How Big Is Too Big for Shortstop?

When examining the 2018 draft’s collection of top high-school shortstops, one is confronted with three vastly different physical entities in Santiago HS (CA) SS Brice Turang, Montverde Academy (FL) SS Nader De Sedas, and North Broward Prep (FL) infielder Xavier Edwards.

Edwards is explosive. A plus-plus runner with good hands and enough arm for the left side of the infield, he also possesses gap-to-gap power. He’s performed, in games, against elite pitching and might be my first pick among all 2018 high schoolers if we were picking teams for a game of sandlot ball tomorrow. He’s also a slight 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds.

De Sedas is a switch-hitting hammer who was being covered in his native Panama when he was just 13 years old. He moved to Florida late in adolescence and has shown big raw power from both sides of the plate, as well as feel to hit in games despite having adopted switch-hitting somewhat recently. But while De Sedas has premium arm strength and is smooth for his size, he’s also rather big. At a listed 6-foot-2, 192 pounds, De Sedas is already larger than Manny Machado (6-foot-3, 185) and Evan Longoria (6-foot-2, 170) were when coming out of high school.

Finally, there’s Turang. Lean, rangy, and acrobatic, he also features a plus arm. He’s instinctive, procedurally advanced, and a potential plus defender at short, but he may have limited, one-dimensional offensive impact.

As with any prospect, I’ve attempted to project the future defensive value of the three players mentioned here. Because of their vastly different builds, however, I became curious about the physical makeup of major-league baseball’s current shortstops and how the upcoming draft class — especially De Sedas, who belongs near the top of the class if he can stay at short — fits among them.

To address my curiosity, I began compiling not only the current heights and weights of the league’s shortstops but also their heights and weights at age 17 — or, roughly the age at which each of them was either drafted or signed out of Latin America. I then expanded my criteria to include all players who had recorded at least 450 innings at shortstop during the last three seasons. I also calculated both current BMI and also BMI at age 17 — as well as changes in height, weight, and BMI during that span.

There are some issues with this data. For one, it assumes that MLB teams are forthright about their players’ heights and weights, which is unlikely and, at times, demonstrably false. There was also no single source from which to obtain heights and weights for these players when they were 17. Where possible, I used draft data from MLB.com’s Draft Tracker, but I also dove into past Baseball America Prospect Handbooks, old AZL and GCL rosters, and even some local newspaper articles. (For instance, nothing was written about Wilmer Difo as an amateur and it took a 2014 James Wagner Washington Post article for me to find any record of his teenage weight.)

It was especially hard to find weights for Cuban players like Alexei Ramirez, as many of those players didn’t join MLB clubs until their mid-20s. If I couldn’t find old Cuban National Team rosters with the measurements of a given player at age 17, I got as close as I could. Alexei’s initial weight was measured at age 20, the furthest from 17 of any player on the list.

The entire table of data is located at the bottom of the article. Heights, which rarely changed from age 17 to present, are listed in inches. Here are the averages for current big-league shortstops.

MLB Shortstop Average
Height Wt BMI Age-17
Height
Age-17
Weight
Age-17
BMI
Weight Change BMI Change
Average 72 196 26 72 171 23 28 3

Shortstop requires terrific lateral range. Modern defensive positioning might hide some deficiencies in this area — and this one specific skill has probably become less important than it once was — but it’s still a requirement. Statcast’s Sprint Speed Leaderboard, for example, indicates that shortstops run better than most other big leaguers, supporting the notion that players must exhibit a baseline level of athleticism for the position.

It’s intuitive that, as players get bigger and heavier, they become slower — and also less likely to remain at shortstop, where lateral quickness matters. I’m actually unable to find any statistical evidence that illustrates the effect of size on defensive performance — not within this sample of shortstops, at least. It’s quite possibly a product of the large sample sizes required for defensive metrics to become reliable, but I found no strong correlation between weight or BMI and any of Defensive Runs Saved, Range Runs, or Defensive Runs Above Average. But I think we can look at the shape of the data and see where the upper bound of physical viability lies. Corey Seager and Carlos Correa are our two tallest shortstops, responsible for the right-most bar on this histogram:

Meanwhile, here are the weights of all current shortstops:

And the BMIs:

The larger BMI figures actually do seem to correlate with a drop-off in defensive performance. Many players with a BMI of 28 or more in our sample have either already moved off of shortstop, are late-career stopgaps, or have clear defensive warts to the naked eye.

