Third baseman (noun): A baseball player that is a good fielder with few errors and an even better batter, preferably with a high RBI count.
In short, a third baseman is someone who can be counted on with a glove at the hot corner and drives in lots of runs. Third basemen are generally power hitters who can intimidate pitchers when at the plate. They frequently have the highest batting average on their team and earn their salaries as impact players at the plate.
With these descriptions in mind, we can now single out who the best third basemen are in MLB this season. This list is based upon the player’s statistics at bat and on the field, with a little more emphasis on their RBI count and batting average. So, let’s take a look at the best third basemen in MLB this season.
Statistics: Errors: 5, Fielding Percentage: .975, RBI: 37, Home Runs: 7, Batting Average: .267
Although the San Diego Padres may be the worst team in baseball right now, their third baseman, Chase Headley, continues to impress and carry his team. Headley is leading the Padres in almost every offensive category, with his best numbers coming at the plate.
As previously mentioned, I am weighing player’s batting impact over smooth fielding because ultimately you need offense to win games. With that in mind, Headley’s 37 RBI makes him No. 5 on this list. Plus he’s a switch-hitter with one of the highest on-base percentages in MLB at .371.
Headley’s consistency is what makes him great; he gets on base and still makes the key defensive plays.
Statistics: Errors: 4, Fielding Percentage: .976, RBI: 41, Home Runs: 13, Batting Average: .281
Although David Freese is a great batter (remember his clutch hit to help win the World Series last year), but he is on my list at No. 4 because he also has incredible fielding skills. Freese’s fielding percentage (.976) is second in baseball and he leads in assists with 120. Bottom line, he’s great with the glove…and the bat.
As for his hitting, in 2011, Freese held the MLB postseason record with 21 RBI, and his numbers are looking good in 2012 as well. Although Freese cooled off a bit in May with a .211 batting average, it is on the rise now. After last year’s World Series, he proved he can perform under pressure, so we expect another solid year from this great third-base specialist.
Statistics: Errors: 8, Fielding Percentage: .954, RBI: 47, Home Runs: 8, Batting Average: .357
Based on statistics, David Wright is the best third baseman based upon his success at the plate. Although he may not have double-digit home runs, he does lead the position—and his team—with a .357 batting average. In fact, he leads the Mets in every offensive aspect except home runs. His on-base percentage is remarkable at .449. The Mets are currently eighth in MLB for getting on base, and once again, it’s Wright leading the way. Needless to say, the Mets are headed in the “Wright” direction (bad pun but it was just sitting there like a hanging curveball!).
Wright isn’t as strong a fielder as the other players on this list, but his batting skills are so strong that it lands him at No. 3 in my book.
Statistics: Errors: 5, Fielding Percentage: .961, RBI: 48, Home Runs: 13, Batting Average: .328
Adrian Beltre is the prototypical great third baseman. He’s consistent both at bat and on the field. He’s one of the best fielders in baseball with only five errors this season, ensuring that the top-ranked Texas Rangers keep their opponents off the bases.
On the offensive side, Beltre is exceptional at getting on base. He only has 34 strikeouts so far this season—one of the lowest among third basemen. Add Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz to the batting order, and you can see why the Rangers have one of the best lineups in baseball.
Statistics: Errors: 7, Fielding Percentage: .963, RBI: 59, Home Runs: 15, Batting Average: .304
When it comes to third basemen, Miguel Cabrera is the best of the best. He has the most RBI (59), the most home runs (15) and one of the best batting averages at third base or any position (.304). These are just his batting stats; on the field he boasts one of the best fielding percentages (.963) and the most put outs (63). Add that to his strong, accurate arm and you have the model for a great third baseman.
Even more impressive is the fact that Cabrera switched to third base this season after Prince Fielder signed with the Detroit Tigers. The immediacy of showing off all the tools after the switch is truly amazing, and that’s why he tops the list as the best third baseman in baseball so far this season.