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  1. …and people will continue to comment in wonder about league-wide drops in offense and yet another Year of The Pitcher

    Comment by joser — July 11, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  2. I’m surprised the NL didn’t try to just start Braun at 3rd and see if no one would complain. That really is a pathetic position.

    Comment by Dylan — July 11, 2011 @ 5:26 pm

  3. miguel tejada playing third for a week nearly collapsed those numbers for league wide 4rd basemen.

    Comment by Kevin Yost — July 11, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

  4. David Freese has 1.3 War in just 38 games. I wonder why he isn’t mentioned.

    Comment by Klaus — July 11, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

  5. I love the eff you that Aramis gave the league. Seriously? Rolen over Aramis? Of course he turned down Boch’s invite

    Comment by Jeremy — July 11, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  6. Polanco has clearly been injured for longer for longer than the last week and was just unsuccessfully attempting to play anyway. Unfortunately due to his age and the chronic nature of the injury it is not clear he will ever fully recover.

    Comment by Travis — July 11, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

  7. hey, he might actually be useful at 4rd base

    Comment by juan pierre's mustache — July 11, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

  8. Why stop at the NL?! Not like the AL is much better! Not counting Bautista, who is really a OF, its .. Arod, M.Young, Beltre, and A.Gordon? Not much here either. 3B is a wasteland this year, and real iffy for the next while.

    Comment by Cidron — July 11, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  9. Braun already pulled out of the game due to injury.

    Comment by Roberto — July 11, 2011 @ 6:06 pm

  10. If they didn’t screw around putting Rolen on the team (and in the starting lineup) over Aramis Ramirez in the first place, this discussion wouldn’t be necessary. I don’t care how this one counts (for the Yankees and Phillies), nobody likes being the 4th choice behind inferior options… certainly they won’t cancel plans that involve plane tickets for that.

    Ramirez, Headley and Sandoval (even missing time due to injury) would be a strong trio at third, with Roberts also being a strong choice if you just couldn’t stomach Sandoval’s lack of sample size.

    Comment by JamesDaBear — July 11, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

  11. Adrian Beltre is having a really solid season.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — July 11, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

  12. It’s pitiful that the fans voted in Polonco, he wasn’t even All Star caliber last year! You can forgive them not voting Aramis after the first two months of the season, but he should have been the clear choice over Rolen as a replacement. I’d even take Headley due to the nature that that ballpark certainly didn’t help the numbers but his ~.800 OPS was out there for anyone to see. Injuries clearly gets Pablo and Freese screwed, even though their limited PAs catching the seasonal WAR of other players considered and exceeding Rolen’s.

    Comment by JMN — July 11, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  13. Gordon hasn’t played a game at 3rd all year, so you can remove him from your list…

    Comment by Joe — July 11, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  14. You forgot about the Jewish/Greek God and Longoria.

    Comment by Izzy — July 11, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  15. you could substitute ‘shortstop’ for ‘third baseman,’ change a few names, and this article would literally be exactly the same

    Comment by jim — July 11, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  16. Hahahaha

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) — July 11, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  17. Miguel Tejada is like a 4rd in every way.
    F.ound O.n the R.oad D.ead

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) — July 11, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

  18. Jobless, apparently.

    Comment by Evan Longoria, Kevin Youkilis — July 11, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

  19. I had Polanco on my NL All-Star Team, however, he was a back-up. I slotted in Headley as the starter with Ryan Roberts as my Utility dude.

    Comment by Evan Longoria, Kevin Youkilis — July 11, 2011 @ 6:42 pm

  20. How they were denied, I’ll never know *cough* Bruce Douchey *cough*.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen (Dodgers Fan) — July 11, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  21. Isn’t 5 WAR for the season? So it would be more along the line of looking for 2.5-3.0 WAR for all stars at this point in the year. Doesn’t change the argument much though, It’s a weird year of positional haves and have-nots

    Comment by Scott Nova — July 11, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

  22. I think that’s what he was saying. Most guys are under 2 WAR, so they don’t project as all-stars over a full season. Interestingly, Panda is at 2.5 WAR, despite missing significant time.

