Brooks Robinson, the all-time leader in career assists by a third baseman

In baseball, an assist (denoted by A) is a defensive statistic, baseball being one of the few sports in which the defensive team controls the ball. An assist is credited to every defensive player who fields or touches the ball (after it has been hit by the batter) prior to the recording of a putout, even if the contact was unintentional. For example, if a ball strikes a player's leg and bounces off him to another fielder, who tags the baserunner, the first player is credited with an assist. A fielder can receive a maximum of one assist per out recorded. An assist is also credited if a putout would have occurred, had another fielder not committed an error. For example, a shortstop might field a ground ball cleanly, but the first baseman might drop his throw. In this case, an error would be charged to the first baseman, and the shortstop would be credited with an assist. Unlike putouts, exactly one of which is awarded for every defensive out, an out can result in no assists being credited (as in strikeouts, fly outs and line drives), or in assists being credited to multiple players (as in relay throws and rundown plays). Third base, or 3B, is the third of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner in order to score a run for that player's team. A third baseman is the player on the team playing defense who fields the area nearest third base, and is responsible for the majority of plays made at that base. In the scoring system used to record defensive plays, the third baseman is assigned the number 5. The third baseman requires good reflexes in reacting to batted balls, often being the closest infielder (roughly 90–120 feet) to the batter. The third base position requires a strong and accurate arm, as the third baseman often makes long throws to first base. The third baseman sometimes must throw quickly to second base in time to start a double play, and must also field fly balls in both fair and foul territory.

Third basemen are most commonly credited with an assist when they field a ground ball and throw the ball either to the first baseman to retire the batter/runner, or to the second baseman to force out a runner, perhaps beginning a double play. Other common ways in which third basemen gain an assist are by throwing out a runner attempting to score (perhaps on a squeeze play), perhaps on a relay throw from the left fielder, rundown plays in which a runner is stranded between bases, throwing out a runner attempting to steal home on a pickoff throw, and throwing to first or second base after catching a line drive in order to retire a runner before they can tag up. Third basemen typically accumulate fewer assists than second basemen or shortstops due to the frequency of ground balls to the middle infielders, but far more than players at other positions.

Because the physical demands of playing third base historically hindered players from having long careers at the position, all but three of the 25 third basemen with the longest careers have reached the major leagues since 1943; even as increasing strikeouts in baseball have reduced the frequency of other defensive outs including ground outs, longer seasons and careers in recent decades have more than compensated for the difference. The top 15 leaders in career assists at third base all reached the major leagues after 1950, and all but nine of the top 62 single-season totals have been recorded since 1957. Brooks Robinson is the all-time leader in career assists as a third baseman with 6,205,[1][2][3] which was 1,624 more than any other player at the time of his retirement; he remains the only third baseman with more than 6,000 career assists.

Key

Rank Rank amongst leaders in career assists. A blank field indicates a tie.
Player (2024 As) Number of recorded assists during the 2024 Major League Baseball season
MLB Total career assists as a third baseman in Major League Baseball
* Denotes elected to National Baseball Hall of Fame
Bold Denotes active player[a]

