Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review third base. If you are just catching on we are beginning a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.
Red Sox Third Base
Mike Lowell was always the "other guy" the Red Sox acquired in the Beckett deal. He was a bit under the radar for good reason. He came off a season for the Marlins where he batted .236 with 8 homeruns and 58 RBI's in 500 at bats. Not the kind of production you would hope for out of a third baseman. Apparently, a little bit of time to heal and a change of scenery was all he needed. In 2006, Lowell flashed an impressive glove, and rediscovered his stroke to the tune of 20 homeruns and 47 doubles with a .284 average. Although I don't mind, he was still robbed of the gold glove that year. 2007 proved to be an even better year for Lowell at the plate, but worse on the field. He made 15 errors as compared to the 6 he made the year before. But he finished the season with a .324 average (first time he's finished a season above .300), 21 homeruns, and 37 doubles. His 120 RBI's led the team surpassing both Ortiz and Ramirez. Not bad for an under the radar kind of guy. He also won the World Series MVP last season. Many people tend to write him off because his swing is tailor made for Fenway Park. He just doesn't have the same success outside of there. Lucky for him half his games will be at Fenway Park.
Yankees Third Baseman
If I had to sum up Alex Rodriguez with three letters, I would use these: M.V.P. Last season he earned it. I was at the game where he hit a walk off three-run homer against closer Joe Borowski with two outs and two strikes in the ninth. He had plenty of big moments last season and he literally caried the offense for large portions of the season. As Giambi nursed his foot, and Abreu tried to solve the riddle of what a bat is used for, Alex Rodriguez provided the only consistant power for the Yankees. Don't get me wrong, Posada, Cano and Matsui were forces to be reckoned with in that lineup, but not anywhere close to the .314 average, 54 homeruns, and 156 RBI's held by A-Rod. More impressively for anyone who followed the Yankees in 2006, is that his defense improved dramatically. He made 13 errors at third as compared to the 24 he made the year before.
Third Base Winner: Yankees. Lowell isn't a dud by any means, but he's up against the reigning AL MVP, and the leader of most offensive categories that matter. They played similar defense last season so that isn't a huge consideration, though in a typical year Lowell is better on the field. They both had career years last season, but A-Rod's was more impressive. Let's be honest, If A-Rod batted .324 with 21 homeruns and 120 RBI's it would be considered a down year.