Thursday, November 11, 2004
IT'S OFFICIAL - This just in, Johan Santana is the 2004 AL Cy Young Award Winner. I don't think that is a surprise to anyone. What is surprising to me is that Santana got all 28 first place votes; it was unanimous! Not even close! Curt Schilling got 27 second place votes to finish second. Congratulations to Johan Santana and the Minnesota Twins!
ALL-TIME TOP 100s: Third Base
Good morning! Just a few quick thoughts before we get to today's installment of Justin Ahern's analysis of the Top 100 3B of all-time.
First, the Manager of the Years were announced. In the American League, the Twins Ron Gardenhire, who I predicted to finish 2nd, finished second, to the Rangers skipper Buck Showalter. That was the obvious choice. I mean, everyone knew Showalter would win it. I personally didn't even put him in my Top 3 choices. I picked Mike Scioscia to win it because he had to deal with so many injuries (and a very inconsistent starting staff) and still led the Angels into the playoffs. Gardenhire also dealt with injuries. I picked Joe Torre third because many times I think that the manager of the team that is supposed to win doesn't get the credit he should get. All that said, Showalter is not a bad choice. He did lose Alex Rodriguez (which I think could be argued was a benefit for him and the team!) and still had a terrible pitching staff. But there was a lot of improvement. Having the infield of Hank Blalock, Michael Young, Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira can help any manager look pretty good though.
The National League choice was equally obvious! The Atlanta Braves lost Greg Maddux, Gary Sheffield and Javy Lopez, not to mention Henry Blanco in the offseason. They were not expected to win the NL East, but through the losses, they still won the division, and handily. The Cardinals were the best team, so Tony Larussa deserves some consideration. Especially when you look at the pitching staff that he had to work with.
Today, we should find out that Johan Santana will be the Twins first Cy Young Award winner since 1988 when Frank Viola beat out Dennis Eckersley. Just a reminder of the pitching situation in 1988; Allan Anderson led the league with a 2.45 ERA (by percentage points over Teddy Higuera), Eckersley had 45 saves, and a pitcher named Roger Clemens threw 8 Shutouts. Here is just a quick comparison of the two seasons:
W-L ERA ERA+ GS IP SO K/9 BB/9 WHIP
Johan Santana '04 20-6 2.61 182 34 228.0 265 10.5 2.13 0.92
Frank Viola '99 24-7 2.64 155 35 255.3 193 6.8 1.90 1.14
This weekend, I bought new furniture, so I had to borrow my parent's truck to transport it. So obviously thank you to my parents, but I learned a very big, important lesson from making that three hour drive in their truck. Satellite radio was the greatest invention ever! Seriously, my drive home plus the six minute drive to work and back every day, have been excruciating. It is almost unbearable! If I'm being honest, there are two radio stations in this area, and one plays country music, so that really doesn't count either. Having more than 100 options to listen to is so much better.
Don't forget to check out and then order The Hardball Times 2004 Baseball Annual which is now available for you to purchase.
Today, we will continue the Top 100s series that Justin Ahern researched for us with the third basemen. If you would like some background on the process used to develop this report and ranking, please click here. Here are the previous Top 100 lists:
All-Time Top 100: Catchers
All-Time Top 100s: First Basemen
All-Time Top 100s: Second Basemen
If you have any questions for me, or if you have any questions for Justin, please e-mail me, and I will be sure to forward your thoughts to him.
THE THIRD BASEMEN
Here are the Top 100 Third Basemen of All-Time. Please send me your thoughts on the Top 100s.
