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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / The Grueling Truth's Top 10 Sports Lists / Top-10 Shortstops in MLB History: Where does ARod rank?

Top-10 Shortstops in MLB History: Where does ARod rank?

The greatest ever
Publish Date: 04/29/2024
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa

Today we look at the greatest shortstops in Baseball history; offensive and defensive numbers account for this ranking, not just one or the other. We omit active shortstops.

Criteria

Shortstops used to be light hitters with great gloves, but defense was the most important thing when looking for a great shortstop. That has evolved through the years, and as of late, we have seen better-hitting shortstops, so these rankings have to take into account all of that.

10) Luke Appling

After his retirement, Luke Appling was the all-time leader in both games played and double plays by a shortstop. He played from 1930 to 1950, albeit missing the 1944 season, all for the White Sox.

Appling logged many innings at shortstop and was also regarded as one of the toughest hitters to face during that time. He routinely fouled off pitches and found a way to get on base as a great leadoff hitter. Appling finished his career with over 2,700 hits and a .310 average, winning two batting titles along the way.

While not always remembered as much as some other players, Appling was good at almost everything and should be considered among the top shortstops. Check out our list of the greatest defensive shortstops in MLB history.

Video: Luke Appling - Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

Luke Appling – Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

9) Ernie Banks

Banks was an impressive power hitter, ranking 21st all-time in total home runs with 512. In his 19-year career with the Chicago Cubs, he hit. a 274 average and had 1636 RBIs, 1305 runs scored, 2583 base hits and 50 stolen bases, earning him 14 selections to the All-Star team–six times starting at shortstop. The less than half of his career at shortstop is why he is this far down on this list.

He won back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959, with his best season coming in 1958 when he hit.313 with 47 home runs, 129 RBIs, 119 runs scored and 193 base hits. As a solid defensive player for the Cubs in 1960, he earned a Gold Glove that year but never won a championship with them.

Video: Amazing Ernie Banks highlights! The former MVP had a fantastic career!

Amazing Ernie Banks highlights! The former MVP had a fantastic career!

8) Alan Trammell

A .285/.352/.415 hitter who also swiped 236 bags and walked almost as many times as he whiffed over his 20 seasons—all with the Detroit Tigers—Trammell still is not in the Hall of Fame after 13 years on the ballot, Trammell should be in the hall of fame.

Video: Alan Trammell Hall of Famer

Alan Trammell Hall of Famer

7) Robin Yount

Robin Yount barely qualified for this by playing 1,479 of 2,856 career games at short (51.8 percent). But what he did while playing shortstop definitely does qualify him. He reached 3,000 hits (3,142) and won two MVPs (1982, 1989) while being an overall and all-around consistent offensive player.

Video: Yount's two homers lift Brewers to AL East

Yount’s two homers lift Brewers to AL East

6) Barry Larkin

The Cincinnati native made his hometown club look good for picking him fourth overall in the 1985 draft, as he sported a .295/.371/.444 line, helped win the 1990 World Series and captured the 1995 MVP.

Video: Barry Larkin hits three homers vs. Houston

Barry Larkin hits three homers vs. Houston

5) Derek Jeter

Having reached double digits in home runs and stolen bases for 15 straight seasons (1996-2010), Jeter’s 256 homers and 348 steals make him one of two shortstops ever, along with Yount, to reach 250 in both.

Video: Derek Jeter Career Highlights (Emotional) ᴴᴰ

Derek Jeter Career Highlights (Emotional) ᴴᴰ

4) Ozzie Smith

Having started his career with the San Diego Padres, Smith was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1981 and won the final 11 of his 13 consecutive Gold Gloves—most ever for the position. Smith was, without a doubt, the greatest defensive shortstop of all time!

Video: Ozzie Smith Career Highlights

Ozzie Smith Career Highlights

3) Alex Rodriguez

At 20, Rodriguez hit.358 at age 20 with 36 home runs and 54 doubles – an astonishing feat! He won three MVP Awards and finished runner-up twice (including in 1996 when Juan Gonzalez beat him for MVP honors). Furthermore, eighth all-time in runs, third in RBIs and 16th overall, according to Baseball-Reference WAR; only Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (born after 1940) could surpass him. The steroids are a huge stain on him, but unfortunately, it’s a massive stain on almost every great player after 1990.

Video: Alex Rodriguez |

Alex Rodriguez | “Farewell” Career Highlights Mix ᴴᴰ

2) Cal Ripken Jr.

Ripken smacked 3,184 hits and smashed 431 home runs, with 1,647 runs and 1,695 RBI. Among shortstops, Ripken ranks first or second in all four of those categories (only Jeter has more hits and runs).

In many ways, because he stood 6’4″, Ripken was also a game-changer because his success as a two-time MVP (1983, 1991) helped usher in an era of taller, bigger shortstops, a batch that included the likes of Garciaparra (6’0″), Larkin (6’0″) Jeter (6’3″) and Rodriguez (6’3″), who started his career at the position. Plus, he has that all-time record for consecutive games played. Is Ripken the Greatest Baltimore Oriole of all time?

Video: Cal Ripken Montage

Cal Ripken Montage

1) Honus Wagner

Wagner, who played three years with the Louisville Colonels before 18 straight with the Pittsburgh Pirates, batted .328 for his career. That’s the highest among any shortstop since 1900.

Wagner also finished with 3,420 hits, 1,739 runs scored, 1,733 RBI, and generally has black ink all over his Baseball-Reference page. He was in the first class elected to Cooperstown and with 95.1 per cent of the vote, Wagner tied Ruth for the highest vote total.

Video: Honus Wagner - Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

Honus Wagner – Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

Honorable mentions

Maury Wills

Maury Wills led the National League in stolen bases six times and set an MLB single-season record with 104 stolen bases in 1962 – the same year he was named National League MVP.

