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third down

two days ago at the hardball times, steve treder ran part 2 of his survey of the third-base position. (part 1 ran last week.) part two sorts the great third-baggers of history into three categories -- great bat, great glove, and great bat/great glove. the last of these lists contains only four names, and two of them play(ed) for the cardinals -- scott rolen and ken boyer. got me wondering: does the cardinal franchise have a particularly distinguished history at 3d base?

matterafact it does -- or at least appears to on a quick glance. to begin with, only 9 3bs in history have won an mvp award in either league. two of them have been cardinals: ken boyer and joe torre. no other franchise has had more than one. the others are -- well see if you can guess, i'll put `em at the end of the post.

second, cardinal 3bs have earned more than their fair share of gold gloves. the gold glove dates back to 1958, so there have been 48 of 'em awarded to nl 3bmen; the cards have taken 11 of the 48, or 23 percent. only one other franchise has earned more -- the phillies, with 13. moreover, the 48 nat'l league gold gloves have been divided among just 14 third-basemen, and 4 of 'em have been cardinals -- boyer, reitz, pendleton, and rolen. no other franchise can claim more than 2 gg 3bers, including the phillies (their 13 awards at the position are divided between mike schmidt with 10 and rolen with 3).

next item: st louis has had more than its share of all-star 3bmen. eight cardinal third basemen have made at least one all-star appearance -- rolen, torre, reitz, boyer, ray jablonski, eddie kazak, whitey kurowski, and pepper martin. that group made a total of 23 all-star appearances for stl at 3b. if we assume that every nl all-star roster has had two 3bs, then stl has filled 15 percent of the league's all-time 3b roster slots; if those slots were distributed evenly among the franchises, the cards would have filled just 9 pct.

the cards truly dominated this position in the mid-20th century. during the first 32 years of the all-star game (1933-64), stl held more than a quarter of the nl's all-star roster slots for third basemen -- 17 of 64 slots. pepper martin made the 1st three all-star teams (1933-35), whitey kurowski made five in a row (1943-47), eddie kazak and ray jablonski made one apiece (1949 and 1954, respectively), and kenny boyer made 7 appearances between 1956 and 1964.

and let's not forget that albert pujols came up as a third baseman.

the foregoing doesn't necessarily make stl the #1 3b franchise of all time, because of course i haven't looked at any other franchises. off the top of my head, i would think the yankees could make a case with a-rod, nettles, clete boyer, and bobby brown; ditto the phils, with schmidt rolen and allen; i see per baseball-refn'ce that the phillies can also claim puddin'head jones. the reds had tony perez, pete rose, and buddy bell; and of course the orioles had brooks robinson, decinces, and the aged ripken. if time permits i'll revisit this over the winter.

trivia answer: the other 3b mvps were a-rod (this year), chipper jones (99), caminiti (96), pendleton (91), schmidt (x3), brett (80), brooks robinson (64), and al rosen (53).