50 Greatest Shortstops in MLB History

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2012

50 Greatest Shortstops in MLB History

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    There may be no position in baseball that has changed more over the years than shortstop, as what was once a spot for slick-fielding, light-hitting speedsters has become a source of power in the middle of many teams' lineups.

    From Honus Wagner at the turn of the century to guys like Troy Tulowitzki today, there have been more than a few bonafide superstars at shortstop over the years.

    So here is my take on the top 50 shortstops in MLB history, as we look at some of the best players from every era and get a better idea of just how much the position has changed.

Note: Alex Rodriguez Not Included

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    Just to clarify this before taking on a barrage of comments regarding the matter, for the sake of this list I did not consider Alex Rodriguez to be a shortstop.

    There were three cases in which split time at positions had to be considered as Ernie Banks (1B), Robin Yount (CF) and Rodriguez (3B) all spent roughly half of their time at another position.

    In the end, I included Banks and Yount because they are in the Hall of Fame as shortstops and that is what they played during the prime of their careers.

    In the case of Rodriguez, he still has more games played at shortstop as of now, but by the time he retires he will likely have far more games at third base, and for the sake of history he will go down as a third baseman.

    Now that that is cleared up, we can start with No. 50...

No. 50: Bill Russell

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    Years: 1969-1986

    Teams: Dodgers

    Career WAR: 28.6

    The shortstop of the Dodgers' homegrown infield, Russell brought stability and consistency to the position for 18 seasons if nothing else.

    A career .263 hitter, he tallied 1,926 career hits and drove in 627 runs, topping the 50-RBI mark five times while hitting towards the bottom of the order.

    He was solid defensively, good enough offensively and just an all-around solid ballplayer for the Dodgers during the 1970s and '80s.

No. 49: Glenn Wright

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    Years: 1924-1933, 1935

    Teams: Pirates, Dodgers, White Sox

    Career WAR: 23.9

    He only had seven seasons of over 100 games played, and he is far from a well-known name, but Glenn Wright could swing the bat.

    In his short career, he had four seasons with over 100 RBI and put together an impressive career line of .294 BA, 94 HR, 723 RBI.

    A major shoulder injury in 1929 limited him, and while he played six more seasons after there is no question it kept him from being the premier player he could have been.

No. 48: Garry Templeton

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    Years: 1976-1991

    Teams: Cardinals, Padres, Mets

    Career WAR: 24.9

    Templeton had a solid career across the board, and while no one thing about his career stands out, his full body of work is good enough to earn him a spot on the list.

    With 2,096 career hits, a .271 lifetime average and 242 steals he was a capable leadoff hitter, spending 10 seasons hitting atop the Padres lineup.

    He was a three-time All-Star and led the league in triples three times, but he will always be known as the guy the Padres swapped Ozzie Smith for.

No. 47: Rafael Furcal

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    Years: 2000-2012

    Teams: Braves, Dodgers, Cardinals

    Career WAR: 37.7

    The Cardinals decided to re-sign Furcal after acquiring him at the deadline last season, and that move has paid off big-time as he has hit .370 BA, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 25 R so far in 2012.

    The 2000 NL Rookie of the Year as a member of the Braves, Furcal has always had terrific speed on the bases and a rocket for an arm at shortstop.

    He's bounced back nicely from a poor 2011 season, and at 34 years old he looks like he still has plenty left in the tank.

No. 46: Marty Marion

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    Years: 1940-1950, 1952-1953

    Teams: Cardinals, Browns

    Career WAR: 29.6

    A premier defensive shortstop, Marion was named to seven All-Star teams despite never hitting over .280 in a season during his 13-year career.

    In fact, he was so valuable defensively that he won NL MVP in 1944 despite a .267 BA, 6 HR, 63 RBI season.

    He did manage to turn things up offensively in the postseason with a home run and 11 RBI in 23 career playoff games, but it is his defense that earns him a spot on this list.

No. 45: Johnny Pesky

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    Years: 1942, 1946-1954

    Teams: Red Sox, Tigers, Senators

    Career WAR: 30.4

    The man for which the right-field foul pole in Fenway Park is named, Pesky enjoyed a solid, albeit short career in the majors.

    After debuting in 1942 at the age of 22, Pesky missed the next three seasons while serving his country, and when he returned he didn't waste any time.