Rank Player Year Born Total 1 Mike Schmidt 1949 159.97 2 Eddie Mathews 1931 155.20 3 George Brett 1953 150.66 4 Wade Boggs 1958 147.45 5 Home Run Baker 1886 145.60 6 Ron Santo 1940 139.55 7 Paul Molitor 1956 136.25 8 Chipper Jones 1972 136.07 9 Scott Rolen 1975 133.97 10 Stan Hack 1909 132.77 11 Al Rosen 1924 131.05 12 Sal Bando 1944 130.16 13 Edgar Martinez 1963 128.81 14 Heinie Groh 1889 127.96 15 Darrell Evans 1947 126.04 16 Bobby Bonilla 1963 125.63 17 Brooks Robinson 1937 124.55 18 Ken Caminiti 1963 122.99 19 Ken Boyer 1931 122.57 20 Ron Cey 1948 121.20 21 Tommy Leach 1877 121.04 22 Bob Elliot 1916 120.34 23 Toby Harrah 1948 120.19 24 Jimmy Collins 1870 119.89 25 Craig Nettles 1944 119.72 26 Robin Ventura 1967 119.56 27 Howard Johnson 1960 118.32 28 Matt Williams 1965 115.85 29 John McGraw 1873 115.69 30 Eddie Yost 1926 115.46 31 Buddy Bell 1951 114.74 32 Pie Traynor 1899 114.69 33 Bill Madlock 1951 114.51 34 Art Devlin 1879 113.32 35 Heinie Zimmerman 1887 112.69 36 Denny Lyons 1866 110.19 37 Billy Nash 1929 109.06 38 Larry Gardner 1886 109.01 39 Jim Ray Hart 1941 108.92 40 Tim Wallach 1957 108.90 41 Carney Lansford 1957 108.53 42 Freddy Lindstrom 1905 108.22 43 Eric Chavez 1977 107.49 44 Terry Pendleton 1960 107.46 45 George Kell 1922 107.03 46 Whitey Kurowski 1918 106.84 47 Harlond Clift 1912 106.67 48 Bill Bradley 1878 106.59 49 Doug DeCinces 1950 106.46 50 Red Rolfe 1908 105.56 51 Travis Fryman 1969 105.39 52 Ken Keltner 1916 104.37 53 Mike Lowell 1974 103.83 54 Harry Steinfeldt 1877 103.04 55 Red Smith 1890 102.86 56 Jeff Cirillo 1969 102.53 57 Gary Gaetti 1958 101.83 58 Richie Hebner 1947 101.75 59 Adrian Beltre 1979 101.70 60 Bill Joyce 1865 101.27 61 Don Money 1947 101.19 62 Arlie Latham 1860 100.91 63 Buddy Lewis 1916 100.89 64 Lave Cross 1866 100.45 65 Kevin Seitzer 1962 100.13 66 Ken McMullen 1942 100.08 67 Pepper Martin 1904 100.02 68 Ray Boone 1923 99.88 69 Todd Zeile 1965 99.71 70 Bill Werber 1908 98.47 71 Willie Kam 1900 97.12 72 Puddin' Head Jones 1925 96.81 73 Corey Koskie 1973 96.13 74 Bob Bailey 1942 96.05 75 Troy Glaus 1976 96.01 76 Bob Horner 1957 95.96 77 Pete Ward 1939 94.91 78 Mike Higgins 1909 93.44 79 Doug Rader 1944 92.53 80 Milt Stock 1893 92.04 81 Jimmy Dykes 1896 91.83 82 Vinny Castilla 1967 91.78 83 Hans Lobert 1881 91.59 84 Don Hoak 1928 90.93 85 Ned Williamson 1857 90.42 86 Larry Parrish 1953 90.27 87 Bill Melton 1945 89.33 88 Deacon White 1847 89.10 89 Clete Boyer 1937 86.14 90 Aaron Boone 1973 85.80 91 Hubie Brooks 1956 85.75 92 Aramis Ramirez 1978 85.52 93 Melvin Mora 1972 83.81 94 Ray Knight 1952 83.51 95 Ossie Bluege 1900 83.28 96 Frank Malzone 1930 82.94 97 Tony Batista 1973 81.90 98 Joe Randa 1969 81.08 99 Dean Palmer 1968 78.44 100 David Bell 1972 78.31 101 Aubrey Huff 1976 74.97 102 Jimmy Austin 1879 72.68 103 Jim Tabor 1916 71.79 104 Joe Dugan 1897 70.61 105 Hank Blalock 1980 69.74
The first thing that I should point out about the third basemen rankings is that Paul Molitor and Edgar Martinez are on the list. I rated them there because that's where Bill James put them. I think that they should be rated as first basemen, but since James put them here, so did I. Bobby Bonilla was also rated by James here, so that's where I put him. I think he should be rated as an outfielder. I don't think that he is one of the 20 third basemen ever.
Third base is generally considered to be a power position played by power hitters. That wasn't always the case. Third base used to be where a team put there best infielder because the bunt was one of the primary offensive weapons until the 1920's. There really weren't many great power hitting third basemen other than Home Run Baker and Eddie Mathews until the 1960's. Even Brooks Robinson was an all glove/weak bat player for most of his career. The fact that third base was primarily a defensive position in the 19th century and for most of the first half of the 20th century is evident in the rankings. There are so many contemporary players on the list and I'm not sure if that's due to the players actually being better than their predecessors or if it shows the limited ability of Win Shares to evaluate defensive contributions. I think that it's probably a combination of both. Pie Traynor and Jimmy Collins were both excellent defensive players. Second base was where teams used to hide their worst defensive infielder in early baseball. If you don't believe me, see: Hornsby, Rogers. If Hornsby played today, he would be a first baseman.
