Regarded as the leaders in the field, Shortstops are often known for having a good glove and some speed. Though there have been a few instances in which power hitting shortstops come along such as Arod, though it is rare to find a batter with that kind of power in his bat while also being swift enough on his feet to play short. What you typically find at short are smaller guys who have speed and a great glove. Of all positions, Shortstop is the one in which a player’s fielding is more important than his hitting.
10) Pee Wee Reese
Reese was the mainstay shortstop behind the Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers. The 10x All Star is well regarded as a great shortstop, however the numbers don’t match the legend. Reese batted over .300 once, rarely crossed the the 25 doubles plateau and hit over 15 homers just once when he hit 16 in 1949. That would also be the only season he led the league in runs scored with 132, a mark that he wouldn’t come close to again. He did have 5 seasons with 20+ stolen bases, leading the league with 30 in 1952. As far as his glove goes, he has a better fielding percentage than just 2 other players on this list.
9) Phil Rizzuto
Rizzuto is another player touted as a great shortstop with little statistical evidence to back up the claim. Like Reese, he was a week hitter and in many respects was worse than Reese with the bat. Rizzuto never had more than 7 homers, 68 RBI or 22 steals. He did hit for average slightly better than Reese though, batting over .300 twice with a high of .324 during his MVP season of 1950. As far as fielding goes, Rizzuto’s career fielding percentage of .968 is slightly better than Reese’s .962.
8) Omar Vizquel
Vizquel was a great fielding shortstop throughout his career winning 11 Gold Gloves and holds the 2nd highest fielding percentage for shortstops of all time. At the plate he was weak, with one season over .300 when he hit .333 in 1999. He hit over 10 homers just once and over 30 doubles 4 times. He was quick on the bases, stealing 20+ bases 8 times and over 40 bases twice.
7) Ozzie Smith
Ozzie Smith’s claim to fame was his glove. He has the highest Range on this list and ranks third in fielding percentage. He also won 13 Gold Glove awards during his career. If it weren’t for his glove he would likely be unknown to the baseball world as he had one of the weakest bats in baseball. His best season at the plate was in 1987 when he had career highs with 104 runs scored, 75 RBI, 40 doubles and a .303 average. Along with his glove he did show speed on basepaths, averaging 37 steals a season during his career.
6) Arky Vaughan
Vaughan wasn’t great with his glove, but is one of the better for-average hitters among shortstops. He only had one season in which he failed to bat over .300 and led the league in batting with a .385 in 1935. He had little power in his swing, hitting over 10 homers just twice in his career, but he did have 10+ triples 8 times. During that 1935 season, Vaughan recorded the 28th highest OBP with a .491. Removing Ted Williams, Bonds and Ruth from that list, Vaughan’s .491 OBP ranks 11th all time.
5) Robin Yount
Yount was a well rounded batter, hitting over .300 six times in his career with a career high of .331 during his first MVP season in 1982. That same season Yount led the league in hits, doubles and slugging percentage. He also had a career high 29 homers that season, it was one of four seasons that he hit over 20 homers. He also consistently stole 11-22 steals each season of his career. Though he was sufficient with his bat, he is one of the weaker fielders on this list.
4) Derek Jeter
One of the better hitting shortstops on this list, Jeter batted over .300 in 12 seasons. He also consistently hit over 10 homers a season and scored over 100 runs. He was sporadic on the bases, stealing 30+ bases once every four seasons of his career. Jeter gets most of his legend from the postseason where he has had some great ALDS series and ovrall played well in the World Series, though he typically struggled in the ALCS. In the field, Jeter had a .972 fielding percentage which ranks fairly high among others on this list, however his 4.04 range is one of the lowest.
3) Cal Ripken Jr
Ripken holds the shortstop record for homeruns as he consistently hit over 25 homers during his career. He also hit over 25 doubles in 14 of his 15 seasons as a shortstop. He rarely stole bases, but hit over .300 five times in his career. He won two MVP awards while playing short. As far as fielding goes, Ripken was more than capable. He had a career fielding percentage of .979 and a range of 4.73.
2) Ernie Banks
Ernie Banks was a rare power hitting shortstop, hitting over 40 homers four times in his career and leading the league in homers twice. He also led the league in RBI with a high of 143 during his second MVP season of 1959. Those 2 MVP seasons were also the only two seasons that he batted over .300. Not the best fielder, Banks had a fielding percentage of .969 while playing shortstop during his career.
1) Honus Wagner
Playing his entire career in the Dead Ball Era, Honus Wagner is one of the best hitters of all time. He wasn’t the best fielding shortstop, but no shortstop could match his bat. Wagner led the league in RBI 4 times, triples 3 times, doubles 7 times, stolen bases 4 times and runs scored twice. He also led the league in slugging percentage 6 times despite only hitting 101 homers in his career. He had a career average of .328 and led the league in that category 8 times. He batted a high of .381 in 1900. That season he also had a career high 22 triples and 45 doubles.
Check back Thursday for our take on Outfielders.