Breaking down All-MLB third base candidates

November 5th, 2020

Voting is underway for the second-ever All-MLB Team presented by CohnReznick, and with no All-Star Game staged this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, All-MLB Team honors are the best way that the game can honor the top overall players at each position.

Fans can vote here once every 24 hours until the polls close at 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 13, and the All-MLB first and second teams will be announced in early December on MLB Network. The third-base ballot is packed with stars, as usual, with at least two to three overall league MVP Award candidates included within.

Below is a quick statistical primer for the seven All-MLB Team candidates at third base.

, Marlins
2020 stats: .255 AVG, 11 HR, 38 RBI, 0 SB, .810 OPS
Anderson was the most valuable everyday player for a Marlins club that surprised everybody by qualifying for the 2020 postseason. He paced Miami with 11 homers and 38 RBIs while recording his third straight season with an adjusted OPS+ of 110 or higher (100 is league average).

The case for Anderson: Anderson played his best ball during the most strenuous part of his club’s season, slashing .277/.349/.500 with six homers and 19 RBIs as the Marlins had to play 28 games over the final 24 days (Sept. 4-27) while playing catch-up from their coronavirus outbreak.

Key number: Anderson hit .395 and finished with a 1.295 OPS with runners in scoring position (second-highest in MLB behind Freddie Freeman).

, Phillies
2020 stats: .338 AVG, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB, .881 OPS
Bohm made himself a contender for the National League Rookie of the Year Award after pacing all NL freshman with 54 hits, 18 multi-hit games and 23 RBIs. His .338 average led all big league rookies with at least 150 plate appearances by more than 50 points. Bohm surged in September, with his 40 hits in the month ranking as the second most in baseball behind Marcell Ozuna (41).

The case for Bohm: His .338 average led all third basemen (min. 150 PA), well clear of Justin Turner (.307) and Manny Machado (.304).

Key number: Bohm hit an incredible .452 with runners in scoring position, leading all hitters (min. 40 RISP at-bats), and his .519 OBP in those situations was second only to Freeman (.583). Per the Elias Sports Bureau, each of those marks are the third best by any rookie in the Expansion Era (1961-present).

, Padres
2020 stats: .304 AVG, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 6 SB, .950 OPS
After a below-average 2019 season by his lofty standards in his Padres debut, Machado got off to another sluggish start in ‘20. Then, everything locked into place. From Aug. 19 (a day when he hit a walk-off grand slam against the Rangers) through the end of the season, Machado slashed a scorching .369/.407/.700, belted 11 homers and drove in 34 runs in 35 games.

The case for Machado: The Padres were just 13-12 entering that matchup with Texas on Aug. 19, but they went 24-11 the rest of the way -- thanks in large part to Machado -- and finished with the NL’s second-best record. Machado led all third basemen with 47 RBIs, and he is also the only All-MLB Team nominee at third base who suited up in all 60 games for his club.

Key number: Machado made the historically pitcher-friendly confines of San Diego’s Petco Park look small. His 42 hits at home led all MLB hitters, while his 13 homers were second most behind Yankees first baseman Luke Voit (16) and his 1.190 home OPS ranked third.

José Ramírez, Indians
2020 stats: .292 AVG, 17 HR, 46 RBI, 10 SB, .993 OPS
No player did more to pad his league MVP Award resume down the stretch than Ramírez, who entered September with a somewhat pedestrian .813 OPS but saw that climb 180 points by season’s end. Seventeen of Ramírez’s final 25 hits of the season went for extra bases while the Indians went from battling for the AL’s eighth and final postseason spot to hosting the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Series as the league’s No. 4 seed.

The case for Ramírez: He tied Freeman for MLB’s most valuable player by FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement (WAR) at 3.4, and he also paced all third basemen in homers (17), runs (45), steals (10), slugging (.607), OPS+ (163) and extra-base hits (34).

Key number: Ramírez is a switch-hitter, but his power overwhelmingly leads to the pull side -- no matter which batter’s box he steps into. All 17 of J-Ram’s 2020 homers were pulled, and he slugged 1.796 on fly balls and line drives to the pull side compared to just .463 on flies and liners hit to straightaway center field or the opposite way.

, Angels
2020 stats: .286 AVG, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 0 SB, .915 OPS
Rendon recovered from a slow start to his first season in an Angels uniform to once again submit one of the finest seasons by anyone at the hot corner. After seeing his average dip to a season-low .103 on Aug. 9, Rendon slashed .333/.435/.573 the rest of the way to finish with his fourth consecutive season with a .280-plus batting average and an OPS+ of 135 or higher. Combining his stellar bat with his typically excellent defense, Rendon finished with the second-highest fWAR total (2.7) of any third baseman in the game.

The case for Rendon: Rendon’s .418 OBP led all third basemen with at least 150 plate appearances.

Key number: Rendon improved his chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone to a career-low 16.6%, MLB’s 11th-lowest rate among hitters who saw at least 300 out-of-zone pitches.

, Dodgers
2020 stats: .307 AVG, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 1 SB, .860 OPS
Turner missed 14 games in early September with a hamstring strain, but he made the most of his time on the field. The Dodgers’ veteran leader submitted his fourth career season with a .300-or-better average and his sixth with a league-adjusted OPS+ of 130 or better -- with all of those campaigns coming since his 2014 debut season with Los Angeles.

The case for Turner: Turner tied for the team lead in average and finished second in OBP by just one point for a Dodgers club that went an MLB-best 43-17 and finished with one of the five best run differentials per game (2.27) in modern baseball history.

Key number: Turner finished the season riding a 31-game on-base streak, the longest of his 12-year career and the second-longest by any player in 2020 behind a 33-game streak by Freeman.

, Yankees
2020 stats: .298 AVG, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 1 SB, .858 OPS
Formerly a glove-only third baseman who struggled to see playing time with the Indians, Urshela’s bat was arguably even more impressive than his defense in 2020. He put up career-best marks in OBP (.368) and OPS+ (136), and surged after coming off the injured list on Sept. 15 by hitting .354 across his final 12 games.

The case for Urshela: He has as good a case as any of this year’s third-base nominees for the most complete two-way resume on offense and defense. Urshela ranked second among full-time third basemen (min. 300 innings) in ultimate zone rating (UZR), and fourth in defensive runs saved (DRS) -- one spot behind Machado. (He did rate below average, however, by Statcast’s OAA metric.)

Key number: Urshela’s batting statistics were impressive, but Statcast’s contact metrics suggest he could have fared even better. Urshela finished with a .315 expected batting average (based on the quality of contact, plus his actual strikeouts), which led all third basemen and tied for eighth highest among all MLB hitters with at least 150 plate appearances.