The Top 100 Shortstops of All-Time
#1. Alex Rodriguez
Years: 1994-2016 Primary Team: Seattle Mariners
After adjustments for era, competitive balance, and contributions to pennant-winning teams, ARod, Ripken, and Wagner are very close. One could argue that my adjustment for era penalizes Wagner too much. But then again, it's difficult to believe that the greatest shortstop in baseball history ended his career before World War I concluded. ARod's hitting exploits (natural and unnatural) were so great that they obscure his ability as a defender. He was quick and had excellent feet for a bigger man. The Yankees insisted on moving him to third base, which was silly, but necessary to mollify Derek Jeter's ego. You could rank Ripken ahead of ARod and it wouldn't look ridiculous. But Wagner, having not faced all the best players, having spent half his career playing the outfield and elsewhere, and having played in an era when the difference between the best players and the average players was so large, his stats are inflated. After our adjustments, ARod comes out slightly ahead among this trio.
#2. Cal Ripken Jr.
Years: 1981-2001 Primary Team: Baltimore Orioles
#3. Honus Wagner
Years: 1897-1917 Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
#4. Pee Wee Reese
Years: 1940-1958 Primary Team: Brooklyn Dodgers
#5. Arky Vaughan
Years: 1932-1948 Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
#6. Robin Yount
Years: 1974-1993 Primary Team: Milwaukee Brewers
#7. Derek Jeter
Years: 1995-2014 Primary Team: New York Yankees
#8. Ozzie Smith
Years: 1978-1996 Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
#9. Ernie Banks
Years: 1953-1971 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
#10. Luke Appling
Years: 1930-1950 Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
#11. Alan Trammell
Years: 1977-1996 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
#12. Barry Larkin
Years: 1986-2004 Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds
#13. Lou Boudreau
Years: 1938-1952 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#14. Joe Cronin
Years: 1926-1945 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
#15. Phil Rizzuto
Years: 1941-1956 Primary Team: New York Yankees
#16. Bert Campaneris
Years: 1964-1983 Primary Team: Mustache Gang
#17. Jim Fregosi
Years: 1961-1978 Primary Team: California Angels
The best shortstops by decade:
1900s: Honus Wagner
1910s: Art Fletcher
1920s: Joe Sewell
1930s: Arky Vaughan
1940s: Lou Boudreau
1950s: Ernie Banks
1960s: Jim Fregosi
1970s: Bert Campaneris
1980s: Robin Yount
1990s: Barry Larkin
2000s: Alex Rodriguez
2010s: Andrelton Simmons
If you do this exercise for every position, using cumulative WAR as the measuring stick, you'll get a list consisting largely of Hall of Fame players. You might have one player at each position who was first in WAR for a decade who did not get elected to the Hall of Fame. But at shortstop we find three players who are not in the Hall: Fletcher, Fregosi, and Campaneris. Chances are you might get a ten-year "decade" stretch where a sure-fire HOFer won't quite concentrate enough good seasons to lead in WAR. But usually it works out. In the case of the shortstops there's a lag in quality that occurred from the 1960s to the mid-1970s. Fregosi and Campy were better players than Sewell, but neither hit .300 for his career or got to significant career milestones to gain much attention from the keepers of Cooperstown.
#18. Luis Aparicio
Years: 1956-1973 Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
#19. Nomar Garciaparra
Years: 1996-2009 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
#20. Troy Tulowitzki
Years: 2006-2018 Primary Team: The Rox
#21. Joe Sewell
Years: 1920-1933 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#22. Johnny Pesky
Years: 1942-1954 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
#23. Dave Bancroft
Years: 1915-1930 Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies
#24. Cecil Travis
Years: 1933-1947 Primary Team: Washington Senators
#25. Al Dark
Years: 1946-1960 Primary Team: New York Giants
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 U.S. 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. He developed a lifelong friendship with second baseman Eddie Stanky, the two of them joined as a double play duo for two teams. First, the pair played two seasons in Boston, then they were traded together to the Giants where they helped New York to the pennant in 1951. Dark and Stanky were similar personality types and scrappy players. They both learned under the tutelage of Leo Durocher, who fostered that fiery spirit on each of them. Like Stanky, Dark went on to become a manager, enjoying great success in two stints in the Bay area. With the San Francisco Giants, Dark won the 1962 pennant while managing his former teammate Willie Mays. A decade later, in 1974, he guided the Oakland A's to the pennant and their third consecutive championship after succeeding Dick Williams in the dugout. In 13 seasons as a skipper, Dark had a winning record and won nearly 1,000 games.
