New York Yankees Analysis: Is the Yankees’ hot corner the “hottest?”

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela
Apr 7, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela (29) throws to first base during the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I have written over a dozen New York Yankees top 10 articles dealing with everything from the top 10 Yankee first baseman to the top 10 Derek Jeter moments, but I have never done one across all of baseball. Today I am going to give my top 10 third baseman in baseball. These are just my humble opinions based on what I have seen and actual baseball stats;  a novel approach to the stats, and some other baseball writers’ opinions. My stats are weighed heavily on fielding percentage, batting average and are averages for the 2019 and 2020 season.

I also tried a novel but non scientific way of rating the third baseman. I placed them one through three on the below stats. I gave 9 points for first, 6 points for second, and 3 points for third place. This formula places the players in this order.  Anthony Rendon (21) points, Nolan Arenado (18), Josh Donaldson (12), Gio Urshela (12), Rafeal Devers (6). Receiving 3 points each were Alex Bregman, Matt Chapman, Justin Turner, and Jose Ramirez. Yoan Moncada received no points for not placing in any of the categories.

Best batting average (BA) 1. Gio Urshela, 2. Anthony Rendon, 3. Justin Turner.

Most RBI’s: (RBI) 1. Anthony Rendon, 2. Rafeal Devers, 3. Nolan Arenado

Most home runs (HR) 1. Nolan Arenado, 2. Alex Bregman, 3. Matt Chapman

Most walks (BB) 1. Anthony Rendon, 2. Josh Donaldson, 3. Jose Ramirez

Fielding percentage (FP) 1. Josh Donaldson, 2. Nolan Arenado, 3. Gio Urshela.

Here is my finalized top 10 third baseman in baseball today, be reminded that stats are averaged for the last two seasons:

10. Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox.

(BA) .270 (RBI) 51 (HR) 15.5 (BB) 31 (FP) .963.

Moncada is part of a budding core in Chicago that has the White Sox thinking they could become the most interesting teams to watch over the next few seasons. Moncada in his age 24 season batted .315 with 25 home runs with .915 OPS, and a 5.7 fWAR. That got him a $70 million paycheck for five seasons. The White Sox were one of the most active teams in baseball during the offseason and are pretty well set up for the next many years. During the next decade they will be one of the most successful teams in baseball, and Moncada will play a big part in that success.

9. Matt Chapman – Oakland Athletics

(BA) .240.5 (RBI) 58 (HR) 23 (BB) 23 (FP) .962.

Over the last three seasons  FanGraphs says that Chapman has been the third most valuable offensive third baseman in baseball, one spot above Arenado where Chapman falls over is in his fielding ability, of the top ten he is third to last for that valuable stat. Chapman, who will turn 28 in April, has helped the A’s to win 133 games in the last two seasons. He will look to substantially improve his batting average and fielding percentage in 2021.

8. Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox.

(BA) .287 (RBI) 79 (HR) 22.5 (BB) 29.5 (FP) .920.

Devers is just 24 years old and has probably not reached his prime yet. Devers slashed .311/.361/.555 with a 5.9 fWAR in 2019 and exposed for 32 home runs. He like many players didn’t have a good 2020 season. The Red Sox are going to need the young man to play like he did in 2019 because the Red Sox have dimantled their lineup. Mookie Betts went to the Dodgers last season and they have recently traded away Anthony Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals, and there are plenty of rumors out there that Jackie Bradley Jr. could be traded as well. At this moment the Red Sox and their fans have little to look forward too. Devers needs to improve his play at the hot corner as he is last in that category.

7. Gio Urshela – New York Yankees

(BA) .306 (RBI) 52 (HR) 13.5 (BB) 21.5 (FP) .973.

There are many that will say the Giovanny Urshela doesn’t belong on this list, but I say he does.  He has the highest batting average of the last two years of anyone on this list. He also has one of the best fielding percentages of those on the list. A third reason is that when so many players had lousy seasons last year, Urshela maintained his excellent play. He also came in second in Gold Glove voting in 2020. The New York Yankee’s Urshela’s has a reputation for game-saving grabs, while working to improve his range.  As the incumbent starter in 2020, Urshela’s near replication of his stats from his first year with the New York Yankees seems to have proven he’s here to stay as one of the better hitting infielders in the both leagues. For the Yankees he was only second to DJ LeMahieu the 2020 batting champ.

6.  Justin Turner – Los Angeles Dodgers

(BA) .298.5 (RBI) 50 (BB) 34.5 (HR) 15.5 (FP) .962.5

Turner continued to man the hot corner for the Dodgers, but now as a free agent the Dodgers are trying to keep him in Los Angeles. Meanwhile the Milwaukee Brewers are trying to pry him away from his favorite landing site. He has averaged around 500 plate appearances over the past three seasons, but has still been remarkably productive. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts. He has one of the better batting averages on this list, but second to last in home runs.  Another good year from Turner looks to be in the offing, but a precipitous drop at his age wouldn’t be out of the question, either. Turner will turn 38 at the end of the season.

