Greatest Offensive Third Basemen
The following is Part 2 in our series on the greatest third basemen of all time. This post will rank the top offensive third basemen.
Judy Johnson was an All-Star level player on offense and defense. He anchored several championship teams in the Negro Leagues, such as the Hilldale Daisies and the Pittsburgh Crawfords, during the 1920s and 1930s. He was a Gold Glove-level third sacker, and he was almost impossible to bunt on. He was a career .300+ hitter, and was always tough in the clutch. When he was at the plate, and the game was on the line, opposing teams preferred to walk him. He is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Al “Flip” Rosen was a fierce competitor as a third baseman. He overcame asthma and prejudice to become a star performer…and won the American League MVP in 1953. On his way to the big leagues, virtually everyone told him to go find another job. Fortunately for baseball fans, Rosen persisted. He averaged over 27 home runs per season for his career with the Cleveland Indians. He always seemed to come up big on the big stage, such as All-Star games. He was the “enforcer” on his team, and he kept everything running smoothly in the clubhouse.
Bob Horner was a feared offensive force on the Atlanta Braves during the 1980s. He is one of the few players ever drafted out of school (All-American from Arizona State University) who went directly to the Major Leagues. As mostly a third baseman, he was a productive power hitter, averaging over 22 home runs per year. Horner won Rookie of the Year honors in 1978.
Denny Lyons was a strong slugging third baseman who played for 13 seasons, mostly with the American Association’s Philadelphia franchise and the National League’s Pittsburgh team in the 1880s and 1890s. He was a career .300+ hitter whose frequent line drives drove in a lot of runs. He was a durable player, and one of the most feared hitters in the league.
Alex Radcliff played third base for both black independent teams and Negro National League teams, and set a record for appearing in 11 East-West (All-Star) games. He was a dangerous clutch hitter, and struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. He was a career .300+ hitter, and played in the 1930s and 1940s. One of his brothers was famed Negro Leagues player Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe (Alex dropped the “e” from his last name).
Jud “Boojum” Wilson was a power-hitting Negro Leagues third baseman. He played for 24 years and averaged well over .300+ for his career. Most of Wilson’s career was with the Baltimore Black Sox, Philadelphia Stars and the Homestead Grays, during the 1920s and 1930s. He hit the ball so hard that both teams would watch him take batting practice.
Ray Dandridge is generally considered to be the best all-around third baseman of the Negro Leagues era. While he was a brilliant defender, he was also a superb offensive performer, batting over .300+ for his career. Dandridge played mostly in the Negro National League for the Newark Eagles and in the Mexican League for Veracruz and Mexico City, during the 1930s and 1940s, playing for 21 years. He is a member of our Hall of Fame.
Bill Joyce was a power-hitting player in the 1890s, playing mostly third base, and winning the National League home run title in 1896. He batted around .300, and produced power numbers in an era when a power hitter was unusual. Pitchers treated him with high respect, and preferred to walk him with men on base. Joyce retired at the peak of his career.
Paul Molitor played third base and designated hitter for the American League’s Milwaukee franchise in the 1980s and 1990s. He is a career .300+ hitter, and also a member of the exclusive 3,000 hit club. He was always the toughest out in his lineup, and played 21 years. Always a class act, Molitor was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.
According to Ultimate Baseball The Game’s extensive Player Register, Mike Schmidt is the greatest all-around third baseman ever. He played 18 years with the Philadelphia Phillies, was a Gold Glover at 3B, and won an astounding 8 home run Crowns. Schmidt played during the 1970s and 1980s, and won 3 MVP Awards (1980, 1981 and 1986). He also won 6 Adjusted On-Base-plus-Slugging (OPS) titles, and slugged 548 home runs. He was on 12 All-Star teams, and is a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame.
George Brett was a great clutch hitter for the Kansas City Royals in the 1970s and 1980s. He played 21 years and averaged over .300+ for his career. He is a member of the 3,000 hit club, and appeared on 13 All-Star squads. He won 3 batting titles, including an amazing .390 figure in 1980. He was a formidable clutch hitter, and won the AL MVP in in 1980. He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Frank “Home Run” Baker was a power-hitting juggernaut from 1908 through 1922. He played third base for the Philadelphia Athletics and New York Yankees, and won 4 consecutive home run crowns. For his career, he batted over ,300+, and pitchers would rather walk him than get tagged for one of his famous round-trippers. Baker was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.
Edgar Martinez was said to be the “best right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio.” For 18 years he terrorized American League pitchers. He played third base and designated hitter for the Seattle Mariners, and averaged well over .300+ for his career. He won 2 batting titles, and always finished near the top in the category of game-winning hits.’
Slugger Eddie Mathews teamed with Hall of Famer Hank Aaron to form one of the most feared power-hitting duos in the history of the game. Mathews played 17 years for the National League Braves (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta). Mathews was on 12 All-Star squads during the 1950s and 1960s, slugging 512 homers. He is in the Hall of Fame.
John McGraw is more famously known as the long-time successful manager of the New York Giants, but before that he was a very talented third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles of the National League. He was instrumental in developing a style of baseball called now “small ball”. It contains bunting for base hits, hit-and -run offensive strategies and aggressive base-running, plus squeeze plays. Over 16 years, mostly in the 1890s, McGraw and his teammates showed how successful this kind of baseball could be. McGraw is in the Hall of Fame.
Chipper Jones is now (in 2012) finishing up a 19 year career of amazing offensive numbers, achieved while playing mostly third base for the Atlanta Braves. He has averaged over .300+ for his career, and was awarded the National League’s MVP in 1999. He won a batting title in 2008, and has averaged over 31 homers per year. This switch-hitter has been on 8 All-Star teams, and has built a well-deserved reputation as a feared clutch-hitter. As the best all-around offensive performer ever at 3B, he is destined to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.