This is the 6th post in a series of 9 which focuses on the greatest baseball players ever. This in the final post on infielders and focuses on shortstops.
1. Honus Wagner – 1897-1917 (LOU, PIT) Wagner is a memeber of the 3,000 hit club and managed to hit over 100 home runs in the dead-ball era. He also added 1,732 RBI’s and 722 stolen bases. Ty Cobb even called him “…the greatest star ever to take the diamond.” Honus is on the most sought after baseball card in the world, the T206; only about 50 are believed to exist. Wagner was a member of the 1936 charter class into the Hall of Fame.
2. Cal Ripken, Jr. – 1981-2001 (BAL) Ripken played in 19 straight all-star games, won 8 Silver Sluggers, 2 Gold Gloves, 2 AL MVP awards, a World Series ring, won rookie of the year…and that’s not all. The Iron Man played in 2,632 consecutive games from 1982-98, breaking Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130. Besides those miniscule accomplishments, Cal also has over 3,000 hits, 400 homers and nearly 1,700 ribbies. Ripken was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007.
3. Ernie Banks – 1953-1971 (CHC) Banks hit 512 home runs in his Cubs career and was named the National League MVP twice. He was an 11 time all-star as well because he routinely hit 40 home runs and over 115 RBI’s a season early in his playing days. Ernie’s nickname was Mr. Cub and he finished with 1,636 RBI’s. He recorded more hits (2,583) than games played (2,528). Banks was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
4. Ozzie Smith – 1978-1996 (SD, STL) Smith was not a great offensive threat; he only hit 28 home runs and 793 RBI’s in his career, but was known for his speed and defense. He was elected to 15 all-star games for these attributes. He also won 13 Gold Gloves. Ozzie stole 580 bases with the Padres and Cardinals. He rarely struck out too, averaging just over 30 per season. Smith has been a member of the baseball hall of fame since 2002.
5. Omar Vizquel – 1989-present (SEA, CLE, SF) Vizquel, like Smith, is not a power threat when he comes up to the plate. He has only 77 homers and 882 RBI’s, but is second in hits by a shortstop. However, he certainly makes up for his power with his glove. Omar has won 9 consecutive Gold Gloves and currently has 11. He is tied with Ripken for most consecutive errorless games. Vizquel also has a .984 fielding percentage, best all time by a shortstop.
6. Alex Rodriguez – 1994-present (SEA, TEX, NYY) NOTE: A-Rod’s stats and awards are based on his time at shortstop only from 1994-2003! Rodriguez is a 7 time all-star. He has blasted 345 home runs and knocked in 990 RBI’s as well as recording 1,535 hits. A-Rod has also won 7 Silver Sluggers and 2 Gold Gloves. He holds multiple records including the most runs, extra base hits, total bases, home runs and highest slugging percentage by a shortstop.
7. Luis Aparicio – 1956-1973 (CHW, BAL, CHW, BOS) Aparicio played all 2,581 games he ever played in at shortstop. Like Smith and Vizquel, Aparicio never hit many home runs, but still managed to record 2,677 hits, 569 for extra bases. 506 times Luis managed to steal a base. He played in 10 all-star games and was awarded 9 Gold Gloves. Aparicio is a member of the 1984 Baseball Hall of Fame class.
8. Derek Jeter – 1995-present (NYY) Another non-power hitting shortstop, Jeter has 2,500 hits to go along with his 203 home runs and 993 ribbies. He also has the ability to steal bases as he has done that 273 times. His lifetime average of .316 places him at 5th best among all active players. Derek is a 9 time all-star, has 3 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers and 4 World Series rings, too.
9. Luke Appling – 1930-1950 (CHW) Appling was yet another non power shortstop, but he still helped out the White Sox by accumulating over 1,100 ribbies in his lifetime. He also hit safely 2,749 times in his 20 season career. Unfortunately, there was one downfall to having Luke on your team. His fielding was atrocious. He made 643 errors in his career, about one every 3 games. Appling was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964.
10. Lou Boudreau – 1938-1952 (CLE, BOS) Boudreau was a 7 time all-star, a World Series champion and an American League MVP. He only had 1,779 hits in his career, but about 20% of them were doubles. He also added 789 RBI’s. Lou was a very difficult batter to strike out as pitchers were only able to do that 9 times in the 1948 season. Boudreau was finally elected into the Hall of Fame in 1970, in his ninth year of eligibility.
The Chuck Norris joke of the day is…
Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table because Chuck Norris only recognizes the element of surprise.