As you might know, our friends at BBREF updated their WAR numbers last month. And that means we have to update ours as well. While the changes aren’t really significant, they’re not nothing either. This is our first post with Miller’s updated numbers. Eric’s will be coming shortly.
If you’re looking for posts with the previous BBREF numbers, the first six in this series are below. By the end of this series, when our rankings find a permanent home on the site, the small updates will be made to these lists as well.
Shortstop – 1-20
Why are there no active shortstops in the top-20?
Because Troy Tulowitzki can’t stay healthy? There’s some truth in that because a Tulo who could manage even 140 games a season would be in or close to the top 20. Throw out his 2006 cuppa coffee, and he’s managed a mere 112 games a year. Which is a shame because he’s averaged 5.5 WAR per 162 games during his career. Beyond that? There’s a gaping generational gap between the Trinity + Tejada generation and today’s shortstops. Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Jhonny Peralta were the best of the first wave afterward. The next wave probably included Elvis Andrus, Brandon Crawford, and Andrelton Simmons. But wow! Look at the young talent at shortstop right now! Correa, Lindor, Seager, Bogaerts, Russell. This position is stocked, and those guys will be jetting up our rankings starting this year. One name missing here: Manny Machado. Instead of becoming the next Cal Ripken, he’s the next Brooks Robinson. But who knows, if he’s dealt this year or departs Charm City as a free agent, he might go someplace that needs a shortstop.—Eric
It’s just a coincidence, I think. The 90s were a great time for AL shortstops with A-Rod, Jeter, Nomar, and Tejada. The 70s were a great time for NL pitchers with Seaver, Carlton, Niekro, Blyleven, Jenkins, Perry, and Sutton. There have been down times too. Perhaps now is one at shortstop. On the other hand, with Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and others on the scene today, the drought may not last for too long.—Miller
Where do our rankings diverge the most from the conventional wisdom?
What’s my deal is with Jack Glasscock? All reasonable systems have him in the Hall. Most say he’s among the best ten shortstops ever. But nobody has him as high as third. So I’ve looked into my system. I first thought the numbers might be so high because of my DRA adjustment. I looked into DRA and found that early players populate most of the top spots on the career list. So then I began to consider counting pre-1893 DRA less than I do. Somewhat to my surprise, I found that I had already made that decision. The good news, I suppose, is that my thought process is pretty consistent. The next thing I looked at is my consecutive stat since that’s something few people use. Well, that’s not it either. Though Glasscock’s consecutive number is pretty great, it’s less great than his peak, prime, or career number. Then it struck me. Glasscock has the third best peak numbers, and my system is very peak-centric. That’s pretty much the whole story.—Miller
That’s easy! Derek Jeter. But it raises the question, Whose conventional wisdom? After all, the argument over just how bad Saint Derek’s defense was has raged for a baseball generation or more. If you disbelieve defensive stats and/or you’re a Yankees fan, you’ve probably got him among your top shortstops ever. If you have some trust in current defensive analysis, you’re a seamhead like us and you’re more comfortable with a ranking like this. In which case, you have plenty of others to choose from in our top twenty. At no position does defense play a larger role in moving our rankings one way or the other.—Eric
Where do we disagree with one another the most?
Besides the fact that I rank Ernie Banks as a shortstop rather than a first baseman, it’s Pebbly Jack Glasscock. We both think much more highly of him than the average person, but Miller’s run him very far up the flagpole. For what it’s worth, Glasscock is a missing Hall of Famer, but I fear he’ll never be elected simply due to his unfortunate name.—Eric
It’s a peak thing. The Hall will eventually get his case right, though it’s likely to take some time.—Miller
Are there any players who MAPES+/CHEWS+ might overrate or underrate?
Believe it or not, the answer is A-Rod. No, he’s not overrated due to his likely sports-drugs usage. You know that’s not our hobby horse. Instead, it’s because A-Rod spent this close to half his days at third base, but he spent just this many more at shortstop. In my system, shortstop is a little tougher set of competition than third base. Mike Schmidt, my number one third baseman, and A-Rod, my number two shortstop have very similar profiles in my systems, and if I were to blithely paste A-Rod’s numbers over Schmidt’s, he would rate number 1 at third base and raise his CHEWS+ by about three points. These are very small little nits I’m picking here, but it does go to show that even these little things make a difference in our perceptions.—Eric
Well, maybe we overrate Glasscock some. However, the real guy our systems underrate, I think, may be Jeter. If you noticed above, he isn’t even in my top-20. In neither of our systems do we include any playoff performance for position players. I stand by that decision. Giving playoff credit to hitters is sort of like judging MVP votes on runs batted in. They’re both based more on opportunity than talent. Still, it’s not like those 158 playoff games didn’t happen. Would the Yankees have won the 1996 World Series were it not for his 10th inning single in Game 4? How about in 2000 when he was World Series MVP? There are other moments to point to as well, I’m sure. His 200 hits, 111 runs, and .308/.374/.465 line make me think bumping him up a few ranks would be just fine. Even if we did, he’d still rank below where most people rank him.—Miller
Next week we’ll welcome Derek Jeter to our second list, shortstops 21-40.