Hardy squeaks past Jeter and Escobar to earn the top spot thanks to his tremendous power.
The Oriole cracked 30 round-trippers in 2011 and maintained a slugging percentage of .491.
In addition to his power, Hardy handles the bat well—he hit at a .269 clip in 2011.
Defensively, Hardy is underrated. He had an unnoticed .990 FLD% last year and boasts a .980 career mark that bests both Jeter's and Escobar's.
The biggest challenge Hardy has faced as a professional ballplayer is staying healthy. He has only managed to play in more than 146 games one time in his seven-year career, and that came back in 2007.
Hardy enters 2012 as the division's best shortstop, but he will have to avoid a lengthy stint on the DL if he hopes to maintain that position.
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Adam Lind: Ranking the Toronto Blue Jay Among AL East First Basemen
Kelly Johnson: Ranking the Blue Jays Infielder Among AL East Second Basemen
Brett Lawrie: Ranking the Blue Jays Infielder Among AL East Third Basemen
Eric Thames: Ranking the Blue Jay Among AL East Left Fielders
Colby Rasmus: Ranking the Blue Jay Among AL East Center Fielders
Still to Come
Blue Jays: Ranking Jose Bautista Among AL East Right Fielders
Blue Jays: Ranking Edwin Encarnacion Among AL East DHs
Blue Jays: Ranking the Starting Five Among AL East Rotations
Blue Jays: Ranking Sergio Santos Among AL East Closers
Blue Jays: Ranking the Bullpen Among AL East Bullpens
Blue Jays: Ranking the Bench Among AL East Benches