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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.