This synopsis of third base shouldn't be too long. Basically, third base is a pretty simple position. With the exception of being the hardest defensive position on the diamond (yes, I'm including catcher), it's pretty easy to explain. A good third baseman has to have lightning reflexes, great instincts, soft hands, and superior hand eye coordination. Footwork at third is not a necessity because the fielder can take their time throwing over to first. A strong arm is definitely a plus for the position, but with the extra time the fielder has, they should be able to make a strong throw to first.
Mechanically, the most difficult play a third baseman makes is a run through, or a bare handed catch and throw. While those plays take a lot of athletic ability, you will see third baseman that aren't that great at them thrive at the position.
Why do these players thrive? They have super human reflexes and the fortune telling skill to read the ball off the bat. Many of the balls hit at the third baseman are scolded; forcing the fielder to react solely on instinct. The mixture of soft hands, and quickness will allow the fielder to excel. On to Neyer's Pick:
3B -- Scott RolenHonestly, I do not have a huge problem with the pick. You can really make a good case for about 5 guys that played this decade for the top spot.
Ripping the Gold Glove selections never really gets old
You said it buddy. How does Eric Chavez win somewhere around 72 gold gloves on his shaky, injury prone defense??? How is this possible?
… but the voters do sometimes come up with the right answers, and Rolen's six Gold Gloves in this decade line up nicely with the metrics.
Will he provide us with said metrics? Fuck no, you have to trust him.
How spectacular was he? When the Blue Jays traded Rolen to the Reds last summer, an enterprising blogger seemed to have little trouble finding 10 defensive gems that Rolen had made with Toronto in less than two seasons.
Ten defensive gems proves Rob's point. Simply stunning. Ten plays over a decade???? This is preposterous.
My selection for the spot: Adrian Beltre. Look at his UZR/150 numbers from 2002-2009: 20.2, 11.9, 23.3, 9.4, 15.6, -3.4, 15.7, and 21.0. Can you make a real good case for Rolen, sure, but Cooly is a Cards fan and it pisses him off that I chose Beltre.
Pedro Feliz 2002-2009: 24.2, 26.9, 31.7, 20.2, 14.3, 22.3, 9.3, and 5.0. My initial selection until I looked and saw his 2002-2004 numbers were only as a utility player. Still, damn good.
Rolen's 2002-2009: 22.2, 9.8, 22.1, 21.7, 14.7, 17.9, 8.5, and 7.6. Comparable, but not as great.
Glaus' 2002-2009: -3.1, -22.1, -9.1, -13.1, -1.3, 0.9, 5.0, and -19.7 Hint for my worst of the decade