Wills, a football star at Washington D.C.’s Cardozo High, is widely credited with bringing stolen bases back into the majors as an effective strategy to win games.

Video: Remembering Maury Wills

Remembering Maury Wills

Phil Rizzuto

No shortstop can match Phil Rizzuto’s remarkable record of seven World Series victories and four more appearances in the World Series during his 13-year career.

Rizzuto was an adept fielder and bunter. He enjoyed his best season in 1950 when he earned American League Most Valuable Player honors and led the Yankees to their second of five consecutive World Series championships.

Video: Scooter: The Phil Rizzuto Story

Scooter: The Phil Rizzuto Story

Lou Boudreaux

He is widely considered the creator of the defensive shift, giving him an iconic but controversial place in baseball history. But he was more than just an innovator; he was also a great shortstop.

Boudreau was an expert at turning double plays and even made a challenging defensive play to help end Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak. As captain of Illinois’s baseball and basketball teams, his athleticism was unsurpassed for its era. From 1938 to 1952, Boudreau earned eight all-star selections, was named batting champ in 1944, MVP in 1948, and helped Cleveland win their first World Series ever the following year (1948).

Video: LOU BOUDREAU: Thornton High School's All-Time Greatest

LOU BOUDREAU: Thornton High School’s All-Time Greatest

Omar Vizquel

Vizquel is widely considered as the second-greatest defensive shortstop behind Ozzie Smith. Throughout his 20-year career with the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, and San Francisco Giants he earned eleven gold glove awards and was selected to three All-Star teams. With a.273 career average along with 77 home runs, 892 RBIs, 1361 runs scored, 2657 base hits and 385 stolen bases to his credit, Vizquel never won a championship, losing in 1995 and 1997 with Cleveland Indians.

Video: Omar Vizquel Career Highlights

Omar Vizquel Career Highlights

Dave Concepcion

Dave Concepcion was the star shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds during their legendary “Big Red Machine” days. Helping lead them to two World Series championships and three other World Series appearances. Does Dave Concepcion belong in the Hall of Fame?

Concepcion was the epitome of teamwork. Not only did he join Joe Morgan as one of baseball’s all-time great middle infields, but Concepcion also mentored his successor Barry Larkin, who became another legendary shortstop alongside his mentor.

Video: Remembering Reds All-Stars: Dave Concepcion

Remembering Reds All-Stars: Dave Concepcion

Tony Fernandez

Fernandez had a knack for hitting, earning four consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1986 to 1989. In 1990 he led MLB with 17 triples, had over 30 doubles and 20 stolen bases seven times, and led the American League in assists, putouts and fielding average multiple times.

Fernandez was part of a historic trade that sent him and Fred McGriff to the San Diego Padres in 1991 for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. Later that same year, Fernandez returned to Toronto as part of their second consecutive World Series championship squad.

Video: Memories Of Tony Fernandez 💙

Memories Of Tony Fernandez 💙

George Davis

Davis’ career-defining moment may have been the 1906 World Series, in which his Chicago Sox faced off against the heavily-favoured crosstown Cubs and came out on top. Davis hit.308 with six RBI during this remarkable series and ranks high among shortstops in several categories, such as runs (7th), RBI (5th), stolen bases (3rd) and triples (3rd). Additionally, Davis player-managed parts of three seasons with New York from 1895-1899; after which he largely disappeared from baseball activity, but after years of research revealed he had been elected posthumously into the Hall of Fame Veteran Committee in 1998.

Video: George Davis - Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

George Davis – Baseball Hall of Fame Biographies

Luis Aparicio

Luis Aparicio was an outstanding fielder and base stealer who achieved fame during the late 1950s while playing for the Chicago White Sox. In 1959, he helped lead them to the World Series when he finished as runner-up in American League Most Valuable Player voting.

Once Aparicio hit the basepaths, teams were in trouble. He led the American League in stolen bases with nine and earned nine Gold Glove Awards along the way, ultimately being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on his sixth attempt in 1984.

Video: Luis Aparicio's Hall of Fame speech in 1984

Luis Aparicio’s Hall of Fame speech in 1984

Joe Cronin

On his way to .301/.390/.468 career line, eight 100-RBI campaigns and five top-10 MVP finishes, Cronin became player-manager for the Senators—replacing the legendary Walter Johnson, no less—at the age of 26. If you are looking for the best site to bet on Baseball this season check out this guide to help you pick the right site for you!

Cronin was so highly regarded in his day that when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in 1934, the Sox included $250,000 cash—a staggering amount of money at the time—to get the deal done.

Video: Joe Cronin: A Family Portrait | Red Sox Bios

Joe Cronin: A Family Portrait | Red Sox Bios

Nomar Garciaparra

Nomar Garciaparra was one of baseball’s greatest shortstops. Still, his career took an unexpected turn when he suffered a wrist injury following consecutive batting titles in 1999 and 2000. That injury would hamper him for the rest of his career.

Garciaparra was a six-time All-Star and earned himself the National League Comeback Player of the Year in 2006. His career batting average remains at.313.

To fully appreciate Garciaparra’s remarkable abilities at the plate, consider that his.372 batting average in 2000 was the highest since World War II. He became the first right-handed batter to win back-to-back batting titles since Joe DiMaggio.

Video: Nomar Garciaparra career highlights

Nomar Garciaparra career highlights

Arky Vaughan

Vaughan was a nine-time all-star and had the briefest big league career of this bunch—just 14 seasons—and while he finished with only 96 homers, he wound up hitting .318 with a .406 OBP and .453 SLG. He also walked (937) more than three times more than he struck out (276) and led the league in bases on balls three straight years from 1934 through 1936.

 

 

 

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