Adrian Beltre and the Top Position Players Under 6 Feet Tall in MLB History
When we think of MLB players, we normally associate them with being tall.
That's because the 6’0” to 6’2” height range has dominated the majors since 1876 in regard to the number of players.
But there has also been a formidable collection of players who aren’t exactly as close to the clouds, as their fellow elevated players.
In fact, many of the more famous names we either know now, or know of from the past, were well under six feet tall.
Why don’t we take a look at who is who in pool of players under six feet.
For the record, the smallest player ever to play the game was Eddie Gaedel who played for the St. Louis Browns in 1951 and was just 3’ 7” and weighed just 65 pounds. In his only time at bat as a major league player he pinched hit and walked.
The “Say Hey Kid” is as synonymous with baseball as hotdogs, and his time spent as a member of the New York and San Francisco Giants is as memorable as they come.
Mays had believable power (660 home runs) and was an outstanding outfielder, one that even Ted Williams said of him:
“ They invented the All-Star game for Willie Mays”.
Mays achieved an astonishing 12 Golden Gloves, was an All-Star 24 times, is a member of baseball’s All Century Team, was the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, the 1951 NL RoY, World Series Champion (1954), two-time MLB All-Star MVP, two-time NL MVP and a member of the Hall of Fame.
The guy even hit four home runs in one game (April 30th, 1961 vs. the Milwaukee Braves).
I don’t think I need to tell many about this third baseman who currently plays for the Rangers, now do I?
Beltre is a two-time Golden Glover, a two-time Silver Slugger and an All-Star.
His best season was arguably his last year as a Dodger where he came in second in the MVP voting, and hit a career high 48 home runs in route to his first Silver Slugger award—an achievement he would not get again until last year, in Boston.
Another household name in baseball, Mickey Mantle was heralded as not only one of the greatest players of the game, but the greatest switch-hitter in all of baseball.
In Yankee country, this name is like God!
Mantle still holds the world record for the most World Series home runs (18), RBI (40), runs (42), walks (43), extra-base hits (26), and total bases (123).
Even Joe DiMaggio called Mantle, "the greatest prospect I can remember." when he came into the league.
Boone may not be able to tangle with the likes of some of the greats, but he still has some interesting points to shed some light on, which is why I feel he is worth a mention.
A journeyman of sorts, Boone played for the Mariners, Reds, Braves, Padres and Twins with his best years coming as a Mariner where he led the league in RBI (141) and career highs in batting average (.331), home runs (37), triples (5), runs (118) and hits (206), earning him a Silver Slugger award.
Boone was the son of Phillies’ catcher Bob Boone and made sports trivia history on the last day of the 1998 season (Reds) by starting as the only infielder ever to be a part of two sets of brothers in the same game: First baseman Stephen Larkin, second baseman Bret Boone, shortstop Barry Larkin, and third baseman Aaron Boone.
Nicknamed “Killer” and “Hammerin Harmon”, Killebrew was known obviously for his power.
At the time of retirement, he was second only to Babe Ruth in AL home runs, and was the AL leader for home runs by a right handed batter, before Alex Rodriguez broke the record.
Killebrew is currently 11th on the home run leader list.
Do I even have to say anything here?
Berra played nearly his entire 19-year baseball career (1946–1965) for the New York Yankees.
Berra was also one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times and one of only six managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series.
He was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
Berra is regarded as one of the best catchers to ever play the game, and was also an outfielder for a short period of time.
If you are a Boston fan, then you are no stranger to Yaz.
Yaz mainly played left field, with part of his career at first base (the later years).
Yastrzemski is an 18-time All-Star, the owner of seven Gold Gloves, a member of the 3000 hit club, and the first American League player in that club to also accumulate over 400 home runs.
Yaz is also the Red Sox' all-time leader in career RBIs, runs, hits, singles, doubles, total bases, and games played, and is second on the team's list for home runs behind Red Sox great, Ted Williams.
In 1967, Yastrzemski achieved a peak in his career, leading the Red Sox to the American League pennant for the first time in over two decades, in that season being voted the American League MVP, and being the last winner of the triple crown for batters in the major leagues.
There is far too much to be said about Clemente that can actually fit into a single slide, but in short, the man was not only a great baseball player, but an outstanding humanitarian during his lifetime.
In his professional career, Clemente was a 15 time All-Star selection, a 12-time Golden Glover, the National League MVP (1966), the World Series MVP (1971) and a recipient of the Babe Ruth Award.
But away from the field, Clemente was better known for his involvement in humanitarian work in Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries.
It was there he often delivered baseball equipment and food to them.
He died in an aviation accident on December 31, 1972, while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
I think Sheffield is a solid mention simply due to what he has done in his career with the eight clubs he was a member of.
Primarily an outfielder, Sheffield also played a variety of positions including short stop, first base and third base.
At the start of the 2010 season, Sheffield ranked second among all active players in walks (1,475), third in runs (1,636), fourth in RBI (1,676), fifth in hits (2,689) and home runs (509), and sixth in hit by pitches (135). Sheffield hit his 500th home run on April 17, 2009.
“Pudge” is one of those players destine to go down in the annuals of baseball as one of the greatest players at the backstop.
His accomplished career looks a little like this:
- AL Most Valuable Player winner in 1999
- 7x Silver Slugger Award winner (1994–1999; 2004)
- 13x Golden Glover Award winner (1992–2001; 2004; 2006–2007) Record for catchers.