    In his first season back he hit .335 with an AL-best 208 hits to finish fourth in MVP voting. The following year he again led the league with 207 hits while batting .324. Those marked his two best seasons, but he remained a steady performer for four more seasons before he fell off.

No. 44: Dick Bartell

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    Years: 1927-1943, 1946

    Teams: Pirates, Phillies, Giants, Cubs, Tigers

    Career WAR: 37.3

    Bartell missed two seasons while serving his country, but luckily it was on the downswing of his career and he was still able to post solid career numbers of .284 BA, 79 HR, 710 RBI.

    He topped 40 doubles and 100 runs three times each, while hitting over .300 five different times as he was one of the top shortstops of the 1930s.

No. 43: Al Dark

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    Years: 1946, 1948-1960

    Teams: Braves, Giants, Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies

    Career WAR: 39.6

    Dark got a late start to his big-league career, as he was not a full-time starter until the age of 26. However, he still managed 14 big-league seasons and some solid overall numbers.

    At his peak from 1950-1954 he averaged a line of .296 BA, 17 HR, 73 RBI, as he made three All-Star appearances during that span.

    A solid contributor from the get-go after he won NL Rookie of the Year with a .322 BA over 543 at-bats, Dark is one of the more underrated and unheralded shortstops of all time.

No. 42: Dick Groat

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    Years: 1952, 1955-1967

    Teams: Pirates, Cardinals, Phillies, Giants

    Career WAR: 33.4

    The double-play partner of Bill Mazeroski in Pittsburgh, Groat was often the overshadowed one of the pair despite having a solid career of his own.

    A .286 lifetime hitter, Groat had 2,138 hits over his 14-year MLB career. That included 352 doubles as he had at least some pop in his bat.

    The five-time All-Star won the batting title in 1960 with a .325 average, and that—along with 2 HR, 50 RBI and some solid defense—was enough to win him the 1960 NL MVP on the way to a postseason that concluded with Mazeroski's legendary home run.

No. 41: Edgar Renteria

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    Years: 1996-2011

    Teams: Marlins, Cardinals, Red Sox, Braves, Tigers, Giants, Reds

    Career WAR: 29.5

    A World Series hero as a 20-year-old in 1997 when he delivered the walk-off single in Game 7, Renteria progressed into one of the best offensive shortstops of his era.

    A five-time All-Star, he reached his peak with the Cardinals in 2003 when he hit .330 BA, 13 HR, 100 RBI, 34 SB.

    That season was far from a fluke though, as he had nine seasons of double-digit home runs and was a .286 lifetime hitter. He was also a two-time Gold Glove winner, as he could more than handle himself in the field.

No. 40: Cecil Travis

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    Years: 1933-1941, 1945-1947

    Teams: Senators

    Career WAR: 27.1

    While Travis managed just nine full big-league seasons, he made the most of them. His .314 career average ranks third all-time at the position.

    Like many players of his era, he missed time serving his country. He lost three seasons at the ages of 28-30, or he would likely be a much more well-known name.

    As it was, he compiled a .327 BA, 25 HR, 581 RBI line in eight full seasons prior to serving, but only .241 BA, 2 HR, 76 RBI in parts of three seasons afterwards. 

No. 39: Troy Tulowitzki

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    Years: 2006-Present

    Teams: Rockies

    Career WAR: 23.4

    Tulowitzki's career is still young, but if he retired today this is where I would rank him on my all-time list.

    Very few shortstops have been capable of putting together the sort of numbers he has already, as he's averaged a .304 BA, 30 HR, 97 RBI line over the past three seasons.

    He is still just 27 and only entering his prime. When you add in his terrific defense that has already earned him two Gold Glove awards, he should continue to climb this list as his career marches on.

No. 38: Maury Wills

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    Years: 1959-1972

    Teams: Dodgers, Pirates, Expos

    Career WAR: 37.5

    One of the fastest players in baseball history, Wills made a living off of his superior wheels as he stole 586 bases in his career, good for 29th all time.

    That total was boosted by a 104-steal campaign in 1962 that earned Wills NL MVP honors; he also hit .299, tallied 208 hits and led the league with 10 triples.

    A career .281 hitter, Wills scored 1,067 career runs as his speed allowed him to manufacture runs and consistently disrupt the Dodgers' opponents.

