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Ranking MLB's Best Shortstops

David CattaiContributor IIIJanuary 11, 2017

Ranking MLB's Best Shortstops

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    Which shortstop reigns supreme in all of baseball?
    Which shortstop reigns supreme in all of baseball?Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

    Other than the catcher, a shortstop is the most important player on the baseball field.

    They are responsible for controlling the infield, anchoring the defense and being a leader. The shortstop position has changed over time, but the importance has not.

    Now there are plenty of players capable of impacting an MLB game, but where do they rank?

    Some names will surprise you and others will leave you rethinking your idea of what characteristics a good shortstop possesses.

    So without further adieu...here is a ranking of the best shortstops in the MLB.

    Note: All stats are collected from FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference unless noted otherwise.

Honorable Mentions

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    Jimmy Rollins was once a regular on the top-10 shortstop list.
    Jimmy Rollins was once a regular on the top-10 shortstop list.Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Unfortunately, there are a few players that deserve to be on the top-10 but didn't crack the rankings. Here are the rest of the top MLB shortstops.

    • Derek Jeter
    • Asdrubal Cabrera
    • Jimmy Rollins
    • Xander Bogaerts
    • Didi Gregorius
    • Cliff Pennington
    • Yunel Escobar
    • Alexei Ramirez
    • Starlin Castro
    • Zack Cozart
    • Alcides Escobar
    • Clint Barmes
    • Jhonny Peralta
    • Erick Aybar
    • Everth Cabrera
    • Pedro Florimon
    • Brendan Ryan
    • Adeiny Hechavarria
    • Carlos Correa

10. Brandon Crawford

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    Brandon Crawford has shown flashes of greatness over the past few seasons.
    Brandon Crawford has shown flashes of greatness over the past few seasons.Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Brandon Crawford is the first shortstop on this list.

    Crawford is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, as shown by multiple trips to the highlight reel throughout the course of the season.

    He doesn't steal bases, which is why he is lower on this list than others may think. He cracks the top 10, however, because he has improved in hitting. His approach has gotten better. He doesn't strike out as much, and he has better at-bats and works the pitchers.

    Crawford has shown flashes of greatness throughout his career. If he could stay healthy, he has a chance to climb up the chart in the next few seasons.

9. J.J. Hardy

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    J.J. Hardy has been more than productive for the Baltimore Orioles.
    J.J. Hardy has been more than productive for the Baltimore Orioles.Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    If there is an underrated player in all of baseball, it's J.J. Hardy. The veteran shortstop has been healthy for two consecutive seasons.

    Hardy, 31, has won Gold Glove awards in two straight seasons. He has hit 20-plus home runs in those seasons as well.

    Hardy catches everything that is hit to him. He has only made 24 errors in the past three seasons—top in all of baseball. It's also important to note his cannon.

    Hardy comes in at No. 9 for his consistency on the baseball field.

8. Ian Desmond

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    Ian Desmond makes the Washington Nationals better with his all-around play at shortstop.
    Ian Desmond makes the Washington Nationals better with his all-around play at shortstop.Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    Ian Desmond is an emerging offensive powerhouse at the shortstop position. The Washington Nationals middle infielder has won consecutive Silver Slugger awards, hitting .286/.333/.480 with 45 homers over the past two seasons.

    He recently signed a two-year extension, which will keep him off of the market for a few more seasons.

    Desmond is coming off of two consecutive 20/20 seasons, and the Nationals have been in the playoff race during those seasons. His improvement has been important to the emergence of the Nationals in the NL East.

    Desmond is getting better, which is why he cracks the top-10 list.

7. Jose Iglesias

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    Jose Iglesias can flat-out "pick it" on the diamond.
    Jose Iglesias can flat-out "pick it" on the diamond.Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Jose Iglesias is the best defensive shortstop in baseball. He can flat-out "pick it" on the baseball field.

    When you are being compared to Omar Vizquel, one of the greatest middle infielders of all time, you have to be doing something right. The reason Iglesias isn't up higher on this list is that his bat needs some work.

    He won't be a top-tier hitter, he won't crush 40-plus homers and he won't be relied on to pinch-hit when the game is on the line.

    But he does the most important thing a shortstop can do—anchor the infield.

    When the Detroit Tigers acquired Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox, the Tigers defense improved drastically. Iglesias makes everyone around him better, defensively. That is why he is in the top-10 best shortstops in baseball.

6. Elvis Andrus

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    Elvis Andrus struggled at the plate in 2013, but played stellar defense throughout the season.
    Elvis Andrus struggled at the plate in 2013, but played stellar defense throughout the season.Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Elvis Andrus struggled in 2013. That was apparent by his .659 OPS last season.

