This is the fourth installment of my series of articles which pits the Cincinnati Reds against the best of the National League. The first was with the catchers, Ryan Hanigan against Buster Posey. If you missed that piece and want to catch up, just click here.
The third article was with the second basemen in the league being pitted against Brandon Phillips. The competition there was Chase Utley, Dan Uggla, Aaron Hill and Rickie Weeks. That column can be found here.
At this point the Reds are trailing the National League 2-1. Today we focus on the hot corner. For the past few seasons the Reds had Scott Rolen playing third base but I am rolling out this article with the notion that he is no longer a Red. He has made almost as much news this hot stove league as “where will Michael Bourn end up?” Frankly I am wearing thin on hearing about either of them. With Rolen I am being reminded of when Brett Favre contemplated retirement a few short years ago. Excruciating!
I love Rolen, but putting a squad through this kind of theatrics is no good. And all of a sudden it is about money? I digress.
The Reds third baseman for the start of this season and the future is Todd Frazier. Frazier won the Rookie of the Year award as voted by the players last season. He didn’t get the genuine hardware though, that went to Washington outfielder/media mogul Bryce Harper.
I just did a drive-by of the starters at 3B for all the National League teams, and I can say without hesitation that Frazier is in up to his ears. There are no less than six others we need to scrutinize before declaring a winner. There are also other good ones that I passed by such as Pedro Alvarez, David Freese and Placido Polanco.
Let us look at them in tabular format. To save a little horizontal space I am going to just use a signified number for each player in lieu of his name. If you are viewing this article on a mobile device, it will probably not be formatted correctly.
Statistics are for Career based on 162 games except
Errors and WAR which is just a yearly average
1= Frazier, 2=Ramirez, 3=Wright, 4=Young, 5=Sandoval, 6=Headley, 7=Zimmerman
Bold and italicized numbers are the high for that particular category.
Statistics are extracted from Baseball-Reference.com
That is a pretty good group of ball players right there. It is clear to see on first perusal that Wright is the cream of this crop. He averages over 100 runs, has the best plate discipline, has the highest OPS+ and the best WAR. He also averages 26 HR and 195 RBI, bats over .300 and steals 21 bases, high for a corner infielder.
On paper Frazier is like a cat in a den of lions. He does hit for extra bases higher than the rest and his error/yr rate is the best on the list. That statistic should be taken with a grain of salt as Frazier has played very little compared to the others. As you can plainly see he is not a top five candidate here.
If I were rating them from what I see in comparison, it would be the following:
There can be no doubt about the winner. Wright is the complete package. If you want pure power, Ramirez is your boy. As for a pure hitter I like Young. He has a batting title to his credit, along with six 200+ hit seasons, five of them consecutively. Defensively, based on errors alone, it looks like Headley is probably on top, Frazier’s low sampling notwithstanding.
I see Headley with his 31 HR in 2012 as an anomaly, similar but not as outrageous as Brady Anderson in 1996 when he hit 50. In Headley’s case he hit only 36 HR in his other five years combined.
Frazier is only going to get better, look for him to climb this ladder.
National League wins again. NL 3 Reds 1. Up next, the shortstops.