    Comment by Bigmouth — July 11, 2011 @ 6:53 pm

  23. How much choice did Bochy have? I honestly don’t know. It seems like maybe Ramirez is not a likeable dude, at least to other players for him to have such nice numbers and still get snubbed, by the players.

    Comment by TK — July 11, 2011 @ 7:00 pm

  24. what a typo

    Comment by Kevin Yost — July 11, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

  25. Since 1998 Expansion here are the teams with most and least WAR from 3b

    Atlanta 71.7
    Cardinals 66.8
    Mets 66.4
    Yankees 58.9
    Brewers 48.3

    Two points for anyone who can guess the Brewers leader in WAR since 98 without looking it up.

    Bringing up the rear:

    Indians 16.5
    Pirates 18.2
    Royals 21.8
    Tigers 22.4
    Nationals 23.9 (Zim with +28 !)
    Orioles 23.9

    Comment by shoewizard — July 11, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

  26. How did David Freese not get mentioned?

    Comment by Chris — July 11, 2011 @ 7:49 pm

  27. His numbers weren’t so impressive when the players were doing the voting… he turned it on recently to where his numbers are now superior among NL 3Bs. Timing is a huge flaw in most of the voting procedures involving All-Star games (an easily fixed one with the immediate and electronic options available). However, this is why they have the option to replace players which can right such wrongs. If they had gone to Ramirez first, which they should have, he’d be an All-Star instead of Rolen.

    Comment by JamesDaBear — July 11, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

  28. man, it was fun when chipper was chipper.

    Comment by Scott — July 11, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

  29. I wrote in Ryan Roberts.

    Comment by tristram — July 11, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  30. I don’t know why, but 3B is always tough to fill.

    You can always pick up a 2b, 1b, even a ss.

    but 3b is a continual parade of flashes in the pan and failed prospects.

    Comment by shthar — July 11, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

  31. Jeff Cirillo?

    Comment by ZacT — July 11, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  32. Polanco had a very good first month (.433wOBA, .972OPS.) That kind of thing can cause the casual fan to vote for someone even if past statistics indicate he’s not even close to being that good. Also, the fact that there are always 45,000+ potential voters at his home ballpark every night probably didn’t hurt his chances.

    Comment by mcneildon — July 11, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

  33. he can barely play outfield!!

    Comment by Templeton1979 — July 12, 2011 @ 12:15 am

  34. especially since right after the first month is when the voting first begins

    Comment by Templeton1979 — July 12, 2011 @ 12:18 am

  35. Young has been a DH/1B most of the year. He’s only played 4 games at 3B so he should probably be off your list too…

    Comment by Eric — July 12, 2011 @ 12:37 am

  36. Wow, no David Freese?! 18 players were named out of a combined 16 NL teams, and the one who is (currently) the starting 3B on the Cards is omitted…

    Comment by Rick Wizzle — July 12, 2011 @ 1:32 am

  37. Top 3 hitters at 3B in the NL injured. Even in a normal year relatively injury free year you only have 3-4 really good hitters at 3B, so thats that.

    Not many good hitters in general coming up the past several years. Must be the vaccines.LOL

    Comment by pft — July 12, 2011 @ 4:51 am

  38. Whoever’s next in the player voting is automatic.

    Comment by Judy — July 12, 2011 @ 7:32 am

  39. Except with Reyes and Tulo, you have two legitimate stars who are well on their way to 5+ WAR seasons.

    Comment by Go To War Miss Agnes — July 12, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  40. Doesn’t this raise a few questions about how replacement player is measured? When you give me a list of Mora, Lopez, Cantu, and Johnson and say they’re all -0.5 or worse WAR, that seems odd since they essentially ARE replacement players. They were the readily available guys who teams picked up to fill in gaps.