#26. Jimmy Rollins
Years: 2000-2016 Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Only three double play combinations have ever played as long as ten years together. First there was Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers for the Cubs in the early years of the 20th century. Then there were Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, who spent a remarkable 19 years together in Detroit. Finally, there's Rollins and Chase Utley, who teamed up in Philadelphia for a decade starting in 2005. Rollins has the most hits (2,455) of any of those six players, and he was the best base stealer of the bunch. Rollins has a photographic memory of sorts, which helped him remember patterns as he faced opposing pitchers. He was a multi-sport star in Oakland and he hailed from a family of accomplished athletes.
#27. Maury Wills
Years: 1959-1972 Primary Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
#28. Art Fletcher
Years: 1909-1922 Primary Team: New York Giants
The best "old" shortstops were Wagner, Ozzie Smith, George Davis, Pee Wee Reese, Bobby Wallace, Barry Larkin, and Art Fletcher. That's based on WAR from the age of 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 shortstop. 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. Fletcher's range factors are nearly off the charts, he was slightly better with the glove than Dave Bancroft, the Hall of Fame shortstop who came along about that same time, and for whom an aging Fletcher was traded during the 1920 season.
#29. Joe Tinker
Years: 1902-1916 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
Only five players in baseball history have accumulated 30 WAR 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. Tinker was the best of the three players in the famed Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double play combo that led the Cubs to four pennants from 1906-1910. All three rank well at their positions: Tinker at #29, Evers at #30, and Chance at #32 among first basemen. Tinker asked to be traded in 1913 rather than play under double play partner Evers (who had been appointed player/manager). The two played side-by-side in the infield for a decade but barely spoke to each other due to personality conflicts. On the field they maintained a symbiotic relationship, helping Chicago to four pennants and two World Series titles. The Cubs traded Tinker to the Reds, where he too became a player/manager, but after one season he quit when he was informed the front office planned to send officials on road trips to spy on his players.
#30. Tony Fernandez
Years: 1983-2001 Primary Team: Toronto Blue Jays
#31. Mark Belanger
Years: 1965-1982 Primary Team: The O's
#32. Vern Stephens
Years: 1941-1955 Primary Team: St. Louis Browns
#33. Travis Jackson
Years: 1922-1936 Primary Team: New York Giants
#34. Hanley Ramirez
Years: 2005-2018 Primary Team: Florida Marlins
#35. Rico Petrocelli
Years: 1963-1976 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
The five best seasons by non-active position players not in the Hall of Fame (and not tainted by steroid or gambling scandals), belong to:
Al Rosen (1953), Rico Petrocelli (1969), Larry Walker (1997), Terry Turner (1906), and Norm Cash (1961).
For Rico, '69 was a true outlier year coming in his age 26 season. He had 74 extra-base hits that season, and only two other times did he ever have as many as 50. Rico was a very good shortstop at that point of his career, but no one saw a 40-homer season coming. He hit over .400 in April and had 23 homers by the end of June. He was a good player for five more years, but the peak he had reached in 1969 was rarified air that normally only Hall of Famers breathe.
