BBE 2018 Positional Rankings: MLB’s Top 15 Third Basemen

Over the offseason, the team of contributors at Baseball Essential voted upon every position on the diamond, compiling our comprehensive Top 15 countdowns for the 2018 season.

Major League Baseball is overflowing with youth and skill, but don’t forget about the rugged veterans we all know and love. These Top 15 rundowns will feature a splendid mix of young, exuberant athletes, and the aged, mature individuals who mentor them.As for the positions, we will unveil the top 15 starting pitchers, relievers, catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, left fielders, center fielders, and right fielders, as well as the foremost designated hitters, utilitymen, and managers, over the next few weeks.

Our voting format is simple. The team of writers and analysts at BBE were given ballots a few weeks back for their top 10 individuals at each spot. A first-place vote is worth 10 points, second-place is good for nine, and so on.

As the spring training season starts to get underway, you will see these countdowns published prior to the beginning of another exciting MLB season. To keep track of the Top 15 lists you might have missed, stay posted to the Top 15 tag on the site.

In the rundown, we list the player, their position among the list, and how many points they have received in the voting. Now, you’re ready. Here are MLB’s Top 15 third basemen for the 2018 season.

Honorable Mentions:

Only one honorable mention can be given here, and that belongs to Minnesota Twins slugger Miguel Sano. He tallied just one voting point and fell to the 15th-placed third baseman via tiebreaker – a random draw.

Todd Frazier – 15th (1)

It’s not for no reason they call Todd Frazier, “The Toddfather.” Frazier, between the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees, tallied 24 home runs and 76 runs batted in 147 games in the 2017 season. The veteran third baseman notched a slash line of .213/344/.428, walking 83 times and totaling 16 doubles for his two teams last season.

The two-time All-Star and former Home Run Derby champ signed with the New York Mets his offseason, bringing his free-swinging yet powerful bat and underappreciated glove to Citi Field for 2018. The 32-year-old righty previously hit 40 home runs with the White Sox and 35 with the Cincinatti Reds.

Travis Shaw – 14th (3)

Following a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers from the Boston Red Sox, Travis Shaw had a career year for an up-and-coming Brew Crew club. The 27-year-old hit .273/.349/.513 with 31 HR and 101 RBIs, posting a 144-game total of 3.9 Baseball-Reference WAR.

Shaw paced the Brewers in hits, doubles, RBIs, and total bases in 2017, as the left-handed hitter and right-handed fielder also provided decent third base defense. On a team with as stacked of an outfield as any in Major League Baseball, this infielder is not to be overlooked.

Eugenio Suarez – 13th (3)

The Reds and third baseman Eugenio Suarez recently agreed on a contract extension that keeps 26-year-old Suarez around for seven more years; Reds management will not regret it. The underrated Suarez hit .260/.367/.461 with 26 HR, 82 RBIs, and drawing 84 walks in 2017.

Suarez amassed 3.7 bWAR in 156 games. It’s hard to lead a team with Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton in any major statistical category, but the righty was second in runs and walks, and third in on base percentage while saving five runs defensively. By the time the Reds are on track for winning at the highest level of the sport, Suarez will still be around, providing everything you need from a third baseman.

Evan Longoria – 12th (3)

After a fantastic tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays, Evan Longoria begins a new chapter with the San Francisco Giants after an offseason trade. The new-look Giants receive a former Rookie of the Year who slashed .261/.313/.424 last season in Tampa, and a three-time Gold Glove winner that will be an instant upgrade to a position that has ailed San Fran in the past.

Six times a recipient of American League Most Valuable Player Award votes, the righty hitter knocked 20 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2017, both of which would have led the Giants last season. Longoria was good for 11 defensive runs saved in 2017, and will be a valuable two-way force in 2018.

