The three most logical 3B to build around.

Please comment at my new blog though if you don’t mind.

When one is asked, “Which 3B would you most like to build your team
around.”  It is not the same question as, “Who is the best 3B in
baseball.”

For example: Alex Rodriguez is easily one of the five best 3B in the
game.  But no one wants to build a team around a player on the wrong
side of 30, who is under contract for ten more years at a salary
between $20 and $32 million per year.  Even the Yankees wouldn’t want
that if they were able to choose some of the other younger, cheaper 3B
that would be available in this scenario.  And that applies even if
Rodriguez was not trying to play while avoiding a future surgery that
must be had.

So remember, the three 3B that a team would build around is not necessarily the three best 3B.  Money, age, and the quality of player matter a lot.

On to the three best building blocks at 3B, in order:

  • Evan Longoria: Longoria is only 24 and has already
    established himself as one of the absolute best 3B in the game.  His
    offense may be what he is most known for among the casual fan.  But
    Evan is adept with the glove to go along with that amazing ability to
    hit.  Over the past two seasons, Longoria has the best UZR among all
    third baseman, in both leagues, at 23.4.  Adding to his
    reputation as an astute student of defense, he also finished sixth in
    John Dewan’s +/-.  But we cannot ignore that offense.  His mannerisms
    at the plate have always reminded me a bit of the great Edgar
    Martinez.  And his offense hasn’t been too far behind either.  Adding
    in the fact that Longoria plays defense, and plays it well, he actually
    has the potential to be better than Edgar.  Although, those are some
    lofty expectations that really shouldn’t be placed on the kid. 
    Longoria is currently hitting .312/.391/.588, and his WAR is currently
    number one in the bigs, right ahead of teammate Ben Zobrist.  The
    contract is very team friendly as well.  Since Longoria is already
    great, the six year, $17.5 million deal looks to be absolute genius. 
    Add in three additional years of club options, albeit at a more
    expensive price, and the Rays have the best bargain at the position in
    all of baseball.  A 3B that can rake, play great defense, and is rather
    cheap.  Hmmm, sounds like the best choice to build around, at least to
    me.  Not to forget, but Evan’s been doing all of this right smack-dab
    in the middle of the AL East as well.
  • David Wright: Wright is one of the ten best position players
    in baseball, easily.  His Gold Glove gives us a feeling that he is a
    great defender, but above-average seems more of an accurate
    description.  Wright, over the past two years, falls well below
    Longoria in UZR, but Wright is a great player regardless.  His current
    line sits at .351/.439/.500.  And although he has been lucky on
    groundballs, as Fangraphs has pointed out, Wright is still a great
    hitter and very well could have had an MVP to his name by now.  Over
    the past three seasons, David Wright has been the third best hitter
    among 3B, behind Chipper Jones and Alex Rodriguez (acording to wOBA). 
    And his WAR is actually the best among the position over that
    three-year period.  One could make a strong case that Wright has been
    the best 3B in baseball over recent years, although that is debatable
    with Rodriguez, Jones, and Miguel Cabrera having been around.  His
    contract is a little more expensive than Longoria’s.  So that is an
    obvious reason why he falls in number two, rather than number one. 
    Wright is still owed $39 million over the next three seasons, which is
    still under his value, however, not exactly cheap.  And his contract
    has a team option for $16 million in 2013, something that should almost
    definitely be exercised.  Wright may not be great defensively, but he
    is adequate.  And that offensive prowess more than extends his overall
    value virtually through the stratosphere.
  • Ryan Zimmerman: I must start by saying that Ryan Zimmerman
    is a pleasure to watch with the glove.  Having seen him in Spring
    Training, and against the Red Sox recently, that only increases my
    interest in seeing his glove-work.  Zimmerman has finished second to
    only Fielding Bible award winner Pedro Feliz over the last three
    seasons combined (UZR).  And over that same stretch, he has come in
    sixth among third baseman in +/-.  I know that Zimmerman had an
    incredible thirty game hitting streak, we all know.  But since then his
    bat has cooled off a ton, as he has hit only .232/.333/.364 since the
    incredible stretch.  So the jury is still out on how good of a hitter
    Zimmerman actually is.  With that being said, we know he is
    above-average.  And we know his glove is very good.  So what we have is
    a good player overall.  And the Nationals just locked Zimmerman up to a
    very reasonable contract extension: 5 years, $45 million.  $9 million a
    year is probably going to be well under what he could get on the open
    market.  Even if his bat is simply “better than average.”

There you have it, the three 3B I would build a team around.  Evan
Longoria, David Wright, then Ryan Zimmerman.  All three are great
players, and all three are being paid below what the market would
suggest they be paid, if of course, they all hit free agency.

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