Shortstops with BMI of 28 or Greater
Name Ht Wt BMI Age-17
Height
Age-17
Wt
Age-17
BMI
DRS DEF BMI Delta Sprint Weight Delta Acq
Eugenio Suarez 71 213 30 71 155 22 -12 -8.0 8 26.7 58 Int’l
Starlin Castro 74 230 30 73 160 21 -4 6.2 8 27 70 Int’l
Jean Segura 70 205 29 71 155 22 -6 6.0 7.8 27.3 50 Int’l
Jhonny Peralta 74 225 29 72 185 25 -8 -1.5 4 27 40 Int’l
Jonathan Villar 73 215 28 73 180 24 6 -8.0 5 27.5 35 Int’l
Erick Aybar 70 195 28 70 160 23 -10 -4.0 5.0 27.4 35 Int’l
Wilmer Difo 71 200 28 70 160 23 14 7.1 4.9 29 40 Int’l
D. Robertson 71 200 28 72 190 26 2 2.1 27.2 10 Draft
Ruben Tejada 71 200 28 71 162 23 2 -1.8 5.3 27 38 Int’l
Pat Valaika 71 200 28 71 170 24 -2 4.2 27.5 30 Draft
Jorge Polanco 71 200 28 71 165 23 -9 -7.4 4.9 28.2 35 Int’l
D. Espinosa 72 205 28 71 165 23 5 6.4 5 27.1 40 Draft
A. Cabrera 72 205 28 72 185 25 -24 -1.0 2.7 25.7 20 Int’l
Trevor Story 73 210 28 72 175 24 13 7.2 4.0 28.4 35 Draft
X. Bogaerts 73 210 28 73 185 24 -23 16.7 3.3 28.2 25 Int’l
Zack Cozart 72 204 28 73 180 24 18 27.0 3.9 26.6 24 Draft
B. Crawford 74 215 28 73 180 24 46 57.6 3.9 26.4 35 Draft
Brad Miller 74 215 28 73 175 23 -18 -3.3 5 27.6 40 Draft

By stacking some histograms, it’s possible to see how the weight and BMI of shortstops changes from their earliest days as a prospect to physical maturity. First, with weight:

And then BMI:

As I collected the data, it looked as though there were some differences between the way domestic and international amateurs had developed. Here are the results when I split the two groups:

MLB Shortstop Averages
Ht Wt BMI Age-17
Height
Age-17
Weight
17BMI Weight Change BMI Change
Averages 72 196 26 72 171 23 28 3
Averages (Latin America) 72 193 26 72 164 23 28 4
Averages (Domestic) 73 198 26 72 177 24 22 3

On average, Latin American shortstop prospects acquire more mass between age 17 and maturity. Socioeconomic factors are likely responsible for that. Because it’s my desire, however, to project domestic, draft-eligible amateurs, I’ll be using the data from that subgroup of current MLB shortstop as my main resource. There was no correlation between height and weight change within shortstop, so I’ve blanketed the average across all of the 2018 draft class. The names you see below are all 2018 draft-eligible high schoolers whom I’ve seen play shortstop. They’re sorted by projected weight (Prj Weight).

2018 Draft High School Shortstops
Name Prj Ht Prj Weight Prj BMI Ht Wt BMI
Cam McMillan 77 227 27 77 205 24
Seth Halvorsen 73 220 29 73 198 26
Jordan Groshans 75 217 27 75 195 24
Nander De Sedas 74 214 27 74 192 25
Vinny Tosti 72 212 29 72 190 26
Osiris Johnson 73 209 28 73 187 25
Kendall Simmons 74 207 27 74 185 24
John Rodriguez 74 207 27 74 185 24
Bryce Reagen 73 207 27 73 185 24
Kevin Vargas 75 205 26 75 183 23
Timmy Borden 74 202 26 74 180 23
Jake Dukart 74 202 26 74 180 23
Raynel Delgado 73 202 27 73 180 24
Mateo Gil 73 202 27 73 180 24
Kody Darcy 74 197 25 74 175 22
Brandon Dieter 73 197 26 73 175 23
Emilio Rosas 73 197 26 73 175 23
Jeremiah Jackson 71 197 27 71 175 24
Brice Turang 73 192 25 73 170 22
Blaze Alexander 71 192 27 71 170 24
Jonathan Ornelas 72 177 24 72 155 21
Xavier Edwards 69 177 26 69 155 23

The bottom four names on the table are all players whom I’d already projected at shortstop based solely on my in-person evaluations from this summer. You can see De Sedas’ projected weight is right on the fringe of what we currently see at shortstop. Nine current/recent MLB shortstops weigh 215 pounds or more and most of them aren’t currently good defenders there. Corey Seager and Carlos Correa, each very rare talents, feature two of the better gloves in that group. Shortstops can compensate for a lack of range with other attributes (Correa, for example, features excellent arm strength) and it’s possible that De Sedas can do this (he has at least a 60 arm). I think his bat is impressive enough that he’ll garner top-10 consideration in next year’s draft even if he’s evaluated as a third baseman. But for now I think there’s reason to be apprehensive about projecting him as a shortstop. Turang, meanwhile, falls smack into the middle of the group, further supporting the notion that he’s a near lock to stay at short.