Jedd Gyorko – 11th (4)

St. Louis Cardinals infielder Jedd Gyorko has always been a difficult player to project. Constantly switching positions, roles, and having extreme volatility at the plate makes him a wild card for any team. Gyorko, however, put the variability of his past to bed in 2017, slashing a career-best .272/.341/.472 with 20 HR and 67 RBIs playing more third base than ever before (109 of his 125 appearances came at third).

Gyorko is a historically streaky hitter with a magnificent glove at third, where he saved 16 runs defensively in exactly 900 innings of work last season. The 29-year-old right-hander will always find a reason to stay in the Cardinals lineup and will be a big part of a potential return to the National League playoffs in 2018.

Kyle Seager – 10th (10)

Kyle Seager wore “Corey’s Brother” on his jersey during MLB player’s weekend as an ode to Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop and sibling Corey Seager, but Kyle should not be overlooked by MLB’s faithful. The 30-year-old slashed .249/.323/.450 in 2017, hitting 27 balls out of the park and driving in 88 runners. Seager has had better defensive seasons than 2017, but the former All-Star and Gold Glove winner was good for 15 defensive runs saved just one season ago.

Alongside Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, left-handed batting Seager will be a main contributor on a team projected by many to capture the second AL Wild Card spot in 2018. There’s value in endurance and stability, too, and Seager – who posted a 2.5 bWAR last season – has never missed more than eight games in a full campaign.

Alex Bregman – 9th (12)

Alex Bregman made the 2017 postseason his personal playground, frustrating pitchers with memorable base hits and home runs, and mystifying would-be baserunners with dazzling throws from the third base spot. At 23, that’s just the beginning for the Houston Astros righty. Bregman hit .284/.352/.475 in the 2017 regular season, notching 19 long balls and batting in 71 runs while hitting second for the World Series champs.

Originally drafted as a shortstop (a position at which the ‘Stros have no problem with Carlos Correa), Bregman has all the defensive tools of an elite SS but utilitizes it all at third. Combine that with a steady, powerful bat and the burgeoning superstar is ready to go for another run at the title.

Adrian Beltre – 8th (12)

If you needed more convincing that Adrian Beltre is a future Hall of Fame inductee, take 2017 into account. Compiling his 3,000th career hit and totaling 3.6 bWAR in under 100 games played for the Texas Rangers, averaging team-highs .312 batting and .383 on base percentage (also second-best on the Rangers in slugging at .532), and posting 162-game paces of 30 home runs and 122 RBIs round out a magnificent season for a player his age.

Scratch that, I can’t mention his age, because Beltre – who will turn 39 this season – is never getting older. He has not declined at all and if healthy, looks to mentor a young Rangers squad in 2018. It’s safe to say that nobody enjoys playing baseball more than Beltre does.

Manny Machado – 7th (43)

You see that jump from 12 to 43 voting points here? It’s because the next seven third basemen are in a class of their own, as the hot corner has become maybe the most star-studded of all positions in MLB. It starts with Manny Machado, a three-time All-Star with 138 home runs and 862 hits at just 25 years old. The Baltimore Orioles third baseman hit .258/.310/.471 last season with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs, playing offense as well as he did defense, saving six runs and fielding at .967.

It’s said that the righty will return to the shortstop position for the O’s in 2018, but by the rules laid out in our previous countdowns (example: Dee Gordon in our second baseman rundown), he appears here. Machado is entering a contract year with free agency coming up and could potentially have an MVP-caliber season for a postseason sleeper team like Baltimore.

Justin Turner – 6th (43)

Justin Turner‘s status for the beginning of the 2018 season is gloomy, as a broken wrist will sideline him for the foreseeable future. When he returns for the NL pennant-winning Dodgers, however, the redheaded third baseman will continue his unforeseen dominance at the plate and on the dirt in the infield. Once a mere utility player for the New York Mets, the 2017 NL Championship Series MVP hit .322/.415/.530 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs, compiling a 5.8 bWAR in just 130 games.

