The shortstop position is the most important defensive position on the field, aside from the pitcher and catcher. that makes this an important defensive list.
It amazes me how much “respected” historians differ on defensive ratings. we all know that “offensively” speaking, historians are more or less on the same page. the same cannot be said about defense.
Reading: Best defensive shortstop of all time
Another thing I like about ranked defense: historians don’t care about career length like they do about offense. it’s the way it should be offensively, too. but it doesn’t work that way.
note: next to each player I will assign a letter rating to each player offensively, as I see it. we can assume that they are all an “a+” defensively, as they are in the top 10 of all time defensively for a shortstop.
here I go. unfocused story. the way it really is.
10. art fletcher (1910s)offensive rating: b+
fletcher was arguably the best defensive shortstop of the last decade of the dead ball era. but there were others who were also great. notably mickey doolan, roger peckinpaugh and terry turner.
but fletcher takes the cake and there were hardly any flaws in his defensive play. he was also a great offensive player for a shortstop.
11-20 Here are 10 more shortstops who gave Fletcher a run for his money at No. 10 points.
I’ll list them from oldest to newest: bill dahlen (1900), roger peckinpaugh (1910), terry turner (1910), rabbit maranville (1920), everett scott (1920), marty marion (1940) , phil rizzuto (1940s), dave conception (1970s), neifi perez (2000s), and jack wilson (2000s)
9. dal maxvill (1960s) offensive rating: f
maxville was the best defensive shortstop of the 1960s. but there were other greats, like ron hansen. Unfortunately, Maxville was a defensive expert, but he was an offensive flop, even for a shortstop.
8. honus wagner (1900s) offensive rating: a +
What can I say about Wagner that hasn’t already been said? Other than Alex Rodriguez, he is arguably the best offensive shortstop in MLB history. And some forget (or never knew) that he was arguably one of the top 10 defensive shortstops in MLB history.
7. mike benjamin (1990s) offensive rating: d
A defensive expert who was the best defensive shortstop of the 1990s. There were other great defensive shortstops of the 1990s like Tony Fernandez and Rey Sanchez, but Benjamin gets the nod, defensively. Benjamin was not an offensive flop, but unfortunately he was below average.
6. mark belanger (1970s) offensive score: d +
the best defensive shortstop of the 1970s, with arguments by dave concepcion. some players are better than they seem. but belanger looked great…and he was. he pretty much got the job done offensively, but was slightly below average.
5. joe tinker (1900s) offensive rating: b
tinker was the best defensive shortstop of mlb’s first 50 seasons.
There were many other greats during that time, including Herman Long, Bill Dahlen, Hughie Jennings, Honus Wagner, Art Fletcher, Mickey Doolan, Roger Peckinpaugh, Terry Turner, Dave Bancroft, Rabbit Maranville, and Everett Scott. but tinker surpassed them all. Tinker was also a good solid offensive player for a shortstop.
4. rick burleson (1980s) offensive rating: b –
one of the best decision makers in mlb history for a shortstop. Of course, I have no statistical evidence for this, it just seems like he always made the right decision, mentally. a great defensive shortstop. he also got the job done offensively. he was slightly above average, offensively.
3. billy rogell (1930s) offensive rating: b+
He was an amazing defensive shortstop and a great offensive player for a shortstop. I don’t know what else to say about rogell, not enough is said about his game in general.
2. ozzie smith (1980s) offensive score: b+
this is the guy almost “all” historians have in the top three. and is usually the first. what you saw is what you got. he looked brilliant, and he was as good as he looked. they didn’t call him the “wizard” because he could just click and go back to kansas.
He was called the wizard for his defense. Smith was also a great offensive player. many are (and were) tough on him offensively. many forget how brilliant he was as a baserunner. And because of his brilliant baserunning, he’s a b+ offensively.
1. lou boudreau (1940s) offensive rating: a
it is in the hof where it belongs, but at the same time, it seems to have fallen into oblivion with the common fan.
surprises some, but just about every “respected” historian you come across who has the guts to assign defensive letter grades will call boudreau “a+” defensively. if you come across a pessimist, they might call him “a”. but somehow he’s in the hof and no one seems to present a defense for him.
He was an interesting phenomenon on defense, because he seemed slow on his feet. but somehow he got to balls that others couldn’t get to. His arm seemed average, but he always seemed to pick off fast baserunners on close plays.
My point is that he looked pretty good, but he was way better than he looked, how about the greatest defensive shortstop of all time?
He was also an amazing offensive player for a shortstop.
then, it has apparently fallen by the wayside with the common fan. but he is in his rightful hof because he was an “a+” defensively and an “a” offensively.
There you have it. history without blurring. as it really was.