Alex Rodriguez vs. Graig Nettles for the Best 3rd Baseman in Yankees History
When Alex Rodriguez's and Graig Nettles' New York Yankees careers are compared, my first reaction is that A-Rod is the greatest third baseman in Yankees' history.
Rodriguez owes the Yankees six more seasons. The Yankees owe him $180 million.
The Yankees traded John Ellis, Jerry Kenney, Charlie Spikes and Rusty Torres to the Cleveland Indians for Nettles and Jerry Moses on Nov. 27, 1972. It was one of the best trades the Yankees ever made.
From 1973-83, the years Nettles was a Yankee, they won four pennants and two world championships. During those 11 seasons, Nettles batted .253/.329/.433. He averaged 27 home runs and 89 RBI over a 162-game season.
On Feb. 16, 2004, the Texas Rangers sent Rodriguez to the Yankees in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. It was one of the best trades the Yankees ever made, although if Soriano's attitude were different, it would not have been so one-sided.
From 2004-11, the Yankees have won one lonely pennant and one world championship. In his eight seasons with the Yankees, Rodriguez has batted .295/.391/.550. He has averaged 41 home runs and 131 RBI over a 162-game season.
Two variables must be recognized. Nettles played in a less offensive era and A-Rod admitted using performance enhancing substances while with the Rangers, claiming he used them because he felt the pressure created by his $252 million contract.
Some individuals snidely remark that Rodriguez has been under even greater pressure in New York and wonder if he has had "help" similar to the "help" he had in Texas. Those individuals should be reminded that in America, we are innocent until proved guilty.
In 1976, Nettles led the league with 32 home runs. He never led in any other offensive category—except for sacrifice flies in 1975 with 11.
Rodriguez led the league in home runs in 2005 with 48 and in 2007 with 54. He was the MVP in each of those years and led the league in many other categories.
A-Rod is the faster runner. He has averaged 19 stolen bases and four caught stealings over a 162-game season compared to Nettles' two stolen bases and three caught stealings.
Defensively, A-Rod is above average, but Nettles ranks with Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Clete Boyer as one of the defensive greats at third base. Ask the Los Angeles Dodgers about Game 3 of the 1978 World Series. Ron Guidry remembers.
Now, I have no idea how Nettles and Rodriguez compare using modern statistics. I question their validity, but it will be interesting, using Baseball-Reference.
Nettles' WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with the Yankees is 40.6 with an average of 4.7 for a 162-game season.
Rodriguez' WAR with the Yankees is 43.6 in three fewer seasons. He has a WAR average of 6.2 for a 162-game season.
Nettles' dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement) is 8.5 with an average of 1.4 for a 162-game season.
Rodriguez' dWAR is -3.4 with an average of 0.1 for a 162-game season.
I do not understand how a -3.4 for eight seasons can produce a positive average, but then, who are we to question the "experts?"
No matter what methods one uses, A-Rod is no Nettles on defense.
Well, based on the above, I have drawn my conclusion. What's yours?
I think you know what I have concluded.
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