    Comment by Go To War Miss Agnes — July 12, 2011 @ 8:34 am

  41. Never attach names to replacement level, it only leads to confusion.

    Comment by Justin — July 12, 2011 @ 8:59 am

  42. True fact: Brandon Wood’s OBP in the NL this year is the same as Rolen’s.

    Comment by matt w — July 12, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  43. I don’t think anybody has mentioned this, so Reply-most of this discussion: I’m pretty sure Rolen got picked because he had the next-highest vote total after Chipper Jones dropped out.

    PS: Aramis Ramirez isn’t all that and a bag of chips anymore, so that’s not really a travesty. At least Rolen still plays excellent defense.

    Comment by Colin — July 12, 2011 @ 10:13 am

  44. And ARod’s out 4-6 weeks with meniscus surgery.

    Comment by Trotter76 — July 12, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  45. I agree that Ramirez’ numbers look reasonable, but anyone who’s watched him play knows he’s not an all-star. He’s had a couple really hot weeks, but other than that he’s been slow, lazy, and utterly disinterested. The mere idea that he might be a worthwhile choice at 3B is an utter indictment of the position.

    Comment by drmagoo — July 12, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  46. We’re nearing the point where we’ll have to consider abandoning the concept of corner infielders and middle infielders, seeing as 3rd basemen now post equivalent offensive numbers to secondbasemen and shortstops. Today there are first baseman and fielding infielders (2B, SS, 3B), though many clubs continue to force power no-hit poor fielders into the 3B slot.

    Comment by reillocity — July 12, 2011 @ 11:37 am

  47. That’s probably why he included him.

    Comment by Matt — July 12, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  48. I’m not trying to focus on the specific players mention as much as the concept. Those players are guys who were readily available to any major league club who simply needed a warm body to fill a spot. I thought that essentially was the definition of a replacement player.

    I’m not one of those guys who hops on here and just criticizes fangraphs to make myself feel better, and that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m just wondering how replacement level is calculated, because it seems here that we have a solid handful of replacement players who are producing negative WAR.

    Comment by Go To War Miss Agnes — July 12, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  49. Rolen is a star based on his past accomplishments, so this doesn’t bother me too much. But the general point that 3B sucks is right on.

    Comment by Brian — July 12, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

  50. A Replacement player can play below (or above) Replacement level over periods of time; and this is especially true for part-time players. It doesn’t mean there is an issue with the baseline though, only that some guys performed extremely poorly. Theoretically, the replacement level guys as a whole will even themselves out to an accumulative 0 in the long run (if they don’t already)

    I also question any of those players really being “replacement players” as you state though – the vets (Mora, Lopez and Cantu) have an accumulative 13.3 WAR over the prior 3 seasons with the weakest (Mora) still providing 4 WAR from ’08-’10. These are Aging/Faulting Starters and should probably be considered “bench/role players” or “lesser options”, not “replacement players”.

    “Replacement Players” for the 3B position are more the Cody Ransom/Chris Woodward/Joe Thurston types; guys who would never warrant a ML job until a team gets into that dire-situation which warrants an emergency call-up. A true “replacement level” player is not just someone who is freely available on the Major League FA market, but rather more the guys on the AAA scrap heap or MiLB trade market for “cash considerations” – those are the guys that have the true interchangeable skill-sets and value who bounce around like nothing from team to team waiting for their chance to see the show.

    Comment by Joe — July 12, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  51. Richie Sexson?

    Comment by Ben — July 12, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

  52. True, he’s not. But he ended at the break on a serious tear and with a respectable .843 OPS.

    Comment by Ben — July 12, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

  53. I think the problem is the requirements of the position …

    [1] Good/Power hitter.
    [2] Excellent reflexes (position closer to home plate than any other non-P/C fielder)
    [3] Strong, accurate arm

    So, the player basically needs excellent reflexes, great hands, a very good arm (strength and accuracy), and be a good hitter.

    If you apply that same criteria to every other position, you don’t find many players that fit the bill. So, what we basically get are guys that “play third” that are probably suited for a different position.

