MLB Network has been ranking the top ten players at each position entering the 2021 season and along with each list, they have been ranking the top ten players at each position in the divisional era, or since 1969.
Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado was ranked third on the active list of third baseman for the third straight year but he ranged from first to sixth among host Brian Kenny, former All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell, and the “sabermetric panel” of Sarah Langs, Vince Gennaro, and Mike Petriello.
But for the historical list, Nolan Arenado appeared on Bob Costas’ list as the seventh-best third baseman in the divisional era. Brian Kenny did not have him on his list at all.
Before you say “Coors bias!” this is a cumulative list. Arenado could top the list by the end of his career but Arenado has played parts of eight seasons. Many players on each of their lists ended up playing more than 2,000+ career games and Arenado is at half (or less) than that, as he has 1,079 career games.
So, with that do you think he is in the top ten since 1969? For me, I consider since 1969 as a player that played half or more of their career from 1969 on. Therefore, guys like Brooks Robinson and Ron Santo don’t make the list.
By WAR on Baseball-Reference, here are the top 20 third basemen in the divisional era.
|1||Mike Schmidt HOF||106.9|
|3||Wade Boggs HOF||91.4|
|4||George Brett HOF||88.6|
|5||Chipper Jones HOF||85.3|
|6||Paul Molitor HOF||75.7|
|8||Edgar Martinez HOF||68.4|
Notice, Arenado is not even in the top 20. He’s actually 23rd on the list. For WAR7 (which is WAR in a player’s seven best seasons), here’s the top 20 in the divisional era.
Third Base JAWS Leaders
53.34Adrian Beltre48.75Chipper Jones
46.86Sal Bando44.47Edgar Martinez
43.78Scott Rolen43.69Graig Nettles42.410Evan Longoria41.911Buddy Bell40.512Josh Donaldson40.513Paul Molitor
39.714David Wright39.515Robin Ventura38.716Nolan Arenado37.517Darrell Evans37.318Ron Cey37.119Manny Machado36.020Toby Harrah35.4
It should be noted that Nolan’s rookie season through 2019 was his seven best seasons (his first seven seasons). Some of those players would qualify as a DH if there was such a show for MLB Network, like Edgar Martinez and Paul Molitor. But either way, Arenado is, again, not in the top ten.
Let’s look at JAWS, which is Jay Jaffe’s system that combines cumulative WAR and WAR7 but also compares to the average Hall of Famer at the position.
Third Base JAWS Leaders
73.93Adrian Beltre71.24George Brett
57.77Scott Rolen56.98Edgar Martinez
56.09Graig Nettles55.210Buddy Bell53.411Sal Bando53.012Evan Longoria49.313Darrell Evans48.114Robin Ventura47.415Ron Cey45.416David Wright44.317Toby Harrah43.418Josh Donaldson41.019Matt Williams40.320Nolan Arenado38.3
Arenado squeaks in at number 20 on this list. Obviously, those three stats are not the be-all, end-all but is 23rd, 16th, and 20th, enough to overcome.
It should be noted that one of the other players on Costas’ list was Bill Madlock, best known for playing with the Pirates on their 1979 World Championship team and into the 80s. Is the four-time batting champion in any of the top 20 above? No.
It’s obvious that at least entering 2021, Arenado is not the top nor is he in the top five or ten of cumulative stats but do you think that Arenado’s stellar offensive and defensive play warrant him being in the top ten since 1969, like Bob Costas, or outside of the top ten as Brian Kenny believes and as the numbers seem to indicate.
Let us know what you think on our Twitter page, @RoxPileFS, or elsewhere on social media.