Comparing Third Basemen in the AL West


Michael Young, Texas Rangers

  • Age: 34
  • 2009 slash stats: .322/.374/.518
  • 2009 WAR: 3.9
  • 2009 K-BB ratio: 90-to-47
  • Durability: Missed 27 games in 2009, but solid in every other season since 2001.
  • Defense: Awful.  Pathetic.  Terrible.  For some reason Young has the reputation of being a slick fielder.  This could not be more wrong, as evidenced by his -24, -27, -5.2, -13.1, and -5.8 UZR tallies over various years at short and a -8.4 UZR this past year at third.

Brandon Wood, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  • Age: 25
  • 2009 slash stats: .293/.353/.557 (in AAA)
  • 2009 WAR: 0.0 (in MLB)
  • 2009 K-BB ratio: 19-3 in MLB and 80-36 in AAA
  • Durability: No issues as of yet.
  • Defense: Reportedly decent.

Eric Chavez/Jake Fox, Oakland A’s

  • Age: 33 and 28
  • 2009 slash stats: .100/.129/.133 and .259/.311/.468
  • 2009 WAR: -0.4 and -0.1
  • 2009 K-BB ratio: 7-1 and 47-14
  • Durability: Chavez has only played 31 games over the last 2 seasons, but Fox hasn’t had any considerable injuries yet.
  • Defense: Chavez was once a 5 < x < 10 defender, but injuries have slowed him considerably in the last few years.  Fox was decent at third base, posting a fairly small sample size -2.8 UZR over 27 games in 2009.

Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners

  • Age: 32
  • 2009 slash stats: .298/.395/.393
  • 2009 WAR: 6.1
  • 2009 K-BB ratio: 114-to-101
  • Durability: Missed 30+ games in 2008 and 2007, but played in all but 4 games last season.
  • Defense: Very, very good all over the diamond.  16.7 UZR at third in 2009, although due for a bit of regression.

The M’s win this one by a long shot.  With Mike Young getting older and his bat sure to start showing signs of wear and tear, Chone Figgins is clearly the best third baseman in the AL West.  The fact that Young is only worth ~3 wins above replacement and yet posts a wOBA around ~370 every season speaks to how awful his defense is; when his bat cools off, he loses a significant amount of value.

Brandon Wood certainly has a lot of offensive potential, but most scouting reports indicate that his defense is average at best.  And Eric Chavez and Jake Fox don’t scare anyone.

CHONE projects Chone (yes, I do indeed see the humor in this) to be worth 3.2 wins above replacement in 2010, but I cannot stress how much his defense is being undervalued here.  I would expect to see something around .300/.380/.400 from Figgins next season, as well as a 5 > x > 10 UZR.