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Top 10 Third Basemen of the 2023 MLB Season

In 2023, the best at third base featured some familiar faces.

As we enter the final stretch of the 2023 series, Pitcher List is ranking the top 10 at every position in baseball.

Previous entries in the Pitcher List 2023 Positional Rankings Series: Catcher, 1B & 2B.

The hot corner stayed hot in 2023, though this year’s list sees a new arrival as well as some decline from previous leaders.

Now to the list.

10. Rafael Devers, BOS

 

It’s been a good 2023 for Devers, who’s hit 30 home runs and has an xwOBA of .379, which leads all third basemen (The average is .322). After a slightly down May, he has been remarkably consistent offensively.

This year, the two-time All-Star has not lived up to his stellar 2021-22 seasons, but he has still been solid.

In terms of defense, he has -8 DRS (defensive runs saved) as well as -8 OAA (outs above average). To be fair, stellar defense was never his calling card, and the offense was consistent.

 

9. Nolan Arenado, STL

 

Arenado is one of the greatest third basemen ever to play the game. Full stop. (Look, 10 Gold Gloves and six Platinum Gloves don’t lie.)

But he’s 32 now, and 2023 may mark the beginning of his decline. His 2.9 fWAR marks his lowest number since 2015. Arenado also has admitted that in the first half of the season, he suffered from a “dead arm” for the first time in his career (He had a negative DRS for a stretch, which is simply unheard of).

Since then, however, Arenado’s gotten back on track and currently has a DRS of zero and an OAA of five, still the lowest defensive numbers of his career. But the bat remains steady, though not as stellar as in 2022 (112 wRC+ in 2023 and 150 wRC+ in 2022).

Still, few things in life are sweeter than watching Arenado when he’s making a play most third basemen can’t.

 

8. Matt Chapman, TOR

 

Chapman got off to an out-of-this-world hot start with the Blue Jays (.384/.465/.687 in April) before cooling off a bit in May and June and then returning to form in July. However, he struggled in August but is now back on track.

Currently, Chapman has a 10.2 BA/PA%, which leads all third basemen on this list.

His 3.2 fWAR marks a decrease from 2021-22, but he’s still one of the best third basemen in the game, as evidenced by his being a three-time AL Gold Glove finalist. Chapman’s 10 DRS ties him with Austin Riley for third-best of all MLB third basemen this season. (He has three OAA.)

Whatever is in the water at El Toro High School (Arenado’s alma mater as well) makes for exceptional third basemen.

 

7. Manny Machado, SD

 

If there was a disappointing team in 2023, it was surely the San Diego Padres. However, the team’s record was not the fault of Machado, who has been worth 3.2 fWAR this season (It’s a drop from his stellar 2022 but he is still a key contributor). Machado has also hit 28 home runs while playing half is games in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball.

Look, the six-time All-Star can still hit two home runs off the Dodgers and make it look easy:

Machado leads all players on this list in terms of OAA with 11. He has also earned four DRS, which is a low number in terms of his career and perhaps the result of recurring elbow inflammation that may require surgery. Still, he remains one of the best third basemen in the game.

 

6. Jeimer Candelario, WAS-CHC

 

In 2017, the Cubs traded Candelario to the Nationals. At the 2023 trade deadline, they brought him home, hoping for a third-base upgrade. With the Nats this season, he slashed 258/.342/.481 with a wRC+ of 121, a career-best. Since arriving in Chicago, he’s remained solid with a 118 wRC+ for a combined 3.3 fWAR.

The defense remains below average (-2 DRS), but he marks an improvement for a Cubs team likely headed for postseason play.

 

5. Gunnar Henderson, BAL

 

What a season for the probable AL Rookie of the Year. After a slow April, Henderson steadily improved and had a smoking July. He’s cooled off a bit since then but has remained above average.

Consider this: A wRC+ of 124, nine DRS, and an fWAR of 4.0. Add in 25 home runs and nine stolen bases, and his Rookie of the Year case becomes clear.

He’s a key player in one of the most exciting teams in baseball. And he’s only going to get better.

 

4. Alex Bregman, HOU

 

Although Bregman has not been as prolific in 2023 as he was in 2022, he is still one of the best third basemen in the game, earning 4.1 fWAR. He has hit 22 home runs and slashed .268/.364/.444 for a wRC+ of 126. His OBP leads all third basemen, and he has the second-lowest K% (12.4%), which speaks to his skill at the plate.

With a seven DRS and two OAA, the two-time All-Star is having his best defensive season since 2019.

Now 29, Bregman shows no signs of slowing down.

 

3. Isaac Parades, TB

 

Parades is part of a powerful Rays offense — and it’s easy (and a mistake) to overlook his contributions. He’s got a stunning wRC+ of 140 — by far the best among third basemen — with 29 home runs, which is the fifth-most by a third baseman.

His three DRS and one OAA show him to be solid if unremarkable at the hot corner, but his offense makes up for it.

 

2. José Ramírez, CLE

 

For Ramírez, it’s been another great season. He’s hit 22 home runs while slashing .277/.351/.476 with a wRC+ of 120 and a 4.4 fWAR. His .354 xwOBA is the fifth-highest among third basemen. He also has the lowest K% (10.4%) of all third basemen.

Ramírez was hot at the plate early in the season and absolutely scorching in June before coming back to earth in August.

His 24 stolen bases lead all third basemen — by a lot. In addition, Ramírez has the highest BsR of all third basemen with 5.4 — Gunnar Henderson’s 3.9 is not an especially close second place.

Add to that his defense, which is always good (four DRS, four OAA), and it’s easy to see why he’s earned a high ranking on this list. He’s a Gold Glove finalist and four-time Silver Slugger winner for a reason.

 

1. Austin Riley, ATL

 

This year, Riley showed himself to be a key part of the Atlanta team’s juggernaut offense, even though he’s often overshadowed by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt Olson. Among third basemen, Riley’s .364 xwOBA ranks third. Add to that his 122 wRC+ and 4.4 fWAR combined with 10 DRS to make him an elite third baseman, a fact reflected in his All-Star status.

He was also remarkably consistent in 2023 with June as his best month in an already above-average offensive season. His 34 home runs are the second-most hit by a third baseman.

In short, he’s very good.

Renee Dechert

Renee Dechert writes about baseball and fandom, often with a focus on the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. (She's also an English professor, but the baseball is more interesting.) Follow her on Twitter (@ReneeDechert) or Bluesky (@ReneeDechert.bsky.social).

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