Remember when it seemed like every shortstop in baseball was from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic? If you do, you actually misremember just like I do. As I type this, there have been 97 players in history from a city of fewer than 400,000 people, which is incredibly impressive. Somewhat to my surprise, only 29 of them ever played shortstop. Only eleven of those guys came to the plate 1000 times in the majors. And only four played more than 50% of their games at short: Pepe Frias, Manny Lee, Rafael Ramirez, and Tony Fernandez, a player we both rank among the 50 best shortstops ever.
Interested in other lists in this series or how our systems work? Check out these posts.
Shortstop – 21-40
Where do we project the active player(s) to finish in our rankings?
I got out my meat thermometer, and it’s indicating that Tulo is almost fully cooked. His hitting has slid below average, he can’t stay healthy, and the switch to normal altitude has not stemmed his injury-proneness one bit. I’d be shocked, though delighted, if he reached #30 in my rankings. —Eric
For the last six years, Tulo has averaged fewer than 100 games per. Surprise, surprise, he’s on the DL again. At just age 32, it would seem that the productive part of his career is over, which is extremely sad. Like David Wright, he’s a cautionary tale about how a surefire Hall of Fame career could be curtailed. Fans of guys like Yadier Molina and Evan Longoria might take note. Almost there doesn’t mean you’re there. Tulowitzki may jump a spot or two before he’s done. Then again, he may fall too.—Miller
We only talk about Hanley here because he tops Maury Wills by 0.35 in my system. As you may note, he’s not in Eric’s top-40. When the Sox spent over $180 million on him and Pablo Sandoval in the winter of 2014, I was horrified. Why would the team need two third basemen, I asked. It turns out they actually signed zero. And if I’m being fair, I liked the Ramirez signing and only objected to Panda. I was quite wrong. He’s averaging less than half a win per year in Beantown, can’t play the field, can’t run the bases, and kind of can’t hit anymore either. With 497 trips to the plate this year, he’ll pretty much trigger a $22 million deal in 2019. I’m hoping he struggles enough early on that they can justify sitting their Opening Day #3 hitter. He’s about as likely to finish outside my top-40 than in it.—Miller
Speaking of guys at the end of the line. Headlines told us that Hanley was in the best shape of his life this Spring. When they start writing that, the gig is almost up. With Mitch Moreland and J.D. Martinez, and three amazing young outfielders, and in the days of 13-man bullpens, the Sox have little use for a lousy-fielding, below-average hitting first baseman/DH. Ramirez could be done much more quickly than you’d think.—Eric
Where do our rankings diverge the most from the conventional wisdom?
Pretty much no one has talked about that top-flight shortstop, Donie Bush. And even few would rate him higher than Davey Concepcion. I know for sure that Joe Morgan would take personal umbrage upon hearing about it.—Eric
There’s this guy some of you may have heard of, a guy who received a pretty disgusting amount of Hall of Fame support in January, a guy who is sometimes considered the defensive equal of Ozzie Smith (insanely), a guy who is frequently called the best defensive shortstop since Ozzie (blasphemous in a world where Andrelton Simmons exists), a guy who….I could go on, and I have in a ton of posts. Just put his name into the search bar. You’ll see. If we offered a third group of 20 in the shortstop series, he wouldn’t even appear there.—Miller
Where do we disagree with one another the most?
Probably Hughie Jennings. We are within just a few ranks of one another, granted, but Miller has him 7 points over the in/out line, while I have him smack-dab on it. And I’m not even sure how much I agree with me. Jennings has a compelling case as a combo manager-player, but it’s a weird one. Hughie wasn’t a great manager, but he was above average and for a very long time—which, of course, is the exact opposite of his playing days when he ruled the roost for four or five years and otherwise earned next to no value.—Eric
It’s a peak thing. Hughie is seventh best at the position, and that shoots him up the charts. It’s also a consecutive thing. He’s second only to Honus Wagner. Jennings is the player who most makes me question my system. That’s okay. It’s not like I’m really working on a HoME argument for him.—Miller
Are there any players who MAPES+/CHEWS+ might overrate or underrate?
We could talk about Jennings for a long time because his case pushes the envelope in nearly every way. Do either of our systems over-reward peak performance? If so, Jennings becomes a no-go pretty quickly. Then there’s Johnny Ward. He pitched for about as long as Jennings peaked, then Monte turned into Maury Wills for about a dozen years. Nineteenth Century pitching twists pitching systems into knots on the best of days, and when we then combine it with a long and productive career in the field, things can get weird. And just as soon as BBREF releases updated Rbaser for seasons with PBP during Joe Sewell’s career, we expect him to jump a couple ranks.—Eric
In one week, it’s catchers. And perhaps some surprises.