I also ran projections for prospects in pro ball based on their age-17 weight. The following table includes prospects who have garnered recent consideration at shortstop. Their projected weights are based on their weight at age 17. I’ve also included their means of acquisition in each case. Only Willy Adames has outgrown projection in a meaningful way.

Pro Shortstop Prospects
Name Ht Wt BMI Age-17
Height
Age-17
Weight
Age-17
BMI
Acq Prj Weight Prj BMI
Bo Bichette 72 200 27 71 201 28 Draft 223 31
Hunter Greene 76 197 24 76 197 24 Draft 219 27
Kevin Maitan 74 190 24 74 190 24 Int’l 218 27
Joe Dunand 74 205 26 75 190 24 Draft 212 27
Carter Kieboom 74 190 24 74 190 24 Draft 212 27
Jean Carmona 73 183 24 73 183 24 Int’l 211 27
Royce Lewis 74 188 24 74 188 24 Draft 210 27
Freudis Nova 73 180 24 73 180 24 Int’l 208 27
Cole Tucker 75 185 23 75 185 23 Draft 207 26
Fernando Tatis, Jr. 75 185 23 73 175 23 Int’l 203 26
Isaac Paredes 71 175 24 71 175 24 Int’l 203 27
Franklin Barreto 70 190 27 69 175 26 Int’l 203 29
J.P. Crawford 74 180 23 74 180 23 Draft 202 26
Kevin Newman 73 180 24 73 180 24 Draft 202 27
Brendan Rodgers 72 180 24 72 180 24 Draft 202 27
Logan Warmoth 72 190 26 72 180 24 Draft 202 27
Lucius Fox 74 175 22 74 170 22 Int’l 198 25
Wander Franco 70 170 24 70 170 24 Int’l 198 27
Chris Seise 74 175 22 74 175 22 Draft 197 25
Nick Gordon 72 160 22 74 175 22 Draft 197 25
Ronny Mauricio 75 166 21 75 166 21 Int’l 194 24
Wander Javier 73 165 22 73 165 22 Int’l 193 25
Andres Gimenez 71 176 25 71 165 23 Int’l 193 26
Gavin Lux 74 190 24 74 170 22 Draft 192 25
Gleyber Torres 73 175 23 71 160 22 Int’l 188 25
Raul A. Mondesi 73 185 24 71 160 22 Int’l 188 25
Willy Adames 72 200 27 71 160 22 Int’l 188 25
Aramis Ademan 71 160 22 71 160 22 Int’l 188 25
Delvin Perez 75 175 22 75 165 21 Draft 187 24
Jurickson Profar 72 190 26 71 165 23 Int’l 187 26
Willi Castro 73 165 22 72 150 20 Int’l 178 23
Jazz Chisholm 71 165 23 69 150 22 Int’l 178 25
Nick Allen 69 155 23 69 155 23 Draft 177 26
Nicky Lopez 71 175 24 70 150 22 Draft 172 25

And here’s the full table of data I compiled for major leaguers.