No. 37: Rico Petrocelli

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    Years: 1963-1976

    Teams: Red Sox

    Career WAR: 35.7

    Petrocelli brought one main asset to the table during his 13 seasons in Boston, and that was well above-average power from the shortstop position.

    He smashed 210 home runs in the equivalent of 11 full seasons, including a monster season in 1969 when he hit .297 BA, 40 HR, 97 RBI to finish seventh in MVP voting.

    His .251 average was aided by a solid .332 OBP. He could more than hold his own defensively, and it is no wonder he is a fan favorite in Boston.

No. 36: Art Fletcher

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    Years: 1909-1920, 1922

    Teams: Giants, Phillies

    Career WAR: 45.1

    Fletcher spent his career surrounded by a winning atmosphere. He played on some great Giants teams at the turn of the century and coached for the Yankees starting in 1927 following his retirement.

    Never a star, Fletcher was steady at the plate as he posted a career line of .277 BA, 32 HR, 675 RBI and drove in 60-plus runs five times.

    That may not seem like much, but accompanied by his phenomenal defense (28.3 dWAR) he was one of the best all-around shortstops of his time.

No. 35: Mark Belanger

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    Years: 1965-1982

    Teams: Orioles, Dodgers

    Career WAR: 37.6

    Despite a .228 career average, a strong case can be made for Belanger being considered the American League's best shortstop during the 1970s.

    Belanger was a supreme defender, second only to Ozzie Smith with a career defensive WAR of 39.3, as he won eight Gold Glove awards in his career.

    Offensively, he finished his career with 1,316 hits and swiped 167 bases, but in all reality the Orioles didn't expect anything other than superior defense from him.

No. 34: John Ward

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    Years: 1878-1894

    Teams: Grays, Gothams, Grooms, Giants

    Career WAR: 34.8

    HOF '64

    One of the pioneers of professional baseball, Ward debuted as a 19-year-old pitcher in 1878 and continued to pitch regularly over the first seven years of his career, posting a 164-103 record with a 2.10 ERA.

    In 1885, he made the permanent move to shortstop, and just two seasons later he had the best year of his career when he hit .338 and stole a league-best 111 bases.

    He is best known for leading the formation of the Players League, a baseball league that lasted just one season in 1890.

No. 33: Joe Tinker

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    Years: 1902-1916

    Teams: Cubs

    Career WAR: 50.4

    HOF '46

    The shortstop portion of the famed "Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance" double-play combination for the Cubs in the 1900s, Tinker won two World Series titles and two more NL pennants during his 15-year run with the Cubs.

    His .308 career OBP is among the worst of anyone in the Hall of Fame, but he did tally 336 career steals while playing great defense for what were then very good Cubs teams.

    It was his defense that made him a Hall of Famer though, as his 34.2 career defensive WAR ranks as the fifth-highest total of anyone at any position.

No. 32: Dave Concepcion

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    Years: 1970-1988

    Teams: Reds

    Career WAR: 36.5

    The shortstop of the "Big Red Machine," Concepcion was the National League's premier shortstop in the 1970s. He made nine All-Star appearances, won five Gold Glove awards and took home a pair of Silver Slugger awards.

    He had good speed in racking up 321 career steals, and his .267 BA, 101 HR, 950 RBI line was more than enough production as he was surrounded by future Hall of Famers.

    He continues to garner support from former teammates and opponents alike for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, but it remains to be seen if his numbers will ever get him in.

No. 31: Rabbit Maranville

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    Years: 1912-1933, 1935

    Teams: Braves, Pirates, Cubs, Robins, Cardinals

    Career WAR: 39.4

    HOF '54

    Nicknamed "Rabbit" due to his size (5'5", 155 pounds) and terrific speed, Maranville spent 15 of his 23 big-league seasons with the Braves.

    His contributions did not always translate to good statistics, but he was recognized for his abilities with a third-place MVP finish in 1913, a second-place finish in 1914 and six other appearances in the MVP voting.

    His .258 BA, 28 HR, 884 RBI, 1,255 R stat line may not look like much, but he was an integral part of leading the Braves to a World Series title in 1914 and played well beyond his numbers.

