Ranking the Top 10 Third Basemen for 2023

Jose Ramirez

Welcome to Part IV of ranking the best players at each position.

This list is strictly predicting how these players will perform in 2023. Does that mean last year doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. Last season matters the most. However, this list also factors in how the players have performed since 2020, how much they progressed or regressed, and if 2022 was just an outlier.

Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Second Basemen for 2023.

Honorable Mentions: DJ LeMahieu and Ryan McMahon

10. Ke’Bryan Hayes

Despite not having a Gold Glove to his name, Hayes is the best defensive third baseman and debatably the best overall defender in the game. Last year he finished first in both Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Outs Above Average (OAA), and in 2021 he finished first in DRS and second in OAA amongst third basemen. Unfortunately, the reason why the best defender in the league is lower on the list is because of his below-average bat. In the past two years, he has had a .671 On Base Plus Slugging Percentage (OPS) and 88 Weighted Runs Created Plus (WRC+). Hayes just turned 26, so he has time to improve. However, if he turns into an above-league-average hitter with elite defense, he might soon be in the top five.

9. Yandy Diaz

Diaz had a career year at the plate last year. In year six, he batted .296, had a .401 On-Base-Percentage (OBP), .824 OPS, and 146 WRC+, which was third amongst third basemen. Diaz was also one of two third basemen with a higher walk rate than strikeout rate. So what keeps him lower on this list in his defense? Last year, he finished second to last in both DRS and OAA. His strong offense but poor defense leads him to be only ninth in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Most guys usually don’t peak at the age of 30, so it will be interesting to see if Diaz improves or regresses this year.

8. Matt Chapman

Last year, Chapman not only switched teams, but it also seems as if he switched his strengths and weaknesses. In 2021, he batted .210, had a .717 OPS, and 102 WRC+. In 2022, he batted .229, had a .757 OPS, and was 117 WRC+. In 2021, he had 10 DRS and 17 OAA. In 2022, he had 2 DRS and 1 OAA. The reason I rank him higher than what his overall numbers say is because of his ceiling on defense and the chance he improves his second year in his new home. If you pair elite defense with about 115-120 WRC+, you have for sure a top-eight third baseman.

7. Eugenio Suarez

Suarez was an extremely important piece to the Mariners last year. Despite only batting .236, he had 31 Home Runs, a .332 OBP, .791 OPS, and 131 WRC+. He was, however, a negative on defense, with a -2 DRS and -1 OAA. Suarez has not been as great of a hitter since he was in the two seasons before Covid, but 2022 was his best season since then. The Mariners, as a whole, have been progressing for a little bit now. Don’t be surprised if you see even more improvements from them, especially around Suarez.

6. Alex Bregman

The 2 Time World Series Champ comes in at six. He is not as great as he was before Covid, but he still had his best season since then last year. He hit 23 Home Runs, had a .366 OBP, .820 OPS, and 136 WRC+. On the defensive end, he was split, producing -4 DRS and 5 OAA. He was also one of the main reasons Houston won the World Series, as he put together a .948 OPS throughout the playoffs. Bregman being ranked sixth might seem too low, but this shows you how stacked the third base position is.

5. Rafael Devers

Devers just signed his massive extension this offseason, and he earned every penny. Last year he hit 27 Home Runs, batted .295, had a .358 OBP, had a .879 OPS, and a 140 WRC+. The only reason he is not higher is because of his bad defense. He had -6 DRS and -2 OAA in 2022. The Red Sox do not have a ton to look forward to after losing Xander Bogaerts and many others through the years. But when you have a player like Devers locked up for the next 11 years, it makes things a lot easier.

4. Austin Riley

Riley is one of the more well-put-together players in the league. Last year he hit 38 Home Runs, had a .349 OBP, .877 OPS, and a 142 WRC+. His advanced defensive metrics were split, where he had 6 DRS and -6 OAA. All of this, put together, had him tied for fourth in WAR amongst all third basemen. He signed a very team-friendly extension in the middle of last year, and Atlanta will surely be lucky to have him in years to come.

3. Nolan Arenado

Arenado shocked everyone last year and had, hands down, his best season since Covid. He hit 32 Home Runs, batted .293, had a .358 OBP, .891 OPS, and 151 WRC+. In addition to his elite bat, he continued his 10-year streak of winning the gold glove every year of his career. He had 19 DRS and 15 OAA. The reason he is just below the two guys ahead of him has nothing to do with him but only projecting how great the other two will be.

2. Manny Machado

Machado just signed a mega extension. Some might say, “He won’t have the same motivation”. However, I see it as he has zero pressure to do anything different from how he usually plays. Last year he hit 32 Home Runs, batted .298, had a .366 OBP, .897 OPS, and 152 WRC+. His defensive metrics were also pretty solid, where he had -3 DRS and 8 OAA. Machado is a guy who likes to come and play ball every day. When you factor in that elite offense and pretty solid defense, you have the second-best third baseman in the league.

1. Jose Ramirez

When you think of 5 tool players, you think of guys like Ramirez. He is one of the most well-rounded position players in the league. Last year he hit 26 Home Runs, drove in 126 Runs, batted .280, had a .355 OBP, .869 OPS, and 139 WRC+. He was also extremely solid in the field, putting together 12 DRS and 8 OAA. Also, since 2020, he has had an OPS of .958 in the playoffs. He was not as dominant as Arenado or Machado last year, but if you factor in stats, the intangibles, and the ability to play in step it up in big games, Ramirez sightly edges them out

Conclusion:

Third Base is one of the more unique positions to rank. You have some elite hitters, but you must also factor in defense because it is so crucial at the position. Many of these guys have something to prove in 2023, and it will be great to see what they can do.

Next Up: Shortstops


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