Could it be as simple as a much greater emphasis is placed on defensive ability at SS, instead of offense? WIthout doing any research, I feel like 2B has improved a lot over these same years, in terms of offensive production..were a lot of these guys drafted as SS but were moved over?
“The quirk in this is that while AL shortstops are producing at a lower offensive level, they also seem to be producing a bit less in terms of UZR defense. That is the topic for another article, though.”
Isn’t UZR relative to other short stops? Shouldn’t the total UZR for the league be zero? Is that last comment meant to say that the top AL SS’s are producing a bit less in terms of UZR?
Comment by DavidCEisen — August 23, 2010 @ 1:56 pm
A more complete analysis should also show how much of this reflects the decline in just the top 3 or 4 guys and how this decline compares to the general overall MLB-wide decline in wOBA.
That is, is this simply a reflection of Jeter/Garciaparra and ARod aging + game-wide decline in offense or is it something more?
I hate to be the guy and this argument is tiresome I know, but could this also reflect the “cleaning” up of the game? I mean, shortstops have traditionally been light hitting but great fielding players on the squad, but with the pumped up version during the steroid era and the hugely inflated stats (especially compared to a light hitting position) vs. the old traditional numbers of shortstops of the past era’s.
I would compare it to the internet stock bubble in the late 1990s, when you look at those ridiculous past charts, what a HUGE blip on the chart/radar as some of those stocks were fairly new to the game with no established volume or “history” (in baseball, sample size) so the gains and rise in stock price was that much more magnified.
I think you also have a situation where in the ’90s a lot of the freaskishly talented guys were brought up as shortstops through high school and college, and now those guys are brought up as catchers: Mauer, Posey, Santana, etc. I’d presume all three of those could have been good enough defensive shortstops to stick at the position.
That’s what I was going to say.  Aging and  off PEDs.
Tejada is widely considered to be a PED user, Nomar brought reasonable suspicion.
Aging, injuries, and possibly not using PEDs. That combination will take down statistics reasonably well.
Comment by CircleChange11 — August 23, 2010 @ 3:59 pm
I would say that:
AROD and Tejada look like definite roid users.
The shirtless Nomar Sports Illustrated cover speaks for itself on his steroid status. Shortstops will soon be shrinking back into Vizquel/Ozzie Smith body types.
Perhaps you should do the article on any position and find the same result, perhaps with the exception of 2B and C?
Comment by Jeff in So. Indiana — August 23, 2010 @ 4:01 pm
Catcher is the PERFECT position for SS who have the arm, feet, hands, and agility to play SS … but not the speed or range. Yadi Molina is a great example. Strong arm, quick feet, wonderful hands (okay, that sounds weird), quick reflexes … but no range and no speed. I’ve talked about this a lot, but my guess is A LOT of catchers coem from playing SS as a prep, but realize once they get to NCAA or MiLB that they don’t have the range to play SS at the pro level, but they can make a decent catcher, and that’s the fastest route to MLB.
But, not the other way around. Are you kidding me. Joe Mauer at SS? I don’t care how “athletic” he is, he’s slow as hell as compared to the average ML shortstop. I have little doubt he could play a corner IF position, but we’re talking about ML SS.
I think folks DRASTICALLY underestimate the skill and ability of a ML shortstop … even the worst fielding one.
Comment by CircleChange11 — August 23, 2010 @ 4:05 pm
Wait, what makes Mauer ‘slow as hell?’ His lack of stolen base attempts and success?
Mauer is a ‘hell of a lot’ faster than you, or most people give him credit for. Is he ever going to steal 30 bases a year? No…but to say he is “slow as hell” when compared to an average ML shortstop is short sighted…especially when basing it on nothing substantial.
Even if Arod and Tejada were on steroids (and they were), that doesn’t prove that shortstops can’t be great hitters. There still are a number of great hitters (such as Tulo and Hanley). Steroids don’t help great hitters play defense.
Comment by DavidCEisen — August 23, 2010 @ 4:15 pm
He doesn’t seem like he’s quick enough to play SS.
In the context of this discussion, “slow as hell” does not refer to baserunning speed, but range at shortstop. IMO, he does not have the quickness, nor overall range, to compete for a SS position.
Given the awesome quickness and range of a ML shortstop, that is NO slight on Mauer. I’ve seen outstanding college shortstops go undrafted. I’ve also played with guys that did become professional shortstops, and their range and quickness, and ease of fielding is mind-blowing.
Comment by CircleChange11 — August 23, 2010 @ 9:37 pm
One season with a negative UZR is not enough to be moving him to another position, he has made huge strides over the past 3 seasons in terms of defense and the team will likely keep him there as long as they can. There are definitely worse overall defensive SS than Hanley, IMO.
I guess I was too slow to play shortstop in the majors.
It should be noted that Mauer in high school was the top rated quarterback prospect in the nation. The definition of “athletic” enough is hard to quantify.
Comment by Cal Ripken — August 24, 2010 @ 10:05 am
My first thought was that ML teams are less patient at letting SS work out their growing pains. Its anecdotal at best, but from what I have seen, many High School studs are still playing SS. Look at even Jeter (not arguing his true defensive talent) and his early career errors in MiLB. I watched both Upton boys struggle mightily with simple plays in HS, and watched BJ throw enough balls away with Durham when they came to play the Tides. I think (just brain storming really), tht if either of them came up in the mid to late 90’s, they may have been givin more of a chance to figure out the position before being put in the OF.
Comment by Unknown For Now — August 24, 2010 @ 1:03 pm
IMO the SS bubble of the late 90s/early 00s was always a fluke driven primarily by a handful of guys (however they got that way), and was always unlikely to last. If there were a ready supply of adequately-defending, hard-hitting SSs in the world, baseball would have discovered them in the first 130 years of its professional existence.
The frustrating thing is that it led to a decade of treating as nobodies guys who, in every other historical era, would have been top tier SSs, because they “only” wOBAd .300.
You do realize Hanley is a -37 drs & -37.1 over his career. At his best drs/uzr have him at completely mediocre, and at his worst they have him at terrible. This is hardly a result of small sample size.