I got a hankering to write about third sackers today, so I’m gonna lead off the piece today with that before moving on to two players whose place in history is already secure. Will those two “old timers” hang them up after the 2010 season, or will they continue to hang around?
Aramis Ramirez just can’t stay healthy, and his most recent visits to the doctor’s office is for a strained quadriceps muscle. At the same time the guy has been nails since the All-Star game hitting .295 with an .899 OPS. He’s also gone deep 12 times while knocking in 41 runs in just 45 games – that’s roughly a pace for 45 homers and 150 RBI. That recent run of excellence has upped his year marks to 22 homers and 73 RBI in just 403 at-bats on the season. By the way, Ramirez has the same homer total as Alex Rodriguez and one more than Evan Longoria, while only one third basemen in the game has more RBI in fewer at-bats this season (Scott Rolen has 78 RBI in 408 at-bats). I’m still going to have Aramis Ramirez in my top-10 third basemen next season, in fact, I’ll likely have him much higher than that. Since I brought it up, here are my thoughts on who my top-10 are at third base for the 2011 season (if you want to see how the supremely intelligent Ted Carlson ranked the top-10 third basemen for next season you can give his piece a read his his Five Tool Blog). Here is my list.
1- David Wright
2- Evan Longoria
3- Alex Rodriguez
4- Ryan Zimmerman
5- Aramis Ramirez
6- Mark Reynolds
7- Pablo Sandoval
8- Michael Young
9- Adrian Beltre
10- Jose Bautista
I want to puke at listing Bautista at #10, but there will be many who will likely put him even higher. Putting Pablo ahead of Young is a bit risky, but I’m going with the youngster and the upside potential over Mr. Reliable from Texas. I hesitate to list Reynolds 6th given that he is batting a rancid .211, but he is still second at the position with 32 bombs, has knocked in 83 runs, has stolen seven bases and scored 74 runs.
Ivan Rodriguez hit an impressive .296 over the first 60 games of the season, but he has regressed substantially since the All-Star break with a .229 mark. On the year he is batting .270 which is certainly passable for a catcher, but his OBP is a sickly .292 which looks slightly better when you compare it to his mere .348 SLG. I-Rod is 193 hits short of becoming the first catcher to ever produce 3,000 hits, but does he have enough left to play two more season to get there?
Trevor Hoffman picked up his 600th save the other night in a truly remarkable display of longevity and effectiveness. Mariano Rivera has 555 career saves, but the next highest hurler who is currently in the big leagues is Billy Wagner (417) who has already stated, emphatically, that this will be his last season. This begs the question – who will be the next member of the 500 save club? The answer might be nobody, especially since the next active hurler is Francisco Cordero with 285 saves.
Back to Hoffman for a moment. He does have a 6.09 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP on the season, numbers that are completely out of place for the HOF bound hurler signaling that his career is at an end. However, if you look beneath the surface you will realize that over his last 29 games that he has posted a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. He’s no longer a viable 9th inning option, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t help someone’s bullpen in a setup role in 2011 if he wished to continue his illustrious career.
By Ray Flowers