    His value doesn't drop, especially playing in a hitter's ballpark. Andrus struggled with power and discipline at the plate. When he is on, he's on. When he isn't, he's a mess.

    The addition of Jurickson Profar in the lineup will make Andrus able to focus on having one role in the Texas Rangers' lineup. I believe that Andrus' defensive prowess makes him a top-tier shortstop in the MLB.

    When he is healthy, Andrus is one of the best middle infielders in baseball.

5. Jean Segura

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    The Milwaukee Brewers may have the league's next best star in Jean Segura.
    The Milwaukee Brewers may have the league's next best star in Jean Segura.Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

    If there is a player that Jean Segura resembles at the plate, it would be Derek Jeter.

    Take that with caution, but look at it.

    His approach at the plate is a bit like Jeter. Segura goes up looking to make contact and has the ability to expand the strike zone because of his ability to cover the plate.

    Segura broke out in 2013 for the Milwaukee Brewers, hitting .294 with 12 HR and 49 RBIs in 146 games played.

    What makes Segura stand out is his ability to run the bases. He can fly, which makes his gap-to-gap power even more important. Segura can turn singles into doubles, and doubles into triples.

    He can field as well, making great plays with his above-average range. Segura has a cannon for an arm, as well.

    One day, or even now, we'll be able to look back and say that the Brewers won Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels' trade.

4. Jose Reyes

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    Jose Reyes brings speed, power and defense to the diamond on a daily basis.
    Jose Reyes brings speed, power and defense to the diamond on a daily basis.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Jose Reyes was the best shortstop in baseball before all of his injuries. He peaked in 2011, but he still is a consistent hitter.

    Reyes is one of the best gap-to-gap hitters in the majors. 

    He's obviously not the superstar base stealer from 2009-10, but he can still swipe a few bags when needed. Reyes has speed to burn, and playing in the Rogers Centre gives him an advantage on the turf.

    Reyes' speed makes up for his lack of instinct at the shortstop position, which is not knocking his instinct one bit.

    The key is health.

    When Reyes is on the field, he can impact a ballclub. He was the catalyst during the New York Mets' playoff runs, and he will do that for the Toronto Blue Jays if he is on the field.

3. Andrelton Simmons

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    Andrelton Simmons anchors a young infield for the Atlanta Braves.
    Andrelton Simmons anchors a young infield for the Atlanta Braves.Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

    Andrelton Simmons is young and still a work in progress. However, he's already a top-5 shortstop in baseball.

    That's the scary thing.

    Simmons, 24, is coming off a 2013 season where he slashed .248/.296/.396 and hit 17 homers in 157 games.

    His defense is elite and could easily test Iglesias for best in the majors. He won a Gold Glove in 2013 and, according to FanGraphs.com, may have had one of the best seasons of all time, defensively. 

    The Atlanta Braves locked Simmons to a seven-year, $58 million extension on Saturday. Not only will he be a force in the NL East for the foreseeable future, but also the National League.

2. Hanley Ramirez

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    Hanley Ramirez returned to old form during his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
    Hanley Ramirez returned to old form during his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    Hanley Ramirez comes in at No. 2 on the list.

    Why?

    Hanley needs to continue his resurgence as an elite player by staying healthy and being a more mature player. He did that in 2013. 

    He’s always had great power, and being able to hit the ball all around Dodger Stadium is a sign that the veteran shortstop still has the ability to be a top-tier middle infielder.

    Ramirez struggled on defense in the past, but has improved. He may not be the best defensive player, but he does get the job done.

    Ramirez has the ability to put a team on his back, especially when he is healthy. The veteran hit .345, crushed 20 HR and drove in 57 runs while only playing 86. His OPS was out of this world with a whopping 1.040.

    He has the ability to be one of the best players in all of baseball, but there is one shortstop that is still better than Ramirez.

1. Troy Tulowitzki

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    The Colorado Rockies have the best shortstop in the MLB.
    The Colorado Rockies have the best shortstop in the MLB.Barry Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Let's face it. The shortstop with the most talent in the MLB is Troy Tulowitzki.

    He can flat-out rake, plays stellar defense and can put a team on his back when needed. The three-time National League All-Star has won two Gold Glove and two Silver Slugger awards during his eight-year career.

    Tulo slashed .312/.391/.540, while crushing 25 HR for the Colorado Rockies last season. He plays at Coors Field, but his numbers away from the friendly confines in Denver actually do not differ.

    Injury issues are always a problem, but Tulowitzki gave fans something to look forward to by playing in 126 games, despite not playing from June 13-July 10 due to a broken rib. 

    Tulo is not the top-tier player he once was, but he’s still a dominant hitter and defender. He's still the best player the shortstop position has to offer.

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