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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / The Grueling Truth's Top 10 Sports Lists / Top-10 Third Baseman of All-Time: Schmidt, Robinson or Brett at number one?

Top-10 Third Baseman of All-Time: Schmidt, Robinson or Brett at number one?

Publish Date: 04/10/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Top 10

The hot corner has seen some great players through the years. This is just an opinion article, but I feel you will find this list to be solid. Active players are not eligible for this list. Defense will weigh as heavy on this list as defense.

Criteria

Stats and championship stats include defence also; the issue is that if you go back early in the twentieth century, some stats were not kept that are kept now. Offense and defense are combined, so if you are a great hitter but your fielding was weak that will drop you down in these rankings.

10) Pie Traynor

He was a world-class batting hitter, finishing with a .320 career average and a solid .362 on-base percentage, but he was, to say the least, not a very good fielder, which dropped him on the list. Traynor may have been a top-five hitter at thrid base, but his fielding was mediocre at best.

  • 2 Time All Star
  • World Series Champion
Video: Rare Pie Traynor TV Interview (In Color)

Rare Pie Traynor TV Interview (In Color)

9) Graig Nettles

In Nettles’s 22-season career, he hit 390 home runs, 328 doubles, 1,314 RBI and 1,193 runs scored, earning him six All-Star Game selections. However, his glove really put him in this spot, as he was awarded two Gold Gloves. His performance in the 1978 World Series against the Dodgers is right up there with Brooks Robinson in the 1970 World Series.

He helped the Yankees win back-to-back World Series championships between 1977 and 1978 and earned American League Championship Series MVP honors that year after going 6-for-12 with nine RBI in three wins against Oakland Athletics. Nettles was on one of the best baseball teams of the 1970s; see where that great Yankees team ranks.

  • 6 Time All-Star
  • 2 Time World Series Champion
  • ALCS MVP 1981
  • 2 Time Gold Glove Award
  • AL Home Run Leader 1976
Video: Yankeeography: Graig Nettles

Yankeeography: Graig Nettles

8) Ron Santo

In his 15 seasons as a player, Santo laced 2,254 hits, 342 home runs and 365 doubles, 1,331 RBI and 1,138 runs scored, finishing with a solid career slash line of .277/.363/.464.

He was a great fielder, too, being awarded five Gold Gloves to go along with his nine All-Star Game nods. He finished in the top 10 in MVP voting four times and, unfortunately never made the playoffs.

  • 9 Time All-Star
  • 5 Time Gold Glove Award
Video: Ron Santo's Road to Cooperstown - Baseball Hall of Fame

Ron Santo’s Road to Cooperstown – Baseball Hall of Fame

 

7) Wade Boggs

Like Traynor, Boggs was mainly a hitter. Boggs recorded 3,010 hits and scored 1,513 runs with an incredible career .328 batting average. He was a solid hitter who could be constantly relied on to get on base, posting a career .415 on-base percentage. He won two Gold Glove awards, eight Silver Sluggers, 12 All-Star nods and one World Series ring. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Did Wade Boggs make it on our list of the best hitters of the 1980s? You know he has to be on the list, find out where he ranks.

  • 12 Time All-Star
  • World Series Champion 1996
  • 2 Time Gold Glove Award
  • 8 Silver Slugger Awards
  • 5 Time AL Batting Champion
Video: Wade Boggs Career Highlights

Wade Boggs Career Highlights

6) Adrian Beltre

His 3,166 hits are the highest ever for a third baseman and makes him the first Dominican-born player to reach this mark. In 2024, he will be considered for the Hall of Fame ballot.

2004 saw him post an impressive hitting line of.334,.388/.629, 48 home runs, 121 RBI and 9.6 WAR over his contract year, earning him a five-year, $64 million contract from the Seattle Mariners upon becoming a free agent. Unfortunately for them, though, his time there proved unfulfilling, and upon becoming open market again at age 31, he settled for a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox instead.

From his sole season in Boston in 2010 through the end of his career in 2018, he hit 307/.358/.514 for an OPS+ of 130 with 1,466 hits, 227 homers, 801 RBI, and 48.9 WAR, quickly moving from being an adequate player to one who will likely earn first-ballot Hall-of-Famer status.

  • 4 Time All-Star
  • 5 Time Golde Glove Award
  • 4 Time Silver Slugger
  • NL Home Run Leader 2004
Video: Adrian Beltre Career Highlights

Adrian Beltre Career Highlights

5) Eddie Mathews

Throughout his illustrious 17-year career, Mathews slugged out a .267 batting average with 512 home runs and a career .509 slugging percentage while knocking in 1,453 runs.

He was sent to nine All-Star Games and was runner-up to two MVP awards. He hit over 35 home runs six times and notched over 100 RBI five times.

  • 12 Time All-Star
  • 2 Time World Series Champion
  • 2 Time NL Home Run Leader
Video: Eddie Mathews - Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

Eddie Mathews – Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

4) Chipper Jones

Jones ended his career in 2012 with a .304 career batting average, with 468 home runs, 1,512 walks, and 1,623 RBI in 2,499 games with 8,984 at-bats. He has the most career RBI for a third baseman. Also one of the most accomplished switch hitters in the game’s history, he finished behind only Eddie Murray for career RBI by switch hitters. He is the only switch hitter in MLB history with both a career batting average of at least .300 and 400 or more home runs. He was the eighteenth hitter in MLB history to accumulate 5,000 at-bats and finish with at least a .300 batting average, .400 on-base percentage, and .500 slugging percentage, and he was the only switch hitter to reach all these milestones.

