Talented Third Basemen In A.L. West Recalls Similar Trio From Nearly 20 Years Ago
Matt Chapman:Sixth Best Player In Entire League, But Only Fourth Best In His Division?
Less than a month ago, the All-Star finished as a runner up in the race for the Most Valuable Player in the American League. Suddenly, however, he finds himself ranked in the bottom half in his division at his position.
Matt Chapman, the Gold Glove third baseman for the Oakland Athletics, is now ranked behind two other counterparts in the A.L. West. He already rated just behind a fellow MVP runner up, Alex Bregman of the pennant winning Houston Astros, who finished just ahead of Chapman and just behind Los Angeles outfielder Mike Trout.
Now, after a recent record-breaking free agent contract, another third baseman who finished as a runner up in the MVP race has joined the A.L. West. Anthony Rondon, who finished second in the MVP race as a member of the World Series Champion Washington Nationals, has signed to on to be a teammate of Trout on the Angels.
That signing has dropped Chapman to the third spot on the pecking order of third baseman in his division and, if the speculation of another trade materializes, his status could drop even further. Many baseball sources have stated that the Texas Rangers are interested in trading for Kris Bryant, the third baseman of the Chicago Cubs who was a runner up for National League MVP two seasons ago.
Baseball has not seen a plethora of talent at one position in the same division for nearly twenty years, which also happened to involve third base in the A.L. West. Those outstanding talents actually created a problem before they even reached the Major League, for all three were slated to participate in the Arizona Fall League.
For the first time in its seven year existence, the AFL in 2001 decided to organize the six teams by the divisions in MLB. The arrangement made sense, providing a little more inventive to win the trophy and prove which division had more talent.
The problem, however, became apparent when the rosters were released, causing much consternation for the clubs in the A.L. West. The top three prospects in that division all played the same position, leaving a reduced amount of playing time for one or two or even all three during their AFL stint.
Eric Chavez was projected to man the hot corner for Oakland, Troy Glaus was expected to do the same for the Angels, and Hank Blalock was the third baseman of the future for the Rangers. All three did indeed live up to their expectations, in spite of having their experience in the AFL limited because of the glut at third.
As might be expected, baseball officials decided to scrap the divisional teams for the AFL after that year, going back to the former arrangement. Had it not been for the trio of Chavez and Glaus and Blalock, we might still be seeing the divisions playing each other in the desert every September.
Almost twenty years later, we can see another trio at the hot corner in the West. If the rumored trade brings Bryant or former NFL Josh Donaldson to Texas, that trio would become a quartet.