#36. Omar Vizquel
Years: 1989-2012 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#37. Dave Concepcion
Years: 1970-1988 Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds
#38. Julio Franco
Years: 1982-2007 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#39. Dick Groat
Years: 1952-1967 Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
#40. Dick Bartell
Years: 1927-1946 Primary Team: Phillies
#41. Miguel Tejada
Years: 1997-2013 Primary Team: Oakland A's
#42. Rafael Furcal
Years: 2000-2014 Primary Team: Atlanta Braves
#43. Roger Peckinpaugh
Years: 1910-1927 Primary Team: New York Highlanders
#44. Jay Bell
Years: 1986-2003 Primary Team: Pirates
#45. Donie Bush
Years: 1908-1923 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
#46. Jose Reyes
Years: 2003-2018 Primary Team: New York Mets
Has a lot in common with Garry Templeton. Both were switch-hitting shortstops with speed and strong arms. Both were good base stealers and both led the National League in triples a number of times, Templeton three straight years and Reyes four times overall. Both established themselves as stars in their early 20s. Each had a knack for being embroiled in controversy, often because of their mouth. When Templeton learned he was selected as a substitute for the All-Star Game, he refused to go. He said "If I ain't startin', I ain't departin." When Reyes was told his manager was considering moving him from the leadoff spot, he bristled. He said "I've hit there all my life, I won't hit anywhere else." But that's where the similarities end.
Unlike Templeton, Reyes was an outgoing (almost bubbly) man known for being loose and lively in the clubhouse. He was criticized for an elaborate dance he liked to do in the dugout after hitting a home run. He was a little too happy when his team lost, according to some teammates. But Reyes was a fun guy for the most part, a smile on his face in the batting cage. Templeton was a dour man who never really loved playing baseball. It was his job and he didn't care for the extra stuff that came with being a ballplayer outside the white lines. Templeton and Reyes diverge in regards to productivity as well. Reyes kept being a valuable ballplayer after his 26th birthday, while Templeton took a few steps backward after a trade to San Diego and survived the rest of his career on his defensive talent while not maturing as a hitter.
Reyes is clearly the best shortstop in the history of the New York Mets, still plugging along as of 2018 in his second stint with the team, although as a bench player. 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.
#47. Rabbit Maranville
Years: 1912-1935 Primary Team: Boston Braves
#48. John Valentin
Years: 1992-2002 Primary Team: The Sawx
A Jersey guy, Valentin was a really good shortstop who got stiffed by the Boston front office. The Red Sox made a number of poor personnel decisions in the 1980s, two of them cases of burying players in the minors when they were clearly ready for the big leagues. Clearly to everyone else anyway. Valentin was one of those guys, he didn't get to play regularly until he was 26 years old because the Sox had a hard-on for Luis Rivera, who was about 1/20th the player he was. 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 (according to WAR) than any year Nomar Garciaparra had. The other Red Sox farmhand who was delayed in the minors too long was Wade Boggs. Boston made bonehead moves in the 1970s too, but those were mostly done by different stuffed shirts. They lost both Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn due to paperwork errors, for example... Valentin is the only player in baseball history to hit three home runs in a game, hit for the cycle, and also turn an unassisted triple play.
#49. Bobby Wallace
Years: 1901-1918 Primary Team: St. Louis Browns
#50. Johnny Logan
Years: 1951-1963 Primary Team: Boston Braves
#51. Eddie Joost
Years: 1936-1955 Primary Team: CIN-BSN-PHA-BOS
#52. Marty Marion
Years: 1940-1953 Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
In the 1930s there was a comic strip named Abbie and Slats, written and illustrated by Al Capp (of Lil' Abner fame). When Marty Marion came along as a green-eared prospect in the Cardinal organization, Burt Shotton named him "Slats" after the tall, skinny character in the comic strip. Marion had long legs and arms, his other nickname was "Octopus", and he was an unusual sight on the diamond in his era. Most shortstops in the 1940s were short and scrawny. Marion out-fielded all of them, establishing himself as the premier defensive shortstop in the game. He won the NL MVP Award in 1944 almost entirely on the strength of his defense, and he was a seven-time All-Star. Marion helped the Redbirds win four pennants in five seasons and his reputation as a great fielder was so good that his name remained on the Hall of Fame ballot for 14 years and he received as much as 40 percent support.