    You don’t often see a “3rd base prospect” that stays at the position for a long time. 3B seems to be a position that guys are moved “to” (i.e., from shortstop or catcher, etc) or they are moved “from” once they show they can’t play the position.

    Right now, there are just so many 3B’s in the “average” range that it’s muddled. There are currently 20 3B’s on pace for a 2.0+ WAR season, with 5 of those in the 5+ WAR range (pace).

    For a comparison, I went through the past seasons and looked at how many 2.0+ WAR 3B’s there were total.

    2011: 20 (pace)
    2010: 18
    2009: 23
    2008: 20
    2007: 20
    2006: 23
    2005: 21
    2004: 20
    2003: 17
    2002: 17
    2001: 18
    2000: 18

    It’s actually fairly consistent. The BIG difference is the lack of top end seasons. IMO, that can be chalked up to two things that plague the position of 3B, [1] position changes (often to 1B for the good hitting 3B’s, or to 2B for the 3B’s that start to lose a step), and [2] Injuries (there’s a high attrition rate at 3B).

    It’s a tough, tough, position to stick at and last at a high level of performance.

    One has to wonder how long guys like Sandoval, Longoria, Zimmerman, etc stick at 3B, before they move to 1B.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 12, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

  54. NL 3B are world beaters compared to the giant bag of suck that are AL C or AL SS.

    Comment by Oasis — July 12, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

  55. 32 games started at 3B, that’s a little over 1/3 of games the cards have played this year.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — July 13, 2011 @ 3:31 am

  56. “all that and a bag of CHIPS”. I agree, he’s not as good as Chipper in his prime. Most 3B aren’t.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — July 13, 2011 @ 3:34 am

  57. I think that most positions, if you injure the top 3, will look like this.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — July 13, 2011 @ 3:37 am

  58. Scott Rolen is without a doubt an excellent third baseman and leader for the Reds. The problem with him, as it has been the last few years is that he is injury prone and his power numbers this year clearly indicate that. The loss of his juice in the lineup is definately one of the reason the Reds find themselves almost out of contention. Combine that with the loss of Cabrera and viola, you have the mediocricy that stinks at Great American Ball Park. While us die hard fans were jublient last year, this year could cause ulcers. Very frustrating.

    Comment by DonCarpenter — July 13, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  59. That’s always been the case with Scottie. What’s amazing is to look at some of his WAR numbers, even in seasons where he missed a lot of games. I wonder how he compares to other players in the number of games it takes to accumulate 1 WAR.

    He has 73.7 WAR in 1943 games. So, it takes him 26 games to accumulate 1 WAR.

    The 3B’s ahead of Rolen in career WAR and the number of games it takes/took for them to accumulate 1 WAR …

    ARod — 2383/112.4 (21.2)
    Schmidt — 2404/110.5 (21.8)
    Mathews — 2391/107.2 (22.3)
    Boggs — 2440/94.8 (25.7)
    Robinson –2896/94.6 (30.6)
    Brett — 2707/91.6 (29.6)
    Jones — 2338/86.3 (27.1)
    Santo –2243/79.3 (28.3)
    Killebrew — 2345/78.4 (29.9)
    Molitor –2683/75.2 (35.7)

    Obviously, there are a variety of factors that play into this (multiple positions, age, etc) that disable it from being an excellent comparison. However, Rolen has been a damn good 3B, even with being injured.

    2011 has been, by a decent amount, Rolen’s “worst” season, even when considering GP in other seasons. That’s a concern, considering age and previous injuries. However, his defense still remains sharp … and that’s often the first thing to go for 3B’s (usually resulting in them making a position change).

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 13, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  60. They should have started Pujols at 3rd. He is back from the DL and has played 3rd this year and in the past. The NL lineup could have been scary with Pujols and Reyes (if he was healthy). I would have liked seeing Fielder at DH, Votto at 1st and Pujols at 3rd– all starting. And Weeks should have caught the ball Fielder dropped for a hit.

    Comment by jack — July 14, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

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