Sluggers will slug. That is what we have learned, especially in today’s airball revolution. Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are some of the best hitters of our generation, and both are first ballot HOFers, but the back 9 of their careers have hit hard. GM’s hopefully have become warier of paying first basemen with players like Ian Desmond, Chris Davis, and Wil Myers giving a negative return on investment with their deals. The position is trending towards the youth, and I expect names such as Bird and Bellinger to make the top 10 next year.
I weighed 2nd half stats more heavily than first because as a Texas High School football coach probably once said, “it’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish.” After compiling all of the stats, I found the mean and standard deviation of each statistic. With this information, I standardized each player’s number relative to their position (Z-Score). Refer to Top Ten 3rd basemen for how these numbers were formulated.
- wRC+ from 2016 & 2017
- Quality of Contact
- Contact Skills
- Games played in 2016 + 2017
- Plate Discipline
- Base Running
- Joey Votto
- Arguably the best bat in baseball, Votto still resides in the barren ozone layer that is Cincinnati. He is an everyday player with the best eye in the sport, and he’s got jokes too.
- Freddie Freeman
- Freeman was on pace for 60 (!) home runs when a wrist injury cut into his unsustainable, yet spectacular, 1.200 OPS. If he can stay healthy, I think that lineup could surprise some people (Acuna, Albies, Inciarte). Although all the panelists put Goldschmidt here, the shredder and I agreed on Freeman’s ranking.
- Anthony Rizzo
- The combination of good defense and excellent contact skills (Z-Score of 1.2) puts Rizzo, a kid at heart, near the top of this list.
- Paul Goldschmidt
- This isn’t really a knock on Goldy, as it is much more of a testament to Freeman and Rizzo. Paul Bunyan is a true all-around player, earning 3.3 Base Running Runs last year.
- Jose Abreu
- With a 148 wRC+, Abreu was only behind Joey Gallo for most home runs at the position in the second half of the season.
- Brandon Belt
- Brandon Belt is severely underrated. He has a great eye, a solid bat, and plays great defense. Unfortunately for him, AT&T Park limits his production, but he still produced a 130 wRC+ in the second half last year.
- Matt Olson
- One of many unsung prospects on the A’s (see Chapman, Matt), Olson may be the second coming of Jason Giambi. The lefty slugger had a .487 xwOBA on BIP and a 183 wRC+ in the second half. Let’s just hope he doesn’t bolt for the money like Giambi did. Only Bill James had Olson listed on his top 10.
- Edwin Encarnacion
- He still does everything well. The contract should be seen as a success by the time it expires.
- Joey Gallo
- Ahhhhh, Joey Gallo. The ultimate lottery ticket, if you will. Gallo had more home runs last year than singles. Take that in. The guy either whiffs, miserably or demolishes the ball through Cowboys Stadium (.587 xwOBA in the second half). Vince Gennaro had Gallo as high as 6th.
- Carlos Santana
- A more contact-oriented player, Santana will bring some much-needed experience to the Phillies.
- Eric Hosmer
- Joe Mauer
- Justin Smoak
Data courtesy of ESPN and Baseball Reference. Thanks for reading!
Written by Cameron Levy
Cover Photo Credits: Sports Illustrated