The hot corner! Often considered one of the most demanding defensive roles in baseball. Find out what it takes to be a great third baseman in baseball
- Fielding Ground Balls: The third baseman fields hard-hit ground balls. Their position, commonly referred to as the “hot corner,” gets a lot of action, especially from right-handed batters who tend to pull the ball in that direction.
- Handling Bunts: One of the critical roles of a third baseman is to field bunts. They must be able to quickly charge bunted balls, field them cleanly, and make accurate throws to first base.
- Covering the Third Base Bag: The third baseman is responsible for covering third base. Especially during steal attempts or when a play is being made from the outfield.
- Double Plays: While less common than at second or first base, third basemen also participate in double plays.
- Line Drives and Fly Balls: Third basemen need to be prepared to catch line drives and pop flies in their vicinity. Thus, requiring quick reflexes and good hand-eye coordination.
- Cut-off Throws: They may act as a cut-off for throws from the outfield to home plate. Particularly for balls hit to left field or left-center field.
Offensively, third basemen historically varied. While some teams have used the position to prioritize defense, others have looked for a power bat in this spot. Over the years, the trend has leaned towards players who can contribute significantly to the team’s hitting. Therefore making the position home to some of the game’s most potent sluggers.
Best Third Baseman Of All Time
Often considered the greatest third baseman ever, Mike Schmidt played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1972 to 1989. He was a three-time National League MVP, a 12-time All-Star, and won 10 Gold Gloves for his defensive excellence. Schmidt was also a powerful hitter, with 548 career home runs.
Known as “The Human Vacuum Cleaner,” Brooks Robinson spent his entire career (1955-1977) with the Baltimore Orioles. He is widely regarded as one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball history, winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards. Robinson was also a valuable hitter and a key player in the Orioles’ success during his tenure.
Playing for the Kansas City Royals from 1973 to 1993, George Brett is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history and a superb third baseman. He was a 13-time All-Star and won the American League MVP award in 1980. Brett is one of the few players in MLB history to amass over 3,000 hits, 300 home runs, and a career batting average above .300.
With a career spanning from 1952 to 1968, mostly with the Braves (Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta). Eddie Mathews was known for his power hitting, being one of the greatest home run hitters of his era. He hit 512 home runs in his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.
A lifelong Atlanta Brave (1993-2012), Chipper Jones is one of the best switch-hitters in baseball history. He was an eight-time All-Star and won the National League MVP in 1999. Jones had a career batting average of .303 with 468 home runs.
Though he spent significant time at first base and as a designated hitter later in his career. Wade Boggs was an outstanding third baseman, primarily with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. He was a five-time batting champion and 12-time All-Star known for his hitting prowess and on-base ability.
Playing from 1998 to 2018 for various teams, Adrián Beltré combined excellent defense (winning five Gold Gloves) with powerful hitting (he finished his career with 477 home runs). Beltré was a four-time All-Star and is considered one of the best third basemen of his era.
While still active in the game and potentially climbing higher on this list. Nolan Arenado has already established himself as an outstanding third baseman. Known for his exceptional defensive skills (multiple Gold Glove Awards) and powerful hitting, Arenado is a key player in the current era.
What Is A Third Baseman Called?
Third basemen are commonly referred to as “the hot corner” due to the high volume of hard-hit balls that come their way. Also, called “3B” in scorekeeping or on player cards/statistics.
In baseball position numbers, a third baseman is “5”.