When the season began, we thought we knew who the best third basemen were. But pride before the fall seasons humble pie only with bitterness.
The names David Wright, Aramis Ramirez, and Chipper Jones are dust in the mouths of those who spoke their names on draft day. Stricken by environment, injury, and age, they have become weak.
A new day has dawned in the National League, and the golden rays of sunshine stretching across the land illuminate new stars just as they leave the old behind. A new world order has emerged at third base, and here we explore the best of it.
2009 statistics: .261, 44 HR, 101 RBI, 96 R, 24 SB; 26 years old.
You might remember Reynolds as the man who set the single season strikeout record last season with 204. Or the man who broke his own record this season with 215 (and counting).
But what’s in a record? That which we call an out by any other means would count as much. So a strikeout would, did it a double play avoid, yield no advantage to the ground ball.
Poetry aside, Mark Reynolds has blossomed into a fearsome power/speed combo this season. While he didn’t have wheels in the minors, this is his second season with double-digit thievings, indicating an upward trend.
Reynolds may not be the next Soriano, but 44 home runs and 24 stolen bases make him better than David Wright, at least this season.
2009 statistics: .330, 23 HR, 88 RBI, 77 R, 5 SB; 23 years old.
Converted catcher, free swinger, and hitting phenom all describe the rising star. Kung Fu Panda, like the cartoon he resembles, cuts a clumsy profile but has surprising prowess.
He’s second in the league in batting average, and has that rare Vladimir Guerrero skill of being able to hit anything he can get to. He even draws a fair amount of walks—50 this season—for someone with so wild an approach.
His power is not ideal, but Pandoval is a thickly-built man, and it is not hard to imagine him knocking more out in the future.
But the biggest knock on the charismatic new face of San Francisco is the lineup he plays in: Aaron Rowand and a half season of Ryan Garko can hardly be called protection.
2009 statistics: .287, 33 HR, 106 RBI, 108 R, 2 SB; 25 years old.
Most hyped among these three, Zimmerman is finally living up to his billing. One hundred RBI, 100 R, 30 HR—these are the curvy numbers you like to see on your slugging corner infielders.
Big Z can be streaky, but having lineup protection—Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham—has done him a world of good. The power is for real—this is his third season of 20+ home runs.
Better still, the counting stats are always there. In three seasons, his RBI counts have been: 110, 91, and 105. For runs: 84, 99, 107. Those are the numbers of a fantasy stud.
Each of these third baseman has established himself in the minds of fantasy players. The talented young Turks of the position, they will be hallmarks of a good draft for years to come.
David Wright may live to fight another day, but, for 2009, these are the best third basemen.