No. 30: Phil Rizzuto

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    Years: 1941-1942, 1946-1956

    Teams: Yankees

    Career WAR: 38.1

    HOF '94

    Rizzuto's legacy as both a player and a broadcaster have made him one of the most beloved figures in Yankees history and because of that his value is often overstated.

    With a career line of .273 BA, 38 HR, 563 RBI he is by no means an all-time great, but he was an integral part of some very good Yankees teams.

    His .351 career OBP helps offset his low average, and he took home the 1950 AL MVP when he hit .324 BA, 7 HR, 66 RBI and walked 92 times versus just 39 strikeouts. So, while he may not be as good as many like to think, he was solid nonetheless.

No. 29: Jimmy Rollins

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    Years: 2000-Present

    Teams: Phillies

    Career WAR: 36.2

    A three-year, $33 million extension this offseason all but assured that Rollins will finish his career where it started—as a member of the Phillies.

    Now 33, his play has tailed off a bit, but in his prime there may have been no more complete offensive shortstop in the game.

    Everything came together for him in 2007 when he hit .296 BA, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 41 SB and added 38 doubles and a league-high 20 triples. He also won his first of three straight Gold Glove awards that season and captured NL MVP honors.

No. 28: Dave Bancroft

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    Years: 1915-1930

    Teams: Phillies, Giants, Braves, Robins

    Career WAR: 46.5

    HOF '71

    Another Dead Ball Era shortstop, Bancroft was known for his terrific defense as much as he was for his smart all-around play.

    He was widely regarded as one of the best in the game by his contemporaries, and he was finally recognized by the Hall of Fame in 1971.

    His career line of .277 BA, 32 HR, 591 RBI may not seem like much, but combined with his terrific defense (23.5 dWAR) he is certainly Hall of Fame worthy.

No. 27: Tony Fernandez

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    Years: 1983-1995, 1997-1999, 2001

    Teams: Blue Jays, Padres, Mets, Reds, Yankees, Indians, Brewers

    Career WAR: 42.0

    Fernandez took an interesting career path, but when all was said and done he had posted a .288 career average and won four Gold Gloves in his 17-year career.

    After starring with the Blue Jays early in his career, things looked to be winding down for Fernandez when he missed the entire 1996 season with an injury.

    However, he bounced back and hit .324 over two seasons in a return to Toronto at the age of 36, even making an All-Star team in 1999 at the age of 37.

No. 26: Jim Fregosi

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    Years: 1961-1978

    Teams: Angels, Mets, Rangers, Pirates

    Career WAR: 45.5

    Fregosi spent spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Angels, breaking into the league at the age of 19 and becoming an everyday player two years later.

    During his time with the Angels he hit .268 BA, 115 HR, 546 RBI and made six All-Star appearances, as he was among the best shortstops of the 1960s.

    In the end though, he may be best remembered for being what the Mets received in return for Nolan Ryan when they traded him to the Angels in one of the worst trades in baseball history.

No. 25: Bobby Wallace

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    Years: 1894-1918

    Teams: Spiders, Cardinals, Browns

    Career WAR: 66.0

    HOF '53

    A pitcher for the first three seasons of his big-league career, Wallace transitioned to third base for two seasons before making the permanent switch to shortstop.

    He was never a dominant hitter, but he was consistently one of the better offensive shortstops in the game. His defense though was what made him great, and he is widely regarded as the best defensive shortstop of his era.

    Over 25 big-league seasons, he hit .268 and drove in 1,121 runs on his way to eventual Hall of Fame induction by the Veterans Committee.

No. 24: Bert Campaneris

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    Years: 1964-1983

    Teams: Athletics, Rangers, Angels, Yankees

    Career WAR: 49.2

    The catalyst of some great Athletics teams of the early 1970s, Campaneris' speed was without question his most valuable asset.

    He led the AL in steals six times and topped the 50-theft mark eight times on his way to 649 career stolen bases, ranking him 14th all time.

    A six-time All-Star, he was also a very good defender. Despite middling power he managed to launch 22 home runs during the 1970 season, 14 more than his second-highest single-season total. 

No. 23: Travis Jackson

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    Years: 1922-1936

    Teams: Giants

    Career WAR: 42.0

    HOF '82

    Overshadowed on his own team by guys like Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell and Bill Terry, Jackson was a consistent presence in the middle of the Giants lineup as well.