List

Evan Longoria, the active leader in assists as a third baseman and 31st all-time
Graig Nettles' 412 assists in 1971 are the most by a third baseman.
Mike Schmidt holds the National League's career and single-season records.
Lave Cross held the major league record for 59 years.
Arlie Latham held the major league record for 15 years.
Pie Traynor held the National League record for 32 years.
Rank Player (2024 As) Assists as third baseman Other leagues, notes
MLB American League National League
1 Brooks Robinson* 6,205 6,205 0 Held the single-season record, 1967-1971 (tie)
2 Graig Nettles 5,279 4,616 663 Holds the single-season record of 412 (set in 1971)
3 Adrián Beltré* 5,182 3,365 1,817
4 Mike Schmidt* 5,045 0 5,045 Holds the National League single-season record (404 in 1974)
5 Buddy Bell 4,925 4,151 774
6 Ron Santo* 4,581 49 4,532 Held National League record, 1973-1987; held NL single-season record, 1966-1974
7 Gary Gaetti 4,531 3,703 828
8 Eddie Mathews* 4,322 38 4,284 Held major league record, 1965-1971; held National League record, 1964-1973
9 Wade Boggs* 4,246 4,246 0
10 Aurelio Rodriguez 4,150 4,022 128
11 Scott Rolen* 4,081 385 3,696
12 Ron Cey 4,018 3 4,015
13 Tim Wallach 3,992 85 3,907
14 Terry Pendleton 3,891 33 3,858
15 Sal Bando 3,720 3,720 0
16 Lave Cross 3,715 1,609 2,057 Includes 49 in American Association; held major league record, 1906-1965
17 Jimmy Collins* 3,702 1,974 1,728 Held American League record, 1901-1902; held AL single-season record, 1901-1902
18 George Brett* 3,674 3,674 0
19 Eddie Yost 3,659 3,659 0 Held American League record, 1960-1969
20 Ken Boyer 3,652 74 3,578
21 Aramis Ramírez 3,627 0 3,627
22 Robin Ventura 3,552 2,695 857
23 Arlie Latham 3,546 0 1,544 Includes 1,883 in American Association, 119 in Players' League; held major league record, 1891-1906; held single-season record, 1884-1886, 1891-1892; held NL single-season record, 1891-1892
24 Pie Traynor* 3,521 0 3,521 Held National League record, 1932-1964
25 Stan Hack 3,494 0 3,494
26 Chipper Jones* 3,447 0 3,447
27 Larry Gardner 3,408 3,408 0 Held American League record, 1921-1960
28 Matt Williams 3,376 301 3,075
29 Willie Kamm 3,345 3,345 0
30 George Kell* 3,303 3,303 0
31 Evan Longoria (0) 3,297 2,440 857
32 Nolan Arenado (0) 3,263 0 3,263
33 Harlond Clift 3,262 3,262 0 Held the single-season record, 1937-1971
34 Vinny Castilla 3,261 230 3,031
35 Pinky Higgins 3,258 3,258 0
36 Clete Boyer 3,218 2,193 1,025
37 Doug DeCinces 3,215 3,208 7
38 Home Run Baker* 3,155 3,155 0 Held American League record, 1918-1920
39 Ken Caminiti 3,127 99 3,028
40 Darrell Evans 3,123 38 3,085
41 Billy Nash 3,122 0 2,728 Includes 307 in Players' League, 87 in American Association; held National League record, 1895-1910
42 Ken Keltner 3,070 3,070 0
43 Ossie Bluege 3,040 3,040 0
44 Jimmy Austin 2,949 2,949 0 Held American League record, 1920-1921
45 David Wright 2,946 0 2,946
46 Bill Bradley 2,943 2,489 359 Includes 95 in Federal League; held American League record, 1903-1918
47 Willie Jones 2,934 10 2,924
48 Kyle Seager 2,930 2,930 0
49 Billy Shindle 2,891 0 2,226 Includes 663 in American Association, 2 in Players' League; held single-season record, 1888-1890, 1892-1916; held NL single-season record, 1892-1966
50 Doug Rader 2,887 103 2,784
51 Frank Malzone 2,884 2,884 0
52 Harry Steinfeldt 2,805 0 2,805 Held National League record, 1910-1932
53 Carney Lansford 2,799 2,799 0
54 Bob Elliott 2,744 197 2,547
55 Eric Chavez 2,732 2,618 114
56 Ken McMullen 2,731 2,523 208
57 Todd Zeile 2,724 490 2,234
58 Mike Lowell 2,688 980 1,708
59 Pinky Whitney 2,640 0 2,640
60 Heinie Groh 2,554 0 2,554
61 Bill Madlock 2,546 33 2,513
62 Jeff Cirillo 2,545 1,124 1,421
63 Travis Fryman 2,530 2,530 0
64 Milt Stock 2,508 0 2,508
65 Troy Glaus 2,505 1,909 596
66 Manny Machado (0) 2,493 1,475 1,018
67 Joe Randa 2,489 1,947 542
68 Art Devlin 2,481 0 2,481
69 Charlie Hayes 2,480 447 2,033
70 Ken Reitz 2,477 0 2,477
71 Billy Werber 2,415 1,337 1,078
72 Jimmy Dykes 2,403 2,403 0
73 Eddie Foster 2,384 2,384 0
74 Mike Mowrey 2,363 0 2,095 Includes 268 in Federal League
75 Richie Hebner 2,346 49 2,297
76 Jerry Denny 2,338 0 2,338 Held major league record, 1890-1891; held National League record, 1888-1895; held NL single-season record, 1886-1887
77 Josh Donaldson (0) 2,336 2,001 335
78 Don Hoak 2,331 0 2,331
79 Steve Buechele 2,281 1,506 775
80 Bob Bailey 2,262 2 2,260
81 Bobby Byrne 2,221 0 2,221
82 Brandon Inge 2,189 2,164 25
83 Doc Casey 2,184 633 1,551 Held American League record, 1902-1903
84 Ryan Zimmerman 2,181 0 2,181
85 Red Smith 2,136 0 2,136
86 Denny Lyons 2,130 0 929 Includes 1,201 in American Association
87 Red Rolfe 2,128 2,128 0
88 Tommy Leach 2,127 0 2,127
89 Mike Pagliarulo 2,119 1,836 283
90 Chase Headley 2,078 865 1,213
91 Alex Rodriguez 2,076 2,076 0
92 Don Money 2,061 1,379 682
93 Brook Jacoby 2,058 2,052 6
94 Mike Moustakas (0) 2,046 1,694 352
95 Bill Melton 2,045 2,045 0
96 George Pinkney 2,042 0 923 Includes 1,119 in American Association
97 Paul Schaal 2,038 2,038 0
98 Ken Oberkfell 1,996 0 1,996
99 Hick Carpenter 1,991 0 328 Includes 1,663 in American Association; held major league record, 1888-1890
100 Bill Mueller 1,987 662 1,325
Don Wert 1,987 1,987 0