  • 8 Time All-Star
  • World Series Champion 1995
  • NL MVP 1999
  • 2 Time Silver Slugger
  • MLB Batting Champion 2008

Video: Chipper Jones Career Highlights

Chipper Jones Career Highlights

Video: Remembering Orioles' legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (1937-2023)

Remembering Orioles’ legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (1937-2023)

3) George Brett

.305 batting average, including one season where he hit .390. He finished with a whopping 3,154 hits, 1,583 runs and 1,596 RBI. He also brought some solid power to the table, hitting 665 doubles, 137 triples and 317 home runs to give him a career .487 slugging percentage.

He went to 13 All-Star Games and won the MVP award in 1980. If you are a Kansas City Royals fan, I bet you will enjoy our best Kansas City Royals ever list!

  • 13 Time All-Star
  • 1985 World Series Champion
  • AL MVP 1980
  • ALCS MVP 1985
  • Gold Glove 1985
  • 3 Time Silver Slugger
  • 3 Time AL Batting Champion
Video: George Brett Highlights

George Brett Highlights

 

2) Brooks Robinson

Over his 23 seasons, all with the Orioles, he won a startling 16 Gold Gloves. He was the best fielder and showed some solid hitting, having a career .267 batting average, 2,848 hits and 1,357 RBI.

His best offensive year came in 1964 when he hit .317 with 28 home runs and 118 RBI on his way to his only MVP award.

  • 18 Time All-Star
  • 2 Time World Series Champion
  • AL MVP 1964
  • World Series MVP 1970
  • 16 Time Gold Glove Winner
  • Roberto Clemente Awars
  • AL RBI Leader 1964
Video: Remembering Orioles' legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (1937-2023)

Remembering Orioles’ legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (1937-2023)

1) Mike Schmidt

Over his 18 seasons, Schmidt recorded a .267 batting average, knocked in 1,595 runs, scored 1,506 runs and hit 548 home runs.

He led the league in home runs eight times, RBI four times and OPS five times. He earned three MVP awards, six Silver Sluggers and 12 All-Star Game appearances to go with a World Series ring with the Phillies in 1980.

Schmidt was an expert fielder, winning 10 Gold Gloves throughout his career. Easily the best third baseman I ever saw.

  • 12 Time All-Star
  • 1980 World Series Champion
  • 3 Time NL MVP
  • 1980 World Series MVP
  • 10-Time Gold Glove
  • Six-Time Silver Slugger
  • 8 Time HR Leader
  • 4 Time NL RBI Leader
Video: Mike Schmidt career highlights

Mike Schmidt career highlights

 

Honorable Mentions

Scott Rolen

He is one of the most incredible fielding third basemen in MLB history. He’s won eight Gold Glove awards, which he keeps next to his Rookie of the Year award, and one Silver Slugger.

He won one World Series with St. Louis back in 2006 and has now been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Buddy Bell

Bell stands as one of MLB history’s most underrated third basemen. A six-time Gold Glove winner who trailed only Brooks Robinson and Adrian Beltre in terms of total defensive WAR among third basemen, Bell posted an OPS+ of 109 over 18 seasons while collecting 2,514 hits, 201 homers, and 1,106 RBI – equalling Scott Rolen (70.1 WAR) and Ron Santo (70.5).

David Wright

Wright had a relatively brief prime before injuries derailed his career, yet at his best was capable of 30/30 hitting and Gold Glove defense. In 2007, Wright hit.325/.416/.546 for 42 doubles, 30 home runs, 107 RBI, 34 steals and 8.3 WAR; this season marked one of the greatest individual seasons by any modern third baseman in modern era history. Moreover, after turning 31 he still amassed 49.2 WAR overall.

Sal Bando

Bando served as captain for Oakland Athletics teams that won three consecutive World Series in the 1970s, amassing 61.5 WAR over 16 seasons. He earned four All-Star selections and finished in the top five of AL MVP voting three times before closing out his career with 242 homers and 1,039 RBI while effectively holding down third base.

Darrell Evans

Mike Schmidt (548 home runs), Eddie Mathews (512), Adrian Beltre (477) and Chipper Jones (468) all hold more homers among third basemen than Evans, who accumulated 414 long balls during 21 big league seasons for 58.8 WAR overall. At age 40 in 1987 – 20 years after making his MLB debut – Evans experienced one of his finest seasons ever with 34 homers and 99 RBI.

Bill Madlock

One of baseball’s premier hitters during the 1970s and early ’80s, Madlock won four National League batting titles while compiling an outstanding career line of.305/.365/.442 with 123 OPS+ in 15 seasons. Unfortunately for Madlock’s defensive ability was below average compared to Mike Schmidt or George Brett; nonetheless his bat-to-ball skills merit more appreciation.

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