Rays’ Top 5 third basemen: Toribio’s take

April 13th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Juan Toribio’s ranking of the top five third basemen in Rays history. Next week: Shortstops.

• Tampa Bay’s All-Time Team: Catcher | First base | Second base

1) , 2008-17
Key fact: Three-time All-Star

Longoria is the best player in franchise history, and there’s really no debate. But in case there is, let’s take a look at all the statistics in which Longoria sits among the top 10 in franchise history:

At-bats (1st, 5,450); hits (2nd, 1,471); home runs (1st, 261); runs (1st, 780); slugging percentage (T-2nd, .483); triples (8th, 19); RBIs (1st, 892); games (1st, 1,435); doubles (1st, 339); walks (1st, 569); sacrifice flies (1st, 76); extra-base hits (1st, 618); and total bases (1st, 2,630).

It would be hard to point out another player who holds that many franchise records. And if that’s not enough to make Longoria’s case, he also leads the franchise in WAR (51.8) and is responsible for the team’s most memorable moment -- a walk-off homer in Game 162 to send the Rays to the postseason in 2011.

2) , 2000-06
Key fact: Received AL MVP votes in 2003

Huff made our list of top five first basemen, but he also made plenty of contributions at the hot corner, playing 282 games at the position during his seven-season stint in Tampa Bay. Huff posted a 11.9 WAR, the second-most among Rays third basemen. He also hit 128 home runs with Tampa Bay, which ranks third all time behind Longoria and Carlos Peña. Huff also ranks in the top five in batting average (.287), at-bats (3,028), hits (870), slugging percentage (.477), RBIs (449), games (799) and doubles (172).

3. , 1998-99
Key fact: His No. 12 jersey is one of three that has been retired by the club

Boggs did most of his damage as a member of the Red Sox and Yankees, but the Hall of Famer played his final two seasons in Tampa Bay, getting his 3,000th hit as a member of the Rays. Boggs played just 213 games with Tampa Bay, but he gave the team and franchise a well-known presence during its early years. His .289 batting average with the Rays also showed that the man could still hit, even in his 40s.

4. , 2006-07
Key fact: Finished with an .828 OPS in ‘06

Wigginton played first, second and third base and the outfield during his time in Tampa Bay, but he played enough games at the hot corner to make this list. Wigginton was a productive hitter with the Rays, hitting .275 with 40 home runs in 220 games. Wigginton was traded to the Astros during the ‘07 season, and the Rays turned to Longoria starting in ‘08.

5. , 2017-19
Key fact: Finished with a 2.9 bWAR

It would have been interesting to see how Duffy’s tenure with the Rays would have turned out had he been healthy during his three seasons with the club. Duffy had a big influence in the clubhouse during his time in Tampa Bay, and when healthy, he was a solid hitter. In ‘18, Duffy hit .294 while playing 132 games, the most during his time with the Rays. In his final year with the club in ‘19, he dealt with a nagging hamstring issue that limited him to just 46 games.

Honorable mentions
has only played in 79 games with the Rays, but he gets bonus points for his two-homer performance against the A’s in the 2019 American League Wild Card game. played 50 games at third in ‘12, hitting a career-high .325 that season. had a very disappointing ‘19 season, but his ‘18 campaign -- where he finished with a 3.1 bWAR -- is one of the best by a Rays third baseman. played three seasons with the Rays, finishing with a .703 OPS, before spending a decade managing in their Minor League system.