Ranking MLB's 25 Best Third Basemen Since 2000

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2020

Ranking MLB's 25 Best Third Basemen Since 2000

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    R. Yeatts/Getty Images

    In the coming weeks, we will be taking a look back at the best and brightest that Major League Baseball has had to offer over the past 20 years.

    We've already run down our top 25 starting pitchers and top 25 first basemen since 2000.

    Now it's time for the third basemen.

    A player's peak performance, his full statistical body of work since 2000 and his postseason production were all factored when determining the final rankings.

    While no single stat was the end-all, be-all in this conversation, OPS+ and WAR/500 are two important ones to know.

    OPS+ is simply a hitter's on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, adjusted to take into account the ballparks in which he is hitting. An OPS+ of 100 is league-average, while each number above 100 represents one percentage point better than the league average.

    WAR/500 is a stat of my own creation. It's simply a hitter's WAR total divided by his total plate appearances and then multiplied by 500, thus giving us his WAR per 500 plate appearances. The idea is to make it easier to contextualize WAR totals across different sample sizes.

    Let's kick things off with some honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

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    Joe Crede
    Joe CredeRon Vesely/Getty Images

    These players received serious consideration for the final list but came up short:

    • Casey Blake
    • Hank Blalock
    • Alex Bregman
    • Matt Chapman
    • Joe Crede
    • Chone Figgins
    • Corey Koskie
    • Mike Moustakas
    • Bill Mueller
    • Martin Prado

25. David Freese

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Stats: 4,229 PA, .277/.351/.423 (113 OPS+), 113 HR, 535 RBI, 18.4 WAR

    Postseason: 230 PA, .299/.370/.549, 10 HR, 36 RBI, One-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 2.18

    A productive, if oft-injured, player during the regular season, David Freese took his game to another level during the playoffs.

    The 2011 season marked the first time he exceeded 300 plate appearances in his career, and at the age of 28, he hit .297/.350/.441 (118 OPS+) with 10 home runs and 55 RBI.

    That postseason, he became a legend.

    He won NLCS (12-for-22, 3 HR, 9 RBI) and World Series MVP (8-for-23, 5 XBH, 7 RBI), delivering some of the most memorable moments in franchise history along the way.

    With the Cardinals facing elimination with two outs in the bottom of the ninth of Game 6 of the World Series, he laced a two-run triple to send things to extra innings before delivering the walk-off home run in the 11th inning to extend the series.

    He made his lone All-Star appearance the following year and remained a productive player through last season when he hit .315/.403/.599 with 11 home runs in 186 plate appearances with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

24. Melvin Mora

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Stats: 6,119 PA, .278/.351/.433 (106 OPS+), 171 HR, 753 RBI, 28.3 WAR

    Postseason: 19 PA, .400/.500/.600, 1 HR, 2 RBI

    WAR/500: 2.31

    The Baltimore Orioles acquired Melvin Mora as a 28-year-old utility infielder in the deal that sent All-Star shortstop Mike Bordick to the New York Mets at the 2000 trade deadline.

    He made the All-Star team in 2003 when he hit .317/.418/.503 (143 OPS+) with 33 extra-base hits in a super-utility role before taking over as the team's starting third baseman the following year.

    He then put together the best season of his career, hitting .340 with 41 doubles, 27 home runs and 104 RBI in 636 plate appearances while leading the American League in on-base percentage (.419) to win Silver Slugger honors during a 5.6-WAR season.

    His peak was brief, but during the four-year stretch from 2002 through 2005, he was one of the 20 most valuable position players in baseball with 19.3 WAR.

    A forgotten standout.

23. Chase Headley

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,761 PA, .263/.342/.399 (106 OPS+), 130 HR, 596 RBI, 25.9 WAR

    Postseason: 34 PA, .219/.265/.250, 0 HR, 1 RBI

    WAR/500: 2.25

    Strong defense at the hot corner was Chase Headley's calling card throughout his 12-year career.

    While he won just one Gold Glove Award, he tallied 22 DRS at third base, and that number was dragged down a bit by his late career metrics when he had lost a step.

    Offensively, he was a steady performer with plus on-base skills, though he topped 20 home runs just once during a 2012 season that proved to be an anomaly.

    On the strength of a red-hot second half during which he hit .308/.386/.592 with 23 home runs and 73 RBI in 75 games, Headley finished with a 145 OPS+, 31 home runs and a National League-leading 115 RBI on the year en route to a 6.4-WAR season.