    He had double-digit home runs six different times, hit over .300 six times and drove in over 80 runs five times.

    He retired fairly young, hanging it up at the age of 32, but he still ranks as one of the best shortstops of his era.

No. 22: Hughie Jennings

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    Years: 1891-1903, 1907, 1909-1910, 1912, 1918

    Teams: Colonels, Orioles, Superbas, Phillies, Tigers

    Career WAR: 39.7

    HOF '45

    Known as one of the more colorful players of the Dead Ball Era, Jennings holds the record for hit by pitches with 287, including an absurd 51 in 1896.

    His career .312 average and .797 OPS speak to the type of hard-nosed player he was as he did whatever it took to get on base, even if that meant being beaned 51 times in a season.

    In his peak seasons from 1894-1896, he hit .375 and averaged 118 RBI per season. In 1896 he hit a career-high .401 with a .960 OPS. 

No. 21: Nomar Garciaparra

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    Years: 1996-2009

    Teams: Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, A's

    Career WAR: 42.7

    Nomar burst onto the scene with one of the best rookie seasons of all time in 1997, hitting .306 BA, 30 HR, 98 RBI, 22 SB and rattling off a 30-game hitting streak to take home Rookie of the Year honors and finish eighth in MVP voting.

    Through 2003 he was a dominant hitter and one of the premier players in the league before injuries set in and his career fell well short of expectations.

    Still, he finished his career with a .313 BA, 229 HR, 936 RBI line and at his best was as good as any shortstop in the history of the game.

No. 20: Vern Stephens

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    Years: 1941-1955

    Teams: Browns, Red Sox, White Sox, Orioles

    Career WAR: 41.8

    For a 10-year span from 1942-1951, Stephens ranked among the best hitters in all of baseball as he put together a line of .290 BA, 224 HR, 1,046 RBI.

    A seven-time All-Star, Stephens led the league in RBI three times and home runs once while playing for the Browns and Red Sox.

    He was particularly great in 1949 (39 HR, 159 RBI) and 1950 (30 HR, 144 RBI), but he dropped off quickly from there.

No. 19: Luis Aparicio

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    Years: 1956-1973

    Teams: White Sox, Orioles, Red Sox

    Career WAR: 51.7

    HOF '84

    The 1956 AL Rookie of the Year, Aparicio brought terrific speed and slick defense to the field for 18 seasons.

    He led the league in steals in each of his first nine seasons on his way to 506 career thefts, and took home nine Gold Glove awards.

    His .262 average and .653 OPS are by no means overly impressive, but the aspects of the game he was good at he was very, very good at.

No. 18: Miguel Tejada

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    Years: 1997-2011

    Teams: A's, Orioles, Astros, Padres, Giants

    Career WAR: 42.7

    Few shortstops have put up the sort of power numbers that Tejada did during his 16-year career, launching 304 home runs in his career to rank second at the position behind Cal Ripken.

    From 2000-2006, he averaged a line of .297 BA, 29 HR, 116 RBI and topped the 100-RBI mark all but one season (98 in 2005).

    He won the AL MVP as a member of the A's in 2002 and led the AL with 150 RBI in 2004 during his first season with the Orioles.

No. 17: Lou Boudreau

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    Years: 1938-1952

    Teams: Indians, Red Sox

    Career WAR: 59.1 

    HOF '70

    Winner of the 1948 AL MVP award, Boudreau had his No. 5 retired by the Indians as he was the heart and soul of the team during the 1940s.

    That year he hit .355 BA, 18 HR, 106 RBI and posted a whopping 10.2 WAR, the fourth-highest single-season total by a shortstop.

    He also won a batting title in 1944, and won his only World Series ring in the same year he took home his MVP.

No. 16: Joe Sewell

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    Years: 1920-1933

    Teams: Indians, Yankees

    Career WAR: 49.2

    HOF '77

    From 1921-1927, Sewell was among the top offensive players in the game averaging a .323 BA, 3 HR, 95 RBI line and topping 80 RBI each season.

    He finished his career with the Yankees, winning a second World Series ring in his final big-league season before retiring at the age of 34.

    After receiving very little Hall of Fame support during his time on the bracket (8.6 percent of the vote tops), he earned much-deserved enshrinement from the Veterans Committee.

