In baseball, third base is known as the hot corner. Third base sees a lot of action and is responsible for covering those quick, hot grounders down the third base line. Playing third requires quick reflexes and a strong arm to make those long throws over to first base. Since third base is such an important position on the baseball field, it’s fun to consider the best MLB third basemen of all time. The best third basemen could field, throw, and hit for both power and average on their way to historic, legendary careers.
Becoming a professional baseball player takes a load of natural talent combined with hard work and dedication. That’s part of the reason why fans gladly pay hundreds of dollars just to see their favorite MLB teams play. However, a recent study finds that a lot of baseball fans will be priced out of watching their favorite MLB team play in the 2023 season. A new poll finds money woes are still making it hard for the average worker to make ends meet. With that in mind, over one in three baseball fans say they won’t be buying any tickets to a ballgame in 2023.
Although people might not be spending to watch their favorite teams play, another poll of sports fans found that many of them are willing to spend and travel to see all the action in person. Results of the poll found most respondents would be willing to travel five hours and 48 minutes for a game — and they’d spend an average $762.20 for tickets. One respondent admitted they missed their friend’s wedding to see their team play, while another traveled 10 hours to another state. That’s some serious fandom, folks.
If you don’t have the time or money to travel to see your favorite team play, you can still enjoy baseball on little league diamonds all across the country. And for those of you with kids, you might want to consider little league baseball or another organized team sport, a recent study finds. New research shows that children who play team sports such as football and basketball are less likely to suffer mental health problems. Conversely, researchers found that youngsters who only play individual sports – such as tennis, golf, or gymnastics – are at greater risk of mental health issues than kids who don’t play sports at all. The findings come from a major study of more than 11,200 American children between nine to 13 years old. Perhaps you have the next great third basemen on your hands and don’t even know it yet.
That being said, who are the legends that have taken to the position in the past? StudyFinds did some digging, consulting 10 sports and baseball-oriented websites in an effort to bring you the best MLB third basemen of all time. Our list comprises the five most frequently mentioned MLB third basemen from across these sites. See one we missed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
The List: Best MLB Third Basemen of All Time, Per Baseball Fans
1. Mike Schmidt (Philadelphia Phillies)
Topping the list of the best MLB third basemen is none other than the legendary Mike Schmidt. “Over his 18 seasons, Schmidt recorded a .267 batting average, knocked in 1,595 runs, scored 1,506 runs and hit 548 home runs. He led the league in home runs eight times, RBI four times and OPS five times. He earned three MVP awards, six Silver Sluggers and 12 All-Star Game appearances to go with a World Series ring with the Phillies in 1980,” explains Bleacher Report.
The way Schmidt played the game with such passion and joy is legendary but his ability to hit the baseball is what made him so special. “Schmidt dominated the home run leaderboards in his era, winning eight home run crowns, was one of the best-fielding third basemen ever with nine Gold Gloves, had good speed early in his career and annually drew 100-plus walks. He’s the best third baseman ever and there isn’t really much debate,” writes ESPN.
Eight home run crowns are a lot for any player during any era but it’s Schmidt’s three MVPs and six Silver Slugger awards that really set him apart from other MLB third basemen in history.
“Schmidt won six Silver Sluggers in his career and was the league MVP three times, including back-to-back seasons in 1980 and 1981. He was an All-Star twelve times and a premier defender, winning ten Gold Gloves in his career and leading third basemen in assists seven times. Schmitty’s Phillies made it to the post-season six times, twice advancing to the World Series. In 1980, Philadelphia defeated George Brett’s Kansas City Royals in six games, and Schmidt was the World Series MVP,” adds Pitcher List.
2. George Brett (Kansas City Royals)
Speaking of George Brett, the second spot on the list of the best MLB third basemen of all time goes to the incredible third basemen for the Kansas City Royals. George Brett was the quintessential third baseman for all 20-plus seasons of his career in Kansas City.
“Brett was a magician with the bat. For 16 seasons between 1975 and 1990, Brett averaged .314 at the plate, earned 13 trips to the All-Star Game, and won three batting titles, one Gold Glove award and the 1980 AL MVP award. Brett was the AL leader in hits, triples and slugging percentage three times and won three Silver Slugger awards. Brett came close to hitting .400 in 1980. In September that season he was batting .403 but ended the season at an incredible .390. If he would have had five more hits during the course of the season Brett would have hit .400. In 1999, Brett was voted to the Hall of Fame,” explains Fueled by Sports.
