Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Best Third Baseman of All-Time
When trying to decide who was the best player ever to man the hot corner, you have to think about what player had the perfect combination of offense and defense. Eddie Mathews was one of the best power hitting third baseman of all-time, crushing 512 home runs during his career, but he was only solid defensively. Brooks Robinson is considered the finest defensive third baseman of all-time, winning 16 Gold Gloves, but he had a career batting average of .267 and only hit over .300 twice. If you combine the great hitting prowess of Mathews with the glove work of Robinson, you get Hall of Famer Michael Jack Schmidt, who played 18 seasons for the Phillies and is the best third baseman of all-time.
In terms of offensive ability, there are few who can match Schmidt. Yes, he only had a .267 batting average, just like Robinson. Unlike Robinson, though, Schmidt hit 548 home runs (most for a third baseman) and drove in 1595 runs (tied with George Brett for most by a third baseman), good for 15th and 33rd all-time, respectively. He led the league in big flies eight times, while leading the league in four times. Schmidt also owns a career on-base percentage of .380 and a career slugging percentage of .527 (highest for a third baseman, however, if Chipper Jones retired today he would take the title with a .536 OBP). He won six Silver Sluggers and ranks 22nd all-time in Offensive Wins Above Replacement with a WAR of 94.4.
On defense, Schmidt was just as good. He won ten Gold Glove awards, which is the most by any National League Second baseman and the second most by a third baseman in either league (as previously mentioned, Robinson won 16). He ranks 27th all-time in Defensive Wins Above Replacement with a WAR of 13.9.
Schmidt was a 12 time all-star selection and won three MVP awards ('80, '81, '86). He also won the 1980 World Series MVP, when the Phillies defeated the Royals. He easily had the best combination of offensive and defensive abilities for a third baseman. He was elected to Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility, appearing on 96.5% of ballots.
So far my all-time team looks like this:
C- Yogi Berra
1B- Lou Gehrig
2B- Eddie Collins
3B- Mike Schmidt