Alec Bohm vs. Brian Anderson vs. J.D. Davis: Who’s the best 3B in the NL East?

Matt Weyrich
·5 min read
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Bohm vs. Anderson vs. Davis: Who’s the best 3B in the NL East? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

With the NL East shaping up to be one of baseball’s most competitive division races, NBC Sports Washington’s Matt Weyrich is previewing the 2021 season by ranking each team at every position on and off the diamond. Points will be awarded to teams based on their spot in each ranking with a final tally released just before Opening Day.*

Up next in the series: third base.

1. Brian Anderson (MIA) – 5 points

2019-20 stats: 185 G, 749 PA, .259/.343/.467, .810 OPS, 171 H, 31 HR, 40 doubles, 2 triples, 84 R, 104 RBI, 66 BB, 180 SO, 5 SB (1 CS), .961 fielding percentage, 13 errors, 9 DRS (1,046 2/3 innings at 3B)

Long gone are the days of Anthony Rendon atop these rankings. The NL East third base group is headlined now by Brian Anderson, giving the Marlins their first player atop any position so far in this series. Anderson is a good top-of-the-order hitter who racks up the doubles and reaches base at a respectable clip. On defense, he might be the best third baseman the division has to offer.

He’s not a superstar, and the Marlins aren’t going to make it far relying on his bat alone like they have throughout their rebuild. But Anderson is going into his age-28 season with the opportunity to contribute to a real, major-league lineup for the first time in his career. That should make for an exciting season for him and career highs in runs and RBIs if the young players around him continue to develop.

2. J.D. Davis (NYM) – 4 points

2019-20 stats: 196 G, 682 PA, .288/.370/.483, .853 OPS, 173 H, 28 HR, 31 doubles, 1 triples, 91 R, 76 RBI, 69 BB, 153 SO, 3 SB (0 CS), .944 fielding percentage, 8 errors, -17 DRS (489 1/3 1/3 innings at SS)

The Mets spent much of the offseason shrouded in rumors of acquiring Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant and Matt Chapman to boost their infield after the addition of Francisco Lindor. Instead, they signed veteran Jonathan Villar and will roll with Davis at third base. Davis, who also plays left field and first base, has been a productive hitter in Queens — perhaps more than he’s been given credit for.

However, Davis’s defense at the position has been iffy to say the least. The metrics suggest he’s one of the worst in the majors at third, tying Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Colin Moran for the fewest Defensive Runs Saved of any third baseman over the last two seasons. He will have the Gold Glove-winning Lindor next to him to gobble up some grounders over the middle, but you can only hide a poor defensive third baseman so much.

3. Alec Bohm (PHI) – 3 points

2020 stats: 44 G, 180 PA, .338/.400/.481, .881 OPS, 54 H, 4 HR, 11 doubles, 0 triples, 24 R, 23 RBI, 16 BB, 36 SO, 1 SB (1 CS), .957 fielding percentage, 4 errors, -6 DRS (300 1/3 innings at 3B)

4. Austin Riley (ATL) – 2 points

2019-20 stats: 131 G, 503 PA, .232/.288/.448, .736 OPS, 107 H, 26 HR, 18 doubles, 2 triples, 65 R, 76 RBI, 32 BB, 157 SO, 0 SB (2 CS), .959 fielding percentage, 6 errors, -9 DRS (421 1/3 innings at SS)

5. Carter Kieboom (WSH) – 1 point

2019-20 stats: 44 G, 165 PA, .181/.309/.232, .541 OPS, 25 H, 2 HR, 1 doubles, 0 triples, 19 R, 11 RBI, 21 BB, 49 SO, 0 SB (1 CS), .966 fielding percentage, 3 errors, 4 DRS (255 2/3 innings at 3B)

These three players are grouped together for one common denominator: 44. That’s how many games both Bohm and Kieboom have played so far in their careers. For comparison’s sake, here are Riley’s numbers through his first 44 games:

.266/.319/.568, .887 OPS, 45 H, 14 HR, 7 doubles, 1 triple, 32 R, 37 RBI, 8 BB, 60 SO

Pretty good, right? Well, as Riley’s numbers over the last two seasons show, he didn’t turn out to be the hitter he looked like after 44 games. That should serve as a warning for overeating about both Bohm and Kieboom at this point. They’re both on polar opposite sides of the spectrum, with Bohm finishing as a runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year while Kieboom is going to need to prove he belongs in 2021.

Riley hasn’t given the Braves much other than some power from the right side, so he slots right in between Bohm and Kieboom as their careers just get going. Bohm showed All-star potential last year, but he hasn’t played enough games to warrant placement higher than the established Davis and Anderson. If Kieboom settles in as an average everyday player, he’ll get bumped up over Riley.

*Scoring will be determined as follows:

Max total = 100 points

  • 5 points awarded for each of the best position players, 4 for second-best, etc.

  • 1 bonus point awarded for each of the five best position players in the division

  • 6 points awards for each of the top three starters, 5 for the next three, etc.

  • 1 bonus point awarded for each of the two best starting pitchers in the division

  • 5 points awarded for each of the top three bullpen arms, 4 for the next three, etc.

  • 5 points awarded for the best manager, 4 for second-best, etc.

  • 5 points awarded for the best GM, 4 for second-best, etc.

Scoring breakdown = 45 max points for hitting, 45 max points for pitching, 10 max points for coaches/GMs

Other NL East position rankings:

Right field: Soto, Acuña Jr., Harper, Conforto, Duvall

Left field: Ozuna, Smith, Schwarber, Dickerson, McCutchen

Center field: Nimmo, Marté, Robles, Pache, Kingery

First base: Freeman, Alonso, Hoskins, Bell, Aguilar

Second base: McNeil, Albies, Segura, Castro, Chisholm/Díaz

Shortstop: Turner, Lindor, Swanson, Gregorius, Rojas

Catcher: Realmuto, McCann, Gomes, d'Arnaud, Alfaro

Starting pitcher: deGrom, Scherzer, Nola highlight top 18 starters

Bullpens – March 23

Managers & coaching staffs – March 24

GMs & front offices – March 25

Composite rankings – March 26