Over the last number of Saturdays we have released our lists of The Nine best players at each position and this Saturday will be no different. Today, we unveil our list of the cream of the crop at the hot corner.
This list was actually quite easy compared to some of the others because there were seven obvious choices, leaving just two spots up for grabs. The order in the middle of the list is a bit fluid in my opinion, so don’t take it too seriously if you’re upset that your favorite player is sixth instead of fifth.
Third base is very good at the top, decent in the middle, but really falls off once we get passed the just missed portion of the list.
Apologies to: David Freese, Kyle Seager, Pedro Alvarez, Todd Frazier, Jeff Keppinger, and Pablo Sandoval.
9. Mike Moustakas (Royals)
Moustakas enters his age 24 season in 2013 and has shown himself to be a very good defensive player who can hit for power. His average could be higher, but it’s not terrible for such a young player. His key flaw is relatively weak plate discipline, but I expect that to improve to some degree as he ages. Moustakas is a former top prospect who could really make a leap this season and is coming off of a 3.5 WAR season in 2012, which was, you guessed it, 9th best in all of baseball.
8. Brett Lawrie (Blue Jays)
Lawrie was off the charts incredible in his 43 games stint in the big leagues in 2011, but took a bit of a step back in an injury shortened 2012. Lawrie was a good player last year, but he wasn’t a great player. I think he can be a great player this season given that he’s shown all of the necessary tools – power, speed, defense – at some point in the last eighteen months and is only 23 years old. If he plays like he did in 2011, he’ll be in the top three on this list, but even just a little better than his performance from 2012 should put him right about here on the list.
7. Aramis Ramirez (Brewers)
Even if you don’t believe that Ramirez improved his defense last season, a .300/.360/.540 slash line is impossible to ignore. He’s put together a couple of really nice seasons in 2011 and 2012 after a two year stretch where it looked like his once promising career would be over. He’s the oldest one on this list – already 34 – but he should have a place on it for at least one more season.
6. Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals)
When Ryan Zimmerman is healthy, he is an excellent baseball player. In seven major league seasons, he’s played a full season five times posting between a 4.4 and 7.5 WAR. In his two injury shortened years, he’s been a 2.5 WAR player. He played phenomenal defense early in his career but the injuries might be slowing that down, but injuries haven’t slowed his plate discipline and power. A fully healthy 28 year old Zimmerman could have an MVP type season, but he sits at sixth on this list because it’s getting difficult to believe he’ll be healthy all season.
5. Chase Headley (Padres)
Chase Headley is four seasons into his big league career and has seemingly improved his average and power over the last couple seasons. He is a switch hitter with good plate discipline while playing solid defense at third. The homerun numbers shot up in 2012 and with the fences coming in at Petco, he might have a shot to do it again. If last year didn’t happen, Headley would near the bottom of the list, but it did. I don’t want to put too much weight on one amazing season, but we also can’t ignore it.
4. David Wright (Mets)
Wright has an excellent season in 2012 and has had other excellent seasons in his career. My only concern with Wright is that in the three seasons prior to 2012, his defensive numbers were much worse that they were last season. I’m not sure Wright is a 7 WAR player going forward for that reason and imagine him more as a 5 WAR player for 2013. There’s nothing wrong with David Wright, but there is even less wrong with the next three on this list.
3. Adrian Beltre (Rangers)
Beltre is a great defender and hits for power in a big way. His only wart is that he doesn’t walk nearly enough. He’ll be 34 this season, but three of his best four seasons have come beyond thirty, so I’m not too worried about him falling off out of nowhere. If you want a slugger who can play defense, Beltre is a good way to go.
2. Evan Longoria (Rays)
Longoria’s career WAR/600 PA is 6.5. The only negative thing you can say about Longoria is that he’s only played two full seasons, two other seasons of 120-135 games, and one half season. He’s an elite defender who hits for power and has a great eye at the plate. Oh, and he’s 27. So there’s prime left in his career and has signed two of the most team friendly deals in MLB history. If you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of what he does.
1. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
If offense was the only thing that mattered here, Cabrera would be the only one near the top of this list. He’s easily the top offensive third baseman in baseball and has been remarkably consistent entering his age 30 season. On defense, he’s no star, but he proved last year he could handle the position well enough to make it work. His best three seasons have been his last three and boasts a career line of .318/.395/.561. That’s probably all that needs to be said.
Sound off in the comments section or to call into your local sports talk radio station and scream at them. Not about this list, but just in general.