Mar 7, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes (7) walks to the dugout in the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
When all of the analysis is in I am going to rank the teams based on an easy point system: 5 for the best and 1 for the least. It will be curious to find out how close this type of ranking will be to the actual standings at the end of the year. I am all about the comments and reading how much I suck so feel free to slay me in the comments…or commend me and feed my ego! On to the Shortstops!
Probable Starting Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles: J.J. Hardy
Hardy has had a decent career so far and it culminated in a Silver Slugger award, an all-star appearance and a Gold Glove. He is surely an all-around talent. His power has always been there but he doesn’t have flashy numbers to go with it. His batting average is average, he doesn’t really steal bases and his slugging percentage is not bad. He is a gamer and a grinder. The type of guy who gives you the same thing year after year.
Defensively I was surprised to see him win a Gold Glove. That may have as much to do with who wasn’t healthy as to how good he is. But a closer look at the numbers say that Hardy was quite deserving. He has decent range and a great arm and played every day. Sometimes it’s just reliability that makes you great in a season of not-so-greats.
Boston Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts
This man is all about the hype. Judging from his brief foray into the majors last year the hype seems to be justified. He has progressed so well that it allowed the Red Sox to trade Jose Iglesias to the Tigers last season. Bogaerts will hit .300 eventually with 20 homers and a great OBP. That will come. For now he is an offensive upgrade over Iglesias and should be the best home grown SS the Sox have had since Nomar Garciaparra.
He also has an outstanding glove according to the scouting reports and should form an elite defensive pairing with Dustin Pedroia at the keystone. Great lateral range and a gun for an arm, Bogaerts will justify playing this year at the ripe old age of 21.
New York Yankees: Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter is perhaps the best shortstop to ever suit up for the Yankees. He is an iconic figure who at one point seemed destined to make a run at Pete Rose‘s all-time hits record. Unfortunately injury has bagged that opportunity but just two years ago he was collecting over 200 hits for the 8th time in his career. 16 seasons of double digits stolen bases. 13 seasons with over 100 runs scored. 16 years of 10+ home runs. He is as good a lead off hitter as there ever was. He has slowed alot and this may be his final season but you know that he will go out with a bang and not a whimper when the time comes.
With 5 Gold Gloves it shows Jeter had the ability in the field as well. The last few years though his range has dried up and his arm isn’t what it used to be. He will make the routine plays and occasionally the spectacular but don’t fool yourself. If he wasn’t Derek Jeter he would have been moved off of short a long time ago.
Tampa Bay Rays: Yunel Escobar
This guy is such a waste of talent. The flashes and promise he showed with the Braves and Blue Jays was enough to really excite the fan bases of both teams. His batting average is all over the place from year to year, he has the potential to pop 15+ homers but hasn’t hit 10 in 5 of his 7 seasons in the majors and he can’t even reach 30 doubles for a season. So why does he continue to work frequently? He gets on base. He has never had a season below .300 in OBP. His career mark is .350. He can take the walk and doesn’t strike out very much. And that’s about it.
Defensively he is average. Great arm and decent enough hands but his range is lacking and he tries to make too many plays he shouldn’t be trying to make. He is below the league average in rang factor per 9 innings and sometimes his mental lapses translate to some errors that major league shortstops just don’t make.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Reyes
I love Jose Reyes. The passion he exudes shows he truly loves this game. Too bad his body keeps trying to take it from him! Reyes has the speed, the eye, the power, the patience. He may have lost a step but there are not many in the majors these days who fit the prototypical lead off man the way Reyes does. The man gets on base and his speed alone disrupts the pitcher and the defense. Last year was an aberration due to his ankle injury but he has shown this spring that he is back. Expect a dozen or so homers, 30 doubles, 15 triples, 40 stolen bases and and OPS near .800…if he can stay on the field.
Defensively Reyes isn’t as good as he could be. He has great range but that sometimes leads to unnecessary errors. It’s as if he tries to do to much. His Fielding Percentage is usually at or below the league average and that has kept him from becoming the top of the totem pole of elite shortstops. With Brett Lawrie on his right perhaps he will shine a bit more…though he did have David Wright to his right for years and still garnered high error totals.
And the medalists are:
Each shortstop has had their successes and failures. Drawing this up strictly for the 2014 season I would have to go as follows: Jose Reyes, J.J. Hardy, Derek Jeter, Xander Bogaerts and then Yunel Escobar. The only reason Bogaerts is where he is is his lack of big league experience. If he flourishes as many expect he will definitely push for the top spot in the AL East at the end of the season. So c’mon dirtbags…gimme your best shot in the comments below!