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

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

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.

Mets’ Conforto Hoping to Follow in Rendon’s Footsteps

Michael Conforto has been just about everything the New York Mets hoped he would be when they selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. In 2019, Conforto finished the season with 33 home runs, 92 RBI and 90 runs scored.

Still just 26, Conforto sees himself as an ascending player. With two years of team control left, he is aiming for free agency and his numbers are trending up, meaning by the time he reaches free agency in 2022, he’ll be in for huge payday.

Conforto is using the model set by Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, who peaked in his final two seasons in Washington, earning him a seven-year, $245 million megadeal from the Los Angeles Angels.

“I look at guys like Rendon — he’s just the first one that comes to mind to me, being a guy that really doesn’t have crazy plus power, doesn’t really have crazy plus speed,” Conforto told Mets.com. “He’s just a really, really, really tough guy to get out, a really tough guy to get off-balance, and that’s what I’ve always felt like I could be. And I have been in the past. I’m not going to compare myself to — I don’t want to compare myself to him. He’s put up six-plus incredible seasons. But that’s who I’m striving to be.”

In order for Conforto to be anywhere near Rendon territory, he’s going to have to raise his batting average and OPS significantly. He has hit just .257, .243 and .279 respectively over the past three seasons. By contrast, Rendon batted .319, .308 and .301.

The OPS numbers for Conforto over that period aren’t bad (.856, .797, .939) but pale in comparison to Rendon’s (1.010, .909, .937).

Conforto has said he’d like to be a Met for his entire career. Economics and his performance will dictate that. So will his agent, Scott Boras, who usually advises his clients to test the free agent waters over taking hometown discounts.

“Everyone always says that Scott is a big free agency guy and he’s a big fan of that, but Scott … is obviously going to give me the best advice that he feels he has for me as a player, and for my career,” Conforto said. “Ultimately, it’s my decision. I think it’s somewhat of a misconception about Scott and his clients. He wants what’s best for us. He’s going to give us his best advice. But at the end of the day, he’ll tell you, ‘It’s my client’s decision.’”

We’ll see. First things first, though. Conforto has to keep improving or the Met’s hometown discount just might be his best offer.

New York Yankees: Make Early Movement

Could the Yankees pursue Gerrit Cole this offseason?

There are a handful of big free agents on the market this winter, and many of them that the New York Yankees would love to sign.

Instead of waiting to the later part of winter to make moves, the Yankees should start taking serious action NOW. With everybody wrapped up in the Astros cheating allegations, there is no better time to recruit free agents and give them offers in pretty lowkey way.

They could try to keep as quiet as possible, but if information leaks out about them making early moves, then it would quickly put pressure on other teams to match and exceed the Yankees offers.

The first order of business would be retaining Brett Gardner and figuring out the whole outfield situation. If they have interest in resigning Cameron Maybin, they could probably hold off a bit on him. He likely won’t sign a contract until February.

Once they get Gardner locked up, it would be time to decide who they are going to offer on. I would love to see them get Anthony Rendon, but the likelihood of him leaving the Nationals is slim to none. So, they should try and make quick offers on Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.

I hope that Brian Cashman doesn’t try to be cheap again and lowball them. He needs to offer both pitchers solid contracts early into free agency. It puts so much pressure on other teams to match, and it would be very tempting for them to sign when they see a huge offer.

All I’m saying is that if the Yankees start making offers early into the offseason, they may have a better chance to sign the top free agents.

Will the Yankees make the biggest Splash, or belly flop in Free Agency?

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

NEW YORK YANKEES – The Nationals hoisting the Commissioners Trophy is now a distant memory to every other team in baseball. Organizations across the league are getting ready to cast their nets to try and catch the biggest whales swimming in this year’s free-agent market. Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasberg, and Anthony Rendon will be the most targeted players, and very deservingly so.

Will the New York Yankees pursue Gerrit Cole this offseason?

Yankee fans are tired of getting trolled by the Houston Astros. They have now eliminated New York from postseason play three times in the past five years. The fans don’t miss a beat and can pinpoint every mistake that is made. The mismanagement of pitchers, and every Yankee batter trying to go deep, rather than play small ball, was excruciating to watch. In Game Two of the ALCS, Happ was the wrong choice to face Correa, this was a call that left us scratching our heads, as well as questioning Boone’s decision-making skills. The Yankees left countless runners on base all series long, and at times looked like they were staring into headlights. They never drew blood and became the sharks they were meant to be. The Yankees have to dive into the pool of this offseason with confidence and secure the bag for next season.

Cashman has said he will pursuit Cole, he is either going all in or preparing to make the biggest bluff in history. Cole has a strong case to win this year’s American League Cy Young, he led Major League Baseball in strikeouts, finished second in wins, and third for lowest earned run average. His dominance and command on the mound truly makes him a sought after Ace. The World Series MVP Stephen Strasberg shined brighter than the lights of Broadway, and Yankee fans would love to see him don the Pinstripes.

Anthony Rendon isn’t just a terminator at the plate, he loves to flash the leather and show off his cannon of an arm. With the Bombers having depth at third, it would make sense to sign Rendon and have him DH on rest days or every other series.

