Shortstops are a vital part to any defense of a Major League Baseball team and play an important role in the lineup of each team at the plate. Over the years, many superb players have played shortstop and below is just a short list of the top 25 to play the position.
25. Miguel Tejada
Prior to allegations of steroid dirtying the shortstop’s name, Tejada was considered one of the best at his position. Tejada played his big league career with the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles and played in 1,152 straight games.
Tejada was named to six All-Star teams and voted the MVP for the American League in 2002 finishing the season with a .308 batting average, 34 home runs and 131 RBIs. In 2004, Tejada was fifth in MVP voting while playing for Baltimore with a .311 batting average, 34 home runs and 150 RBIs.
The shortstop finished his big league career with a .285 batting average, 307 home runs and 1,302 RBIs, but sadly his alleged steroid use has tarnished his career in the eyes of many.
24. Troy Tulowitzki
Tulowitzki put up huge numbers before injuries started to take their toll. While with Colorado in the beginning of his career, he became one of baseball’s best players.
An All-Star five times, Tulowitzki finished in the Top 5 for MVP voting two straight seasons while smacking 59 home runs and knocking in 187 runs over that two-year span. His defensive skills were extraordinary as well as he has won two Gold Gloves. As of April 23, 2019, Tulowitzki has career numbers of .290 batting average, 225 home runs, 780 RBIs, 264 doubles, 24 triples and 57 stolen bases and is currently on the New York Yankees 10-day injured list.
23. Pop Lloyd
Lloyd played his professional career in the Negro League and was called the greatest shortstop ever to play in the league. His fielding prowess was second to none and his base-stealing prowess was one of the league’s best.
While with the American Giants, Lloyd and his teammates were the Western champions in three of the four years he was there. Many compared Lloyd’s abilities at short with those of the Honus Wagner. He was given the nickname “The Shovel” as he was known for scooping up dirt each time he fielded a grounder. Lloyd batted .334 for his career.
22. Maury Wills
One of the great base stealers of all time, Wills was an instant impact on baseball when he arrived in the big leagues stealing 50 bases in his first complete regular season with the Dodgers. The next season Wills stole 35 while being selected to the All-Star team and winning a Gold Glove all in just his second season in the bigs.
In 1962, Wills stole 104 bases and was caught just 13 times. That season he batted .299 and was named the National League MVP. For his career, Mills stole 586 bases, was named to seven All-Star teams, won two Gold Gloves, was named an All-Star MVP, regular season MVP and won three World Series titles.
21. Phil Rizzuto
Before Derek Jeter came on the scene, Rizzuto was the Yankees best shortstop to play for the franchise. He career numbers would have been even better if he had not lost three seasons due to military service. While playing with the Yankees, Rizzuto was part of seven World Series titles, won an MVP award and was chosen to five All-Star teams.
The shortstop ended his big league career with a .968 fielding percentage, which was the second best career average for all shortstops at the time of his retirement. Rizzuto turned 1,217 double plays while with the Yankees. He followed his big league career with a 40-year stint as an announcer for New York and in 1985 had his No. 10 jersey retired.
20. Jimmy Rollins
Rollins was another magician at shortstop who could hit for average and power. In 2007 Rollins won the National League MVP award and in 2008 he and his Philadelphia Phillies teammates won the World Series.
Chosen to three All-Star teams and a winner of four Gold Glove awards, Rollins also stole 470 bases and finished his career with 2,455 hits with 231 home runs, 511 doubles and 115 triples. When Rollins retired he was the Phillies career leader in hits.
19. Vern Stephens
Stephens had a slugging prowess that defied his “Pop-up” Stephens nickname. Stephens played most of his big league career with St. Louis and Boston, and put up numbers shortstops a not known for. During his first three seasons with the Red Sox, Stephens hit 29, 39 and 30 home runs, while knocking in 137, 159 and 144 runs. In 1949, Stephens set the all-time mark for RBIs by a shortstop with 144.
Six times, Stephens finished the MVP voting in the top 10 and was chosen to eight All-Star teams and led the American League in RBIs on three occasions. Over a 15-year big league career, Stephens had 247 home runs and 1,174 RBIs.
18. Nomar Garciaparra
Garciaparra had one of baseball’s all-time unique batter’s box rituals between pitches, but once he set up and was ready to hit, he became one of the best all-time hitting shortstops in the majors.
Injuries plagued the Red Sox shortstop’s career and if not for nagging injuries he would have finished much higher in career numbers. Garciaparra was the first right-handed hitter to win the batting title in the American League in successive seasons since the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio.
The Red Sox star batted .372 during 2000, which was the best average by a right-handed hitter during the post-war era and ended his career with a batting average of .313 with 229 home runs and 936 RBIs.