    He also quietly stole 93 bases, recording double-digit steals four times, in an underrated career.

22. Mike Lowell

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    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Stats: 6,141 PA, .280/.343/.467 (110 OPS+), 211 HR, 905 RBI, 24.7 WAR

    Postseason: 132 PA, .252/.326/.426, 4 HR, 21 RBI, two-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 2.01

    Blocked by veteran Scott Brosius in the majors, Mike Lowell was traded from the New York Yankees to the Florida Marlins prior to the 1999 season.

    He quickly overtook incumbent Kevin Orie for the starting third base job and developed into a steady run producer in the middle of the Marlins lineup. From 2000 through 2004, he posted a 117 OPS+ and averaged 38 doubles, 25 home runs and 95 RBI.

    After a disappointing 2005 season, he was packaged along with Josh Beckett in the seven-player deal that sent a young Hanley Ramirez from Boston to Florida.

    He bounced back nicely in his Red Sox debut and then put together the best season of his career in 2007, hitting .324/.378/.501 (124 OPS+) with 37 doubles, 21 home runs and 120 RBI to finish fifth in the AL MVP voting. His strong production continued into the postseason, and he ended up winning World Series MVP.

    Lowell was never a superstar, but he was a steady middle-of-the-order performer throughout his 13-year career.

21. Todd Frazier

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    Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,737 PA, .243/.320/.450 (108 OPS+), 214 HR, 624 RBI, 24.5 WAR

    Postseason: 58 PA, .189/.259/.302, 1 HR, 6 RBI

    WAR/500: 2.59

    A bit of a late bloomer, Todd Frazier did not become an MLB regular until his age-26 season when he posted a 118 OPS+ with 19 home runs and 67 RBI to finish third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

    He made his first All-Star team two years later, posting a 20/20 season with 29 home runs, 20 steals and a 121 OPS+ in a 4.7-WAR season.

    He made the All-Star team again in 2015 and then hit a career-high 40 home runs in his first season with the Chicago White Sox the following year, before his production dipped.

    That said, he's still been good for a 102 OPS+ with an average of 22 home runs and 67 RBI the past three years, and he inked a one-year, $5 million deal with the Texas Rangers during the offseason.

    Aside from the power numbers, he's also been good for 19 DRS at third base in his career.

20. Jose Ramirez

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Stats: 3,138 PA, .280/.351/.486 (119 OPS+), 110 HR, 391 RBI, 25.7 WAR

    Postseason: 93 PA, .195/.247/.253, 1 HR, 4 RBI

    WAR/500: 4.09

    A limited track record of success keeps Jose Ramirez from ranking any higher on this list.

    He made his MLB debut at the age of 20 in 2013 and hit a middling .239/.298/.346 (76 OPS+) in 635 plate appearances over his first three seasons in the majors serving in a utility infield role.

    However, he's been one of the most productive players in baseball the past four years.

    His 22.9 WAR during that time trails only Mike Trout (35.5), Mookie Betts (33.4), Nolan Arenado (25.0), Jose Altuve (24.0) and Francisco Lindor (23.6) among all position players.

    During that time he finished third in the AL MVP voting in 2017 and 2018:

    • 2017: .318/.374/.583 (145 OPS+), 29 HR, 83 RBI, 107 R, 7.0 WAR
    • 2018: .270/.387/.552 (151 OPS+), 39 HR, 105 RBI, 110 R, 7.6 WAR

    Those two monster seasons are enough to vault him onto this list, but it's hard to slot him any higher given his small sample size.

19. Pablo Sandoval

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,872 PA, .280/.332/.448 (113 OPS+), 148 HR, 622 RBI, 20.1 WAR

    Postseason: 167 PA, .344/.389/.545, 6 HR, 20 RBI, three-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 2.06

    Pablo Sandoval exploded onto the scene in 2009 with a .330/.387/.556 (144 OPS+) line that included 44 doubles, 25 home runs and 90 RBI in a 4.3-WAR season.

    His 8.2 percent walk rate and .387 on-base percentage proved to be an anomaly, and he adopted more of a free-swinging approach as his career progressed, but he continued to produce at a high level throughout his initial tenure with the San Francisco Giants.

