The 100 Greatest Shortstops of All-Time

The Top 100 Shortstops

Cal Ripken Jr.

1981—2001
HALL OF FAME

1

Few players were better matched with a team than Cal Ripken Jr. and the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were all about standard operating procedures. They stood for hard work, and they were conservative. The “Oriole Way” was introduced to young players the first day they put on a uniform. Cal’s father, Cal Sr., helped form the SOPs, and his son soaked it up. He became the living embodiment of the Oriole Way.

Alex Rodriguez

1994—2016

2

Rodriguez may have been a slightly better defender than Ripken, but he played 11,000 fewer innings at short. Wagner spent about 600 games in the outfield and at first base, and played in an era when the difference between the best players and the average players was very wide, which overstates his dominance. Consider also (please) the fact that Wagner and Ripken were exemplary heroes of the sport, while ARod was quite possibly the most self-deluded “poser” in the history of baseball.

Honus Wagner

1897—1917
HALL OF FAME

3

Wagner was a freak, one of those athletes who seemed genetically a generation ahead of his time. Like Wilt Chamberlain and Jim Brown, Joe Louis and Gordie Howe, and of course Babe Ruth a decade or so later, Wagner was just better than everyone else. He could throw harder, run faster, hit the ball farther than anyone else. The game came easy to him, and he could outthink the other players on the diamond too. In comparison to his league, his statistics are more impressive than anyone other than the Bambino.

Ernie Banks

1953—1971
HALL OF FAME

4

Banks became a superstar in his third year when he hit 44 home runs. He hit 40 homers four more times before he was 30, and he won two MVP awards.

Robin Yount

1974—1993
HALL OF FAME

5

Arky Vaughan

1932—1948
HALL OF FAME

6

As a hitter, Vaughan rates third behind Rodriguez and Wagner. He was a lefthanded batter somewhat like Tony Gwynn, hitting the ball the opposite way a lot. He was very patient, he led the league in walks three times, and his career walk-to-strikeout ratio was an impressive 3-to-1. Among players with at least 2,000 hits, that ranks third behind only Joe Sewell and Tris Speaker.

Pee Wee Reese

1940—1958
HALL OF FAME

7

There was no better shortstop in baseball in the 1940s and 1950s than Pee Wee Reese. The kid from Kentucky received MVP votes in 13 of his 16 seasons. He was the starting shortstop on six pennant-winning teams and a determined leader.

Ozzie Smith

1978—1996
HALL OF FAME

8

“I like to add my own little touch, I call it flair. Some people would call it hot-dogging, but I call it flair. It’s in a way, like an artist.” — Ozzie Smith

Alan Trammell

1977—1996
HALL OF FAME

9

Had no weakness in his game: Trammell was a very good shortstop and only tailed off a little with the glove because he suffered a serious shoulder injury in the middle of his career. He could run, steal bases, hit and hit for power, and he was the MVP of the 1984 World Series.

Luke Appling

1930—1950
HALL OF FAME

10

Appling won his second batting crown when he was 36 years old, and he ultimately hit .300 fifteen times. He played 22 years in the big leagues, every game as a member of the White Sox.

Derek Jeter

1995—2014
HALL OF FAME

11

Perfectly suited for the glare of New York, Jeter went out and played his ass off for two decades and won more than any shortstop in history. He never said anything controversial (or even mildly interesting), and he was a poor defender, but Jeter was a spark at the top of the order.

Lou Boudreau

1938—1952
HALL OF FAME

12

Boudreau may have had the most valuable season in history. In 1948 he was the best player in the American League: he hit .355 and got on base more than 45 percent of the time. He batted in the middle of the order and he hit for more power than ever, hitting a career-high 18 home runs. He walked 98 times and he struck out only nine times all season. He was also the best defensive shortstop in the league AND he managed the Indians to the World Championship.

Barry Larkin

1986—2004
HALL OF FAME

13

Larkin wanted to be a shortstop since he was a kid watching his idol Ozzie Smith on television. Growing up in Cincinnati he wanted to play for the Reds and replace Dave Concepcion at short. “That was what I always told myself,” Larkin said early in his career. “Concepcion was near the end of a great career, and I wanted to replace him. I wanted to play as long as he did with the Reds, and I wanted to be known as the Reds best all-time shortstop.” With his exciting blend of speed and power, and fantastic defense, Larkin went on to eclipse Concepcion by far.

Joe Cronin

1926—1945
HALL OF FAME

14

Bobby Wallace

1894—1918
HALL OF FAME

15

Bobby became the first shortstop to consistently field ground balls and fire the ball across the diamond as he was still stooped over and gathering himself. He became an expert at getting the baseball to his left, up the middle, and throwing across his body as he was moving toward first base. His revolutionary defensive play marveled teammates and became the talk of the league.