George Brett and the aforementioned Mike Schmidt defined the third base position for pretty much all of the 1980s and into the 90s. With an average of .314 and 13 all-star game appearances, George Brett all but walked into the Baseball Hall of Fame when it was his time to go.
“He went to 13 All-Star Games and won the MVP award in 1980, notching one Gold Glove and three Silver Sluggers. George Brett was a great all-around third baseman and led the Royals to seven different playoffs, including one World Series championship. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999,” adds Bleacher Report.
Kansas City has only won one World Series since George Brett retired. Brett was a winner but as the experts explain, George Brett was just a really, really good baseball player. “The term ‘baseball player’ gets thrown around too often. It shouldn’t. Not in a sport that has known George Brett. Need a hit? He’s got 3,145 of them. A home run? Yeah, he could do that, too. An intense competitor? Go to Google, type in ‘Pine Tar Incident’ and let me know what you think. I grew up watching George Brett in the 1980s, and everything No. 5 did is exactly what baseball is to me,” raves ESPN.
3. Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves)
Sliding into the third spot on the list of the best MLB third basemen of all time is the Atlanta Braves’ legendary third baseman, Chipper Jones. Larry Wayne Jones Jr., also known as Chipper, was a multisport athlete in high school before settling permanently on baseball in the majors. For Braves fans, he goes by only one name – Chipper.
“Chipper Jones spent his entire 19-year Hall of Fame career in Atlanta. Only Hank Aaron played in more games as a Brave than Jones. Chipper debuted in September 1993 but missed all of 1994 due to injury. So his MLB career really got started in 1995, and Jones lived up to the hype, finishing second in the NL rookie-of-the-year voting. That season culminated in a World Series championship for the team. It would be the only ring Jones would win despite twelve more playoff appearances,” explains Pitcher List.
Chipper Jones was part of one of the best dynasties in all of sports. The Atlanta Braves won their division a record 14 straight seasons, a record that will likely never be broken. With all of these playoff appearances, Chipper Jones had ample opportunity to shine in the postseason and that’s exactly what he did. “Jones has also played in 92 playoff games, in which he’s hit .288 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI, showing that he can come through in big situations, which gives him great value. In his 18 seasons, Jones has been to seven All-Star Games, won two Silver Sluggers and claimed an MVP award (in 1999),” writes Bleacher Report.
92 playoff games equate to nearly another entire full season for the Hall of Famer. Still, Chipper Jones could do it all on the baseball field including switch-hit, meaning he could bat both right and left-handed, and Chipper could do it effectively. Similar to his contemporaries in Brett and Schmidt, Jones walked into the Hall of Fame when it was his turn.
“As a .303 career hitter, Jones also has a batting title under his belt, winning it during the latter part of his career. While he fell a little short of both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, the switch-hitting Jones came close, helping to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer with over 97% of the vote, which says a lot about how much he’s respected in baseball history,” adds Franchise Sports.
4. Eddie Mathews (Boston Braves, Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers)
Before there was Chipper, Brett, and Schmidt, there was Eddie Mathews. Mathews played third base for the Braves franchise in a staggering three different cities, and he helped pave the way for one of the best MLB players of all time – Hank Aaron. “Before Hank Aaron, Mathews was the Braves slugger. The only player to play in all three cities where the Braves franchise called home, he hit 40 homers in a season four times in his career, including three straight seasons (1953-55) in which his slash line was .294/.414/.611 with a 1.025 OPS. He averaged 43 HRs, 112 RBIs and 107 walks in that time. Strong. Oh, and another neat nugget — he was on the cover of the first Sports Illustrated in 1954,” explains ESPN.
Down 5-0 in the 7th Eddie Matthews blasted a pinch hit 3 run HR to bring the 68 Tigers to within one. However in the next inning Kent Hrbek launched his second HR of the day giving 91 Minnesota a 7-4 win. Twins train keeps rolling, they are now 11-0 in Stratomatic tourney play pic.twitter.com/zN9hBbrf3Z
— Steve McGullam (@MugsyNJ) April 13, 2023
Three straight 40-home run seasons during the 1950s, or anytime for that matter, is an amazing accomplishment. Batting average aside, Mathews consistently put the ball in play and performed at a high level at the plate. “Throughout his illustrious 17-year career, Mathews slugged out a .267 batting average with 512 home runs and a career .509 slugging percentage while knocking in 1,453 runs. He was sent to nine All-Star Games and was runner-up to two MVP awards. He hit over 35 home runs six times and notched over 100 RBI five times,” writes The Grueling Truth.