17. George Davis
Davis played in the late 1800s and early 1900s and does not receive the credit from baseball pundits that he should. Between 1893 and 1901 Davis batted over .300 each season and surpassed the .350 mark three times. Davis’ biggest achievement came during the 1906 season when he and his Chicago White Sox teammates beat a heavily-favored Chicago Cubs team for the World Series title.
Davis was enshrined in the Hall of Fame with a .295 career batting average and 2,665 hits. For good measure, Davis hit 163 triples and stole 616 bases during his career.
16. Pee Wee Reese
Reese played the middle infield with Jackie Robinson and although overshadowed by the second baseman’s phenomenal talent, Reese compliment Robinson; was named to 10 All-Star teams; and was instrumental in helping the Dodgers win seven National League pennants and one World Series title. The shortstop finished eight times in the Top-10 in MVP voting.
15. Bill Dahlen
Bad Bill was Dahlen’s nickname and for good reason as he was temperamental on the field but did not let that bother his hitting abilities. Dahlen played 21 seasons in the big leagues and has strong career numbers as a shortstop with most games played at 2,132, second-most walks at 2,461, top 10 in RBIs with 1,234, doubles with 414 and extra base hits with 661.
The best season of Dahlen’s career was while playing with the Chicago Colts in 1894 when he batted .350 with 15 home runs and 108 RBIs. Bad Bill finished his big league career with 2,461 hits and stole 548 bases.
14. Arky Vaughn
The Pittsburgh shortstop was one of the best to ever play shortstop. The native of Arkansas, Arky averaged .300 at the plate or better in each of the first 10 seasons he was with Pittsburgh. His career high batting average was in 1935 when he hit .385. That season Vaughn was third in MVP voting. Vaughn finished his big league career with a .318 batting average, with 2,103 hits in just 1,817 games played.
13. Omar Vizquel
Vizquel was solid at the plate but excelled in the field. Omar became a superstar while with the Cleveland Indians from 1993-2001, when he won nine straight Gold Glove awards. He retired tied for the all-time highest fielding percentage at .985 and turned more double plays than any other player in big league history.
Named to three All-Star teams and an 11-time winner of the Gold Glove award, his defense helped winning many games, but his speed on the bases helped every team he played for. Vizquel finished his big league career with 2,877 hits and 404 stolen bases.
12. Luke Appling
Appling did not possess much power, but the shortstop for the White Sox was able to bang out close (2,749) to 3,000 hits during his big league career. Luscious Luke as he was affectionately called won two batting titles and was named to seven All-Star teams during his career.
Luke’s best season was in 1936 when he averaged .388 at the plate and knocked in 128 runs. He finished the season with 204 hits for his only 200-hit season and struck out just 25 times. Appling was runner-up in MVP voting that season. Appling ended his career with more extra-base hits at 587 than strikeouts at 528.
11. Luis Aparicio
Aparicio was one of baseball’s smallest players at 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, but made up for his lack of size in determination and raw talent that was converted into a Hall of Fame selection. Aparicio was best known for his glove work at short, but his speed on the base paths was an important part of his game.
Aparicio led the American league in stolen bases for nine consecutive seasons. Aparicio had 160 stolen bases from 1959 through 1961 and helped the Chicago White Sox reach the 1959 World Series. The White Sox lost the Series but Aparicio ended the series with a.308 batting average.
Aparicio led shortstop in the American League in fielding percentage eight times and won nine Gold Glove ending his big league career with 13 selections to the All-Star Game.
10. Alan Trammell
Trammel played 20 seasons with the Detroit Tigers after being drafted in 1976 and never played with any other MLB team.
Named to six All-Star teams, Trammell won four Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger awards. Trammel ended his career with 2,365 hits and 236 stolen bases. His best overall season was 1987 when he was second in MVP voting, batted .343 and hit 28 home runs with 105 RBIs.
Trammell and the Tigers won the 1984 World Series and the shortstop was named the MVP of the World Series.
9. Joe Cronin
Cronin became a Hall of Fame player and followed that success into the dugout as a manager then to the front office as general manager. He ended his baseball career as the President of the American League.
While playing, Cronin was selected to seven All-Star Games and finished his career with a .301 batting average, 170 home runs and 1,424 RBIs. Cronin finished as high as second in MVP voting in 1933. Cronin was a player-manager in 1933-1934 for the Washington Senators and managed the Boston Red Sox between 1935 and 1947. Cronin’s managerial career ended with 1,236 wins.
8. Robin Yount
Yount was one of baseball’s best shortstop through most of his career before becoming an outfielder. The former Milwaukee great won two MVP awards, played in three All-Star Games, won three Silver Slugger awards and one Gold Glove award.