    From 2009 through 2014, he posted a 124 OPS+ and averaged 30 doubles, 17 home runs and 73 RBI while helping the Giants to three World Series titles. His postseason production and 2012 World Series MVP win, as much as his regular-season numbers, lands him on this list.

    That solid run with the Giants earned him a five-year, $95 million contract from the Boston Red Sox in what turned out to be nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. He spent two-and-a-half seasons in Boston and posted a 71 OPS+ and minus-1.6 WAR before he was released.

    He wound up back in San Francisco, where he has been a solid bat off the bench the past two seasons. In 2019, he led the majors with 18 pinch-hits.

18. Matt Carpenter

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,807 PA, .269/.372/.462 (126 OPS+), 148 HR, 531 RBI, 28.3 WAR

    Postseason: 167 PA, .228/.293/.416, 6 HR, 19 RBI

    WAR/500: 2.94

    Along with his time spent at third base (635 games), Matt Carpenter has also seen significant action at first base (313 games) and second base (212 games) for the St. Louis Cardinals.

    A patient approach at the plate has long been his calling card, with a .372 on-base percentage and a 13.3 percent walk rate over the course of his nine-year career.

    He led the majors in hits (199), doubles (55) and runs scored (126) in 2013 to finish fourth in the NL MVP voting and again paced the Senior Circuit in doubles in 2015 with 44.

    On the strength of a scorching month of July in which he batted .333/.447/.774 with 11 home runs and 21 RBI, Carpenter put together the best offensive season of his career in 2018, finishing with career highs in OPS+ (143) and home runs (36) en route another top-10 MVP finish.

    He's owed $37 million over the next two seasons and will need to rebound from a poor 2019 campaign, but he has already provided the Cardinals with a ton of value.

17. Kyle Seager

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    Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,286 PA, .256/.324/.443 (113 OPS+), 198 HR, 666 RBI, 32.5 WAR

    Postseason: N/A

    WAR/500: 3.07

    From his first full season in 2012 through the 2017 campaign, Kyle Seager posted a 119 OPS+ with at least 20 home runs, 69 RBI and 2.8 WAR every year.

    He hit a career-worst .221/.273/.400 (86 OPS+) in 2018 and then missed the start of the 2019 season after suffering a hand injury during spring training.

    However, he returned with a vengeance to post a 112 OPS+ with 23 home runs and 63 RBI in 443 plate appearances, and the Seattle Mariners will be hoping for more of the same over the final three seasons of a seven-year, $100 million deal.

    The 32-year-old is the definition of solid across the board, with a strong glove (24 DRS) to go along with his steady offensive production.

    He figures to be one of the few veteran pieces on a young, rebuilding Mariners team in the years to come.

16. Justin Turner

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Stats: 3,827 PA, .292/.367/.470 (128 OPS+), 120 HR, 472 RBI, 28.0 WAR

    Postseason: 236 PA, .310/.411/.520, 9 HR, 35 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.66

    Justin Turner was a seventh-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2006.

    From there, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, claimed off waivers by the New York Mets and eventually non-tendered with 0.6 WAR in 318 career games.

    The Los Angeles Dodgers signed him to a minor league deal, and everything clicked in his age-29 season. Serving in a super-utility role, he hit .340/.404/.493 with 29 extra-base hits in 322 plate appearances for a 4.1-WAR season.

    He took over as the starting third baseman the following year and has been one of the best in the business ever since.

    Over the past five seasons, he's hit .297/.378/.508 (137 OPS+) while averaging 29 doubles, 21 home runs, 68 RBI and 4.7 WAR. He's also racked up 23 DRS at third base, settling in nicely at the hot corner after grading out poorly at second base early in his career.

15. Ryan Zimmerman

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Stats: 7,129 PA, .279/.343/.475 (116 OPS+), 270 HR, 1,015 RBI, 38.5 WAR

    Postseason: 128 PA, .274/.328/.462, 5 HR, 17 RBI, one-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 2.70

    Before making the full-time move to first base in 2015, Ryan Zimmerman was one of the best third basemen in baseball.

    The No. 4 overall pick in the 2005 draft played just 67 games in the minors before making his MLB debut that September. He hit .397/.419/.569 with 10 doubles in 20 games down the stretch, solidifying himself as the starting third baseman to begin the 2006 season.