“As more speed afoot was constantly demanded for big league ball, I noticed the many infield bounders which the runner beat to first only by the thinnest fractions of a second,” Bobby said. “I also noted that the old-time three-phase movement, fielding a ball, coming erect for a toss and throwing to first wouldn’t do on certain hits with fast men, it was plain that the stop and toss had to be combined into a continuous movement.”

Phil Rizzuto

1941—1956
HALL OF FAME

16

The perfect example of the “old school shortstop”, Rizzuto was wiry, scrappy, and quick. He focused first on playing his defensive position, and gradually became a pesky hitter. He was a bold baserunner and a good bunter. He was one of the most beloved men to ever wear the Yankee pinstripes.

Jim Fregosi

1961—1978

17

Fregosi is still the greatest shortstop in Angels’ franchise history. He received MVP votes in each of his first eight seasons, was an All-Star nearly every year, and a very good player in every facet of the game. He was a lot like Alan Trammell in that way: no glaring weakness, good at everything, and a team leader.

Nomar Garciaparra

1996—2009

18

A sure-fire Hall of Famer for a decade, and an enigma for the last five years of his career. Nomar was Joe DiMaggio-lite for a while, a line-drive machine and an offensive force. But his defense was erratic and his body wore down too quickly to allow him to maintain his trajectory to Cooperstown.

Bert Campaneris

1964—1983

19

Born in a tiny Cuban village in south central Cuba, Campaneris was a skinny man with wide hips, narrow waist, and bony shoulders. He had sharp cheekbones, dark eyes, and a brilliant smile. Campaneris employed short, choppy strides to quickly scoot across the diamond, and he was among the fastest players in the league almost every year of his career. When he got on first base in Oakland, fans would chant “Go Go Go!” In his first dozen full seasons, he averaged 46 steals and led the league six times.

Johnny Pesky

1942—1954

20

Pesky was just that — pesky. He was a slap-hitting lefthanded batter who put the ball in play.As a rookie, Pesky banged out a league-best 205 hits and batted .331. Through three full seasons in the majors, Pesky had 620 hits and a career .330 average, but he missed three years in World War II, and like Garciaparra, once Pesky was traded from the Red Sox, his career spiraled quickly.

Troy Tulowitzki

2006—2019

21

When he was healthy, Tulowitzki compared favorably to other large shortstops like Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. His arm was better than either of those players, and his range to his left was superb for such a large infielder.

Joe Sewell

1920—1923
HALL OF FAME

22

Sewell was a line-drive hitter, a great fastball hitter, and he could do just about anything with a baseball bat. One season he had 22 bunt hits, and another year he had 41 sacrifice hits. He was the hardest batter to strike out in history, he struck out a total of 41 times in his last nine seasons. He was also a plus defender and he had a strong arm, so strong that he played third base for a few years.

Dave Bancroft

1915—1930
HALL OF FAME

23

A shrewd ballplayer, when Dave Bancroft was traded to the New York Giants (for a couple players and a bank-busting sum of $100,000 in the middle of the 1920 season), he reported to John McGraw’s clubhouse and was asked to meet with a coach to learn the team signs. “Did you change them?” Bancroft asked. “Because I already know what they are.”

Luis Aparicio

1956—1973
HALL OF FAME

24

Aparicio was a regular in all of his 18 seasons in the major leagues. I can’t find anyone else who did that, who came in as a rookie and started and was still a starter in his last season and every one in between. Despite being pretty small and putting himself in harm’s way around the bag at second, Little Looey was a durable fella and great with the glove.

Al Dark

1946—1960

25

Dark was a fantastic athlete, excelling in basketball, football, and baseball. He signed a bonus for $45,000 with the Braves in 1946 but couldn’t report immediately because he was still in the Marines. He dominated the competition in one season in the minors and was a starting shortstop in the big leagues in ’48 when he hit .322, won Rookie of the Year, and helped the Braves to their first pennant in 34 years.

Cecil Travis

1933—1947

26

Of all the players who missed years from the game while they were serving their country in a war, Cecil Travis probably suffered the most. He went from being the best shortstop in the league to being a bit player. His left foot never recovered from freezing during the Battle of the Bulge, and his throwing arm was not as powerful as it once was. He still managed a .314 career average.

Jimmy Rollins

2000—2016

27

Art Fletcher

1909—1922

28

The best “old” shortstops were Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, George Davis, Pee Wee Reese, Bobby Wallace, Barry Larkin, and Art Fletcher. That’s based on value from age 31 to 37. Fletcher didn’t get a starting job until he was 27 because he was stuck behind Al Bridwell, another very good defensive player. John McGraw had the prescience to realize that Fletcher was a star and for several years he was the best all-around shortstop in the National League, in the stretch between the Giants two dynasties.