Mathews played more than 2,200 games for the Braves franchise in total. The all-star third baseman hit nearly 1,500 RBIs and over 500 home runs, both incredibly impressive numbers regardless of the era. “The Braves franchise can boast two of the top three third basemen in history, with Eddie Mathews checking in one slot ahead of Chipper Jones. Eddie Mathews broke in with the Boston Braves in 1952 – the team’s last season before moving to Milwaukee. He bookended this by spending his final season with the club in 1966 – their first year in Atlanta. On the last day of 1966, the Braves traded Mathews to the Houston Astros, ending his run with the club after 2,223 games,” furthers Pitcher List.
5. Wade Boggs (Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays)
Rounding out the list of the best MLB third basemen is Wade Boggs. Wade Boggs helped transition the position after Schmidt and Brett and he was a staple at third for the Red Sox and Yankees throughout the 80s and 90s. As one expert explains, Boggs just knew how to get on base.
“Boggs learned as a youngster to swing at just strikes and would have 100 or more walks four seasons and would lead the American League six times in on-base percentage. Boggs career started in the majors in 1982 and he promptly hit .349 over 104 games and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. While with the Red Sox and Yankees between 1983 and 1996, Boggs averaged 184 hits per season with a .332 batting average. He was chosen to 12 All-Star teams, won eight Silver Slugger awards, five batting titles, and two Gold Glove awards, before retiring in 1999. Since 1939, Boggs has the fourth highest batting average of all time behind just Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn and Stan Musial,” explains Fueled by Sports.
“Though he was never a power hitter, Boggs is still fifth among all third basemen in career offensive WAR and fourth in career hits. Additionally, his .328 career batting average is the highest of any player on the list. What’s more, Boggs was an excellent defender, probably one worthy of more than the two Gold Glove Awards that he won during his 18-year career,” furthers Audacy.
Keep in mind that Boggs played much of his career in the same league as George Brett, which would definitely explain the lack of Gold Glove Awards. Regardless of his accomplishments, Boggs was a hitter and fans could always count on him to get on base. “He was primarily a high-average hitter, but he did extremely well in that aspect. Boggs recorded 3,010 hits and scored 1,513 runs with an incredible career .328 batting average. He was a solid hitter who could be constantly relied on to get on base, posting a career .415 on-base percentage. He won two Gold Glove awards, eight Silver Sluggers, 12 All-Star nods and one World Series ring. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005,” adds Bleacher Report.
Editor’s Addition: Brooks Robinson (Baltimore Orioles)
“I’m not supposed to editorialize, but I just can’t help myself here. How Brooks Robinson isn’t on this list — and arguably number one on this list (sorry, Mike) — is beyond me,” says StudyFinds Editor-in-Chief Steve Fink. “I don’t think it even matters that I am a Baltimorean and an Orioles die-hard fan. My bias for the O’s doesn’t make a lick of difference in the fact that Brooksie is every bit his nickname, ‘The Human Vacuum Cleaner.’ If you’ve never watch highlights from Brooks Robinson’s career, go on YouTube and take a look. The man was an acrobat at third, defending the left side of the infield as if his life depended on it. I mean, with all due respect to Wade Boggs and his two Gold Gloves, Brooks won 16 of them.
“I know this list is aggregated from those of other reviewers, but I had to intervene here. Being the best at a position should be more about defense than offense, and Brooks Robinson was the greatest, in my opinion. And you know what? He sure could hit too — even winning an MVP award in 1964 after posting career highs with a .317 batting average, 28 home runs and 118 RBI, leading the AL in the last category. The always-smiling 18-time All-Star has remained in Charm City since his career ended, and is one of the most beloved figures in Orioles and MLB history.”
You might also be interested in:
- Best MLB Players of All Time
- Best MLB Ballparks
- Best MLB Pitchers of All Time
- Best MLB Managers of All Time
- Bleacher Report
- Baseball Egg
- The Baseball Scholar
- Athlon Sports
- The Grueling Truth
- Franchise Sports
- Fueled by Sports
- Pitcher List
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