Could the New York Yankees pursue Stephen Strasburg this offseason?
Oct 23, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws against the Houston Astros during the second inning of game two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yankee fans have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. There are plenty of free agents out there who, if signed, could ignite and surprise any fan base. Hyun-Jin Ryu collected fourteen wins for the Dodgers, and only suffered five losses on the season. He also led the majors with the lowest earned run average for the second straight year.

With the dangerous offensive unit, the Yanks have, starting arms like Porcello, Ordirizzi, Teheran, Wheeler, Hamels, and Wacha could win fifteen games, and come at a cheaper price than the hardware winners. Edwin Encarnacion has gone to find another perch to stand on, and with DiDi and Gardner potentially testing the open waters of free agency, the Yanks will have to find the correct replacements while keeping the luxury tax in mind.

MLB: NLCS-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals
Oct 15, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon (6) singles during the second inning in game four of the 2019 NLCS playoff baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Either way, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman will be under a magnifying glass, held by the Yankee Faithful. The DJ LeMahieu signing was quite possibly, the greatest Yankee signing in the last thirty years. Fans can only hope, that there will be more signings like that during this Free Agency season. If history has taught us anything, it’s that signings like A-Rod, Ellsbury, and Giambi, all have to be a thing of the past. The Yankees front office has to start playing chess, rather than their usual game of checkers, and break down the quality of a player, before offering a max deal of great quantity. Cashman knows if he makes the wrong decision or comes up short, the Empire will be ready to storm the Castle. The addition of Pitching Coach Matt Blake is just the start, the rest of the puzzle must be solved in order for the Yankees to be under the lights and on the field during next year’s Fall Classic. The chase for twenty-eight starts now.

Could The New York Yankees Land Anthony Rendon This Winter?

Going into 2020, there’s expected to be bit of a roster shakeup at several positions for the New York Yankees. One of those positions include third-base, with the debate between Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar. But, could the Yankees go an entirely different direction and pursue signing Anthony Rendon? They can try all they might, but the likelihood of getting him is slim to none.

What He Brings To The Table:

Rendon is an all-star third baseman that can absolutely rake. In 2019, he hit .319 with 34 home runs and 126 runs batted in. He had an OPS over 1.0 and a slugging of almost .600.

On defense, Rendon is pretty average with a .969 fielding percentage with 11 errors. He doesn’t have a ton of speed, but enough for decent defensive range and the ability to steal a bag occasionally.

Why The Yankees Won’t Get Him:

There are two main reasons why the Yankees won’t sign Rendon this off-season: money and loyalty.

Over the last few seasons, we’ve seen that Bran Cashman hasn’t really been wanting to spend a lot of money on free agents. Rendon may be offered a contract much lower than what other teams will offer him, and obviously players want the most money.

It would also be very difficult if not impossible to get both Rendon and Gerrit Cole in the off-season. Both players would want too much money. If the Yankees shifted their focus to Zack Wheeler, then they may be able to get a starting pitcher as well as Rendon.

But, the other obstacle that stands in the way is Rendon’s loyalty to Washington. He really like Washington, and Washington likes him. It would be really hard to get him to come somewhere else, especially after making a World Series. The Yankees would have to offer him a contract he absolutely can’t turn down.

We’ll see what happens, but I would be shocked if the Yankees managed to sign Anthony Rendon this off-season.

 

Are the New York Yankees the favorites to sign Gerrit Cole this offseason?

Could the Yankees pursue Gerrit Cole this offseason?

Gaining the best pitching baseball would not only be a massive boost to the New York Yankees starting pitching rotation, but it would provide them with a player to lean on when the going gets tough. This season, Bombers were forced to guess with the pitching at times, unsure if their starters would rise to the occasion or falter in the face of adversity.

James Paxton was one of the risers, as he pitched well in the postseason and proved his worth for 2020. J.A. Happ faltered, and Luis Severino was decent in limited action after missing a majority of the regular season. However, they have an opportunity to add an arm that would revolutionize their team and make reaching the World Series that much easier.

Houston Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole is the featured pitcher, and the Yankees will undoubtedly make a bid after speaking with mega-agent, Scott Boras. Cole will likely earn $30+ million per season, which could cause issues with the Yankees’ luxury tax threshold, especially if other players are being considered at a high price point.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon has also been linked with the Bombers, but having Miguel Andujar and Gio Urshela should satisfy their needs at the hot-corner if they have a legitimate shot with Cole.

Why the New York Yankees could lose out on Gerrit Cole:

There’s always the possibility that Cole takes his talents elsewhere, but there’s no indication that he does not favor the Yankees. He grew up a fan of the illustrious franchise but also comes from the West Coast, which could influence his decision. Alternatively, he did play for the Houston Astros in the south-east, which makes him coming up North a bit more realistic.

It could ultimately come down to money, and which team is willing to splash the cash for the best pitcher in the MLB. General manager Brian Cashman can not low-ball Cole in this process because any disrespect could send him to a different city.

Theoretically, if the Yankees managed to sign Cole, their starting rotation would look something like this:

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Luis Severino
  3. James Paxton
  4. Domingo German (if not suspended)
  5. Masahiro Tanaka
  6. J.A. Happ
  7. Jordan Montgomery
  8. Michael King