There are so many contemporary players on the list that I don't know who surprised me the most. What I will say is that Ron Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame. Al Rosen would rank in the top 5 if he had a career that was longer than it was. He was as good as Schmidt, Baker, Boggs, and Brett. Baker might rank at #1 if he didn't retire as often as Michael Jordan. I don't think that any active players has a chance to catch Schmidt, but Rolen and Chipper will probably both make it into the top 5. I guess that Beltre could catch Schmidt, but he would have to keep playing like he did last year until about 2010, but we won't get an idea of where he belongs on the list until around 2008 or so.
ARod is rated as a shortstop so he will be found on that list. I think that he will probably find his way back to SS as soon as baseball writers stop giving gold gloves to shortstops who don't deserve them. Sheffield is rated as a right fielder and Chipper is back at 3rd so he will probably be rated as a third basemen when his career is through. Harmon Killebrew rated at #11 as a first baseman and if he was on this list, he would be #6.
Maybe Ron Santo should be considered for the Hall of Fame, huh? It is very impressive to see him stacked up against all of the other top 3B in baseball's history, and stack up very well. Certainly no surprise with the top five on the list. My first thought in looking at this list is that there are a lot of names that even I don't really know. But, here are some of my other thoughts:
Paul Molitor is listed as a 3B. I just had to check out how much 3B he played versus the other positions. Here is the breakdown: DH - 1,174, 3B - 791, 2B - 400, 1B - 197, SS - 57, OF - 50. So, I guess 3B is the right place to put him. My first thought was to say that he doesn't receive a lot of Win Shares because of his defense, so doesn't that make his Win Share totals even more impressive?
Fathers and Sons (and Grandsons) - The 3B position is the home to a couple of three generation major league families:
Boone's Pos. Pos. Rank WS Points
Ray Boone 3B 68 166 99.88
Bob Boone C 45 210 90.27
Bret Boone 2B 25 203 114.22
Aaron Boone 3B 90 86 85.80
Bell's Pos. Pos. Rank WS Points
Gus Bell CF 95 175 92.36
Buddy Bell 3B 31 299 114.74
David Bell 3B 100 97 78.31
Watch Your Heinie! There are two guys with the name of Heinie on this list! Heinie Groh ranks #14 on this list while Heinie Zimmerman ranks 35th. In major league baseball history, there have been 22 players with the name "Heinie." As I'm sure you would guess, it has been awhile since any with that name have actually played though. Heinie Heltzel was the most recent and his final big league season was 1944, sixty years ago!
Puddin' and Pie - Harold "Pie" Traynor is a known name in the baseball world. The Hall of Famer played all 17 of his big league seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a career .320 hitter. Willie Jones played 15 big league seasons between 1947 and 1961 with Philadelphia, Cleveland and Cincinnati. He hit .258 with 190 home runs. He got his nickname as a child from the 1930s Alfred Bryan and Lou Handman song "Wooden Head, Puddin' Head Jones."
Was Joe Dugan the manager of the Rockford Peaches of the the All-American Women's Baseball League?
As I mentioned above, there are a number of player's names that I really don't recognize. My assumption was then that most of those guys must have played WAY back in the old days. So, I took a look at how many 3B in the Top 50 were born before 1930. Then, to further make my point, I checked how many of those players were born before 1900. Then, to be fair and compare, I wanted to know how many were born after 1950, meaning they could have played in the '80s or '90s. I thought the numbers were interesting, so I looked back and the previously studied positions and did the same. Here are the results:
(Out of Top 50)
Position Before 1930 Before 1900 After 1950
3B 21 11 17
2B 29 14 13
1B 19 8 19
C 15 5 17
Apparently there was just an average number of old-time players in the 3B list. There were a lot more in the 2B category!
#7 - Paul Molitor (Twins 1996-1998)
#25 - Craig Nettles (Twins 1967-1969)
#54 - Gary Gaetti (Twins 1981-1990)
#73 - Corey Koskie (Twins 1998-?)
Will the Twins keep Koskie? We can hope so, but if not, Terry Tiffee would be an alright option until Matt Moses is ready. Nettles was a top prospect in his day. Gaetti was actually very good! Molitor, of course, never played 3B for the Twins.
Do you have any thoughts on these first base ratings? Do you have any questions for myself or for Justin Ahern on this ranking or how this was comprised? If you have any thoughts, please e-mail me, and be sure to check back in the coming weeks for the rest of the positions.
That's it for today. I hope you are enjoying the positional rankings. Please feel free to let me know what you think. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future topics, please e-mail me.
Back to Archives Home