#53. Freddy Parent
Years: 1901-1911 Primary Team: The Sox
In the 1903 "World's Series" between Boston and Pittsburg, Parent outplayed the opposing shortstop, Honus Wagner. He had three triples and four RBIs in Boston's victory over the favored National League Pirates. Parent was a well-educated French-Canadian who teamed with second baseman Hobe Ferris and first baseman Candy LaChance to form a famous double play combo for Boston in the early 20th century.
#54. Edgar Renteria
Years: 1996-2011 Primary Team: Florida Marlins
The most hits through age 25 by a shortstop are by Alex Rodriguez (1,167), and second is Robin Yount with 1,153. Renteria was third with 1,061. But when his career was over he had just 2,327 total hits, and only 142 after the age of 32. He delivered two historic hits in the postseason: the single in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game Seven to win the 1997 World Series; and a three-run homer in Game Five of the 2010 World Series that staked the Giants to their first championship in San Francisco.
#55. Scott Fletcher
Years: 1981-1995 Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
Depending on how you look at it, Fletcher was either unwanted or highly coveted in Chicago. The Cubs drafted him and cultivated the shortstop through their system, he made his debut in 1981. But they traded him in a rare deal with their crosstown rivals the White Sox two years later. Fletcher was a very good shortstop, his defensive stats rating among the best in the league for his three years with the ChiSox. But the Pale Hose had young Ozzie Guillen to play short and decided to ship Fletcher to Texas at the winter meetings following the 1985 season. Craving his defense, the White Sox reacquire Fletcher a few years later so he could play second base next to Guillen.
#56. Andrelton Simmons
Years: 2012-2017 Primary Team: Atlanta Braves
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 at the age of 28 (through 2018) that merits attention: he's won three Gold Gloves and received MVP votes twice despite being an average hitter. His range and arm at short are the best of his generation. He's tall and skinny, but not clumsy at all, using his long strides and wide wingspan to reach ground balls deep in the hole or to his left up the middle. Two years shy of his 30th birthday, Simmons already had two 7 WAR seasons, one with the Braves and one with the Angels.
#57. Elvis Andrus
Years: 2009-2017 Primary Team: Texas Rangers
Always lauded for his defense, Andrus finally turned a corner as a hitter at the age of 27 and followed it with a great year in 2017 when he posted career highs in runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, and RBIs. He was extremely durable through his first nine seasons and then he suffered a break in his elbow that looked to sideline him for a few months in 2018. Given a healthy stretch in his 30s, and with new-found pop in his bat, Andrus could vault into the top 30 at his position.
#58. Terry Turner
Years: 1901-1919 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
Turner was one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball in the first decade of the twentieth century, he had great range and strong throwing arm. In 1906 he had one of the greatest seasons of that era when he put together a fine year at the plate too. His fielding numbers that year are off the charts good. Turner was small and fragile, and he got injured or was absent from the lineup a lot due to sickness, including two bouts with typhoid fever. In 1908 he was hit in the head by a pitch from Eddie Cicotte and was knocked out for a while. He recovered, but the incident was scary enough that twelve years later when Ray Chapman was killed after being hit by a pitch in the head, it was compared to the Turner beaning.
#59. Bill Russell
Years: 1969-1986 Primary Team: LA Dodgers
Russell was a switch-hitter for one season, in 1971, the Dodgers feeling he was fast and athletic enough to make it work. That season, he hit for almost the exact same average from the left side of the plate as he did from his natural right side, and actually had more power as a left-handed hitter. But the Dodgers had the young outfielder abandon the experiment the following season in an effort to have him concentrate on becoming a shortstop instead. He played more than 1,700 games at short, all of them for LA, and was a three-time All-Star. Russell had a knack for pestering really good left-handed pitchers: he performed well throughout his career against Steve Carlton and Jerry Reuss, for example.