MLB Shortstops
Name Ht Wt BMI Age-17
Height
Age-17
Weight
Age-17
BMI
BMI Change Sprint Weight Change Acq
Corey Seager 76 220 27 76 205 25 1.8 27.2 15 Draft
Carlos Correa 76 215 26 76 190 23 3.0 27.9 25 Draft
Ian Desmond 75 215 27 74 185 24 3 27.5 30 Draft
Jordy Mercer 75 210 26 75 175 22 4.4 27.5 35 Draft
Didi Gregorious 75 205 26 73 152 20 5.6 28.3 53 Int’l
Troy Tulowitzki 75 205 26 74 170 22 3.8 25.2 35 Draft
Wilmer Flores 75 205 26 75 175 22 4 25.7 30 Int’l
Starlin Castro 74 230 30 73 160 21 8 27 70 Int’l
Jhonny Peralta 74 225 29 72 185 25 4 27 40 Int’l
Brad Miller 74 215 28 73 175 23 5 27.6 40 Draft
Brandon Crawford 74 215 28 73 180 24 3.9 26.4 35 Draft
Adam Rosales 74 205 26 74 195 25 1.3 27.2 10 Draft
Andrelton Simmons 74 200 26 74 170 22 3.9 27.8 30 Draft
Chad Pinder 74 195 25 72 170 23 2.0 27.4 25 Draft
Nick Ahmed 74 195 25 72 180 24 0.6 28.1 15 Draft
Amed Rosario 74 190 24 74 175 22 1.9 29.7 15 Int’l
Alexei Ramirez 74 180 23 73 170 22 1 27 10 Int’l
Jonathan Villar 73 215 28 73 180 24 5 27.5 35 Int’l
Trevor Story 73 210 28 72 175 24 4.0 28.4 35 Draft
Xander Bogaerts 73 210 28 73 185 24 3.3 28.2 25 Int’l
Marwin Gonzalez 73 205 27 73 186 25 3 26.5 19 Int’l
Tim Beckham 73 205 27 72 188 25 1.5 27.6 17 Draft
J.J. Hardy 73 200 26 73 170 22 4.0 26.2 30 Draft
Clint Barmes 73 200 26 73 190 25 1 27 10 Draft
Paul DeJong 73 195 26 73 180 24 2.0 27.8 15 Draft
Aledmys Diaz 73 195 26 72 183 25 1 27.9 12 Int’l
Dansby Swanson 73 190 25 72 170 23 2.0 28.4 20 Draft
Alcides Escobar 73 185 24 73 155 20 4.0 28.2 30 Int’l
Trea Turner 73 185 24 74 160 21 3.9 29.2 25 Draft
Tim Anderson 73 185 24 72 165 22 2.0 28.6 20 Draft
Ketel Marte 73 180 24 73 155 20 3.3 28.6 25 Int’l
J.T. Riddle 73 180 24 75 175 22 1.9 28 5 Draft
Dixon Machado 73 170 22 72 140 19 3.4 27.1 30 Int’l
Luis Sardinas 73 160 21 73 150 20 1 28 10 Int’l
D. Espinosa 72 205 28 71 165 23 5 27.1 40 Draft
Asdrubal Cabrera 72 205 28 72 185 25 2.7 25.7 20 Int’l
Zack Cozart 72 204 28 73 180 24 3.9 26.6 24 Draft
Stephen Drew 72 200 27 72 170 23 4.1 25.9 30 Draft
Elvis Andrus 72 200 27 72 185 25 2.0 27.5 15 Int’l
Addison Russell 72 200 27 72 215 29 -2.0 27.7 -15 Draft
Jose Peraza 72 196 27 72 165 22 4.2 28.1 31 Int’l
Eduardo Nunez 72 195 26 72 155 21 5 27.8 40 Int’l
Jose Reyes 72 195 26 72 160 22 4.7 27.8 35 Int’l
Marcus Semien 72 195 26 72 170 23 3.4 28 25 Draft
A. Hechavarria 72 195 26 71 178 25 1.6 27.5 17 Int’l
Javier Baez 72 190 26 72 180 24 1.4 28.3 10 Draft
Orlando Arcia 72 165 22 72 165 22 0.0 27.4 0 Int’l
Eugenio Suarez 71 213 30 71 155 22 8 26.7 58 Int’l
Ruben Tejada 71 200 28 71 162 23 5.3 27 38 Int’l
Wilmer Difo 71 200 28 70 160 23 4.9 29 40 Int’l
Jorge Polanco 71 200 28 71 165 23 4.9 28.2 35 Int’l
Ruben Tejada 71 200 28 71 165 23 5 27 35 Int’l
Pat Valaika 71 200 28 71 170 24 4.2 27.5 30 Draft
D. Robertson 71 200 28 72 190 26 2.1 27.2 10 Draft
Miguel Rojas 71 195 27 69 175 26 1.4 27.3 20 Int’l
Francisco Lindor 71 190 26 71 175 24 2.1 28.1 15 Draft
Danny Santana 71 185 26 71 150 21 5 28.8 35 Int’l
Jose Iglesias 71 185 26 71 175 24 1.4 28.2 10 Int’l
Jean Segura 70 205 29 71 155 22 7.8 27.3 50 Int’l
Erick Aybar 70 195 28 70 160 23 5.0 27.4 35 Int’l
Daniel Descalso 70 190 27 70 180 26 1 26.9 10 Draft
Eduardo Escobar 70 185 27 70 150 22 5.0 28.1 35 Int’l
Freddy Galvis 70 185 27 70 154 22 4.4 27.4 31 Int’l
Chris Owings 70 185 27 71 175 24 2.1 27.8 10 Draft
Ryan Goins 70 180 26 69 155 23 2.9 26.9 25 Draft
Jimmy Rollins 67 175 27 67 154 24 3 28 21 Draft
Ronald Torreyes 67 151 24 67 140 22 1.7 27.9 11 Int’l
Alexi Amarista 66 160 26 68 150 23 3 27.4 10 Int’l

We hoped you liked reading How Big Is Too Big for Shortstop? by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Kevin
Member
Kevin

Thoroughly enjoyed this!

Someone needs to get Manny Machado on a scale though, theres no way hes 185.

nevinbrown
Member
nevinbrown

Lol. Def not, but that was out of High school. It is odd they haven’t updated it. As an O’s fan I’d guess entering the season he’s probably close to 230-235 with a mid-season weight around 225-220.