Rico Petrocelli

1963—1976

29

Had a power arm, power bat, and dreamy eyes. His 1969 season, when he blasted 40 homers, was one of the best by a shortstop. He reached 15 homers six other times, but had to move to third base after back injuries.

Hanley Ramirez

2005—

30

There’s an old saying that goes: “You can’t teach hustle.” Even if you could teach it, Ramirez wouldn’t have bothered to learn it. Throughout his professional career, Ramirez proved that he was only going to give just enough to get by. He was gifted enough that he won a batting title even though he probably phoned it in more than any player in his era.

Joe Tinker

1902—1916
HALL OF FAME

31

Tinker was one of the most balanced players to ever play shortstop. Only five players in baseball history have accumulated 30 Wins Above Replacement on both offense and defense. There’s the three great Orioles’ infielders: Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., and Luis Aparicio, then there’s Ozzie Smith. Finally, there’s Joe Tinker, the only one of the five who earned more defensive WAR than offensive WAR.

Vern Stephens

1941—1955

32

The man whom the St. Louis fans called “Buster” and his teammates called “Junior”, became the first shortstop to hit 20 homers three times and the first shortstop in the American League to win the home run title. After he was traded to the Red Sox he taught himself to pull the ball over the Green Monster and averaged 33 homers and 147 RBI from 1948-1950. For all the attention he got for hitting baseballs over the fence, Stephens had perhaps the strongest infield throwing arm of his era.

Miguel Tejada

1997—2013

33

Over a seven year stretch from 2000 to 2006, Tejada averaged 37 doubles, 29 homers, and 116 RBIs per season. It was one of the best stretches of offensive production ever by a shortstop.

Maury Wills

1959—1972

34

After having to wait nearly a decade in the minors, Wills burst on the big league scene and won an MVP Award with his feet. He single-handedly brought the speed game back to the game, and he played on three World Championship teams.

Travis Jackson

1922—1936
HALL OF FAME

35

“Jackson had just about the finest arm I ever saw on a shortstop.” — Charlie Grimm

Andrelton Simmons

2012—

36

When he’s been healthy, Simmons has been the best defensive shortstop in the game during every year of his career. He’s done a lot already through the age of 29 (through 2019) that merits attention: he’s won four Gold Gloves and received MVP votes twice despite being an average hitter. His range and arm at short are the best of his generation.

Tony Fernandez

1983—2001

37

Fernandez had a funny body: long, long legs with unusually large, flat feet. He was knobby-kneed and very thin, and when Fernandez threw the ball he came around with his arm from way behind his body, slinging it underhand toward his target.

Mark Belanger

1965—1982

38

Belanger’s range and his quick release were instrumental in the phenomenal success of the Baltimore pitching staff. Earl Weaver didn’t give a damn if Belanger hit .218 with twelve extra-base hits all season, (as he did in 1970), the “Thin Man” was his shortstop.

Dave Concepcion

1970—1988

39

When Concepcion first arrived in the big leagues he was raw. He had excellent range with his long legs and arms, and he was cat-like quick, but he struggled to tame his strong throws. He only carried 158 pounds on his Gumby-like 6’2 frame. After hearing coach Alex Grammas holler “Fire the ball, don’t aim it!”, the young shortstop gradually improved into the most dynamic shortstop before the emergence of Ozzie Smith.

Dick Bartell

1927—1946

40

A tightly-wound man, Bartell had the reputation as a carouser off the field, because he was. He played for four different teams and earned MVP votes with each of them. He was an excellent defensive shortstop and a prolific doubles hitter.

Ray Chapman

1912—1920

41

The only man to die as a result of an injury on the field in a major league game. Chapman was the heart of the Indians, a cheerful man who liked to play the piano, sing, and dance at home. When he was hit by a fatal pitch from Carl Mays, Babe Ruth, who was standing in right field, said it sounded like “a bell was rung.”

Julio Franco

1987—2007

42

In the early 1980s, the Phillies had two fine young shortstops in their farm system: Julio Franco and Ryne Sandberg. The wise old baseball men in the organization loved both players. But they eventually picked the wrong guy. Still, Franco had a nice career. He kept himself in fantastic shape. Amazingly, in 2005, when Sandberg was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the 46-year old Franco was still playing in the major leagues. He would play two more years, until he was 48.

John Valentin

1992—2002

43

Valentin finished ninth in AL MVP voting in his third full season, hitting 27 homers, 66 extra-base hits, reaching base 250 times, and driving in 102 runs. It was a better season than any Nomar Garciaparra ever had. Valentin is the only player in baseball history to do all of these things: hit three home runs in a game, hit for the cycle, and turn an unassisted triple play.

