The shortstop position is one that has switched leagues in terms of strength. Nomar Garciaparra declined through numerous injuries and of course moved to the DL on an NL team, taking away what was a great SS from the American League. Miguel Tejada was traded to the NL and in return the Orioles acquired the bat of Luke Scott and ridded of Tejada as he was not needed in Baltimore (rebuilding). Of course Alex Rodriguez shifted positions, even though he shouldn’t have for the good of the team, but nevertheless is no longer ****. Derek Jeter is still one of the best, but the NL is now where it’s at, in terms of the SS. Hanley Ramirez was nearly an AL stud as well, but was moved to Florida for Josh Beckett. Now Ramirez is tearing the cover off of the ball, and apparently tearing a hole in his glove. He along with a few others have helped the NL become the premier place for the “6.”
When ranking the five best at the position of SS, or any position for that matter, I will take into account what is happening right now, but will put a lot of stock into what has happened in the past too. Using Jeter as an example: He isn’t what he once was, but he is still good. I know that he is a better hitter than he has displayed this season, but he is also not what he was in 99′ either. I must keep all of this in mind, because Christian Guzman is not making this list, even though he somehow leads all Shortstops in “Win Shares.” And the five best SS in baseball are…
- Hanley Ramirez: I know, I know, he doesn’t know how to use a glove, nor does he know how to manipulate John Dewan’s “Plus/Minus” system. But the kid can hit. Can ABSOLUTELY hit, with the best at any position. His OPS+ his rookie season of 116 was only 2% lower than Jimmy Rollins’ career year last year (118). I’ve heard much about Ramirez maybe needing a position switch sometime in his career, but right now his bat makes up for his lack of glove. Current OPS+ of 145 duplicates what is was at the end of last season.
- Derek Jeter: It is time for a position change for him. But the thing about Jeter is that there may be no one in baseball who I would trust to come through in a meaningful situation. I know his slugging is terrible right now, close to 100 percentage points below his career average, but I have a hard time believing that this will continue. I know that Jimmy Rollins is coming off an “MVP” season, and I know that Jose Reyes would be a better option for the future. But Jeter’s OPS+ last season was better than Rollins’ best year, and was better than Reyes’ best also. I just have a hard time placing those guys in front of Jeter right now, even with his terrible up-the-middle range.
- Jose Reyes: The potential is limitless. But he seems to be lacking something. Good enough with the glove, and has tons of power, but maybe mentally is just not quite there. I wouldn’t know for sure, as most of what I know of this is secondhand. But he has a lot of power for ****, and gets on base enough, but maybe not ENOUGH for how good he is supposed to be. There will be more from him, and eventually he may be number one on this list, but for now this is accurate I would think.
- Jimmy Rollins: Personally, I think Rollins is good, but I think that last year was kind of a fluke year. He will be among the best SS’s, but I don’t think that he will be in any serious MVP discussions again. He knows how to field the position, and can hit fairly well too, but last year he hit better than ever. I just cannot put him any higher than this.
- Miguel Tejada: Tejada is still hitting. He may not be the Tejada of the past, but he is still pretty good, offensively of course. I honestly don’t even know that Tejada would be on the list if I did it later in the year, as the others featured here most likely would. And I don’t know that Tejada should even be at SS at this point. But not every team has a replacement at the position, so there are always going to be bad defensive players at each position, in relation to the rest of the league. He is still producing though. OPS+ 113. His career OPS+ is 114, so he hasn’t lost much with the bat, although has lost some if this season is compared strictly to his prime years.