MLB third baseman tiers: Hot corner high on franchise-caliber talent

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Third base, the most historically underrepresented position in the Hall of Fame, is currently loaded. The hot corner is sizzling.

Last season, there were 20 position players that posted a bWAR of at least 5.0 -- the rough description of an All-Star campaign. Four of those players were third basemen: Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Matt Chapman, Jose Ramirez. The oldest of these players was Arenado, at 27. All of them, in other words, are either early in their peak phase, or haven't yet reached it.

That 4-of-20 observation is telling. That means 20 percent of All-Star-caliber position players last season were young third basemen. There has been only one season since 1901 when that percentage was higher:

Some of these seasons make the list because the total number of 5-WAR players in the league that season was low. For instance, in both the 1902 and 1958 seasons, baseball featured just 11 5-WAR players apiece. The historical average is 18.8 5-WAR players per season. So the high 2018 figure for third basemen is not a reflection of a low league total. Last season saw a higher-than-average overall number of 5-WAR players.

The really impressive thing about that young third baseman list for 2018, comprised of young All-Stars who should maintain their excellence or improve in 2019 and beyond, is who is not on it. Kris Bryant isn't on it because of his injury issues last season. Manny Machado isn't on it because the former All-Star third baseman made a rare mid-career move over to shortstop.

Best of all: The most anticipated prospect of the 2019 season -- 19-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. -- isn't on the list, either. He couldn't be, because he has yet to appear in the majors. But if the projection systems and prospect experts are right, Guerrero will further bolster what already is a historically strong crop of young third basemen.