    A 114 OPS+ with 47 doubles, 20 home runs and 110 RBI were enough for him to finish runner-up to Hanley Ramirez in the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year voting, and his career was off to the races.

    After dealing with some injuries and throwing issues at first base, he returned to form in 2017 when he hit .303/.358/.573 (134 OPS+) with 33 doubles, 36 home runs and 108 RBI. That earned him his second All-Star selection and some down-ballot MVP support.

    The 35-year-old was a part-time player for last year's championship team, but he saw regular action during the postseason and homered in Game 1 of the World Series.

14. Aramis Ramirez

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Stats: 8,647 PA, .285/.343/.498 (117 OPS+), 380 HR, 1,386 RBI, 34.2 WAR

    Postseason: 78 PA, .191/.295/.426, 4 HR, 10 RBI

    WAR/500: 1.98

    The Pittsburgh Pirates' decision to trade a 25-year-old Aramis Ramirez and veteran center fielder Kenny Lofton to the Chicago Cubs at the 2003 trade deadline in exchange for the underwhelming package of Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and Matt Bruback goes down as one of the worst trades in recent memory.

    Ramirez already had a 34-homer, 112-RBI season under his belt at that point in his career, and he was signed through the 2004 season.

    He went on to help the Cubs reach the NLCS with a strong second half and then settled in as the franchise's best third baseman since Ron Santo.

    Over nine seasons in a Cubs uniform, he hit .294/.356/.531 (126 OPS+) with 239 home runs and 806 RBI, making two All-Star appearances, garnering MVP votes four times and winning one Silver Slugger.

    He still had plenty left in the tank when he departed in free agency and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers ahead of his age-34 season. He led the NL in doubles (50) in his first season with the team and made his third and final All-Star appearance in 2014.

    In the end, poor defense (-72 career DRS) cut into his overall value, but he was a force offensively for more than a decade.

13. Troy Glaus

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,542 PA, .257/.364/.501 (124 OPS+), 290 HR, 848 RBI, 35.6 WAR

    Postseason: 88 PA, .321/.398/.756, 9 HR, 16 RBI, one-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.21

    Here's what I wrote about Troy Glaus in a recent article titled "25 Forgotten MLB Sluggers from the Last 25 Years" that published last month:

    "Troy Glaus was selected No. 3 overall in the 1997 draft and made his MLB debut down the stretch the following year after hitting .307/.402/.641 with 35 home runs and 93 RBI in Double-A and Triple-A.

    "The 22-year-old took over as the everyday third baseman the following year and finished second to Mo Vaughn in home runs (29) on the Angels.

    "That was just the beginning.

    "He hit 118 home runs over the next three seasons, including an AL-leading 47 in 2000 when he batted .284/.404/.604 on his way to a career-high 7.8 WAR.

    "The injury bug reared its ugly head from there, and he played in just 149 games in 2003 and 2004 before he departed in free agency.

    "A return to health brought gaudy power numbers once again in 2005 (126 OPS+, 37 HR, 97 RBI for ARI) and 2006 (122 OPS+, 38 HR, 104 RBI for TOR), but back and shoulder problems took a toll from there, and he retired after a 16-homer, 71-RBI season with the Atlanta Braves at age 33 in 2010."

    That stellar run of regular-season production, along with his impressive 2002 postseason that ended in World Series MVP honors, is enough to land him inside the top 15.

12. Anthony Rendon

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Stats: 3,927 PA, .290/.369/.490 (126 OPS+), 136 HR, 546 RBI, 29.1 WAR

    Postseason: 138 PA, .282/.370/.479, 5 HR, 21 RBI, one-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.71

    Anthony Rendon has been one of the most underrated players in baseball throughout his career. Now, he has a massive seven-year, $245 million contract to live up to in the years to come.

    If not for a shoulder issue that limited him to designated hitter duties during his junior season at Rice, he might have gone No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft. Instead, he slipped to the No. 6 spot behind Gerrit Cole (PIT), Danny Hultzen (SEA), Trevor Bauer (ARI), Dylan Bundy (BAL) and Bubba Starling (KC).

    He made his MLB debut two years later and finished fifth in the NL MVP voting in his first full season when he hit .287/.351/.473 (125 OPS+) with 39 doubles, 21 home runs, 83 RBI, 111 runs scored and 17 steals.

    Over the past three seasons, he's taken his game to another level, hitting .310/.397/.556 (143 OPS+) while averaging 43 doubles, 28 home runs, 106 RBI and 5.7 WAR.