- 14x All-Star selection (1992–2001; 2004–2007)
- World SeriesChampion (2003)
One thing to note about Pudge is his footwork as a catcher, which is the crux of what makes a great catcher.
Throughout his career he has excelled where many have failed.
Like speed? Then you probably loved Ricky Henderson.
Henderson is arguably the best leadoff hitter in all of baseball, and one of—if not the greatest—base runners of all-time.
To put things simply, we’ll follow the same format as the slide before when observing his career highlights:
- 10× All-Starselection
- 2× World Series champion (1989 and 1993)
- 3× Silver Slugger Award winner (1981, 1985, 1990)
- Golden Glover winner (1981)
- 1990 AL MVP
- 1989 ALCS MVP
- 1999NL comeback Player of the Year
- 1,406 career stolen bases
- 2,295 career runs
- 81 career lead-off home runs
- 130 stolen bases, single season
Ordonez is an interesting character in the sense that, his claim to fame has come with the Tigers, but he started his career with the divisional rival: The Chicago White Sox.
He is a six-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger and a recipient of the Luis Aparicio Award.
Ordonez is known for both is offense and defense and was—at the second highest paid Detroit Tiger in team history (five years; $85 million dollars).
Ordonez is a lifetime .370 hitter with 290 home runs and 1209 RBI, and at one time, he was even a viable base stealing threat with those White Sox (82).
Most of us now know Joe Morgan from his commentating on ESPN, but others remember him as the hot hitting player he actually was.
Morgan had his best years in Houston despite being called a trouble maker by then manager Harry Walker.
Morgan’s list of accomplishments is a mile long, comprised of being a 10-time All-Star selection, two-time World Series Champion, five-time Golden Glover and a Silver Slugger Award, two-time MVP winner (1975, 1976), 1972 MLB All-Star MVP and the 1982 Comeback Player of the Year.
What I love about Stairs is his penchant for one of the greatest clutch hitter in the game today, and in history.
Stairs may only have one outstanding ability but it just so happens that it is one of the most important in the game, so important, it helped the Phillies to the World Series in 2008:
Stairs is the MLB leader in pinch hits, and is widely viewed as one of the greatest clutch players to ever grace the game.
Some of Tejada’s more diehard fans know him as “The Bus” or “La Gua Gua” for his ability to drive in runs which has made him so famous.
A six-time Golden Glover, a two-time Silver Slugger, Tejada was also known for his power and ability to play the game at an advanced level which is backed by his 2002 MVP AL award, 2005 MLB All-Star MVP and 2004 Home run Derby Winner status.
His career was marred a bit for lying to congress about whether or not Rafael Palmeiro lied about his steroid use.
One of the most famous players to ever grace an Astros uniform, Biggio was known for several things.
His award collection sort of speaks for itself:
- 7 time All-Star selection
- 4 time Golden Glover (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)
- 5 time Silver Slugger Award winner (1989, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998)
- 2007 Roberto Clemente Award Winner
- 2005 Hutch Award Winner
- 1997 Branch Rickey Award Winner
- 2006 Heart and Hustle Award Winner
But Biggio was also known for his suspected “Hit by Pitch” penchant with 287.
Now I am not saying whether or not he did it intentionally, but it is a curious record to own, and even Biggio himself has claimed himself the “King of Hit Baseman”.
Some may argue this one, but this is a personal favorite of mine since I love watching him play as a kid.
Martinez is among an elite collection of players with a specific set of tie-together accomplishments.
Martinez alongside Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones, and Todd Helton are known for being the only players in history with 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average higher than .300, a career on-base percentage higher than .400 and a career slugging percentage higher than .500.
Martinez, or “Papi” spent his entire career with the Seattle Mariners as an outfielder and a first baseman and is a seven-time All-Star selection, a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1992, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003).
Martinez also is the recipient of the 2004 Roberto Clemente Award and is an inductee in the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame.
“Master Melvin” was one of the most powerful “power” hitters in the game, hands down.
There are very few players that can boast 511 career home runs as a player who never eclipsed 5’9”, and it was the New York Giants that enjoyed his offensive services.
He was also the first NL player to surpass 500 HRs.
Part of his success is said to come from his unorthodox hitting stance in which he lifted his forward (right) foot prior to impact.
This style helped with his power hitting. More recent players who used a similar style include Harold Baines and Kirby Puckett, as well as the Japanese home run king, Sadaharu Oh.
There are many famous New York Yankees players, but what I feel is one of the most underrated players in their history is Phil Rizzuto.
Rizzuto holds numerous World Series records for shortstops.
His best arguable year was 1950, when he was named the American League's Most Valuable Player.
But despite Rizzuot’s heightened climax that year, it was his ability to reign as a “small ball" player that makes his offense stand out.
Rizzuto is also regarded as one of the best bunters in baseball history.
Also, when Rizzuto retired, his 1,217 career double plays ranked second in major league history, behind Luke Appling's total of 1,424, and his .968 career fielding average which trailed only Lou Boudreau's mark of .973 among AL shortstops.
So his defensive prowess sort of speaks for itself as well.
Ted Williams once claimed that his Red Sox would have won most of the Yankees' 1940s and 1950s pennants if they had had Rizzuto at shortstop.
Rizzuto quietly built one of the best careers as a player who wore a Yankee uniform, with only a fraction of the notice throughout the years.
It was his approach at the plate and defense that made him as successful as he was, and his unpretentious nature was what made him one of the best players to compete for the Yankees, and play in the majors all together.
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