Other Hall of Famers

Player Assists as third baseman Other leagues, notes
MLB American League National League
Paul Molitor* 1,639 1,639 0
Deacon White* 1,619 0 1,457 Includes 161 in Players' League, 1 in National Association
John McGraw* 1,600 132 1,468
Freddie Lindstrom* 1,536 0 1,536
Tony Pérez* 1,496 0 1,496
Harmon Killebrew* 1,388 1,388 0
Joe Sewell* 1,253 1,253 0
Cal Ripken Jr.* 1,237 1,237 0
George Davis* 1,163 0 1,163
Bill McKechnie* 1,086 2 531 Includes 553 in Federal League
Edgar Martínez* 1,008 1,008 0
Bobby Wallace* 956 224 732
Judy Johnson* 948 0 0 Includes 437 in Eastern Colored League, 349 in Negro National League (second),
120 in American Negro League, 42 in East–West League (incomplete)
Frankie Frisch* 937 0 937
Jim Thome* 856 856 0
Joe Torre* 825 0 825
Jackie Robinson* 544 0 544
Cap Anson* 436 0 243 Includes 193 in National Association; held National League record, 1876-1877;
held single-season record, 1876-1877
Honus Wagner* 415 0 415
Rogers Hornsby* 392 5 387
Jud Wilson* 378 0 0 Includes 183 in Negro National League (second), 159 in Eastern Colored League,
23 in East–West League, 13 in American Negro League (incomplete)
Ray Dandridge* 286 0 0 Includes 286 in Negro National League (second) (incomplete)
Johnny Bench* 284 0 284
Jimmie Foxx* 278 246 32
Ryne Sandberg* 278 0 278
Buck Ewing* 264 0 264
Jim O'Rourke* 222 0 164 Includes 58 in National Association
Roger Connor* 215 0 215
King Kelly* 182 0 161 Includes 18 in American Association, 3 in Players' League
Joe Cronin* 127 127 0
Willie Wells* 73 0 0 Includes 66 in Negro National League (second), 7 in Negro American League (incomplete)

Notes

  1. ^ A player is considered inactive if he has announced his retirement or has not played for a full season.

References

  1. ^ "Brooks Robinson Career Stats". Baseball Reference. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  2. ^ Kates, Maxwell. "Brooks Robinson Bio". Society For American Baseball Research. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  3. ^ "Brooks Robinson Hall of Fame Profile". National Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 1, 2021.