When an all-timer like Jeter says he's planning to call it quits, well, folks start putting things into all sorts of context. With that endeavor in mind, the task at hand is to rank the 10 best shortstops ever, which has been Jeter's position throughout his career.
There are two ways to tackle this. We'll get to the second later, but the first approach is to evaluate the top 10 shortstops, purely as players.
To help with that comparison and provide some perspective, here's a look at the career leaders in wins above replacement (WAR) among shortstops who have played since 1900, according to both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs:
|1||119.8||Honus Wagner||127.2||Honus Wagner|
|2||95.5||Cal Ripken Jr.||92.5||Cal Ripken Jr.|
|3||77.0||Robin Yount||73.8||Derek Jeter|
|4||76.5||Ozzie Smith||72.7||Luke Appling|
|5||74.4||Luke Appling||72.6||Arky Vaughan|
|6||73.0||Arky Vaughan||67.7||Barry Larkin|
|7||71.5||Derek Jeter||67.6||Ozzie Smith|
|8||70.3||Alan Trammell||66.6||Joe Cronin|
|9||70.3||Barry Larkin||66.5||Robin Yount|
|10||66.3||Joe Cronin||64.5||Lou Boudreau|
|11||66.2||Pee Wee Reese||63.7||Alan Trammell|
|12||63.1||Lou Boudreau||61.3||Pee Wee Reese|
|13||56.9||Bobby Wallace||55.5||Joe Tinker|
|14||55.5||Luis Aparicio||49.2||Dave Bancroft|
|15||53.7||Joe Sewell||49.1||Luis Aparicio/Bobby Wallace (tie)|
First, let's point out that there's no Alex Rodriguez or Ernie Banks on either list, because trying to determine the 10 best shortstops should be a focus on players who actually, you know, played shortstop. That means this considers only those who spent the majority of their career at the position. Rodriguez has played only 1,272 of 2,568 career games there, while Banks got in 1,125 of 2,528—both check in just below 50 percent. That disqualifies them.
Some other noteworthy names that aren't on either top-15 WAR ranking? Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel, Nomar Garciaparra and Jimmy Rollins, among some of the more contemporary shortstops. Each one has a compelling case for the back end of the top 10, but ultimately, they came up...short.
While Baseball Reference and FanGraphs don't calculate WAR the exact same way (hence the slightly different numbers for each player), it's clear from the above table that the statistic does a good job of pointing out the very best shortstops. In fact, among the top 15 leaders from each (16 if you count the FanGraphs tie), 14 appear on both.
Which of those will make the final cut into the top 10 shortstops of all time? Let's find out.