It was not a good season for third basemen. Only 11 managed to receive 500 plate appearances. Stars like Ryan Zimmerman, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez all missed significant time. Sixteen teams didn't even get a .700 OPS out of their third basemen which means more than half the league was getting below-average offensive production from a position that is supposed to provide offense.
All that makes Aramis Ramirez an attractive free-agent option, despite the clear risk he comes with: He's a poor defender, he'll turn 34 during the season and he's one year removed from a .241 season (granted, his only subpar season since 2003). Here are five teams Ramirez could end up with.
1. Los Angeles Angels: Despite getting just seven home runs from their third basemen (Alberto Callaspo and Maicer Izturis), the Angels' production wasn't that bad: Their .733 OPS ranked 11th in the majors and their .354 OBP ranked third. They've talked about trying out Mark Trumbo at third, but he has never played a game there in the majors or minors. While new GM Jerry DiPoto said he wasn't too interested in Ramirez, Ramirez's agent told the Los Angeles Times the Angels are one of four or five teams that has "serious" interest in his client.
2. Detroit Tigers: With Brandon Inge plunging to a .197 batting average, Detroit third basemen hit a combined .222/.286/.331. Inge is under contract for one more year at $5.5 million, but considering he wasn't a good hitter to begin with, the chances of a rebound appear slim. The Tigers are in a pretty good position with $23 million of Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez coming off the books, although Justin Verlander's $7.25 million increase will eat up some of that. The biggest concern is that an infield featuring Ramirez, Jhonny Peralta and Miguel Cabrera would be a huge defensive liability.
3. Milwaukee Brewers: Only the Mariners had a lower OPS than the Brewers' .598 mark generated mostly by Casey McGehee. Do the Brewers give McGehee another chance? His defense isn't that good, so it's not like he deserves a spot in the lineup because of his glove. Ramirez makes sense from the perspective that he's also a viable option at first base to replace Fielder.
4. Miami Marlins: Marlins third basemen hit six home runs with a .315 OBP. Ouch. They apparently want to spend money. The days of Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs need to end. If they can't lure Jose Reyes to play shortstop (sliding Hanley Ramirez to third), Ramirez could be a nice fit, a power bat to slot alongside Mike Stanton.
5. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies have prospect Nolan Arenado, who hit .298 with 20 home runs as a 20-year-old in the California League. He could likely outproduce the miserable .222 average the Rockies received in 2011 from third base, but probably needs at least one more year in the minors. Ramirez could hold down third base for year and then slide over to first to replace the aging Todd Helton if necessary (Helton is signed through 2013, but his salary takes big drop to $5 million per year the next two seasons).