#1 Mike Schmidt Mike Schmidt was the personification of talent at the hot corner, possessing a combination of Eddie Mathews' power and the Gold Glove ability of Brooks Robinson. He had enough finesse to win ten Gold Gloves, and his brute strength enabled him to rack up more than 500 career home runs. He won three Most Valuable Player Awards, including back-to-back honors at his peak, and led the league in homers eight times. "I love to play baseball. I never think of money once I put that uniform on and I never played a game in my life that I didn't give it 100%." — Mike Schmidt
#2 Eddie Mathews One of the most feared sluggers in the National League in the 1950s, Eddie Mathews is the only man to play for the Braves in all three cities they called home: Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. When he was traded to the Houston Astros prior to the 1967 season, he cried. Mathews returned to Atlanta after he retired, and managed longtime teammate Hank Aaron when Aaron broke Ruth’s home run record. Mathews and Aaron own the all-time record for most career homers as teammates. Eddie Mathews may have been the first athlete stricken by the "Sports Illustrated Curse." After appearing on the magazine's first cover, the slugger injured his hand and missed seven games.
#3 George Brett Line-drive hitting George Brett was "The Franchise" for the Kansas City Royals during most of their first twenty-five years of existence. A line-drive hitting menace, he seriously challenged the coveted .400 batting mark in 1980, and collected more than 3,000 hits in his career. He was one of the greatest post-season performers in baseball history and the first Royal inducted into the Hall of Fame. After George Brett lined a single for his 3,000th career hit, he was picked off first base by Angels' pitcher Tim Fortugno. He became one of the few batters to ever drive in more runs (118) than games played (117). Brett led the league in batting, slugging, OBP, OPS and Total Average in 1980, the last player to do so in the AL.
#4 WadeBoggs Wade Boggs was a base-hit machine, racking up 200 hits in seven consecutive seasons with his jedi-like approach to his craft. He won five batting titles and consistently hit 40 doubles a year. Boggs was part of a bizarre scenario on September 18, 1993, when the Yankees defeated the Red Sox, 4-3, because a fan ran onto the field. With New York trailing, 3-1, with two outs and a man on first in the ninth inning, Mike Stanley hit a fly ball to left that apparently ended the game. Umpire Tim Welke, however, had called time when a fan bolted onto the field, giving Stanley a second chance. He singled on the next pitch. That was followed by a hit by Boggs, a walk to Dion James, and a single by Don Mattingly which drove home the tying and winning runs.
#5 Brooks Robinson It was his amazing, acrobatic fielding in the 1970 World Series that made him a superstar, but Brooks Robinson was a Baltimore institution for over two decades. The 16-time Gold Glover winner played in 2,896 games, and his 267 home runs were, at the time of his retirement, the most by any American League third baseman. Royals third baseman George Brett chose uniform #5 to honor Brooks Robinson, one of his boyhood heroes. Nicknamed The Human Vacuum Cleaner for his uncanny ability to gobble up virtually everything hit in his general direction with amazing regularity, Brooks Robinson is widely considered to be the greatest fielding third baseman in baseball history
#6 Chipper Jones A highly touted high school prospect, Chipper Jones was selected by the Atlanta Braves with the first pick in the 1990 amateur draft. A switch-hitting shortstop, Jones was converted into a third baseman and was in the Braves starting lineup in 1995. "It's probably the only time in my career when it's been less about baseball and more about entertaining people. No matter how minor the game of baseball is, it still gave people something to get their minds off it for a couple of hours." - Chipper Jones, on the first game played at Shea Stadium following the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks. What if I hit 500 homers and I'm mentioned with Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray? People will say, 'Yeah, but he played in the steroid era.' I'm going to have to go through the same stuff." — Chipper Jones
#7 Judy Johnson Johnson was a precise contact hitter who batted an average of .416 in 1929, but his greatest ability was his fielding. Along with Ray Dandridge and Ghost Marcelle, Johnson was one of the greatest fielding third basemen in the Negro leagues. He was also one of the smartest men in baseball, able to compensate for any physical shortcomings with an unsurpassed ability to think faster than his opponents, particularly in pressure situations Although Johnson retired nine years before the integration of the major leagues, he was eventually able to apply his baseball knowledge in the majors, becoming the first African American to coach in Major League Baseball (1954). He also was one of the most accomplished talent scouts in baseball, responsible for signing Bill Brutonand Dick Allen.