During the 1980s, Young had more hits (1731) than any other MLB player and for that decade of dominance averaged .305 at the plate with 175 home runs and 821 RBIs. During 1982, Yount’s numbers were historically great with a 10.5 WAR that was the third best ever by a shortstop. That season Yount batted .331, with 29 home runs and was the American League leaders in doubles, hits, and OPS. For his career, Yount had 3,142 hits and a 77.3 lifetime WAR.
7. Barry Larkin
Larkin grew up in Cincinnati and became a local hero with the Reds. Larkin played in 12 All-Star Games, won nine Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves while with Cincinnati. During his career, Larkin won the 1990 World Series with the Reds and in 1995 was named the National League MVP for a season in which he hit .319.
In 1996, Larkin became the first-ever shortstop to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. The Hall of Fame member averaged .295 over his career with 2,340 hits and a.975 fielding percentage.
6. Derek Jeter
Known as Captain Clutch and Mr. November, Jeter has stats that no one can deny are some of the best ever for a shortstop. Jeter made acrobatic plays at in the hole or behind second and his prowess at the plate was phenomenal. Jeter won five World Series titles with the Yankees, was an All-Star 14 times, won five Silver Slugger awards, and won the World Series MVP.
Jeter finished his career with a .310 batting average, 3,465 hits, 260 home runs and 358 stolen bases. There is no doubt that during his first year of eligibility, which is 2020, Jeter will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
5. Ozzie Smith
Smith was a defensive magician. The Wizard of Oz made it look easy to play shortstop. Smith won 13 straight Gold Glove Awards at short and was chosen to play in 15 All-Star Games. While with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982, he won the only World Series of his career. After his retirement Smith’s No. 1 jersey was retired by the Cardinals organization.
His final stats include several MLB records including the most assists all-time at 8,375, most years as leader in assists and chances accepted at eight. Although, known for his glove, Smith at the plate ended his career with 2,460 hits while stealing 580 bases.
4. Cal Ripken Jr.
Most remember Ripken for how he redefined the role of a shortstop and for “The Streak.” Ripken won the Rookie of the Year award, two MVP awards, eight Silver Slugger awards, two All-Star MVP awards, two Gold Glove awards and was chosen 19 times to play in the All-Star Game. His bat did most of his talking, Cal was a steady presence at short.
Ripken ended his career with 431 home runs and 1,695 RBIs and surpassed the 3,000-hit mark for his career with 3,184. Ripkin established a record likely never to be approached or broken by playing in 2,632 straight games. Many will remember Ripken for his bat, but he went an entire season with committing just three errors.
3. Ernie Banks
Banks is likely the most loved of all Cubs by Chicago and baseball fans alike. Early in his career Banks was one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, before injuries made him become a first baseman for the second half of his career.
Banks was an All-Star 14 times and won a pair of MVP awards with Chicago. When winning his two consecutive MVP’s, Banks averaged .308 at the plate with 92 home runs and 272 RBIs.
Banks was the NL leader in fielding percentage three times as a shortstop and hit .300 or higher three times. Banks’ final stats were 512 home runs, 1,636 RBIs and 2,583 hits. Affectionately known as Mr. Cub, Banks was selected to the All-Century team for MLB in 1999 joining Honus Wagner and Cal Ripken Jr. as the only three shortstops on the team.
2. Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez is not only considered one of the best to ever play shortstop in MLB but is likely one of the best all-round players of all-time. However, A-Rod has the stigma of steroid use hanging over his career and that ends the majority of talks about his greatness before they even start. Nevertheless, what Rodriguez accomplished during his playing career is remarkable. A-Rod finished his career with a .295 batting average, 3,115 hits, 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs. Rodriguez finished his career fourth all-time in home runs and third all-time in RBIs.
As a 20-year old in Seattle with the Mariners, Rodriguez batted .358 with 36 home runs and 123 RBIs and was second in MVP voting. Following his stint in Seattle, Rodriguez moved on to play for the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees.
A-Rod won three American League MVP awards, was an All-Star 14 times, won 10 Silver Sluggers awards and was a World Series champion. In three different seasons, Rodriguez basted 50 or more home runs and eight seasons in which he hit 40 or more homers.
1. Honus Wagner
Wagner played from 1897 to 1971, which makes it difficult to accurately compare players of that era with those of the most recent generation of baseball stars. Nonetheless, by listening to previous greats who saw him play and looking at the numbers Wagner put up. It is easy to place him at the top of the list at No. 1.
The Flying Dutchman put up untouchable numbers and remains first today in WAR amongst all shortstops at 130.8. The legend who played with the Pirates won eight batting titles, with six coming after Wagner had already turned 30.
Hans enjoyed an arm that threw missiles to first base and power at the plate that easily placed him amongst the best all-round players to ever play the game. Wagner’s lifetime batting averaging was .328 with 3,420 hits, 1,732 RBIs and 723 stolen bases. Few would argue that the Flying Dutchman was one of baseball’s greatest of all-time.