What is a Third Baseman in Baseball?
The third baseman is typically responsible for any ball hit in the vicinity of third base. This can include charging in for bunted balls, as well as ranging to his left to field a ball rather than the shortstop. A third baseman may be asked to field popups/flyballs in foul territory to the right of third base (from the fielder perspective) and balls in shallow left field.
How Difficult is Playing Third Base?
According to the defensive spectrum, third base is about in the middle in terms of difficulty. It’s typically considered easier to play third base than center field, second base, shortstop, and catcher.
As the nickname for third base (Hot Corner) implies, some of the more difficult plays for a third baseman involve fielding hard hit balls coming right at them. First baseman have similar issues, but third baseman tend to encounter more hard hit balls. Third baseman must also be able to quickly react to lightly hit ground balls (e.g., bunts), but also be able to make some of the longest infield throws (shortstops only challenging them for longer), which requires both arm strength and throwing accuracy.
Do Third Baseman Wear Special Gloves?
You will not find third baseman wearing special gloves like catchers or first baseman. However, third baseman tend to like deeper pocket gloves and are typically between 11.5 inches and 12.5 inches.
What Handedness are Third Baseman?
Routinely, third baseman are right-handed. Right-handed infielders not playing first base in general have two major advantages:
- Left-handed third baseman would need to turn their bodies in order to throw to first. In a sport where throwing times are tracked and measured in seconds, the extra time required would result in a number of infield singles that would otherwise have been outs had a right-handed third baseman fielded the ball.
- A left-handed third baseman would need to field many more baseballs backhanded since their glove side is pointed towards foul territory (i.e., towards third base, not first base).
How Much Does a Third Baseman Make in the MLB?
For this, I looked at the salaries of each team’s 2021 opening day third baseman. Not entirely perfect since some teams employed a platoon, but it gives us a good enough sample to determine an average second baseman salary.
On average, MLB third baseman made $9,009,122 in 2021. MLB salaries typically fall into three tiers: pre-arbitration, arbitration, and post-arbitration. Looking at salaries within each tier:
- Pre-Arbitration: $581,780
- Arbitration: $4,750,000
- Post-Arbitration: $12,769,758
*** indicates the player signed a contract that replaced his pre-arbitration and/or his arbitration years.
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Asdrubal Cabrera||$1,750,000|
|Atlanta Braves||Austin Riley||$590,500|
|Baltimore Orioles||Maikel Franco||$800,000|
|Boston Red Sox||Rafael Devers||$4,575,000|
|Chicago Cubs||Kris Bryant||$19,500,000|
|Chicago White Sox||Yoan Moncada***||$6,000,000|
|Cincinnati Reds||Mike Moustakas|
|Cleveland Guardians||Jose Ramirez||$12,000,000|
|Colorado Rockies||Josh Fuentes||$575,500|
|Detroit Tigers||Jeimer Candelario||$2,850,000|
|Houston Astros||Alex Bregman***||$11,000,000|
|Kansas City Royals||Hunter Dozier***||$2,250,000|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anthony Rendon||$36,000,000|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Justin Turner||$8,000,000|
|Miami Marlins||Brian Anderson||$5,000,000|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Travis Shaw||$1,500,000|
|Minnesota Twins||Josh Donaldson||$21,000,000|
|New York Mets||J.D. Davis||$2,500,000|
|New York Yankees||Gio Urshela||$6,550,000|
|Oakland Athletics||Matt Chapman||$9,500,000|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Alec Bohm||$563,500|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Ke’Bryan Hayes||$589,500|
|San Diego Padres||Manny Machado||$30,000,000|
|San Francisco Giants||Evan Longoria||$18,500,000|
|Seattle Mariners||Kyle Seager||$18,000,000|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Nolan Arenado||$35,000,000|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Yandy Diaz||$589,900|
|Texas Rangers||Brock Holt||$1,750,000|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Cavan Biggio||$1,750,000|
|Washington Nationals||Starlin Castro||$2,580,640|
Who are the Best Third Baseman
Below you will find the best all-time third basemen and best recent third basemen (2017-2021 and 2021 only). WAR is based on Fangraphs, as is position designation (players on list indicate position they spent most games playing).
|Rank||All-Time WAR||2017-2021 WAR||2021 WAR|
|1.||Alex Rodriguez (113.7)||Jose Ramirez (28.0)||Jose Ramirez (6.3)|
|2.||Mike Schmidt (106.5)||Anthony Rendon (23.3)||Rafael Devers (4.7)|
|3.||Eddie Matthews (96.1)||Nolan Arenado (22.6)||Yoan Moncada (4.5)|
|4.||Wade Boggs (88.3)||Alex Bregman (22.4)||Manny Machado (4.4)|
|5.||George Brett (84.6)||Matt Chapman (20.2)||Austin Riley (4.2)|
|6.||Chipper Jones (84.6)||Manny Machado (18.9)||Nolan Arenado (4.0)|
|7.||Adrian Beltre (84.1)||Justin Turner (18.2)||Justin Turner (4.0)|
|8.||Brooks Robinson (80.2)||Kris Bryant (17.8)||Kris Bryant (3.6)|
|9.||Ron Santo (70.9)||Yoan Moncada (14.8)||Matt Chapman (3.4)|
|10.||Miguel Cabrera (70.3)||Josh Donaldson (14.3)||Jeimer Candelario (3.2)|