5. Josh Donaldson – Minnesota Twins

(BA) .240 (RBI) 52.5 (BB) 59 (HR) 21.5 (FP) .984.5

The former Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Indians third baseman received $92 million to upgrade Minnesota’s offense. Donaldson is now 35, but a slightly younger, 33-year-old Donaldson put up a five-win season for the Braves, so while age-related decline is a concern, his recent performance is a little more relevant. Since 2013, Donaldson’s 40.6 WAR is second to Mike Trout among position players. 40.6 WAR over eight years is quite excellent. Of the entire grouping on this list even at his age he has the best fielding percentage of third baseman.

4. Jose Ramirez – Cleveland Indians

(BA) .273.5 (RBI) 64.5 (BB) 41.5 (HR) 20 (FB) .954

Ramirezs started out the 2019 season real slow but after the All Star break he finished the season at a torrid rate slashing .327/.365/.739 with 16 home runs, 48 RBIs and a 1.105 OPS in 44 games. He continued in 2020 with a .292 batting average and hitting 17 home runs. That in a normal 162 game season is the equivalent of 45 long balls.

Perhaps he’ll never top the historic production that he put up in 2018, but the Indians would probably be content if Ramirez had a full season similar to what he did in 2017 when he finished third in the MVP voting. The 2021 Cleveland Indians hope to put together a better season;. They lost in the 2020 Wild Card by being swept by the New York Yankees.

Anyone can argue these top three, they could be in any order, Most in baseball feel Bregman is the number one third baseman, but based on 2020 performance I have them in this order.

(BA) .269 (RBI) 67 (BB) 32.5 (HR) 23.5 (FP) .972.5

As much as I hate to admit it, the Houston Astros have a really good third basemen in Alex Bregman. In 2017 when the Astros cheated the New York Yankees of a World Series berth. Bregman played well and was even better in 2018 and 2019 when they faced the Yankees again. In 2020 Bregman like many players had a down season. Bregman’s biggest problem in not reaching number one is his relatively low batting average and high strike out rate.

Bregman is an odd player in that he hits better away from Minute Maid Park – Bregman finished second in American League MVP voting in 2019. Many believe his the best in MLB. The fact is that Nolan Arenado, Matt Chapman, Gio Urshela and especially Josh Donaldon are far superior fielders than Bregman. He also is an adequate shortstop.

(BA) .284 (RBI) 72 (BB) 38.5 (HR) 24.5 (FP) .981

This seven time Gold Glove recipient is one of the greatest fielders of third baseman with a high batting average and superb fielding percentage. That is why I believe he is better than Alex Bregman. He also has more home runs in the last five seasons than Bregman.  Arenado will be a Hall of Famer due in part to the fact he played at Coor’s Field and not the New York Yankees Yankee Stadium.

It is indisputable that Arenado has benefited from playing at Coors Field, as his batting average in home games in his career is 59 points higher when playing at the old Mile High Stadium. Simply put Arenado is one of the most complete players in the sport. Now away from Coors Field as a Cardinal we will see if he can maintain his excellent stats.

(BA) .302.5 (RBI) 80.5 (BB) 59 (HR) 21.5 (FP) .972.5

Now we finally come to my number one third baseman in baseball. He led the Washington Nationals to their first World Series in 2019. That alone got him a $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels in free agency. He is second only to the New York Yankee’s Gio Urshela in batting average; he is forth in home runs and fifth in fielding percentage. In my belief he is the most valuable third baseman. In 2018 he finished third in the MVP voting.

Along with being excellent at the hot corner, Rendon is the complete player that hits well, fields well and is durable. In 2019 he played in all but 14 games on the way to his World Series ring. In 2020 he played in all but eight games for the Angels. And FanGraphs agrees saying the he is the most valuable offensive third baseman in baseball.

Here’s my case for Rendon being the best there is: Reliabilty— his durability remained in place throughout the early stages of his big-league career. In recent years, however, Rendon has developed into a reliable quantity in multiple senses — he’s been physically able to perform, and he’s consistently played well. Rendon is a well rounded hitter that sees the ball well and has a relatively low strikeout rate. Rendon is more than just an above-average hitter, he’s also a defensive asset at the hot corner with quick hands and good instincts. He also adapts well to changing situations.

Rendon although led by one of the best managers in baseball in Joe Maddon and playing beside the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, Rendon will likely not win another World Series ring playing for the Los Angeles Angels.