For many fans who remember the 1990s, Robin Ventura was the sidekick to Frank Thomas on the White Sox. He was a handsome Gold Glove winner at third base with a sharp line-drive bat.
But the Sox years were only Act I: Ventura actually had his best season when he was 31 and in the National League. He was an All-Star with the Yankees when he was 34 years old. How many folks remember that he played in the postseason for the Dodgers in 2004, his last games in Major League Baseball.
Later, Ventura managed the Pale Hose for five seasons, with not much success, though the players he had on his rosters were fairly pedestrian. Beloved by the fans in the South Side of Chicago, he was never really blamed for the losses. Mostly, as a skipper Ventura was known for the games he didn’t manage: he was tossed from 15 games in only five seasons.
Ventura is notable as a player and a White Sox icon. But he’s also emblematic of a type of player we’ve seen the last few decades.
What Is the Ventura Class of Third Basemen?
Robin Ventura is the namesake of the Ventura Class of third basemen. The players in this class have several traits:
- They are tall and strong, and hit for power, but not tremendous power. They typically hit a lot of doubles to go along with 20-30 dingers.
- These players are major league-ready at an early age and they exhibit plate discipline.
- They are run producers: if you plop them in the middle of the lineup, they can get you 90-100 RBIs.
- They are above average, award-winning defensive players, AND
- They normally establish themselves as the best players in history at their position for their franchise.
Third basemen in the Ventura Class are:
You might put Ken McMullen and Ken Boyer in the class too, but McMullen wasn’t as good as the others, and Boyer is too good to be in the group. The Ventura Class of third basemen exist in the space between very good and great: and all seven players listed above are in that range.
A few of these third basemen are extremely similar.
Ventura, Wright, Longoria, and Rolen
Four players in this class are extremely similar: Ventura, Wright, Longoria, and Rolen:
- All became regulars at the age of 22
- All were clearly major league caliber players at that age and had fine rookie (or first full) seasons.
- Each hit a lot of doubles, hit 25-30 homers fairly regularly, and topped 100 runs batted in a few times.
- Each of those four players won multiple Gold Glove awards.
- All of these players, except Longoria, averaged at least 70 walks per season.
- Ventura (White Sox), Longoria (Rays), and Wright (Mets) are the greatest third basemen in the history of their primary franchise.
- None of the four are in the Hall of Fame plaque, though Rolen is making progress.
Season Stats For Ventura Class Third Basemen
The 100 Greatest Third Basemen of All-Time >