Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hottest of the Hot Corner: Ranking MLB's Top 16 Third Basemen

MLB: Florida Marlins at Los Angeles Dodgers
Part 1 of 16 Part Series

Over the past few years, the hot corner has gotten hotter. It is the address of some of major league baseball's best talent featuring players who throw the leather and provide some thunder at the plate.

Many team's throughout the league call on their third sacker to anchor the middle of their lineup. And, then when the inning's over, look to them to turn two on scalding two hoppers or cover bunts with acrobatic bare handed plays.

The position features some long established stars, but in recent years has been augmented by the emergence of new stars. Here are baseball's current top 16 third baseman:

No. 16 (Tie) Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariners

After the Seattle Mariners lost incumbent third baseman Adrian Beltre to free agency and signed Angels' third sacker Chone Figgins over the winter, the team made an unexpected move. The Mariners made a strategic swap, flip flopping the positions of second baseman Jose Lopez with Figgins.

Both players had played their new positions previously, but had logged far and away more time at their "old locales." Concentrating on getting comfortable in a less familiar spot may have contributed to slow offensive starts for each player, but the Mariners are confident that it will payoff in the long run.

Lopez banged 25 HR's and drove in 96 runs a year ago, while hitting .272. The club hopes for him to build on that offensive performance in 2010 and beyond.

No. 16 (Tie) Casey Blake, Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers obtained Casey Blake at the trade deadline in the '08 season in a deal with the Cleveland Indians. He has anchored the hot corner in L.A. since then with steady all-around play.

At times looking out of place like a lumberjack walking Rodeo Drive, Blake nevertheless has provided veteran savvy, solid fielding and held his own at the plate in Chavez Ravine. In his only full season in L.A., the bearded third baseman batted .280, smacked 18 HR's, accumulated 79 RBI's while committing only 10 errors.

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