#60. Carlos Guillen
Years: 1998-2011 Primary Team: Detroit Tigers
#61. Jose Valentin
Years: 1992-2007 Primary Team: MIL-CHW-LAD-NYM
#62. Chris Speier
Years: 1971-1989 Primary Team: San Francisco Giants
Similar to an earlier Giants' shortstop Alvin Dark, Speier converted his religion and faith became very important later in his career. A sure-handed infielder who played 19 seasons, Speier was a fine all-around player early in his career, but injuries robbed him of his ability to drive the ball, and after hitting 53 home runs in his first five seasons, Speier hit just 59 over the next 14. He was very comparable to Bill Russell in value, but he didn't get to play with as many great teammates.
#63. Denis Menke
Years: 1962-1974 Primary Team: Atlanta Braves
#64. J.J. Hardy
Years: 2005-2017 Primary Team: Milwaukee Brewers
#65. Solly Hemus
Years: 1949-1959 Primary Team: St. Louis Cardinals
#66. Billy Jurges
Years: 1931-1947 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
#67. Roy Smalley
Years: 1975-1987 Primary Team: His uncle's team
#68. Ray Chapman
Years: 1912-1920 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#69. Ron Hansen
Years: 1958-1972 Primary Team: Baltimore Orioles
#70. Garry Templeton
Years: 1976-1991 Primary Team: San Diego Padres
#71. Leo Cardenas
Years: 1960-1975 Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds
#72. Kid Elberfeld
Years: 1901-1914 Primary Team: Washington Nats
#73. Jack Barry
Years: 1908-1919 Primary Team: Philadelphia A's
#74. Gene Alley
Years: 1963-1973 Primary Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
#75. Yunel Escobar
Years: 2007-2017 Primary Team: Toronto Blue Jays
#76. Mike Bordick
Years: 1990-2003 Primary Team: Oakland A's
#77. Glenn Wright
Years: 1924-1935 Primary Team: Pirates
#78. Jhonny Peralta
Years: 2003-2017 Primary Team: Cleveland Indians
#79. Greg Gagne
Years: 1983-1997 Primary Team: Minnesota Twins
#80. Billy Rogell
Years: 1925-1940 Primary Team: Tigers
#81. Dickie Thon
Years: 1979-1993 Primary Team: Houston Astros
Thon was struck in the face by a pitch from Mike Torrez in the first week of the 1984 season, suffering a broken orbital bone. He rushed back to play on opening day the following year but it became obvious that he had serious troubles picking up the baseball at the plate. He missed a full month in '85 and then played sporadically. He tried to regain his form for the next few years but was never the same. He managed to play nine seasons after the gruesome injury but he was only a shell of his former self. How good was Thon before the beaning? In 1982-83 he was the best all-around shortstop in the National League. For those two seasons he posted a WAR of 6.1 and 7.4 for Houston. He was an All-Star, a Silver Slugger winner, and he finished seventh in MVP voting in '83. He was compared to Robin Yount, Cal Ripken, and Alan Trammell. Those three are in the Hall of Fame now, and at the time in the mid-1980s, Thon compared favorably to Trammell, was a much better hitter than Ozzie, and he had the power to hit home runs like Ripken, though Thon toiled in the spacious Astrodome.
Only 27 shortstops have ever had two or more seasons with a WAR of 6.1 or higher. Thon did it before he was 26 years old but never had a (healthy) chance to fill in the rest of the ledger. He never had the really good or good seasons (4 to 5.5 WAR) that those other shortstops had. As a result, Thon's third best year is 2.2 WAR and plummets from there. The other 27 shortstops who had at least two seasons as Thon did are all on this list, the lowest ranked is #53 (Freddy Parent). There's no guarantee that Thon had reached his peak before the injury, he could have pushed the bar higher. I think he was a better than Parent and Julio Franco and probably better than Miguel Tejada. He might have been able to jump ahead of such career-guys like Omar Vizquel and Dave Concepcion, and it's possible Dickie Thon might have been a top 20 Hall of Fame type shortstop had he been able to get out of the way of that fastball.
