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Ranking the Top 10 Third Basemen Before the 2024 MLB Season

Guardians 3B Jose Ramirez, MLB third basemen
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This represents the continuation of a series ranking the Top 10 players at each position for the 2024 season. Next up, we take a look at MLB third basemen.

Given that this is a forward-thinking projection, please remember: if a younger player is on the rise, I will project them to be better. If an older player is on the decline, I will project them to be worse. If a player had a freak awful 2023 season after being on the rise, I will project them to be better as long as there are no off-the-field issues.

Let’s dive in and explore Chris’ top 10 third basemen for the 2024 MLB season. Click here for an archive of other positions.

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Honorable Mentions

10. Max Muncy

We kick off this list with a former first baseman at No. 10. Muncy has been a super solid contributor near the middle of the lineup for the Dodgers over the past couple of years. Last year, he hit 36 home runs, slashed .212/.333/.475, and had a 118 wRC+ (league average is 100). Batting .212 is usually an automatic red flag, but his 36 home runs help to negate those concerns.

With this being said, Muncy has struggled significantly in the field. Last season, he had -3 DRS and -7 OAA. I mentioned earlier that his primary position used to be first base. When you have the chance to sign Freddie Freeman while keeping your other power-hitting first baseman in the lineup every day, you should do it — even if that means moving him to third base where he is not as good.

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9. Jeimer Candelario

The Reds’ new third baseman comes in at No. 9. Candelario played for the Nationals for the first part of last year before being traded to the Cubs. He played much better with the Nationals than the Cubs, contributing a 121 wRC+ in the nation’s capital while amassing just 106 wRC+ in the Windy City. Candelario was relatively weak in the field where he had -5 DRS and 2 OAA.

The Reds were a much better team last year than in previous years. Candelario will be an X-factor in determining how good Cincinnati performs in 2024.

8. Ke’Bryan Hayes

Perhaps the best defensive third baseman in the league comes in at No. 8. Hayes led all third basemen with 21 DRS last year, but he was just about average at the plate. In 124 games, Hayes hit 15 home runs, slashed .271/.309/.453, and had a 101 wRC+. Even though it may seem silly to put someone who is not that good at hitting in the top eight, the league’s best fielder at their position deserves the recognition.

7. Rafael Devers

The Red Sox Superstar comes in No. 7. Devers is an absolute monster at the plate; last year, he had a 124 wRC+, and even that was his lowest mark since 2020. However, he was very weak in the field, contributing -9 DRS and -9 OAA. Third base is a hard position to evaluate because the offensive production can be very top-heavy but it is still imperative to be passable in the field. Nevertheless, when you have someone who will produce 124-plus wRC+ seasons at their worst, you want that player on your team.

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6. Nolan Arenado

The 10-time Gold Glove winner comes in at No. 6. Last year was the first time Arenado did not win a Gold Glove. In 2022, he had 19 DRS and 14 OAA, compared to 2023 where he had 1 DRS and 5 OAA. Not only did he regress in the field, but his drop-off at the plate was even bigger. In 2022, he had a 150 wRC+, but that mark dropped to 107 in 2023. Arenado has been one of the better players in the league for a while now and has done enough to earn the benefit of the doubt. He will bounce back.

5. Manny Machado

Speaking of players who regressed in 2023, Machado sneaks into the top five. In 2022, he had a 153 wRC+; last year, that mark was 114. However, he did improve in the field in terms of both DRS and OAA. Machado signed a massive extension last year and the pressure of living up to his new deal may have gotten to his head. As long as he settles down and plays to his strengths, Machado should have no problem returning to the top five.

4. Isaac Paredes

The 25-year-old budding star comes in at No. 4. Paredes was solid in 2022 but truly exploded in 2023. He hit 31 home runs, slashed .250/.352/.488, and had a 137 wRC+. Meanwhile, he was slightly above average in the field with 2 DRS. However, the fact that he just turned 25 provides optimism that his best days are ahead of him.

3. Alex Bregman

The two-time World Series champion makes it into the top three. Even though Bregman slipped a little bit last season, he still delivered a top-five season among third basemen. He hit 25 home runs, slashed .262/.363/.441, and had a 125 wRC+. He is also one of the best “big game” players in the league. Bregman will be 30 at the end of March and he’s still playing some of the best baseball of his career. He remains a top-five third baseman in the league.

2. Austin Riley

The top two third basemen are neck-and-neck for the No. 1 spot. Riley was filthy last year, hitting 37 home runs, slashing .281/.345/.516, and contributing a 127 wRC+. He was also very solid in the field with 9 DRS. Riley was probably MLB’s best third baseman last year (fWAR supports this argument), but my pick for No. 1 is a slightly better five-tool player.

1. Jose Ramirez

Even ranked at No. 1, Ramirez remains one of the most underrated players in the league. Last year, he hit 24 home runs, slashed .282/.356/.475, and had a 124 wRC+. In the field, he contributed 1 DRS and 6 OAA. In addition, out of all qualified players on the list, he is the best base runner. When you factor in hitting, fielding, baserunning, and other intangibles, Jose Ramirez is the best third baseman in baseball.


Main Image Credit:

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