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  • Third Base

    Why are third baseman represented less than any position in the HoF?

    Mike Schmidt
    Eddie Mathews
    George Brett
    Wade Boggs
    Jimmy Collins
    Home Run Baker
    Pie Traynor
    Brooks Robinson
    Ron Santo
    George Kell
    Deacon White [Barely over 50% at third.]
    Fred Lindstrom [100+ G at third just 4 times]
    Chipper Jones [I think we can all agree he is in for sure.]

    Harmon Killebrew, Mel Ott and Paul Molitor spent time there too.

    Jimmy Collins was the first to be elected to the HoF.
    Last edited by bluesky5; 01-22-2013, 06:58 PM.
    "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

  • #2
    Not sure if there is any validity to this at all, but i would say that they don't field as well as a shortstop nor do they hit as well as a first baseman? Shortstops past their prime move to second or third, so their primary position may be some place else??

    Comment


    • #3
      It seems like 3B is a position a lot of players spend significant time at, but not so many make it their "main" position. There's not a big difference in how many HOFers played 300 games at 3B and how many played 300 @ SS or 300 @ 2B.

      300 games at 3B - 21
      Code:
                         
                         
      Deacon White       
      Bobby Wallace      
      Pie Traynor        
      Joe Sewell         
      Mike Schmidt       
      Ron Santo          
      Brooks Robinson    
      Cal Ripken         
      Tony Perez         
      Paul Molitor       
      Eddie Mathews      
      Freddie Lindstrom  
      Harmon Killebrew   
      George Kell        
      Travis Jackson     
      Frankie Frisch     
      George Davis       
      Jimmy Collins      
      George Brett       
      Wade Boggs         
      Home Run Baker
      300 games at SS - 23
      300 games at 2B - 22

      Comment


      • #4
        It could be an anomaly? However, I'd really like to know why this is so.
        Rest in Peace Jose Fernandez (1992-2016)

        Comment


        • #5
          interesting...this is a hall of fame list, but if you look at how many primary position players had 4000 or more at bats that would be 132 3B, 139 2B, 148 SS, 146 1B, and then just to round it out 88 C, 155 LF, 159 CF and 148 RF

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by henrich View Post
            Not sure if there is any validity to this at all, but i would say that they don't field as well as a shortstop nor do they hit as well as a first baseman? Shortstops past their prime move to second or third, so their primary position may be some place else??
            Baseball has never made up its mind whether this is a hitting position or a fielding one.

            I'm not even talking about the shift in value beteeen 2B and 3B when bunts went out of the game and DP's came in.

            Aurelio Rodriguez, Clete Boyer, and Ken Reitz had careers of decent length, as did Butch Hobson, Jim Ray Hart, and Bob Horner. I think 3B is unique in this respect. Sometimes you put up with a really good glove man in a hitter's position, or vice versa, but with third, it's routine. So, as Henrich said, you don't get the best fielders, and you don't get the best hitters, and when you get the best all-around third basemen, you get someone who's a good fielder considering his bat and a good hitter considering his glove. Someone like Brooks Robinson, Ken Boyer, Ron Santo, Robin Ventura. . . .

            But this tends to hide the value of fielding at 3rd, and thereby lower the value of hitting.

            So the excellence is a little blurry, even at the highest levels. For example, Eddie Mathews went for the longest time without due recognition. I can't recall anyone nominating him for best third baseman ever during his playing career, probably because he was considered "parked" at third, not a complete player like Pie Traynor.

            Even Schmidt doesn't get his due, because his huge talent is split.

            Contrast, say, Ripkin or Yount or Banks at short. They were excellent offensive shortstops and their gloves were taken for granted becuase they were shortstops. If they'd played third over their careers, they would not have received the automatic excellent fielding rating.

            (I think the answer to the question, "Why was Pie Traynor thought to be the best third baseman in baseball forever?" will go a long way towards answering Bluesky's question. I don't think it's a coincidence. Why was he overrated by Baseball Nation while Hack, Santo, Nettles, Ventura, Cey, are underrated?)
            Last edited by Jackaroo Dave; 01-22-2013, 06:35 PM.
            Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

            Comment


            • #7
              Off the top of my head before 1900:

              Deacon White
              Jimmy Collins
              Arlie Latham
              Lave Cross
              Ned Williamson
              John McGraw
              Buck Ewing

              I know pretty much about 19th c. players. I can name less third basemen than any other position.
              "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post
                Off the top of my head before 1900:

                Deacon White
                Jimmy Collins
                Arlie Latham
                Lave Cross
                Ned Williamson
                John McGraw
                Buck Ewing

                I know pretty much about 19th c. players. I can name less third basemen than any other position.
                Levi Meyerle

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post
                  Off the top of my head before 1900:

                  Buck Ewing
                  Ewing was a catcher.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post
                    Off the top of my head before 1900:

                    Deacon White
                    Jimmy Collins
                    Arlie Latham
                    Lave Cross
                    Ned Williamson
                    John McGraw
                    Buck Ewing

                    I know pretty much about 19th c. players. I can name less third basemen than any other position.
                    Billy Nash

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jackaroo Dave View Post
                      Baseball has never made up its mind whether this is a hitting position or a fielding one.

                      I'm not even talking about the shift in value beteeen 2B and 3B when bunts went out of the game and DP's came in.