#82. Asdrubal Cabrera
Years: 2007-2017 Primary Team: Indians
Cabrera was a natural shortstop but the Indians moved him to second base in his rookie season because they had Jhonny Peralta (#78 on this list) at short. A few years later, Cabrera pushed Peralta to third and hit over .300 with 42 doubles and 17 stolen bases as a 23-year old. Those doubles started to turn into homers a few years later, but Cabrera fell in love with the power stroke at the expense of all else. His defense was never anything to write back to Venezuela about, and even though he still had a starting job as of 2018 with the Mets, Cabrera's not likely to move much further up the list.
#83. Erick Aybar
Years: 2006-2017 Primary Team: Angels
#84. Juan Uribe
Years: 2001-2016 Primary Team: White Sox, Giants, and almost every other team
Juan Uribe is an example of how a player can have several flaws in his game yet still manage to play a long time and earn close to $60 million. How did he do it? By having two valuable strengths: 1) Uribe was a very good glove man at shortstop, and 2) he could hit home runs now and again at a rate higher than most players at his position. But the Dominican had many flaws, namely: he had poor judgment on the base paths and was terrible at stealing bases; he hardly ever met a pitch he wouldn't swing at, and often missed pitches, striking out a lot while not getting on base at a very good rate. He was also notoriously streaky and he was a bad hitter on the road, his home/road splits are some of the most severe in history (.779 OPS at home, .659 on the road). Uribe had one of the best arms at short of his generation, and despite a pot-belly physique, he was quick at getting into the hole and covering ground in the middle of the diamond. He helped the White Sox, Giants, and Mets get to the World Series in a 16-year career spent with seven teams.
#85. Roy McMillan
Years: 1951-1966 Primary Team: Cincinnati Redlegs
#86. Jack Wilson
Years: 2001-2012 Primary Team: The Bucs
#87. Marco Scutaro
Years: 2002-2014 Primary Team: The A's
#88. Charlie Hollocher
Years: 1918-1924 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
In his first five seasons, Hollocher did lots of amazing things, including leading the Cubs to the pennant as a rookie in 1918 when he led the NL in hits and total bases. In his sixth season he was hitting .342 when he left the team in August due to a mysterious stomach ailment and exhaustion. He did not report to spring training the following year, failing to respond to inquiries from Chicago. Hollocher came back to the team in mid-May and in his first start hit a home run and had three hits. He went on a tear for about two weeks, but then he started feeling ill again. He pushed on through the summer, but after going hitless in a doubleheader on August 20, 1924, he left the team, never to play baseball again. Hollocher was suffering from chronic depression, and sadly (as is frequently the case) it was never treated properly. In 1940, almost exactly 16 years after his final big league game, Hollocher's dead body was found in his automobile, he had shot himself in the throat. He was dead at the age of 44. Hollocher probably would have been a Hall of Fame shortstop. He was entering his prime years when his affliction caused him to leave baseball, and he already had close to 900 hits and a .304 batting average. He probably could have won a batting title or two and he was a 200-hits-a-year type of guy.
#89. Woody English
Years: 1927-1938 Primary Team: Chicago Cubs
English stepped into the void at shortstop for the Cubs that was left by the abrupt retirement of Charlie Hollocher. He was a relatively average offensive player other than two good seasons in 1930-31 when the entire league was hitting .300 and runs were scoring like crazy. Early in his career, English was an excellent defensive shortstop, leading the National League in assists and putouts three times. His range was pretty good but it was his (large) sure hands and his strong throwing arm that helped him stand out among his peers. Later in his career he showed off his strong arm at third base. He was roommate to Rogers Hornsby, who gave him hitting tips, but other than 1930 and 1931, when he topped 200 hits each season, those tips did him little good.
