Who is the top third baseman in the game today?
AY: Wow! This position is filled with absolute studs who could eventually become all-time greats. It is just stacked. That being said, I’m going with reigning MVP Kris Bryant. In the past four years, Bryant has won the Golden Spikes Award as college baseball’s top player, Minor Leaguer of the Year, Rookie of the Year and MVP. He is coming off a slash line of .292/.385/.554. This year, his batting average has been down, but he leads the league in walks, thus raising his on base percentage. Look for Bryant to perennially be in the MVP hunt, as he looks to only get better once he learns a bit more plate discipline.
JW: I think it can be argued that this may be the greatest era of third basemen in league history. There really is no wrong answer here and it’s hard to leave anyone off, but I am going with Nolan Arenado. He isn’t quite the household name, due much in part to the fact that he has been playing on some bad Rockies teams, but he has a great all-around game. He has won a Gold Glove in each of the four seasons he has played in, has hit 40-plus home runs in back-to-back-seasons, has driven in 130-plus runs in both of those seasons as well while still batting at least .287.
What under-the-radar third baseman do you think could be the next big thing?
JW: Part of me is picking him because of who his father was, but I am excited to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. make the majors. He’s currently the No. 28 overall prospect in baseball, his hitting screams All-Star level and his glove seems to be adequate enough to be an everyday player at third base.
AY: Actually a year older than Bryant is Jake Lamb, who is having a breakthrough season. Lamb currently leads the NL in RBIs and truly deserves the start in this year’s mid-summer classic. Lamb and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt should form a formidable tandem for the next few years in Arizona. I don’t know if Lamb will be any better than the .287/.384/.554 line he is putting up this year, but I do think he has the talent to hang around those numbers consistently.
Who is the greatest third baseman of all-time?
AY: With all due respect to Brooks Robinson, I have to go Mike Schmidt by the slimmest of margins. A three-time MVP and 12-time All-Star, Schmidt was no slouch on the defensive side, winning 10 Gold Gloves. Schmidt has eight home runs titles, and led in adjusted OPS six times. In 1980, Schmidt won World Series MVP by hitting .381 with two homers and seven RBIs in six games. While Robinson may have been slightly better defensively (Schmidt is probably the second-best defensive player at the position all-time), what is the biggest separator is power. Schmidt ranks 16th all time with 548 home runs.
JW: As a Phillies fan, it is blasphemous for me to not say Schmidt. The only real knock on his game is that he only hit for a .267 average, but his power numbers and glove more than make up for it, and that’s before factoring in that he had great plate discipline. His 1,507 walks ranks 18th all time, and he led the league in bases on balls four times along with posting seven seasons where he drew at least 100 walks.