The Tuesday Discussion: My Favorite Yankees Third Baseman
This week we asked our writers to identify their favorite Yankees third baseman.
Here are their answers.
Lincoln Mitchell – This is not even close. Graig Nettles is still the best defensive third baseman I have ever seen, but he was much more than just a great fielder. He had a left-handed swing that was made for Yankee Stadium as well. He brought a combination of power and defense that made him one of the top third basemen in the game, but spent the first part of his career in the shadow of Brooks Robinson, who has a similar skill set, but was better and then George Brett who was the best third baseman in American League history. Nonetheless, Nettles was a great player and hugely important to the Yankees. His 19.1 WA R from 1976-1978 was much more than any other Yankee over that three year span when the team won three consecutive pennants. He also just seemed like a cool and likable guy. I was very upset when he was traded to the Padres, but was glad to see him continue to be a productive player for several years after that. Third baseman in general have been overlooked by the Hall of Fame, but putting Nettles in would be a good first step to changing that.
Chris O’Connor – My favorite Yankees’ third baseman of all time is Scott Brosius. Unconventional, but I really enjoy players who take their game to another level when the pressure is on. Brosius played for the Yankees from 1998-2001. He played in the World Series in all four of those seasons, winning three, while hitting .314/.333/.529 with 4 homers and 13 RBI’s in those 20 games. His 2-out, 2-run home run to tie things up in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2001 Series is one of the most iconic moments in Yankees history. In my life, I have only personally seen a few Yankees third basemen: I caught the end of A-Rod’s career, Chase Headley, Andujar, and Gio Urshela. Arod’s notorious playoff struggles (aside from 2009) and numerous steroid scandals made it difficult for me to choose him, so even though I never saw Brosius play live, his place in Yankees history is sealed in my eyes.
Paul Semendinger – I have written many many posts touting the fact that Graig Nettles deserves a plaque in Monument Park and in the Baseball Hall-of-Fame. He was my first favorite player and the one who will always be my favorite in any position.
Nettles should have been the 1978 World Series MVP. Without his remarkable play at third base in Game 3, the Yankees would not have won the series. Nettles was an amazing baseball player and was so fun to root for.
Readers might wish to read these posts from the 1977 Topps series (which are among the many I have written about Graig Nettles):
Honorable mention – Mike Pagliarulo
Mike Whiteman – Scott Brosius is my favorite Yankee third baseman.
Brosius was an OK infielder with the Oakland A’s though 1997, when he was traded to the Yanks for Kenny Rogers, a starting pitcher who had been a free-agent bust.
Brosius transformed himself to Superman upon putting on the pinstripes. His 1998 season was one of the most impressive on that historical team. He drove in 98 runs while batting primarily in the eight and nine spots in the batting order. The AL All-Star culminated his special season with the 1998 World Series MVP award.
He came back to earth but was a source of timely hitting and solid defense through the rest of his Yankee tenure. He capped his career with one of my favorite all-time Yankee moments in the 2001 World Series:
Patrick Gunn – My favorite Yankees’ third baseman is probably Gio Urshela. Yes, he’s a more recent player, but I’d rather honor players that I’ve seen and grew up with, and Urshela fits that bill. Eduardo Nunez is a fun player who briefly played some third base, Alex Rodriguez is an important part of MLB history (for better or worse), and Chase Headley and Miguel Andujar have had their moments. Urshela has been arguably their best third baseman since A-Rod, and he’s a great presence in the locker room and with the glove.
Ed Botti – Lots of choices. Mike Pagliarulo, Scott Brosius, ARod, Clete Boyer, but in my book it’s #9, Graig Nettles.
The owner of 390 home runs and 1,314 RBI. He played eleven seasons in the Bronx, becoming captain of the team in 1982.
He was a fantastic fielder. His performance in the 1978 World Series was magical. He stole at least 2 games from the Dodgers.
Tough guy, just ask Bill Lee.
Tamar Chalker – A-rod – I think even had he not juiced he still would have been one of the best players ever.
Tom Russo – I’ve never really been attached to any third basemen in Yankee history so why not Gio Urshela? He’s got an all-time glove and his bat is progressing rapidly. When it’s all said and done he could be among the greats.
Owen Hetherington – Despite the steroid scandal that put a black eye on his legacy, this is a no brainer for me. Alex Rodriguez, at the height of his career, was one of the best players to play the game of baseball. The odds were always stacked against A-Rod, but he was easily a once in a generation type player.
Before coming to New York, A-Rod was one of the games greatest shortstops. New York was where A-Rod defined his career. He spent 12 years in the Bronx, posting Hall of Fame numbers. He had a career .295 average, was a three time MVP, and played a defining role in helping the Yankees win the World Series in 2009.
There’s no doubt that steroids will always be associated with A-Rod’s legacy in the game of baseball. It very well could have cost him a shot at getting into the Hall of Fame. Despite your opinion on him, he was easily New York’s best third baseman of all time.
Michael Saffer – My favorite third baseman of all time is Graig Nettles. Like many greats before him, I did not see Nettles play in his prime. My fandom of Nettles is an example of the importance of stories being told from generation to generation. My father LOVED Nettles. “Nothing got past Nettles” he would say. “He made the most difficult plays look easy” he would continue.
I’ve only seen Nettles in his prime on YouTube or YES Network highlights. However, he is my favorite because of the stories I’ve heard of him from my dad.
Ethan Semendinger – I’m back at it again with the crazy answer. While A-Rod played 3B for most of my Yankees fandom, I was never a big fan of his (I was taught not to like the steroid guys) and since he left the position has been close to a revolving door. That being said, I thought the Yankees had their 3B of the future back in 2014 when Yangervis Solarte (remember him?) had an amazing year out of nowhere. He was a fun player to watch, had an awesome name, and was a Yankee farm product…that they then traded for Chase Headley. While that was probably the right move to make, I never liked Headley because of it. Some honorable mentions go to Graig Nettles because of my dad, and I’ve enjoyed watching Gio Urshela too.