#90. Freddie Patek
Years: 1968-1981 Primary Team: Kansas City Royals
#91. Larry Bowa
Years: 1970-1985 Primary Team: Philadelphia Phillies
There might be more "baseball lifers" from the shortstop position than anywhere else on the field. Like like Honus Wagner, Lou Boudreau, Joe Cronin, Al Dark, Jim Fregosi, Johnny Pesky, Al Dark, Maury Wills, Art Fletcher, Roger Peckinpaugh, Bill Russell, Chris Speier, Solly Hemus, Chico Carrasquel, and Frankie Crosetti, Larry Bowa forged a long career after his playing days as a coach and manager, keeping a close connection to the game. Derek Jeter and Omar Vizquel seem destined to do so also. Bowa was a runt but he fought hard to make himself a good player and he lasted 16 years. "I always played with a chip on my shoulder. I was small. Nobody wanted me," he told Barry Bloom in a 2018 interview.
#92. Rick Burleson
Years: 1974-1987 Primary Team: Boston Red Sox
Rick Burleson was the anti-Derek Jeter: he was emotional with a temper that could explode at any time on the diamond; and he was a great defensive shortstop with a very strong throwing arm until it was robbed from him by an injury. Burleson led his Red Sox against the Yankees two decades before Jeter came on the scene in some of the most fiercely contested pennant races in the history of that rivalry. Boston only got to one post-season during that era, but Burleson hit .333 in 1975 in the playoffs and World Series for the Red Sox.
#93. Chico Carrasquel
Years: 1950-1959 Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
Chico Carrasquel was the first Latin American to start an All-Star Game, and the first in an impressive line of great shortstops from Venezuala. Carrasquel begat Luis Aparicio (who replaced him on the White Sox), who begat Davey Concepcion, who was followed by Ozzie Guillen and Omar Vizquel, and ultimately Carlos Guillen and Elvis Andrus. The top three Venezuelan-born players in games played in major league history are all shortstops (Vizquel, Aparicio, and Concepcion). Carrasquel was originally in the Dodger organization, but they traded him to the White Sox, who were one of the first teams to realize the importance of the culture barrier. The White Sox hired an interpreter for their Latin players and soon had a bevy of them on their roster. In 1950 the 24-year old rookie shortstop and 22-year old Nellie Fox debuted as a double play combo for the Sox. The duo spent six marvelous seasons together, making the Chicago pitching staff even better and earning a combined nine All-Star selections.
Throughout his career, despite his accolades as an All-Star, Carrasquel was criticized by his managers as being lazy and "indifferent" on the field. It's almost certain that the reason for those comments was the cultural differences inherent in Latin ballplayers. A new factor in major league baseball, the Latin ballplayer was more relaxed, nonchalant about routine plays, and flashier. They didn't have the same approach to practice and were often misunderstood because of the language barrier. Many also suffered from missing their family and homeland. Later, Roberto Clemente would get the same bad rap from officials in the Pirates' organization. The White Sox eventually traded Chico (after he had helped them secure Aparicio from Venezuela) and he bounced around a bit the rest of his career, which lasted only ten seasons. After he was released in the U.S., Chico returned to Venezuela where he played eight more years and managed in their professional leagues.
#94. Frankie Crosetti
Years: 1932-1948 Primary Team: New York Yankees
Crosetti was looked after by double play partner Tony Lazzeri, who treated the young shortstop like a little brother. Both players hailed from the San Francisco bay area, as did Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio. The trio were lifelong friends. When Crosetti joined the Yanks in the 1930s they were a quiet team that let their play on the field do their talking for them. But the young shortstop was fiery and enthusiastic and soon earned the nickname "Crow" for his chatter on the infield. He lost his job at the fairly young age of 30 because of his weak bat, but his stellar defense was always needed. In the 1938 World Series he had sort of a "Brooks Robinson coming out" when he made several eye-popping plays to help the Yankees to their third straight title. Later as a coach, Crosetti penned "The Yankee Way", a pamphlet that was given to young players in the organization to teach them how to be a Yankee. He was in uniform as a Yankee either as a player or coach every season from 1932 to 1968, winning 17 World Series.