No. 15: Pee Wee Reese

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    Years: 1940-1942, 1946-1958

    Teams: Dodgers

    Career WAR: 63.1

    HOF '84

    Despite missing three seasons during the prime of his career while serving his country, losing out on his age 24-26 seasons, Reese still managed a Hall of Fame career.

    He was at the heart of some terrific Dodgers teams as a table-setter hitting ahead of guys like Duke Snider, Gil Hodges and Roy Campanella.

    He was a 10-time All-Star, and eight times finished in the top 10 in NL MVP voting as his value went well beyond his offensive numbers.

No. 14: Omar Vizquel

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    Years: 1989-Present

    Teams: Indians, Giants, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays

    Career WAR: 40.8

    Vizquel is currently in his 24th MLB season, and he is second only to Ozzie Smith as far as the best defensive shortstops of all time are concerned.

    He won nine straight Gold Glove awards from 1993-2001, and 11 total during his career as he had some of the greatest range in baseball history.

    He also has 2,843 career hits and a .272 career average to go along with 401 stolen bases, and he will be a sure-fire Hall of Famer once he decides to hang it up.

No. 13: Alan Trammell

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    Years: 1977-1996

    Teams: Tigers

    Career WAR: 67.1

    Half of the longest-tenured double-play combinations in baseball history alongside Lou Whitaker, Trammell ranks as one of the best players not currently in the Hall of Fame.

    He hit double-digit home runs eight different times, with his best season coming in 1987 when he hit .343 BA, 28 HR, 105 RBI to set career highs across the board.

    With a .285 BA, 185 HR, 1,003 RBI line and the 1984 World Series MVP award to his credit, a strong case can certainly be made for his enshrinement in Cooperstown.

No. 12: George Davis

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    Years: 1890-1909

    Teams: Spiders, Giants, White Sox

    Career WAR: 80.2

    HOF '98

    Davis was a consistent performer over his 20-year career, serving as both a table-setter and run-producer for the Giants during his prime.

    In his 10 seasons in New York, he had a .332 career average, driving in 100 runs three times and scoring 100 runs four times.

    He was not the same force outside of his time with the Giants, hitting just .261, but nevertheless he was a dominant force in his prime.

No. 11: Barry Larkin

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    Years: 1986-2004

    Teams: Reds

    Career WAR: 67.3

    HOF '12

    The premier NL shortstop of the 1990s, Larkin was a consistent offensive force in the middle of some inconsistent Reds lineups.

    He was elected to the All-Star team every year from 1988-2000, winning eight Silver Slugger awards during that span.

    Larkin also took home NL MVP honors in 1995 when he hit .319 BA, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 51 SB and helped the Reds to a surprise postseason appearance.

No. 10: Bill Dahlen

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    Years: 1891-1911

    Teams: Cubs, Superbas, Giants

    Career WAR: 70.9

    "Bad Bill," as he was dubbed for his temperament, was one of the game's first star shortstops, twice hitting over .350 for the Cubs before the turn of the century.

    He played until the age of 41, and while his final stat line of .272 BA, 84 HR, 1,234 RBI may not seem like top-10 material, he did it at a time when those were fantastic numbers for anyone, let alone a shortstop.

    As it stands he has the second-best career WAR of any position player currently eligible and not in the Hall of Fame, trailing only Lou Whitaker (71.4).

No. 9: Robin Yount

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    Years: 1974-1993

    Teams: Brewers

    Career WAR: 72.4

    HOF '99

    Despite a shift to center field during the second half of his career, we will consider Yount a shortstop for the sake of this list.

    Yount won a pair of MVP awards during his 20-year career, and he is also a member of the 3,000 hit club with 3,142 career knocks.

    His 1982 MVP season was his best, as he hit .331 BA, 29 HR, 114 RBI while leading the AL with 210 hits and 46 doubles.

No. 8: Luke Appling

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    Years: 1930-1943, 1945-1950

    Teams: White Sox

    Career WAR: 69.9

    HOF '64

    A member of the White Sox for his entire 20-year career, Appling could flat-out hit the baseball as he recorded a .310 career average.

    He won a pair of batting titles, including one with a .388 mark in 1936, and in total hit over .300 a whopping 15 times during his career.