    He led the NL in doubles (44) and RBI (126) while leading the Nationals to a World Series title in a contract year, and now he'll join forces with Mike Trout on the Angels for the second half of his career.

11. Eric Chavez

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Stats: 5,778 PA, .269/.343/.479 (116 OPS+), 247 HR, 846 RBI, 36.0 WAR

    Postseason: 132 PA, .192/.235/.320, 3 HR, 12 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.12

    A standout defender and a powerful middle-of-the-order presence, Eric Chavez might have pushed for a spot inside the top five on this list if he had only stayed healthy.

    In seven full seasons from 2000 through his age-28 season in 2006, he hit .273/.352/.495 (121 OPS+) while averaging 31 doubles, 28 home runs and 94 RBI.

    He also won six consecutive Gold Glove Awards and earned MVP votes four times in that span, helping to anchor an Oakland Athletics team that couldn't afford to keep stars like Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada.

    However, he went on to play just 449 games over the final eight seasons of his career.

    He's arguably the best player from the last 20 years to never make an All-Star team, and his career numbers were affected by his injury issues, but at his peak, he was one of the best two-way players at the position in recent memory.

10. Kris Bryant

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Stats: 3,105 PA, .284/.385/.516 (136 OPS+), 138 HR, 403 RBI, 23.9 WAR

    Postseason: 159 PA, .241/.308/.434, 6 HR, 16 RBI, one-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 3.85

    After going No. 2 overall in the 2013 draft, Kris Bryant demolished minor league pitching and burst onto the scene with a 135 OPS+ and 26 home runs in 2015 to win NL Rookie of the Year unanimously.

    The following season, he took home NL MVP honors while hitting .292/.385/.554 (146 OPS+) with 39 home runs, 102 RBI and an NL-leading 121 runs scored. The Cubs went on to win the World Series that year, snapping a 108-year drought.

    After another elite-level performance in 2017 (142 OPS+, 29 HR, 5.6 WAR), he was slowed by injuries and played just 102 games in 2018.

    The 28-year-old returned healthy last year and earned his third trip to the All-Star Game by hitting .282/.382/.521 (131 OPS+) with 35 doubles and 31 home runs.

    Expectations have been sky-high since the 2016 season, and the best two years have been somewhat disappointing relative to those expectations, but there's no question he's one of the most productive players in baseball.

9. David Wright

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Stats: 6,872 PA, .296/.376/.491 (133 OPS+), 242 HR, 970 RBI, 49.2 WAR

    Postseason: 106 PA, .198/.311/.319, 2 HR, 13 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.58

    For six seasons at the start of his career, David Wright was one of the faces of baseball.

    From 2005 through 2010, he hit an impressive .306/.387/.515 and averaged 40 doubles, 26 home runs, 104 RBI, 100 runs scored and 22 steals.

    His 30.0 WAR during that stretch trailed only Albert Pujols (52.1), Chase Utley (45.5), Alex Rodriguez (38.3), Mark Teixeira (33.4) and Joe Mauer (31.8) among all position players.

    During the 2011 season, he suffered a stress fracture in his lower back and played in just 102 games, but he returned strong in 2012 (144 OPS+, 7.1 WAR) and 2013 (156 OPS+, 5.2 WAR).

    From there, injuries mounted and he was never the same.

    He played in just 209 more games after his age-30 season, and in 2015, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which would effectively end his career.

    Despite his career being cut short, his 49.2 WAR still ranks 22nd all-time among third basemen.

8. Manny Machado

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,735 PA, .279/.335/.483 (119 OPS+), 207 HR, 598 RBI, 36.7 WAR

    Postseason: 99 PA, .213/.268/.382, 4 HR, 14 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.88

    Manny Machado manned shortstop for all but two games during his minor league career before he was called up to serve as the Baltimore Orioles' starting third baseman for the stretch run in 2012.

    With veteran J.J. Hardy entrenched at shortstop, he had to learn on the fly at the hot corner, and he did that and then some.

    In his first full season, he posted a 102 OPS+ with 51 doubles, 14 home runs and 71 RBI to earn a trip to the All-Star Game, and his defensive skills resulted in a staggering 27 DRS and a Gold Glove Award at his new position.

