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Ranking NLC Third Baseman: David Freese or Aramis Ramirez?

Well, this isn’t only a look at Freese and Ramirez…as you probably know by now. Continuing the ranks of the National League Central players by position…

The “hot corner” is usually a position where power hitters are stationed, but I believe we’re seeing a trend to where the power stroke isn’t quite as big a requirement if you will. It’s nice to have, no question. You also must be on your toes when it comes to defense. An all-around game is a virtual necessity to play the position.

Here’s the rankings for third basemen in the NL Central…

1. David Freese, St. Louis
I know of the injury issues, and he’s not the greatest in the field. He has, as we are prone to say, intangibles though. Those things you can’t quite put your finger on.

I remember when Freese went down in 2010. I was having a conversation with one of BRM’s Twitter followers who is a Cardinals fan. I said losing Freese was a huge blow to the chances of the Cards winning the division or getting into the playoffs. No Freese, no playoffs, no title. With Freese, playoffs, world champs. No, one player doesn’t make all the difference, but his contributions do help.

Estimated WAR: 2.6

2. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee
Before 2011, some suggested the ARam would have a monster 2011. I laughed. Now, I’m still eating that crow as Ramirez transitions from Wrigley to Miller Park after a sensational contract year.

The Brewers upgrade offensively, that’s for sure. Defensively, it might actually be a little better, too.

Estimated WAR: 3.2

3. Scott Rolen, Cincinnati
I can hear it now. How can you put Rolen here when he missed so much last year? Two things went into this decision. One. Rolen stills owns the best defense among the others. Two. Look at the next three.

If the shoulder is as good as we have heard, I look for Rolen to play a little more than the 109 games as projected by Bill James.

Estimated WAR: 2.4

4. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh
Outside of ARam, Alvarez owns the most powerful bat in the division among all third basemen. When he hits the ball, it will travel, and there’s part of the issue. He’s also not strong defensively. He can make up for that a little with the bat provided there’s contact.

Injuries played a part in Alvarez plotting a sub-standard 2011. Good health will go a long way to constructing a good 2012.

Estimated WAR: 1.9

5. Ian Stewart, Chicago
For the first time in eight seasons, the Cubs have a new third baseman. Got to wonder why the Cubs got a lump of coal for Christmas. Going from Ramirez to Stewart isn’t exactly a thrill. Posting a .156 batting average for 2011 doesn’t ring of an upgrade.

Stewart had three decent seasons from 2008-2010 for the Colorado Rockies. If you can’t revive your swing in Denver, can you honestly expect him to do so in Chicago?

Estimated WAR: 1.1

6. Jimmy Paredes, Houston
Regardless of who the Astros start at third (Paredes or Chris Johnson), they would be here. Paredes is prone to strikeouts, but does have some speed. Not a lot of pop and a decent glove. Look at it as two positives and two negatives.

He’s only 23 and has never seen Triple-A. Astros manager Brad Mills labeled Paredes as his starting third baseman…last December.

Estimated WAR: 0.5

Recap

1. Freese
2. Ramirez
3. Rolen
4. Alvarez
5. Stewart
6. Paredes

If there would be a change during the season, I would expect it to be within the top three spots.

For Freese, he will have to stay healthy for a full season. The Cardinals are a different team when he’s in the lineup. Ramirez and Rolen are getting a little long in the tooth, but both can still bring more to their teams than what you see on the field.

And Rolen must stay healthy, too. I know the Reds have a couple of guys “just in case”, but to be honest, those cases aren’t the same.

2012 could be the season the Pirates have been expecting from Alvarez. His projections look decent and it’s time to be a key cog for Clint Hurdle’s crew.

If Stewart can find his swing and if Paredes can develop plate discipline, this position becomes a little deeper for the NLC.

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Tags: Aramis Ramirez Baseball Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds David Freese Houston Astros Ian Stewart Jimmy Paredes Milwaukee Brewers MLB NL Central NL Central Division Pedro Alvarez Pittsburgh Pirates Scott Rolen St Louis Cardinals

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