The New York Mets added Eduardo Escobar to the squad earlier this offseason to play third base. The Mets haven’t had somebody that can lock down the position since David Wright, using a hodge-podge of utility guys like Jonathan Villar, Jeff McNeil, Todd Frazier, and J.D. Davis to play one of the more important positions in the field over the last few seasons.
Now that the Mets finally have a bonafide third baseman, let’s look at where he fits in the rankings at his position.
Jose Ramirez sits atop the third base list. In 2021, he slashed .266/.355/.538/.893 with 36 homers, 32 doubles, five triples, 111 runs scored, and 103 RBI’s. He also stole 27 bases and had his best defensive season with 10 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and seven Outs Above Average (OAA). He’s elite at everything.
Nolan Arenado comes in at #2. He slashed .255/.312/.494/.807 with 34 homers, 34 doubles, and 105 RBI’s. He tallied six DRS and 10 OAA at the hot corner. Turns out leaving Colorado didn’t impact him that much.
Manny Machado comes in third. The righty slashed .278/.347/.489/.836 with 28 homers, 32 doubles, 92 runs scored, and 106 RBI’s. He racked up six DRS and three OAA in the field, and he even stole 12 bases, which is his most since 2018. He’s still only 28 years old, so he will be on the higher part of this list for a while.
Rafael Devers is #4. Raffy slashed .279/.352/.538./890 with 38 homers, 37 doubles, 101 runs scored, and 113 RBI’s. If we were just looking at offense, he’d be higher on this list, but unfortunately for him we’re looking at overall talent and he is one of the worst fielders ever. He is coming off of his worst defensive season with -13 DRS and OAA. His career -38 DRs is the 20th worst ever at any position. He’s still just 25, so he has the chance to improve and move up this list.
Alex Bregman comes in fifth. He had a down year in 2021, partially due to an injury that forced him to miss almost half of the season, but we know that he is capable of being among the best in this position. He has 30-homer, 30-double power and he’s got a good glove at the hot corner. Expect a bounceback 2022 from Bregman.
Austin Riley is sixth on my ranking. Riley had a breakout year, slashing .333/.367/./531/.898 with 33 homers and doubles, 91 runs scored, and 107 RBI’s. He was also fantastic in the field with 13 DRS. Expect more of the same from Riley in his age 25 season.
Anthony Rendon is at #7. Similar to Bregman, Rendon had a down year due to injury, except Rendon only played 58 games. Rendon is a little more concerning because he is going into his age 32 season, and it’s pretty well documented that Rendon doesn’t love the game, even though he’s really good at it. Hopefully, that big contract is motivation to get him back on track.
Kris Bryant comes in 8th on my list. Bryant was fantastic early in his career, winning the Rookie of the Year award in his first season and the MVP in his second, but he has been disappointing since then. Last year he put up a good-but-not-great line of .265/.353/.481/.835 with 25 homers and 32 doubles. A lot of his value comes from his ability to play multiple positions, even though he’s just about average or slightly below at all of them. He is not the type of player that ages well, so he could be sliding down this list in the near future.
Matt Chapman is #9. He had a down year, slashing .210/.314/.403/.716 with 27 homers. It’s promising that his power is still there after the hip injury that ended his 2020, as was his outstanding defense with 10 DRS and 17 OAA, but he needs to hit and get on base more to move up this list.
Josh Donaldson comes in 10th on my list. He slashed .247/.352/.475/.827 with 26 homers and doubles, 73 runs scored, and 72 RBI's. Even though his defense has tailed off a bit, he's still average at the hot corner. He's going into his age 36 season, and injuries are always a concern for him, so we'll see if he can maintain this spot next year.
Justin Turner comes in at #11. He’s still going strong entering his age 37 season, coming off of a .278/.361/.471/.832 slash line with 27 homers, 22 doubles, and 87 runs scored and RBI’s. His defense has fallen off as he’s gotten older, which is to be expected, but he’s still in the top 10 of his position. If only the Mets had kept him…
Eduardo Escobar slots in at #12. He’s coming off of a .253/.314/.472/.786 with 29 homers, 26 doubles, and 90 RBI’s. He’s a slightly below average defender at both second and third, but the reason he’s here is that extra-base-hit power. Excluding the shortened 2020 season, he’s had three consecutive seasons with more than 50 extra-base hits, and four with more than 40.
There are a couple of other guys that come in just after Escobar. Ke’Bryan Hayes is fantastic defensively, but will he hit enough? Ryan McMahon looks promising for the Rockies, but he needs to prove that he’s more than a one-year wonder. Yoan Moncada has been inconsistent for a couple of years now, but he has the potential to be a good third baseman.
Where would you rank Eduardo Escobar among major league third basemen?