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Thursday, July 23, 2009

BEST: Shortstop

Shortstop is an interesting position. In little league, its where all the best players play (while they are not pitching or occasionally roaming center field). And for a while, it was where weak bats with outstanding gloves played. And then there was ARod/Jeter/Garciaparra. With a few exceptions, SS has once again become a light hitting position in the big leagues. Here are my picks for the best Shortstops in history:

3. Cal RipkenRipken broke the light-hitting shortstop mold of the 70's. He could hit. And was underrated as a fielder. He threw the ball so effortlessly to first. He went to 19 straight All-Star games, won 2 MVPs, and ROY. He hit 431 HRs and had over 3000 hits. And there was the games played streak. Not bad for a the number three spot.

2. Alex RodriguezYou might call foul on this one for a variety of reasons. He has played more games at SS than at 3rd base. He also won 2 Gold Gloves for the two seasons prior to coming to the Yankees. He should be playing shortsop right now instead of that Jeter guy. He has won 3 MVPs, 9 top 10's in MVP voting, and 12 All-Star selections. He has a career OPS+ of 147 and 570 HR and counting. I hate that he did steroids but I can't leave him off my list because of it. I may have sub-consciously dropped him from the top spot because of them (or it may have been all those games at 3rd base). I figure he will be the most controversial pick.

1. Honus Wagner
To many collectors, Wagner is simply the face on the most famous sports card ever. He was a great player. He batted .327, with a .391 OBP, and an OPS+ of 150 for his career. He did play in the teens, but he ranks in the top 10 in career hits, doubles, triples, and stolen bases. Rodriguez is hot on his heels for the top spot but maybe not as a shortstop. Wagner was too good to be ignored.

Others in the conversation:

Cap'n Jeter
- Jeter is a fantastic player. He will certainly reach 3000 hits, all in pinstripes. His 4 rings and .304 postseason average will take him straight to Cooperstown. But he is not the best shortstop on his own team. Sorry Yankee fans.

Arky Vaughn
- Second best shortstop of his era behind Honus Wagner.


Hanley Ramirez - He's the only current SS that can even be considered. He is 25 and has won a ROY and followed it with 2 outstanding seasons. He is playing even better this year. His average is up, strikeouts are down, and his power numbers are holding steady. Too bad he is stuck in Florida. Ramirez doesn't get the credit he deserves. I don't think he'll be top-three all-time but you never know. He certainly has the potential.

As usual, what do you think?



Carl Crawford Cards said...

Nice list. I feel like a lot of folks underrate Ripken because "the streak" was so big for so long they quit paying attention to his play.

Unknown said...
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--David said...

I have to say Ripken. Call me sentimental, call me a fool, call me a sentimental fool. Either way you cut it, the man not only played a LOT, he played WELL!

Randy Samuelson said...

How many career hits did Wagner have as a shortstop?