    All told, he has tallied 88 DRS at third base in just eight MLB seasons, and he spent most of 2018 playing shortstop.

    His power production also took off as he grew into his 6'3" frame, and over the past five seasons, he has averaged 35 home runs and 94 RBI while posting a 125 OPS+.

    He's somehow still only 27.

7. Evan Longoria

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Stats: 7,171 PA, .267/.335/.474 (121 OPS+), 297 HR, 1,015 RBI, 56.0 WAR

    Postseason: 126 PA, .191/.262/.470, 9 HR, 21 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.90

    It's easy to forget how good Evan Longoria was in his prime.

    Over the past three seasons, two of which were spent with the San Francisco Giants, he's posted a middling 97 OPS+ while averaging 19 home runs, 70 RBI and 2.7 WAR.

    In the nine seasons prior to that, dating back to when he was named to the AL All-Star team and won AL Rookie of the Year in 2008, he was one of the best players in baseball.

    During that stretch, he hit .271/.344/.490 (128 OPS+) and averaged 34 doubles, 27 home runs and 90 RBI, and those numbers are diminished by a 2012 season when he played in just 74 games.

    Longoria is also a three-time Gold Glove winner, and his 103 DRS rank fourth among all third basemen since FanGraphs began tracking that metric in 2003.

    Even with his diminished offensive production, he was still a 2.5-WAR player last season, thanks in large part to his seven DRS and 3.1 UZR/150 at third base.

6. Nolan Arenado

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    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,357 PA, .295/.351/.546 (122 OPS+), 227 HR, 734 RBI, 37.5 WAR

    Postseason: 23 PA, .190/.174/.333, 1 HR, 3 RBI

    WAR/500: 4.30

    Much like Todd Helton in the first basemen rankings, the Coors Field Effect is always going to be a cloud hanging over the offensive numbers produced by Nolan Arenado.

    It's a fair point, as his career home/road splits are staggering:

    • Home: 2,188 PA, .324/.380/.615, 129 HR, 445 RBI
    • Road: 2,169 PA, .265/.323/.476, 98 HR, 288 RBI

    So how much do we ding him in the rankings for that fact?

    Inspite of this, Arenado is still a well-above-average producer, evidenced by his 122 OPS+, which takes into account park factors.

    He's averaged an astonishing 40 home runs and 124 RBI with a 129 OPS+ over the past five years, and he's won the Gold Glove in each of his seven MLB seasons.

    In the end, he settles into the No. 6 spot.

5. Scott Rolen

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    Focus On Sport/Getty Images

    Stats: 6,507 PA, .281/.361/.488 (121 OPS+), 234 HR, 990 RBI, 54.6 WAR

    Postseason: 159 PA, .220/.302/.376, 5 HR, 12 RBI, one-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 4.20

    If this were taking into account full career body of work, Scott Rolen would get the nod over the No. 4 player on this list.

    However, these rankings are only looking from the 2000 season onward, so Rolen loses his first four MLB seasons. That includes 82 home runs, 15.5 WAR, one Gold Glove Award and 1997 NL Rookie of the Year honors. That said, there is still an awfully good 13-year run up for consideration.

    Already an established star when he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals at the 2002 deadline, Rolen took his game to another level hitting alongside Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols.

    In fact, his 2004 season is one of the best ever by a third baseman.

    The 29-year-old hit .314/.409/.598 (158 OPS+) with 32 doubles, 34 home runs and 124 RBI. He also had 30 DRS and a 22.7 UZR/150 defensively to win his sixth of what would be eight career Gold Glove Awards.

    All told, that season was worth 9.2 WAR, which stands as the ninth-highest single-season total ever by a third baseman.

    His Hall of Fame support jumped from 17.2 to 35.3 percent in his third year on the ballot, and he deserves to be enshrined.

4. Josh Donaldson

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Stats: 4,476 PA, .273/.369/.509 (136 OPS+), 219 HR, 645 RBI, 41.0 WAR

    Postseason: 167 PA, .260/.335/.433, 5 HR, 16 RBI

    WAR/500: 4.58

    Josh Donaldson has put together quite a career considering his first full MLB season didn't come until he was 27 years old.

    That breakout season came in 2013 with the Oakland Athletics when he hit .301/.384/.499 (145 OPS+) with 24 home runs and 93 RBI en route to 7.2 WAR and a fourth-place finish in the AL MVP voting.