In his four seasons as the Dodgers third baseman, Turner has hit .303 with 74 HR, averaging nearly a hit her game. The Dodgers have the depth to survive without the right-handed batting All-Star, but the 33-year-old will be vital in their hopes for another championship run as soon as he returns from the disabled list.

Anthony Rendon – 5th (46)

Always a steady third baseman but never exactly a superstar, Anthony Rendon exploded in 2017. The Washington Nationals righty had career highs in batting average (.301), OBP (.403), slugging percentage (.533), home runs (25), and RBIs (100) last season, all whilst playing exceptional defense: .979 fielding percentage, seven defensive runs saved, and converting on 35% of “unlikely” defensive plays (FanGraphs).

With Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy potentially testing the free agency market between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, this could sooner or later be Rendon’s team to lead. The former Silver Slugger, at 27 years old, is plenty talented enough to take on the workload.

Josh Donaldson – 4th (51)

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is another one of the superstars playing on expiring contracts come the 2018 season. It’s unclear where the three-time All-Star and 2015 AL MVP will head, but for now, he’s the centerfold of an exciting Jays team. The righty hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and 78 RBIs in 2017, leading Toronto in bWAR at 4.8 in just 113 games.

Donaldson popped up out of nowhere to instantly become a perennial MVP contender, receiving votes in each of the past five seasons, including three top-four finishes. If this is the last year of the the 32-year-old Silver Slugger in Toronto, fans north of the border should soak up his elite talent.

Jose Ramirez – 3rd (60)

Jose Ramirez might be the most well-rounded player in baseball; not only at his position, but in all of MLB. The 2017 AL MVP finalist is a switch-hitting, multiple position-playing, power and average-hitting versatile behemoth equaled by no third baseman in baseball. Ramirez slashed .318/.374/.583 with 29 HR and 83 RBI over his 152 games at third base and second base.

Scoring 6.9 bWAR over the season, Ramirez earned the Silver Slugger at third and appeared in his first All-Star Game. Alongside fellow young gun Francisco Lindor on the Cleveland Indians, the 25-year-old is an absolute beast that can change the way a game is going in a multitude of ways. 2017 surely will not be the only year after which Ramirez is a finalist for MVP.

Kris Bryant – 2nd (72)

Kris Bryant’s career trajectory is unbelievably impressive. In a three-year span, the Chicago Cubs franchise face won Minor League Player of the Year (Baseball America and USA TODAY), NL Rookie of the Year, and NL MVP on his way to recording the final putout of the 2016 World Series. Bryant hit

.295/.409/.537 with 29 HR, 73 RBIs, and a strong 93 walks in 152 games in the 2017 NL Central-winning campaign.

At 26, Bryant isn’t done winning hardware and being the most valuable player on the Cubs. His 6.2 bWAR was best on the club, as were his hit, extra-base hit, walk, OPS, and OPS+ totals. He runs the bases and defends very well for a player of his physical stature (6’5” and lanky), and keeps getting better yearly.

Nolan Arenado – 1st (72)

Nolan Arenado and Bryant actually tied for first, and there’s a reason as to why: they’re the best there is at third base. Arenado, however, totaled five first-place votes compared to Bryant’s three, and rounds this countdown out at #1.

Arenado is one of the greatest defensive players in the history of baseball, and to me, the best at his position ever. At 26, he has won the Gold Glove five times in a row, and saved 104 runs defensively already, including 20 in 2017. His numbers at the hot corner speak for themselves, then you have to account for the righty’s unparalleled offensive production.

Scream “Coors” all you want, Arenado is still Arenado. In 2017, the three-time All-Star slashed .309/.373/.586, all of which were career highs, with 37 HR, 130 RBIs, and a NL-leading 43 doubles. He can’t escape the Coors Field effect, but Arenado hit a very solid .283/.355/.531 away from Denver. All in all, the three-time top-ten finisher in MVP voting was voted the best third basemen in the sport entering the 2018 season by our panel of writers.

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