Braves: Bleacher Report gets it right with their ranking of the best third baseman of 2021

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I have no problem with Bleacher Report, but I think we can all agree some of their ideas are just downright preposterous. I mean, I can’t tell you how many mock trades I’ve read on that site that have made me spit up my drink and roll on the floor laughing. However, when it comes to their ranking of MLB’s best third basemen from 2021, they got it right.

Austin Riley may not have been named a finalist for the NL MVP award, but his breakout season was nothing short of spectacular. 6.1 WAR, .303 batting average, and an .898 OPS were numbers not even the biggest optimist could have imagined. Hell, I never thought Riley would ever hit over .300 in his career, and the craziest part about it is, he started really slow. After not hitting a homer and batting just .182 over the first three weeks of the season, Riley turned it on and smacked all 33 of his home runs from April 18th on, recording a .313 batting average and .933 OPS, and he was just as effective against the best pitchers in the game in the postseason.

His transformation at the plate was truly magical, and it was just as apparent throughout the season with the glove. By the end of the season, Riley was as good as anyone defensively at the hot corner, making him one of the most complete players in the game. For all of those reasons, he came in as the second-best third baseman of 2021. As a Braves fan, I would have put him first, but the fact that we can even argue that Riley might have been better than Jose-freaking-Ramirez is pretty incredible. It’s a testament to the countless hours he put in behind the scenes, and I have no doubt in my mind he will be in the MVP conversation for many years to come.

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