It’s only natural. Baseball players get older, and as they age they lose ability. Injuries hamper them, they lose speed and power, and before they know it, they’re not what they used to be. A-Rod is no longer the best Third Baseman in the game. And though Chipper Jones still has some talent, his inability to stay on the field has knocked him off our list. Yes, the times are changing–our 3B rankings are proof:
1. Evan Longoria, TB – Signed to an extremely team-friendly contract, Evan Longoria has been a fantastic player since he broke into the bigs in 2008. Longoria has improved with each season, and there’s no reason to expect that trend to end now.
2. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS – A close second in the rankings, Zimmerman is under-appreciated thanks to beginning his career in Washington. But as the Nationals improve, a larger fan base will witness the 26-year-old’s power, defense, and on-base skills.
3. Kevin Youkilis, BOS – Though he spent the last few season’s as the starting First Basemen for the Red Sox, Youkilis will be sliding to third to accommodate Adrian Gonzalez. With the change in position comes a rise in the rankings. The versatile Youk brings a lot to a talented team, as evidenced by his career .394 OBP.
4. Alex Rodriguez, NYY – A-Rod is the highest paid player in the history of the game, and at one time that made sense. While he’s still very good, the slugger’s skills have diminished. While last season’s .847 OPS is nothing to scoff at, it’s over 100 points below his career mark.
5. David Wright, NYM – Wright had a down year (power-wise) in the new Citi Field in 2009, and it’s as if everyone gave up on him. He bounced back last season with 29 HRs, reminding everyone that he’s a great player on an awful team.
6. Adrian Beltre, TEX – I can’t quite wrap my mind around Adrian Beltre. He goes from dominant season to mediocre with the drop of a hat. His OPS+ was a dismal 93 in 2009. In 2010 it jumped all the way to 143. One thing is for sure, he always plays fantastic defense–and if the Rangers get the 2010 version of Beltre, their offense will be tough to handle
7. Jose Bautista, TOR – While I’m not completely sold, that 2010 season had to count for something, right? Bautista’s league-leading 54 HRs came out of nowhere, and while he probably won’t reach that total again, his season warranted a place on this list.
8. Pedro Alvarez, PIT – He has just 95 games under his belt, but he has given Pirates fans (is anybody there?) a reason to cheer. Though he just turned 24, there’s reason to believe he could club 25-30 HRs in 2011.
9. Aramis Ramirez, CHC – The Cubs’ clean-up hitter struggled with injuries this past season while having a dismal first half. But before 2010 he was a consistently tremendous player, and it’s too early in his career to count him out. He just needs to limit the wear and tear on his body in order to stay healthy and help his team compete.
10. Casey McGehee, MIL – 2010 was McGehee’s first full season after earning the starting third base job in Milwaukee in 2009, and though he seems to blend into a fantastic offense, he’s a major player. In just his second year in the bigs, McGehee was able to hit 23 HRs while driving in 104.
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