July 12, 2020

The 25 Third Basemen With the Best Careers

October 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Here are the 25 third basemen who had the best careers during the 20th century (as measured by the NEWS HOF Gauge).

For a third baseman, a NEWS score of 260 is required to say that he has obvious HOF numbers.  There are only ten third basemen who posted these numbers.  I should note that third base and catcher are the positions that have the fewest number of players to have posted HOF numbers (ten) according to the NEWS Gauge.

Please keep in mind that a player may not have obvious HOF numbers but may still be a deserving Hall of Famer for other reasons.

All numbers include the 2007 season.
Bold print = Hall of Famer
Italic = active player in 2008
CWS = Career Win Shares
CV  =  Core Value (sum of win shares for 10 best seasons)
NEWS = Career Value  =  CV  +  .25(CWS – CV)

The Third Basemen with Hall of Fame Numbers (NEWS = 260)

Player Years CWS CV NEWS
1. Mike Schmidt 1972-1989 467 338 370
2. Eddie Mathews
1952-1968 450
3. George Brett 1973-1993 432 296 330
4. Wade Boggs
1982-1999 394 291 317
5. Ron Santo 1960-1974 324 275 287
6. Frank Baker
1908-1922 301 280 285
7. Chipper Jones
1993- 327 269 284
8. Darrell Evans 1969-1989 363 253 281
9. Brooks Robinson
1955-1977 356 247 274
10. Stan Hack 1932-1947 316 256 271

As you can see, Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews had the best careers as third basemen in the 20th century – with George Brett and Wade Boggs not too far behind.  I suspect that these four players being at the top of the list will come as a surprise to very few fans.

Six of these ten players are in the Hall of Fame.  Yet, the fifth best third baseman of the century, Ron Santo, is not yet in Cooperstown.  Santo was the top vote-getter in the Veteran’s Committee 2007 election with 69.5%.  And he is among the ten candidates in the “Post-1942” group to be considered by the Committee in 2008.  Hopefully, he will be elected at that time.

Darrell Evans is one of those truly underrated players.  Despite being one of only 82 players in the century with a NEWS score of 280, he got only 2% of the vote in his first year on the BBWAA HOF ballot in 1995.  He can now only be elected by the Veteran’s Committee when he becomes eligible.

Brooks Robinson is considered by many to be the best fielding third baseman of all time.  And I believe there are many fans who would argue that this fact alone entitles him to his spot in Cooperstown.

Chipper Jones is still active and could improve on his numbers.  Indeed, he is having a fine 2008 season.  It would appear that before he retires he could easily become one of the top five third basemen of the century.

Note that only two of these top ten third basemen played during the first half of the century: Frank Baker and Stan Hack.

The Other Third Basemen in the Top 25

Here are the other fifteen players who ranked among the top 25 third basemen of the century in terms of career value.

11. Sal Bando 283 251 259
12. Jimmy Collins 274 242 250
13. Heinie Groh 272 243 250
14. Bob Elliott 287 236 249
15. Graig Nettles 321 224 248
16. Ken Boyer 279 235 246
17. Scott Rolen
246 239 241
18. Pie Traynor
274 228 240
19. Ron Cey 280 222 237
20. Buddy Bell 301 210 233
21. Robin Ventura 272 217 231
22. Ed Yost 267 215 228
23. Larry Gardner 258 211 223
24. Ken Caminiti 242 212 220
25. Tim Wallach 248 202 214

Scott Rolen is the only active player on this list.  And through 2007, he had only played for twelve seasons.  Barring further injuries, I think he has a decent chance to reach the 260 benchmark.

There are two third basemen in the Hall of Fame who did not make it into the top 25.

George Kell
192 201
Fred Lindstrom
182 190

This means that there are a total of four third basemen in the Hall who do not have HOF numbers according to the NEWS Gauge: Jimmy Collins, Pie Traynor, Kell and Lindstrom.

Ken Boyer was on the ballot for the 2007 Veteran’s Committee.  He got only 11% of the vote and does not appear to have any chance of election to the Hall particularly since he was not selected for the “Post-1942” ballot in 2008.

For more information on the NEWS HOF Gauge, see BASEBALL’S BEST: The TRUE Hall of Famers on this site.

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