#8 Frank Baker It isn’t easy living up to the nickname “Home Run”, but Frank Baker did so as the best home run hitter of the pre-World War I era. In the 1911 World Series he hit clutch game-winning or game-tying home runs in back-to-back games against the Giants, and he led his league in the category four straight seasons. Baker was the cleanup hitter on the great A’s teams that included Eddie Collins, Jack Barry, Stuffy McInnis, Harry Davis, Chief Bender and Eddie Plank. Along with Collins, McInnis, and Barry, he formed the famed $100,000 Infield. The nickname "Home Run" was earned after his performance in the 1911 World Series, hitting homers in back-to-back games against the Giants.
#9 Stan Hack A patient leadoff man, third baseman Stan Hack played in four World Series for the Chicago Cubs. A five-time All-Star, Hack led the National League in hits and stolen bases twice, and frequently garnered MVP support despite not having slugging power. "Stan Hack has as many friends in baseball, as Leo Durocher has enemies." — anonymous National League ballplayer. In explaining his tendency to get most of his hits to the opposite field, Hack said, “I watch the ball more than most hitters. I let it get right up on me – maybe I even swing a little late.”
#10 Ron Santo Ron Santo is the greatest third baseman in Chicago Cubs' history. He hit 342 career home runs and won five Gold Gloves. The wrong third baseman won the MVP Award. Cardinal Ken Boyer took home the hardware as his team won the pennant, but Santo outplayed him in '64. Santo batted .312, hit 33 doubles, 13 triples (which led the NL), 30 homers, drove in 114, walked 86 times and won the Gold Glove. Not sure how any other third baseman was deemed more valuable. Santo was a volatile competitor, and more than once in his career he had run-ins with teammates, opponents, media and managers. Yet, in 1969 he started a post-game ritual that was deemed "hokey" by many. He would click his heels together after each Cubs' win. The Cubs made a run for the division title, but fell short and Santo stopped clicking his heels.
Third Base Factiods In 1987, Darrell Evans became the first 40-year old to hit 40 homers. Chipper Jones and Buddy Lewis were both elected to the All-Star Game as third basemen and outfielders. The Mets acquired David Wright in the 2001 amateur draft as compensation for their loss of Mike Hampton via free agency. Barely making our Top 50 list, Pete Runnels was a wonderful hitter who captured two batting titles and nearly won a third. Managers loved to write his name on the lineup card - Runnels played more than 600 games at first and second, and also more than 400 at shortstop. We rate him at 2B even though he played two more games at 1B.
Third Base Men 11-30 21.Sal Bando 22. Buddy Bell 23. Ron Cey 24.Gary Gaetti 25. John McGraw 26.Matt Williams 27.Ken Keltner 28.Bill Madlock 29.Heinie Groh 30. Larry Gardner 11.PieTraynor 12. Ray Dandridge 13.Jimmy Collins 14. Graig Nettles 15.Darrell Evans 16.George Kell 17. Scott Rolen 18. Bob Elliott 19.Al Rosen 20. Ken Boyer
Third Base Men 31-50 41.Bobby Bonilla 42. Buddy Lewis 43. Doug DeCinces 44.Todd Zeile 45.Freddy Lindstrom 46. Vinny Castilla 47. Harry Steinfeldt 48.Willie Kamm 49.Bob Horner 50.OssieBluege 31.Eddie Yost 32. Robin Ventura 33.Tim Wallach 34.TobyHarrah 35. Harlond Clift 36.Denny Lyons 37.Terry Pendleton 38. Lave Cross 39.Tommy Leach 40. CarneyLansford