Rafael Furcal

2000—2014

44

The Anti-Manny Machado, Furcal ran out every ball, dove for every grounder he thought he could get the leather on, and slid headfirst into almost every base. He never gave a dishonest effort on the ballfield, but he paid a price. Furcal frequently spent time on the disabled list and after the age of 29 he only had two seasons where he played as many as 100 games. He was Rookie of the Year in 2000 for the Braves, was an All-Star in Atlanta while the team kept winning division titles every season, and he was an MVP candidate in his first year with the Dodgers.

Jay Bell

1986—2003

45

A studious Greg Maddux lookalike who roamed the middle infield mostly for the Pirates and Diamondbacks. Bell was a sponge: as a young player, he would ask the veterans, even the guys on the other teams, for pointers, for tips on how to make it in The Show. He got good advice: Bell played 18 years in the majors.

Rabbit Maranville

1912—1935
HALL OF FAME

46

Rabbit Maranville was a singularly unique player. He was described as an “imp” and “a pixie”, and The Sporting News dubbed him the “Peter Pan of baseball”. Like Ozzie Smith, the Rabbit viewed baseball as enertainment, and he loved to delight the fans with his defensive exploits. He perfected the basket catch and liked to “climb” baserunners as he turned the pivot on the double play.

Omar Vizquel

1989—2012

47

Vizquel was an exceptional shortstop who was so clearly above the line as a defender that he was a starting shortstop for close to two decades despite being a below average hitter. He did some good things with the bat: he made contact and he was a superb bunter. But it was his glove that made him a star.

Dick Groat

1952—1967

48

Groat is a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame, he was a guard for Duke, and he remains the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring and assists in the same season. He won the Most Valuable Player Award in 1960 when the Pirates won their first pennant in 33 years.

Roger Peckinpaugh

1910—1927

49

One of the best defensive shortstops of the deadball era. But he somehow managed to choke on the big stage. Twice in decisive games in the World Series, Peckinpaugh committed a costly error that led to his team losing. In the 1925 Series he made a ghastly eight errors in seven games.

Donie Bush

1908—1923

50

Little Donie Bush was all of 140 pounds, a puny little runt. At 5’4, Bush crouched down so his strike zone was small, and he had a keen eye, leading the league in walks five times and averaging 99 walks per 154 games. He scored an average of 111 runs per season. He was an ideal leadoff man for Detroit in front of Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford.

Francisco Lindor

2015—

51

The best Puerto Rican shortstops to play in the major leagues have been Jose Valentin and Ivan de Jesus. Lindor has an excellent chance to ecliose them both: he’s already finished in the top ten in MVP voting three times and won his first Gold Glove award.

Jose Reyes

2003—2018

52

Reyes is clearly the best shortstop in the history of the New York Mets, finishing with more than 1,500 hits, 100 homers, and 400 stolen bases with the team. For decades the Mets had a problem finding a great third baseman, until David Wright solved that. But the franchise also had troubles at short, usually settling on good-field/no-hit guys until Reyes came along. He played more than a decade on the left side of the infield with Wright.

THE REST OF THE 100

  • 53. Eddie Joost
  • 54. Johnny Logan
  • 55. Freddy Parent
  • 56. Carlos Correa
  • 57. Terry Turner
  • 58. Edgar Renteria
  • 59. Marty Marion
  • 60. Scott Fletcher
  • 61. Jose Valentin
  • 62. Elvis Andrus
  • 63. Solly Hemus
  • 64. Garry Templeton
  • 65. Carlos Guillen
  • 66. Kid Elberfeld
  • 67. Roy Smalley Jr.
  • 68. Gene Alley
  • 69. Chris Speier
  • 70. Billy Rogell
  • 71. Jack Barry
  • 72. Ron Hansen
  • 73. Charlie Hollocher
  • 74. J.J. Hardy
  • 75. Asdrubal Cabrera
  • 76. Yunel Escobar
  • 77. Denis Menke
  • 78. Brandon Craford
  • 79. Marcus Semien
  • 80. Xander Bogaerts
  • 81. Jhonny Peralta
  • 82. Leo Cardenas
  • 83. Bill Russell
  • 84. Glenn Wright
  • 85. Mike Bordick
  • 86. Greg Gagne
  • 87. Harvey Kuenn
  • 88. Dickie Thon
  • 89. Woody English
  • 90. Erick Aybar
  • 91. Billy Jurges
  • 92. Michael Young
  • 93. Woodie Held
  • 94. Marco Scutaro
  • 95. Larry Bowa
  • 96. Rick Burleson
  • 97. Roy McMillan
  • 98. Chico Carrasquel
  • 99. Freddie Patek
  • 100. David Eckstein