    He also drove in a career-high 128 runs during the 1936 season as he posted the highest offensive WAR (6.7) of any player in the American League that season.

No. 7: Arky Vaughn

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    Years: 1932-1943, 1947-1948

    Teams: Pirates, Dodgers

    Career WAR: 70.5

    HOF '85

    Vaughn played just 12 full seasons in the big leagues, but he made the most of them as he was named to the All-Star team nine times during that stretch.

    He also hit over .300 in all but one of those seasons, finishing his career with a .318 average and 2,103 hits.

    He won the batting title with a fantastic .385 average in 1935, and he also had a great eye at the plate in compiling a .406 career OBP.

No. 6: Joe Cronin

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    Years: 1926-1945

    Teams: Pirates, Senators, Red Sox

    Career WAR: 61.9 

    HOF '56

    A star with both the Senators and Red Sox, Cronin played 20 big-league seasons and finished his career with a .301 average.

    His 1,424 RBI rank third all time at the position, as he was a rare run-producing shortstop during his era and topped the 100 RBI mark eight different times.

    Cronin was also a seven-time All-Star, and he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting five different times, including a second-place finish in 1933.

No. 5: Ozzie Smith

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    Years: 1978-1996

    Teams: Padres, Cardinals

    Career WAR: 73.0

    HOF '02

    Anything Ozzie Smith achieved with a bat in his hands was simply icing on the cake, as he was the greatest defensive shortstop ever to play the game. His 43.4 career defensive WAR is the best by any player at any position.

    His 13 Gold Gloves and .978 fielding percentage really don't tell the story; you really had to watch him play shortstop to truly appreciate just how good he was.

    That said, he wasn't a liability offensively with a .262 career average and 2,460 hits. He also had great wheels, stealing 580 bases in his career.

No. 4: Ernie Banks

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    Years: 1953-1971

    Teams: Cubs

    Career WAR: 62.5

    HOF '77

    "Mr. Cub" would go on to play first base later in his career, but he came up as a shortstop and was at that position that he was in his prime.

    A member of the 500-home-run club with 512 career round-trippers, Banks was the first true power-hitting shortstop—and he toiled with some terrible Cubs teams.

    In his prime from 1957-1960, he averaged a line of .293 BA, 44 HR, 123 RBI and won back-to-back NL MVP awards in '58 and '59.

No. 3: Derek Jeter

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    Years: 1995-Present

    Teams: Yankees

    Career WAR: 69.3

    Now 38 years old, Jeter keeps chugging along. He is among the best hitters in the American League right now with a .367 average.

    He joined the 3,000-hit club last season, and stands as the Yankees' all-time hits leader. He has brought far more to the Yankees than just statistics during his 18-year career though; he is a leader on the field and a captain in every sense of the word.

    He is also among the greatest postseason hitters of all time, with a career .307 BA, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 18 SB line in 152 postseason games.

No. 2: Cal Ripken Jr.

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    Years: 1981-2001

    Teams: Orioles

    Career WAR: 90.9

    HOF '07

    Perhaps best known as becoming baseball's Iron Man, Ripken appeared in 2,632 consecutive games during his 21-year playing career. However, he was more than just a durable player.

    He burst onto the scene in 1982 to win AL Rookie of the Year. The following season he won MVP honors and led the Orioles to a World Series title. He was only 22 years old at the time.

    He would go on to pile up 3,184 career hits, but it was his power that made him a star as he launched 431 home runs, topping the 20-home-run mark 12 different times in his career.

    At 6'4", Ripken was the first in what has become a line of bigger, stronger, power-hitting shortstops.

    He truly revolutionized the position.

No. 1: Honus Wagner

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    Years: 1897-1917

    Teams: Colonels, Pirates

    Career WAR: 126.2

    HOF '36

    Without a doubt, "The Flying Dutchman" is the greatest shortstop ever to play the game and likely cracks most people's top-10 greatest players of all time.

    He racked up 3,420 hits over his 21-year career, winning eight batting titles on his way to a .328 career average.

    Despite hitting just 101 career home runs, he drove in 1,733 runs (21st all time) and topped the 100-RBI mark nine times, leading the league in that category on five separate occasions.

    He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936 as part of the inaugural class. He tied with Babe Ruth for the second-highest vote percentage with 95.1 percent.

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