    Two years and one trade to the Toronto Blue Jays later, he won the award, hitting .297/.371/.568 (151 OPS+) with 41 home runs while leading the AL in RBI (123), runs scored (122) and total bases (352).

    His four-year run from 2013 through 2016 was worth a staggering 28.5 WAR.

    After injuries limited him to a total of 165 games in 2017 and 2018, he bounced back nicely on a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves last season, posting a 127 OPS+ with 37 home runs and 6.0 WAR.

    Can the 34-year-old make good on the four-year, $92 million contract he signed with the Minnesota Twins?

3. Chipper Jones

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Stats: 7,228 PA, .304/.404/.529 (142 OPS+), 315 HR, 1,099 RBI, 58.3 WAR

    Postseason: 139 PA, .248/.367/.410, 5 HR, 18 RBI

    WAR/500: 4.03

    Before you take to the comment section with your torches and your pitchforks, remember again that these rankings are only looking at what was accomplished from the 2000 season onward.

    Chipper Jones won NL MVP in 1999, and he entered the new millennium with five full MLB seasons already under his belt. He did a lot of damage in the second half of the 1990s, slugging 153 home runs and racking up 26.8 of his 85.3 career WAR.

    That's not to say he was not still an elite performer in the 2000s.

    He hit .306/.407/.544 (142 OPS+) while averaging 31 home runs and 103 RBI over the first five years of the decade before injuries started to slow him down.

    That said, they didn't stop him from winning a batting title (.364 BA) at the age of 36 in 2008, and he was still going strong in his final season when he posted a 124 OPS+ with 14 home runs and 62 RBI as a 40-year-old to earn his eighth and final All-Star selection.

    He goes down as one of the greatest third basemen in MLB history and one of the best switch-hitters to ever step into both sides of an MLB batter's box. He just did some of that damage prior to 2000, so he settled for the No. 3 spot.

2. Adrian Beltre

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    Stats: 11,302 PA, .288/.340/.484 (118 OPS+), 455 HR, 1,618 RBI, 89.6 WAR

    Postseason: 118 PA, .261/.297/.450, 5 HR, 11 RBI

    WAR/500: 3.96

    An MLB regular at the age of 19 in 1998, Adrian Beltre went on to play 21 seasons.

    He picked the perfect time for a career year in 2004, leading the NL with 48 home runs in a 9.6-WAR season before hitting free agency for the first time at the age of 26.

    However, after a disappointing five-year run with the Seattle Mariners, he hit the open market for the second time after posting an 83 OPS+ over 477 plate appearances.

    At a point when many players would have peaked or begun to decline, he was just getting started heading into his age-31 season.

    In one season with the Boston Red Sox and eight more with the Texas Rangers, he went on to hit .307/.358/.514 (130 OPS+) and averaged 25 home runs and 89 RBI while playing through his age-39 season.

    Along the way, he joined the 3,000-hit club, won five Gold Glove Awards with 202 DRS and made four AL All-Star teams.

    He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer thanks to what he did over the second half of his career.

1. Alex Rodriguez

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    Stats: 9,364 PA, .291/.385/.550 (143 OPS+), 548 HR, 1,623 RBI, 89.8 WAR

    Postseason: 312 PA, .258/.370/.454, 12 HR, 40 RBI, one-time WS winner

    WAR/500: 4.79

    Alex Rodriguez was only 24 years old in 2000, but he already had 148 home runs, 118 stolen bases and 27.7 WAR to his name as a bona fide superstar for the Seattle Mariners.

    He went on to make the AL All-Star team in 11 of 12 years starting in 2000, playing with the Mariners and Rangers before finding his way to the New York Yankees in a blockbuster trade that sent Alfonso Soriano to Texas.

    He slugged at least 30 home runs and drove in at least 100 runs in each of the first 11 seasons of the 2000s, leading the AL in home runs five times, including three 50-homer seasons.

    He won three MVP awards, 10 Sliver Sluggers, and he shook the monkey of postseason struggle off his back in 2009 when he hit .365/.500/.808 with six home runs and 18 RBI in 15 games during the Yankees' run to a title.

    A natural shortstop, he also deserves credit for developing into a solid defensive third baseman, tallying a respectable nine DRS during his time at the position.

    Love him or hate him, no one at the third base position over the last 20 years has numbers that stack up to A-Rod's.


    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.