Deciding who is the best at something is always difficult, but measuring baseball defense is even more difficult. There are multiple statistics to look at and there are multiple excellent defenders. It was incredibly difficult to choose one person as the best defender in the league.
Nolan Arenado is the best defender in the MLB. Arenado is a 29-year-old third baseman who plays for the Colorado Rockies and is from Newport Beach, California. He’s one of baseball’s premier talents and is among the best Major League Baseball players in the league right now. He recently signed an 8-year, $260 million extension with the Rockies, although he has expressed interest in opting out before 2027.
You’ve seen his highlights everywhere, whether you wanted to or not. It seems like there’s always a Nolan Arenado highlight on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays. He does it all – his dives, bear handed throws and off-balance throws to first and his overall athleticism make him a must-watch player. If a ball gets hit to Arenado, it seems like he always finds a way to get the batter out. He makes the hardest of plays look easy.
Nolan Arenado will only get better at defense, which is scary for opposing hitters but is great for fans. Arenado is only 29 years old and is just entering his prime, which means he’ll be lighting up the hot corner for years to come.
In his career, Arenado has already won seven Gold Glove Awards, five in a row, three Platinum glove awards in a row, has five All-Star Game appearances, and was the first third baseman in Major League Baseball history to win Gold Glove in each of his first five seasons.
Third base is an incredibly stacked position. There are multiple talented defenders at third base such as Matt Chapman, Anthony Rendon, Manny Machado, and Andrelton Simmons but Arenado comes out on top. During the 2017 MLB season, no position generated a higher WAR (Wins Above Replacement) than third base at 2.7 WAR on average, but Arenado still won the Gold Glove Award and finished 4th in NL MVP Voting. Another cool fact is since Nolan Arenado’s 2013 debut, he has 105 DRS. The next most at third base is Manny Machado, with 88 DRS.
There is an astonishing stat that proves Nolan Arenado is the best defender in the MLB is can be compared to the all-time great third baseman: the average defensive WAR per season. Arenado, at only 29 years old and just entering his prime with a high ceiling and can only get better beats out Frank Robinson (1.68 dWAR), Adrian Beltre (1.39 dWAR), Clete Boyer (1.34 dWAR), Scott Rolen (1.21 dWAR) and Mike Schmidt (1.21 dWAR) with a 1.85 dWAR. Arenado, on average has a dWAR twice as high as Mike Schmidt, who many refer to as the best third baseman ever.
Walt Weiss, a former MLB shortstop, manager, and coach said Nolan Arenado was “the best third baseman I’ve ever seen.” Current Rockies manager Bud Black called Arenado “the best defensive player in the game.” This is incredibly high praise from two accomplished baseball men considering the other incredibly talented players that have step foot on a baseball field.
Nolan Arenado isn’t just good at defense, he’s excellent at it. He’s an incredibly fun player to watch in the field and kids everywhere attempt to mimic his bare hand throws. He’s must-watch baseball. Nolan Arenado is up there with the all-time great third baseman. He might just be the best third baseman to ever step on a baseball field.