Third Base is one of the deepest positions in all of baseball. Not only is it top-heavy with stars, but it also contains many up-and-coming prospects just waiting for a breakout. At the “Hot Corner”, excellent defense is a necessity, but a powerful bat is an even more important prerequisite. Similar to MLB Network’s Top 10 Right Now series here’s Overtime’s Top 10 MLB Third Basemen.
10. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Starting off the list is a mainstay from years gone by. Injuries and aging have limited Longoria’s power, but he is still a professional hitter, a doubles machine, and a fine defender at the hot corner.
It seems like Longoria has been around forever, but he is still only 30 years old, meaning that a comeback to his 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons could still be in the cards. Longoria’s “down years” of 20+ homers, 85 RBI, and a .750 OPS are still solid years for many other major leaguers. Longoria has a real chance to bounce back in 2016.
9. Todd Frazier, Chicago White Sox
The Toms River native, Todd Frazier had a blistering start to the 2015 campaign, including a Home Run Derby Championship. But as time went on, Frazier fell off immensely. He only hit .220 with 10 homers and a .274 OBP after the All-Star Break, and the Reds jettisoned him to the Chicago White Sox in a blockbuster trade this offseason.
Frazier isn’t a particularly strong defender at third base, but his powerful bat makes up for it. He’s always played at strong hitter’s parks which definitely helps his numbers, but his power really translates anywhere. A little fine-tuning and patience could turn Frazier into a star.
8. Mike Moustakas, Kansas City Royals
I must admit that I never was a huge Mike Moustakas fan. Between his offensive failures and defensive lapses, I never thought that “Moose” would live up to the hype. But Moustakas finally cashed in on his potential in 2015, hitting a robust .284 with decent rate stats, 22 dingers, much-improved defense at third base, and a World Series Championship.
Moustakas may have peaked in 2015, but an optimist believes that there’s even more room for improvement. He doesn’t walk a lot, but he did cut down on his strikeouts in a big way, suggesting that he’s still developing as a hitter. Moustakas needs to follow up his breakout 2015 with an even better 2016.
7. Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
Seager has improved every year that he’s been in the league, and is beginning to become a household name. He sure lived up to the $100 million extension that he signed last winter, hitting .266 with 26 homers in a tough hitter’s park, and playing a real nice defensive third base.
Seager’s numbers are bogged down a bit because he plays half of his games at Safeco Field, so just imagine what he could do in a hitter’s park. Seager can bat anywhere from 1-5 in the order and actually hits same-side pitchers better than his platoon advantage, making him a dependable offensive player. And when combined with his stellar defense, Seager is a winning player.
6. Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Matt Carpenter is a real throwback player. He can play anywhere on the field, doesn’t wear any batting gloves, and never misses a game. He hit .272 for the second straight season, but powered 20 more homers and improved his defense at the hot corner. Carpenter always posts a high OBP every year.
Carpenter is a very consistent player for the Cards. He can slot anywhere in the lineup and always gives it his all. Carpenter is a bargain at only $8.66 million per year, so the Cards are happy to have him in the lineup every day.
5. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
Old Reliable Adrian Beltre didn’t do anything wrong in 2015 except age a year. As his power and walks decreased, Beltre slipped a bit on the Top 10 list. I just don’t feel right calling a soon-to-be 37-year-old better than some of the fine young talent that will appear later on the list.
But Beltre’s goose sure isn’t cooked yet. His .287 average, 18 homers, 32 doubles, and .788 OPS were his worst totals since 2009, but are still totals that any major leaguer will sign up for. And with his defense still a strong point, Beltre remains a top-tier third basemen.
4. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant’s fantastic rookie season gets him the number 4 spot on Overtime’s Top 10 list. Bryant took a while to hit his first home run, but he showed solid contact ability and posted a higher OBP than expected. Bryant wound up hitting 26 homers, and it’s only a matter of time before he pops 40. This of course came with a ridiculous 199 strikeouts, but the Cubs will take that if he keeps swatting balls out of Wrigley Field.
Bryant needs to have an even better 2016 to climb on this list, but that shouldn’t be hard for him. As he gets more big-league experience, Bryant will only improve. While his defense could use some work, it’s not exactly his calling card. On a side note, his 13 steals were a surprise for such a big man. Bryant’s future is extremely bright.
3. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
I am very aware that Coors Field has a certain effect on hitters, but Nolan Arenado is dominant no matter where he plays. After two strong seasons in the bigs, Arenado took a huge step forward in 2015. He hit .287 with a league-leading 42 home runs and 130 RBI, and played Gold Glove defense once again; after three years he has three Gold Glove Awards.
Arenado wasn’t just a byproduct of Coors Field though. While his average and OBP fell on the road, he actually hit more home runs and posted an .860 OPS. Arenado is just 24 years old, which means that the Rockies have a lot to look forward to for a long time.
2. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
As a New York Yankees fan, I get the privilege of seeing Manny Machado play 20+ times a year, and every time my jaw just drops. That classic doubles power we saw in 2013 became home run power in 2015, as he hit a career-high 35 taters. He plays arguably the best defense of any third basemen, and he increased his walks by 50 and his stolen bases by 18.
The yearly progression of Machado is a beautiful thing for Orioles fans. Their top prospect of 2011 has blossomed into one of baseball’s elite third basemen. Together with Chris Davis and Adam Jones, the middle of Baltimore’s lineup is scary-good.
1. Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays
We all knew who would be number 1 after Josh Donaldson’s other-worldly 2015 season. Oakland GM Billy Bean is usually one of baseball’s wisest front-office suits, but he screwed up big time by getting rid of Josh Donaldson for an underwhelming return in 2014. The “Bringer of Rain” hit .297, slugged 41 home runs (many of the clutch variety), had excellent plate discipline, and won the 2015 AL MVP Award.
Donaldson is also a fantastic defender and a real leader for the Jays. Donaldson jerseys are selling like hotcakes in Toronto for a reason: he is one of the top 5 players in all of the MLB, as well as its best third basemen.