The Determinator: Third Base: #10-6 + Honorable Mentions
The Determinator continues and we’ve made it to the right side of the infield!
Today I will reveal the #10-#6 Third Basemen in the MLB as well as some honorable mention Third Basemen from across the league. Tomorrow, I will announce the #5-1 Third Basemen in the MLB. For a background about The Determinator, see my article about my methodology, changes for 2021, and schedule, here.
The Determinator: Third Base-Specific Information
To easily work through and cut-down the list of 213 different players who played any amount of time at third base during the past two seasons, I set-up two boundaries to keep it as close to having only starters:
They must’ve had at least 350 PA’s over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
They must’ve had at least 750 innings at third base over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
This limited the number of third basemen down to 28.
However, without further ado, let’s get to the first half of the Top-10:
If a first baseman led a statistic, it will be bolded.
Number 10: Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds
Top-5: Games, SLG, HR, wRC, Innings
Top-10: SB, wRC+, Off, WAR
Total Score: 38Embed from Getty Images
After playing in all but 6 games the past two seasons, the 3B games leader (216; tied with our #8) , after improving year-to-year from 2016 to 2019, Suarez did have a down 2020 campaign. This helped dropped him from rank #8 last year to #10 this year, but he is still on the list for a reason: he’s still good. On the right-side of 30, Suarez even with dropping 100 points off his slugging (.572 to .470) still had an above-average wRC+ (104). He was still putting the ball out of the park (15 HR’s in 57 games), but he ran into some bad luck with nearly losing 100 points from his BABIP (.312 to .214) as well. This should indicate that Suarez he should find himself back to his new normal from 2017-2019 going into this season. He isn’t nearly the best defensive third baseman, but he isn’t going to hurt you much on that side of the ball either. Expect a bounce-back 2021 season and to find him ranked on The Determinator again as he’ll likely put up near a solid .270/.350/.520 triple-slash like he did in 2018.
Number 9: Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins
Top-5: OBP, wRC+, DRS
Top-10: SLG, HR, wRC, Off, WAR, Innings, UZR, Def
Top-15: Games, SB, Fld
Total Score: 42Embed from Getty Images
Now 35 years old, the “Bringer of Rain” has run into some bad luck in recent years with getting injured after multiple stints on the DL in 2018 and another month-long stint on the IL in 2020. However, when he is on the field, Donaldson is still a powerful player on both sides of the ball. With his current trend of seasons, we should expect another great 2021 season from him, but it is entirely dependent on if he can stay on the field. He has yet to be an offensive or defensive liability since becoming a starter in 2013, but has diminished from his peak years in the mid-2010’s. It is hard to evaluate from just 28 games last season on what we should project going forward, but most outlets have him playing to a near 3.5 WAR while getting in about 80% of the games played, of which is almost definitely secure a bottom-10 finish here again next year.
Number 8: Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
Top-5: Games, HR, SB, DRS
Top-10: AVG, wRC, WAR, Fld, Innings, UZR, Def
Top-15: OBP, SLG, wRC+, Off
Total Score: 45Embed from Getty Images
After placing 14th (yes, 14th) last year by The Determinator, Manny Machado must’ve had a bone to pick as he put up a great season earning +2.6 fWAR around positive offensive (+14.1) and defensive (+3.2) numbers. The (tied) leader at 3B for games played (216; with #10) Machado did have a severely underwhelming first season in San Diego even while posting +3.1 WAR. It’s pretty clear now that he’s gotten used to the warmer climate. Still going into only his age-28 season and 10th season in the big leagues, Machado should be an expected member of the Top-10 list yearly (though he has had some lackluster non-Machado years in the past: 2017, 2019). He placed in all metrics but baserunning and had surprisingly low-ranked traditional batting numbers with only a Top-15 finish in both OBP and SLG (which were both below Gio Urshela, for context). Expect this to change for the better in 2021.
Number 7: Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Top-5: SB, BsR, Off
Top-10: Games, SLG, wRC, wRC+, WAR, Fld, Innings, UZR, Def
Top-15: AVG, OBP, HR, DRS
Total Score: 46Embed from Getty Images
Ramirez is yet another player who missed out on last years The Determinator rankings, but after a successful 2020 in which he finished 2nd in the AL MVP and won the 3B silver slugger, it was obvious he would make his debut. The 3B leader in SB (34) and BsR (+8.6) from these past two seasons, for whatever reason I tend to believe Ramirez is much older than he is, but he too will be entering his age-28 season. He profiles similarly to Machado (#8) on this list with his down-2019 campaign and a great 2020, with most projections expecting that he’ll end up playing somewhere between the two with a projected 5.0+ WAR for this season. With great offense (+21.9) and a net positive defense (+1.7), Ramirez is another player who should be able to hold on these lists for the near future.
Number 6: Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Top-5: OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR
Top-10: Games, AVG, SB, DRS
Total Score: 47Embed from Getty Images
By the time I ever get to thinking about Alex Bregman, I’ve usually used up all my energy about the cheating scandal and talking about Altuve. However, I will never waste an opportunity to bring it up with those two (and others you’ll see in the future) because I don’t want it to be forgotten. That being said, Alex Bregman was able to hold the #6 spot from last year again, even with a down-2020 season. Like most of the 3B on this half of the list, Bregman is young (age-27 season), although he is less well-rounded than the others as he is the top offensive 3B in terms of wRC+ (159) and Off (+63.3) but not a great, although still a positive defensive 3B (+2.5). He is carried heavily by a great 2019 (Off of +58.7), but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt after going down for about 3 weeks with his first IL stint in his career (right hamstring discomfort). He has a lot to prove still, but it would be wrong to not consider him a top 3B talent in the game today.
Below is a selection of third basemen who led statistics but did not place in the Top-10 rankings, notable veterans, any former Yankees players, and the Yankees player/s who qualified for the position if they failed to rank in the Top-10.
Kyle Seager – Ranked #11 with 29 points
Gio Urshela – Ranked #12 with 25 points
Kris Bryant – Ranked #14 (tied) with 23 points
Evan Longoria – Ranked #16 with 21 points
Miguel Sano – Ranked #18 with 17 points
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Ranked #25 with 5 points
Todd Frazier – Ranked #27 with 2 points
The Determinator is a way I used to determine the best players at each position. Like any metric or formula, I am sure it has flaws. No statistical compilation is perfect. That being said, The Determinator, seems pretty effective at assigning player values. I’m pleased with what I have found using this method and hope this is a conversation starter for many.