#95. Woodie Held
Years: 1954-1969 Primary Team: Cleveland
Woodie Held was ready to be a big leaguer when he was 20 years old, but he was trapped in the talent-rich Yankee farm system in the early 1950s. Originally a center fielder, Held was behind Mickey Mantle in the pecking order, and had to wait his turn. When the Yanks couldn't find a place for him, he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in one of the many deals between the two teams in that era. Only finally getting to play regularly in the majors at the age of 25, Held was immediately a star. He belted 20 homers in half a season for the A's and manned center field. But the following year the manic A's traded Held to the Indians in a deal that brought Roger Maris to KC. In Cleveland, Held's fate took a sharp right turn as a series of events led him to shortstop, a position he had barely played. Held tried to be a quick study at his new position but he made a lot of errors in his first few seasons in the middle of the infield. He didn't let it affect his hitting though, as he averaged 21 homers, 64 RBIs, and a .445 slugging percentage in his six full seasons in Cleveland. In 1959, Held hit a career-high 29 homers, a Cleveland record for a shortstop that stood for 46 years until Jhonny Peralta broke it.
#96. Brandon Crawford
Years: 2011-2017 Primary Team: San Francisco Giants
Crawford is known for two events involving grand slams, but he's most famous for being a great defender at short, having won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 2015-17 for the Giants. Crawford hit a grand slam in his first major league game and he later became the first shortstop to hit a grand slam in the postseason. His defensive metrics are fantastic and if he can improve on his league-average offense, he could jump many spots on this list before his career is over.
#97. David Eckstein
Years: 2001-2010 Primary Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The most unlikely player to be on this list, probably along with Bill Russell, who never even played shortstop until he'd been in the major leagues for three years. Eckstein didn't have warning track power on his best day, had average speed, a very weak throwing arm, and in an era of steroid users he was a runt, but he was a winning ballplayer who managed a ten-year career. He was the type of player who would have won an MVP award in the 1950s if his team won a pennant, and in 2002 he did finish tenth in voting when the Angels won the flag.
#98. Alexei Ramirez
Years: 2008-2016 Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
"The Cuban Missile" was a little like Eddie Miller: wafer-thin but with some surprising power. Ramirez was not a natural shortstop, he started out as a pitcher/outfielder in Cuba before he came to the United States at the age of 26. He finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting after hitting 21 homers. That season he played second base, center, and a little at short. But in his second season he shifted to shortstop and stayed there for seven seasons for the White Sox and one more for the Padres. Like Miller, Ramirez never met a pitch he didn't like to swing at, he was allergic to bases on balls, but still had some value.
#99. Orlando Cabrera
Years: 1997-2011 Primary Team: Les Expos
The five worst hitters who got at least 2,000 hits: Larry Bowa, Omar Vizquel, Rabbit Maranville, Luis Aparicio, and Orlando Cabrera, all shortstops with reputations as good defensive players. Cabrera became a good luck charm, from 2004 to 2010, a span of seven seasons, he was on five teams that made the playoffs a total of six times. In that sense he was sort of like Don Baylor, who went to three straight World Series with three different teams and was in the postseason for five different teams in all.
#100. Eddie Miller
Years: 1936-1950 Primary Team: Cincinnati Reds
Miller was traded for the 51st shortstop on this list, Eddie Joost, in a deal made at the winter meetings in 1942. The Reds reversed the trade five years later when they reacquired Miller from the Phillies. The best shortstop in the history of the Cincinnati Reds is Barry Larkin, next is Dave Concepcion. Miller was the best before those two: he was a seven-time All-Star and frequently led the league in fielding stats that mattered. He could also hit some.