A Slightly Sabermetric (But Not Really) Ranking of NL East Third Basemen

Next stop on our NL East positional rankings: Third Base

  1. Adonis Garcia – Braves – 2016 WAR: 0.9
(Kevin C. Cox /Getty Images)

Garcia, to the surprise of many, will turn 32 during the 2017 season. He was a 30 year old rookie in 2015 but took over the third base role full time last year when he started in 123 games at the hot corner. The Braves wasted no time on Garcia, signing him just a few days after the New York Yankees let him go. Every scouting report you read on Garcia will likely touch on his less than stellar defense, but decent bat. He had a very quiet, yet decently productive season in 2016 when he slashed .273/.311/.406 with 14 HR’s and 65 RBI. He has shown flashes of power at the plate and the Braves do like his bat. One could speculate they like his bat so much that they demoted him down to play 17 games in left field for the Triple-A club in an attempt to switch his position and hide his lackluster glove while keeping the bat in the lineup. When you dive into the numbers a little further, it tells us an interesting story.

Offensive Statistics

Stat 2016 Garcia 2016 Average
wRC+ 90 100
wOBA .308 .320
ISO .133 .140
K% 16.5% 20%
BB% 4.3% 8%
UBR 0 0

While most of these offensive numbers are slightly below average, the goal of this table is not to point out Garcia’s downfalls, but more to raise the question of if his bat was good enough for the Braves to make an effort to keep him in the lineup. The truth is Garcia is just an average big leaguer. He won’t win a lot of games for you and he won’t lose a lot of games for you. He will likely serve as the starter this season as the Braves look to be competitive, but if the club finds themselves reeling towards the break, we may see Rio Ruiz step into the starting role at the hot corner.

  1. Jose Reyes – Mets – 2016 WAR: 1.3

Disclaimer- Despite my admiration for David Wright and my… exact opposite of admiration for Jose Reyes.. I do my best to remain impartial in everything I write. This is my unbiased outlook on the Mets third base position.

Jose Reyes returns to the Mets for 2017 and, as much as it pains me to say, will almost certainly be starting at third base over David Wright (I know, not very impartial, but it is out of my system now) In the off chance that is not the case, we are going with Reyes on this list because it’s time all Mets fans faced the brutal truth, Wright is no longer an everyday player.

Reyes started in 50 games at the hot corner for the Mets in 2016, 14 more than Wright, where he slashed .267/.326/.443 with 8 HR’s and 24 RBI. It was a small sample size, but Reyes proved that he can still be an everyday starter in this league. The fielding percentage wasn’t good, but not unbearable, and after 9 stolen bases in just 60 games, I would say it is fair to assume the 33 year old can still steal bases at a decent rate. He will not add to his all-star or Silver Slugger count, but he will be a serviceable big leaguer. To be honest, there is not much more to say about Reyes. Sabermetrically, he is just a hair above average at the plate, below average defensively, and still pretty good on the bases. He is basically Adonis Garcia, but a little better with 12 more years of big league service time… how is that for analysis?

  1. Maikel Franco – Phillies – 2016 WAR: 1.4
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Maikel Franco has the potential to move up this list in the future, but I think it is fair to call 2016 a disappointment. With last year being his only big league season, it is hard to say you would take him over either of the next two guys on this list. It is more than likely that in due time Franco will establish himself as a better than average third baseman, but for now I need a bigger sample size than what I have seen. He hit 25 HR’s in 2016, but so did 12 other third basemen. In this day-in-age, your big tool cannot be hitting homeruns, especially when half of the league is performing just as well, if not better than you in that category.

I am going to layout some offensive stats here, but this is not to degrade Franco. We saw in 2015 that he is capable of producing at a pretty high level, we just need to see him do that over 600 plate appearances, not 300.

Stat Franco ML Rank Amongst 3B (Minimum 300 PA)
AVG .255 31st
OBP .306 35th
SLG .427 25th
ISO .172 21st
wOBA .311 32nd
wRC+ 92 30th

As mentioned before, Franco has proven he can perform at the plate, it just needs to be proven over a whole season. We should also make note that the defense was not very good either.

Stat Franco ML Rank Amongst 3B (Minimum 500 Innings)
DRS -6 25th
UZR -0.9 21st
  1. Martin Prado – Marlins – 2016 WAR: 3.2

Martin Prado is the definition of a pro. We know what he is good at and we know what he is not good at. There is something to be said for a guy that shows up to the ballpark day in and day out and you know exactly what you are going to get, he has been a model of consistency his whole career. While never receiving the praise he may deserve, probably because he plays in a long ball era and his career high in HR’s is 15…But I digress, Prado has been plugged in all over the field for several teams and has never let it affect his performance at the plate, or in the field for that matter.

Prado’s Career Numbers and Positions Played (Minimum 250 PA)

2008 .320 .377 .461 2 33 3,4,5,6,7
2009 .307 .358 .464 11 49 3,4,5,9,D
2010 .307 .350 .459 15 66 3,4,5
2011 .260 .302 .385 13 57 3,5,7
2012 .301 .359 .438 10 70 3,4,5,6,7
2013 .282 .303 .417 14 82 4,5,6,7
2014 .282 .321 .412 12 58 4,5
2015 .288 .338 .394 9 63 4,5
2016 .305 .359 .417 8 75 5,D

Prado’s Sabermetric Breakdown

2008 1.1 123 .367 -1
2009 2.6 119 .358 5
2010 3.9 118 .353 10
2011 1.2 89 .302 13
2012 5.3 117 .345 19
2013 1.9 104 .328 3
2014 2.3 102 .324 9
2015 3.2 109 .318 10
2016 3.2 101 .335 3
  1. Anthony Rendon – Nationals – 2016 WAR: 4.7
(G Fiume/Getty Images)

Once again, and unsurprisingly, we find a National at the top of our list. The key to Rendon’s success in 2016 is whether or not he can stay healthy. After finishing 5th in MVP voting in 2014, he missed a substantial amount of time with two separate leg injuries in 2015. Although he did not play at an MVP level last year, Rendon proved that 2014 was not just a flash in the pan.

Rendon 2016 Stats: .270/.348/.450 20 HR 85 RBI 12 SB

He is really in the middle of the pack amongst 3B when it comes to both traditional stats and sabermetrics at the plate. He has a decent BB% and a better than average K%.

What really sets Rendon apart from other guys in the division is his defense. He is one of the best 3B in baseball.

Rendon 2016 Defensive Statistics

Stat Rendon ML Rank Amongst 3B (Minimum 500 Innings)
UZR 10.6 3rd
DRS 8 5th
OOZ 46 8th
DPR 0.6 4th

Rendon’s plate presence is not enough to get him recognized as one of the elite 3B in baseball, but thanks to the new ways that we can assign values to players, we can see that he is the one the most well rounded guys at the position. Good enough hitting, combined with top of the line defense, and the highest BsR in the division makes Rendon a clear choice for the NL East’s top 3B.

Get involved on the site! Comment below with your rankings or tweet me @berrys_baseball

Featured Image Courtesy of: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images


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