30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Up for Debate

When it comes to talking baseball, there are plenty of debatable things to discuss.  OpenersDesignated hittersBarry BondsJuiced balls.  The list goes on and on.

However you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't think Brooks Robinson is the greatest defensive third baseman in MLB history.  Heck... he's actually considered one of the greatest defensive players period.  You don't earn the nickname the Human Vacuum Cleaner unless you're one of the best.

It's just a shame that he was a little before my time.  There's a chance, I watched him play at the Oakland Coliseum back in the day.  If I did, I have no recollection of it.  When Robinson played in his final MLB game, I was just about to turn five years old and was more interested in the newly released Star Wars than baseball.

Thankfully baseball cards, bloggers, and highlight films have helped bridge the gapLast month, someone (my memory sucks) showed off their 1973 Topps Brooks Robinson card on their blog and I immediately went hunting for a copy of my own.  Here it is:

1973 Topps #90

By now I'll assume you know my deep appreciation for well cropped action shots.  This card fits the bill.  I decided to go with a slabbed copy, because it was affordable ($9.99 + $2.99 shipping) and fits into my Classic Card PC as well.

I figured today was a good day to write about this card, since he celebrated his 82nd birthday over the weekend.  Happy belated birthday Mr. Robinson!

 2013 Topps Chrome Purple Refractor #78 N. Arenado
2001 Topps Team Legends Autographs #NNO C. Boyer

Okay... I just read this article on Nolan Arenado and this one on Clete Boyer, so I guess the greatest defensive third baseman is up for debate.

What do you think?

Who is the greatest defensive third baseman in MLB history?

Looking forward to reading your responses...

Happy Tuesday and sayonara!


  1. Hard to argue against the man who won 16 gold gloves.

  2. It's tough to say because the further back in history you go the lower the bar gets for how "good" the players themselves were. The real question is how would Brooks Robinson (or really any 3B that you'd bring up to answer that question) fare in 2019 when baseball players, on average, the best they've ever been in the history of the sport. Assuming he were in his prime and given the same training regimen/diet/data/all that, as a modern player.
    We'll never know the answer to that and none of us will ever have the relevant data or input to back up the argument one way or the other. What we all probably can say is that Brooks Robinson was at least a pioneer in terms of actual good third basemen. Because the lack of other 3B options when you look at all time greats says a lot about the position. Though the 3B's in the game now have really good shots at changing that if the passage of time is kind to them.

  3. I’m kind of a homer for guys I grew up seeing in home games, so I would say that Brandon Inge was pretty darn good. I think he got robbed of a few Gold Gloves that Adrian Beltre won instead of him. He dove into the stands to make catches (check out his ‘07 Upper Deck card), he had a laser arm, and he had good range. Beltre was good in his own right, but I think Inge should’ve taken a Gold Glove from him at least once. With that being said, Beltre may have been a tad better.
    The other homer I like is Evan Longoria. He had a great arm, great range, and could make the barehanded catch and throw.
    Scott Rolen also deserves to be in the talk. I remember in the late ‘90’s and early ‘00’s that everyone was saying he was one of the dear defensive third sackers of that era.
    Without seeing him live, I guess I would have to rate Robinson the best, with Rolen, Beltre, Longo, and Inge all behind in that order.

  4. Obviously there is Soooo much criteria to look at to determine the best 3rd baseman. Espn, looked at the top 10, and I don't disagree with any of them. However, their rankings I can't see rhyme or reason to it all. The first thing I would look at is strictly fielding and start with games played at 3rd, then put outs, and fewest errors and things like that. AS games, gold gloves are all good. Bottom line, i want the guy with the fewest errors and most put outs and I can't tell you who that is.

    1. But...... if I was looking to fill a roster, batting would come into play, then career avg, hr's, rbi's, and hits would be the thing I'd look at. Again, still couldn't name that guy either.

  5. Brooksie! To be honest, today's players don't excite me in the same way. you picked up a nice card!

  6. First Bleacher Report and second, what kind of top 10 list leaves out Brooks Robinson??? I caught the very end (last year) of his career and basically grew up with Mr. Nettles briefly taking the mantle and then Schmidt (gaak, George Brett fan here...LOL) as the best of the day. I do remember the talk about Clete Boyer. And it get the deal with GGs, (not necessarily all about fielding, hello Mr. Palmeiro) and "advanced metrics". The thing with Brooks is that he did it in the limelight, on a national stage with incredible pressure, where everyone got to see it. For my money, I'll take Mr. Robinson with all due respect to the others.

  7. I want to say Brooks Robinson even though I never saw him play (he looked awfully good in highlights though). However, with as hard as batters hit the ball these days, it's tough to not put someone current at the top of that list. How any third baseman gets their glove on those shots, I don't know. I'm repeatedly amazed by Justin Turner's glovework.

  8. Past: Brooks Robinson. Present: Nolan Arenado. I obviously never saw Robinson play, and I have yet to see a current third baseman who can light a candle to Arenado on defense (or offense, for that matter).

  9. I don't know...I'm kinda thinking Adrien Beltre has a case for the greatest defensive 3rd baseman ever. Granted, it's hard to compare via the eye test since Brooks was before my time. However, with modern defensive metrics available to us now, Beltre could be the man... I haven't really done any research into it, so I could be way off here.

  10. This is definitely a tough comp. I can't imagine Robinson could play a better 3B than a guy like Rolen or Arenado or Machado. But in today's game, he'd probably be bigger/strong/faster right alongside those guys. We're always trying to compare the sluggers, but never really thought about it from a fielding perspective.

  11. hackenbush - i know, right?

    zippy zappy - yeah, it's challenging to compare players from different generations... but i've gotta admit i've learned a lot writing this post and reading peoples comments.

    jeremya1um - i'm a homer too. i've had the pleasure of watching matt chapman the past couple of seasons. that guy is a pretty awesome fielder. and laureano is pretty entertaining in center field.

    johnnys trading spot - adding batting into the equation creates a whole new layer for debate. it's hard for me to have an actual legit opinion b/c i only see the numbers and the highlights, so i leave it up to the experts who study baseball and watch a lot of games.

    commishbob - if you said someone else, i would have thought your account was hacked

    acrackedbat - i figured a nice copy of that card and a magnetic would set me back about the same price i paid for this slabbed copy ;)

    svasti7 - i like your point on how brooks did it in the limelight. baseball fans all over the country were watching his personal highlight show during the 1970 world series.

    night owl - thanks for pointing out justin turner. always thought of him for his hitting, but i just watched a defensive highlight video of his from 2016. very impressive

    nick - if i were building a dream team of current players, arenado would get my vote at 3rd as well.

    mark hoylr - love the support he's getting... especially from someone who knows his vintage cardboard.

    matt - it's easy to only remember beltre for his bat... but the guy had multiple gold gloves and is in the top 10 of all-time defensive war leaders

    the lost collector - yeah... i'd say most all-time comparisons focus on batting. and when it does focus on fielding brooks is involved.