How The Mighty Have Fallen

At the end of the last decade, the American League boasted a pretty remarkable group of shortstops. It had almost always been a position of light hitters, but Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Derek Jeter provided all-star bats at the position and led to something of a revolution at the position. In fact, in 1998, the average American League shortstop hit .274/.323/.407.

10 years later, and things are back to normal. American League shorstops are hitting .254/.305/.354 so far this year, and if you’re filling out your All-Star ballot, you’re going to hard pressed to get excited about the shortstop vote. Derek Jeter is going to be the starter, but he’s hitting .280/.333/.382 and playing his usual awful defense. Michael Young will probably be the backup, but he’s hitting .278/.339/.408 and, like Jeter, is pretty lousy defensively, and his offensive production gets a boost from playing half his game in a hitter friendly park. Neither of them are having all-star seasons, but realistically, what are the alternatives?

Jhonny Peralta is hitting for power, but he has a .282 on base percentage. You have to be Ozzie Smith defensively to make an all-star team when you’re making outs that often, and Peralta is no Ozzie Smith.

Marco Scutaro is getting on base at a nifty .372 clip, but he has no power, and he’s Marco Scutaro.

Everyone else is either having a bad year or a bad career. The dearth of talent at the position is really pretty shocking, especially considering the quality of the players playing shortstop just ten years ago.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Kanka
Guest
8 years 1 month ago

I’ve seen some people argue that AL teams are starting to become more defensive-minded with their shortstops, with guys like Julio Lugo, Tony Pena, and Asdrubal Cabrera. But only Lugo is hitting on the plus side of the Mendoza line right now, so you’ll have trouble arguing for any of those guys right now. (Unless, of course, you’re part of the powerful Red Sox voting bloc.)

Scappy
Guest
Scappy
8 years 1 month ago

I think most sox fans (myself included) dislike Lugo to the point of him having no hope of making the All-Star team. I personally believe we never should have got rid of the real 2006 gold glove winner, Alex Gonzalez. Sure he wasn’t very good at the plate, but 7 errors in 111 games is pretty damn good.

Though in hindsight he did wind up with a broken knee so i guess it panned out ok.

Sentinel
Guest
Sentinel
8 years 1 month ago

I think we’re past the days of someone like Alex Rodriguez at SS. We might be going back to the Ozzie Smith-type player at the position. Honestly, I’ll take an extraordinarily talented SS, as long as he’s not an automatic out at the plate.

Sentinel
Guest
Sentinel
8 years 1 month ago

I meant talented defensively up there. Bah! And he’s got to have speed.

joser
Guest
joser
8 years 1 month ago

Take a look at the leaderboard. There are no AL shortstops with a positive WPA. None.

(And how is it Yuniesky Betancourt and Michael Young are the least worst by WPA?)

Sal Paradise
Guest
Sal Paradise
8 years 29 days ago

Lugo is absolutely awful defensively. He’s at the bottom of RZR (source) and it’s tough to really find any positive fielding stats for him. Worst Fielding Percentage too. All-around awful.

If only the Red Sox had some phenomenal shortstop in their system who they could have brought up…

(was Beckett worth it? Really?)

Evan
Guest
Evan
8 years 29 days ago

Remember, they got Lowell in that trade, too.

Trev
Guest
Trev
8 years 28 days ago

There’s no help coming from the minors. Until the Beckhams are drafted the AL’s best SS prospects are Brandon Wood (279/328/566) and Reid Brignac (280/313/476 in AAA). Throw Jed Lowrie in there too if you think he can stick at short.

Either way, this is no “Holy Trinity”.

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