Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Top Ten: Third Basemen

1. Mike Schmidt: Excellent at getting on, one of the best power hitters of all time, solid defense, Schmidt had it all. Did you know he lead the league in homers when he was 37? That was before the 90s when you hit your prime at 37.
2. Miguel Cabrera: Yeah, I know, I already put him in as a first baseman, but Miggy was just so amazing that I felt the need to put him here. My biggest question is what team would trade him? Oh, yeah, the Marlins. It's easy to look back at that and say it was terrible, but It was awful then too. The Tigers were getting Cabrera, who was coming off of hitting .320 with 34 homers, and Dontrelle Willis, who was just 25 and had had a 2.63 ERA a few years earlier. For who? Andrew Miller, who had had an ERA north of six the year before and a bunch of unproven prospects.
3. George Brett: Brett had eleven seasons of hitting over .300, was a solid fielder and came closer than anyone else to hitting .400 in 1980.
4. Wade Boggs: Boggs was a moneyball guy before moneyball existed, leading the league in OBP six times, being over .400 nine times and only once dipping under .350. When I went to Fenway Park for the first time two summers ago, my favorite part was the retired numbers. The requirements a player to have his number retired by the Sox was that they had to be in the Hall of Fame and they had to spend their entire career with the Red Sox. But they did make exceptions... for about half of the players. (Johnny Pesky, Joe Cronin, Carlton Fisk) What it pretty much was was an excuse to not retire Boggs or Clemens numbers. It got me thinking what do Sox fans think of him? My uncle Alex lives in Boston so I'll give the rest of this section to him.
Well, I recall that he got his share of boos when he returned to Fenway with the Yankees, but in my view, there was always this funny attitude towards Boggs - that he was kind of a jerk, kind of a maniac (ate chicken every game day, and his wife had 23 recipes for it) but very dedicated to hitting.  So I’m not sure many fans felt betrayed when he left.  Also, it was a long time ago now, so if he showed up at Fenway today, I think he’d have the fans’ support.  In fact, I’ll bet that has already happened in the last few years. 
5. Eddie Mathews: Mathews spent his entire career being solid. It's one of the reasons he's one of the more underrated players of his era. If he was on your team, every year you're getting a .270 hitter who'll hit 35 homers. The one thing he doesn't get enough credit for is being able to draw a walk. He led the league in walks four times and has a career .376 on base percentage.
6. Brooks Robinson: Robinson's often perceived as an all field no hit third baseman, which couldn't be farther from the truth. He hit at least 20 homers six times, including on fantastic season in which he hit .317 with 28 round trippers.
7. Chipper Jones: One of the best switch hitters of all time had over 100 RBI ten times. Ok, I'm done. (This may seem weird to you, but I do these out of order and am now beginning to sound really repetitive. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
8. Pie Traynor: It's always great to have a guy named Pie on any list. This Pie happened to hit over .300 in ten of his seventeen years. He also hit at least 10 triples eleven years. On a side note, how did he get the name Pie? Did he just really like Pie or something?
9. Ron Santo: There isn't a lot you need to know about Santo, but here's a quick rundown, he hit cleanup in a lineup that featured Billy Williams and Ernie Banks, he hit at least 25 homers eight times, and that he's possibly the best defensive third baseman of all time who the second letter of his first name isn't an R.
10. Frank "Home Run" Baker: Reason number 371 the dead ball era was awesome: Someone could get the nickname "Home Run" just by hitting two clutch homers in one game. That doesn't quite top the Cleveland Naps, but it comes pretty close.

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