                      Aurelio Rodriguez, Clete Boyer, and Ken Reitz had careers of decent length, as did Butch Hobson, Jim Ray Hart, and Bob Horner. I think 3B is unique in this respect. Sometimes you put up with a really good glove man in a hitter's position, or vice versa, but with third, it's routine. So, as Henrich said, you don't get the best fielders, and you don't get the best hitters, and when you get the best all-around third basemen, you get someone who's a good fielder considering his bat and a good hitter considering his glove. Someone like Brooks Robinson, Ken Boyer, Ron Santo, Robin Ventura. . . .

                      But this tends to hide the value of fielding at 3rd, and thereby lower the value of hitting.

                      So the excellence is a little blurry, even at the highest levels. For example, Eddie Mathews went for the longest time without due recognition. I can't recall anyone nominating him for best third baseman ever during his playing career, probably because he was considered "parked" at third, not a complete player like Pie Traynor.

                      Even Schmidt doesn't get his due, because his huge talent is split.

                      Contrast, say, Ripkin or Yount or Banks at short. They were excellent offensive shortstops and their gloves were taken for granted becuase they were shortstops. If they'd played third over their careers, they would not have received the automatic excellent fielding rating.

                      (I think the answer to the question, "Why was Pie Traynor thought to be the best third baseman in baseball forever?" will go a long way towards answering Bluesky's question. I don't think it's a coincidence. Why was he overrated by Baseball Nation while Hack, Santo, Nettles, Ventura, Cey, are underrated?)
                      Absolutely. People expect either 1B prodigious offense/ counting milestones from their 3B or Ozzie Smith level defensive reputations from their 3B to be HOFers. So a large group of guys who were very good at both, but dominating at neither (Nettles, Evans, Bando, Groh, Hack, Ventura, Boyer, Bell, soon to be Rolen, etc) never got the fair look they deserved. Nothing more than peoples' lack of understanding of the importance of positional scarcity.
                      1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                      1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                      1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                      The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                      The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SavoyBG View Post
                        Ewing was a catcher.
                        I just looked it up, finally. I thought he played more third than he did. Only 127 games. My bad.
                        "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I honestly think it's just fate. Before 1950ish, there just aren't many qualified third basemen. It was a position reserved for guys able to make the longest infield throw allotted a brief time to react, yet didn't necessarily have the scrappy range of shortstop. Since then, certain players, most notably Cal Ripken but , have paved the way for the rangy bulk player in the non-first base infield positions. Ripken, Eddie Mathews, A-Rod, Adrian Beltre, Derek Jeter, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, Lou Boudreau, George Brett, and others proved that the left portion of the infield can be manned by someone who isn't 5'8" 167 lbs.

                          I know there's the issue of diet/nutrition, but star third basemen of yesteryear were thinner and more fleet-footed in the natural sense than the guys I mentioned. They were scrappier, able to make the plays of a middle infielder to a lesser degree. What their bodies lacked in range was reimbursed by a longer throw. Star third basemen Jimmy Collins, Pie Traynor, Buck Herzog, Art Devlin, Heinie Zimmerman, Buck Weaver, Stan Hack, Fred Lindstrom, Frankie Frisch, Heinie Groh, John McGraw, and even Home Run Baker were thinner, ganglier than their post-Mathews counterparts. These guys were either naturally quick or possessed long limbs enabling them to reach hot grounders and fire off the throw. Not a lot of muscle encased their frames. Managers looked more for this type of player, leaving heavier guys to man first or the outfield. Thus we are left with a smaller pool of guys able to meet this criteria, meaning not as many HoF qualified players actually played third before 1950s.

                          Does this mean we need to induct more? I certainly don't think so. Inducting a player just because there aren't many enshrined contemporaries is fairly close to affirmative action.
                          "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Tyrus4189Cobb View Post
                            I honestly think it's just fate. Before 1950ish, there just aren't many qualified third basemen. It was a position reserved for guys able to make the longest infield throw allotted a brief time to react, yet didn't necessarily have the scrappy range of shortstop. Since then, certain players, most notably Cal Ripken but , have paved the way for the rangy bulk player in the non-first base infield positions. Ripken, Eddie Mathews, A-Rod, Adrian Beltre, Derek Jeter, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols, Lou Boudreau, George Brett, and others proved that the left portion of the infield can be manned by someone who isn't 5'8" 167 lbs.

                            I know there's the issue of diet/nutrition, but star third basemen of yesteryear were thinner and more fleet-footed in the natural sense than the guys I mentioned. They were scrappier, able to make the plays of a middle infielder to a lesser degree. What their bodies lacked in range was reimbursed by a longer throw. Star third basemen Jimmy Collins, Pie Traynor, Buck Herzog, Art Devlin, Heinie Zimmerman, Buck Weaver, Stan Hack, Fred Lindstrom, Frankie Frisch, Heinie Groh, John McGraw, and even Home Run Baker were thinner, ganglier than their post-Mathews counterparts. These guys were either naturally quick or possessed long limbs enabling them to reach hot grounders and fire off the throw. Not a lot of muscle encased their frames. Managers looked more for this type of player, leaving heavier guys to man first or the outfield. Thus we are left with a smaller pool of guys able to meet this criteria, meaning not as many HoF qualified players actually played third before 1950s.

                            Does this mean we need to induct more? I certainly don't think so. Inducting a player just because there aren't many enshrined contemporaries is fairly close to affirmative action.
                            I think you summed it up pretty nicely.
                            "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Now what we have is a situation in which more HOF 3B have played in the last 40-50 years than HOF 2B. And we have only 2 real HOF CFers who have stepped onto the field in the last 40 years (Mays & Puckett [Yount & Dawson are more hybrids]).

                              Comment

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