There is perhaps no MLB position more loaded with top-end talent than third base. And yet, the San Diego PadresManny Machado and Nolan Arenado of the St. Louis Cardinals have spent roughly a decade at the pinnacle, consistently thriving behind the plate and on the field.

They were again neck and neck in MLB Network’s Top 100 Players Right Now countdown, but Machado edged out Arenado by one spot to secure bragging rights. San Diego’s star slugger relishes the rivalry and knows the stiff competition at third drives him to elevate his game.

“This is why we play the game,” Machado told MLB Network after landing the No. 5 spot on the list. “You got the two best third basemen in the game for a long time. You got {Jose} Ramirez right behind us as well. it’s just a battle. I think it’s great for the game. We push each other.”

Machado debuted in the league in 2012, with Arenado right behind him a year later. Arenado has the slight advantage in most categories based on an entire body of work, but Machado carried the Padres for large chunks of 2023. He posted a .298 batting average, belted 32 home runs and had 102 RBIs. He finished runner-up to Paul Goldschmidt for National League MVP. Best guess who finished third.

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Both players will likely exceed 300 homers for their respective careers this season. Arenado is in the midst of a torrid run defensively, earning a Gold Glove in each of his 10 seasons. Machado has two in his own right. Jose Ramirez deserves some shine too, as his 44 doubles and 126 RBIS helped lead a scappry Cleveland Guardians squad into the postseason.

The competitive rivalry between Machado and Arenado has heated up with both being in the NL the last few seasons. Both of their teams have playoff hopes that could rely heavily on their continued prowess. With each star to push the other, it should not be a problem.

For now, though, the hot corner belongs to Machado. But just by a hair.