Welcome to the third part of my mini-series. This week I will rank the greatest shortstops to ever play on the diamond.
10) Lou Boudreau
Played for: Cleveland Indians (1938-1950), Boston Red Sox (1951-1952)
Numbers: .295 Batting Average, 1779 Hits, 68 Home Runs, 789 RBI.
Analysis: An outstanding defensive shortstop and adept hitter. An eight-time All-Star selection, four-time .300 hitter and 1948 American League Most Valuable Player. He designed the "Ted Williams Shift."
9) Luke Appling
Played for: Chicago White Sox (1930-1943, 1945-1950)
Numbers: .310 Batting Average, 2749 Hits, 45 Home Runs, 1116 RBI, and 179 SB.
Analysis: He twice captured the American League batting title. The seven-time All-Star selection was also selected as the White Sox greatest player by the Chicago fans.
8) Luis Aparicio
Played for: Chicago White Sox (1956-1962, 1968-1970), Baltimore Orioles (1963-1967), Boston Red Sox (1971-1973)
Numbers: .262 Batting Average, 2677 Hits, 83 Home Runs, 791 RBI, and 506 SB.
Analysis: He took Rookie of the Year honors in 1956, collected nine Gold Glove awards, led the American League in stolen bases nine seasons and was named to the All Star squad 10 times. When he retired in 1973, he held the career record for shortstops for games played, double plays and assists.
7) Ernie Banks
Played for: Chicago Cubs (1953-1971)
Numbers: .274 Batting Average, 2583 Hits, 512 Home Runs, 1636 RBI.
Analysis: Banks is the greatest power hitting shortstop of all time. Banks was chosen to play in the All-Star Game during 11 seasons, was twice voted the National League Most Valuable Player. He played his entire 19-season career with the "Lovable Losers." He will be simply regarded as "Mr Cub." He was voted as the greatest Cub of all time.
6) Robin Yount
Played for: Milwaukee Brewers (1974-1993)
Numbers: .285 Batting Average, 3142 Hits, 251 Home Runs, 1406 RBI, and 271 SB.
Analysis: Playing his entire 20-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers, he collected more hits in the 1980's than any other player and finished with an impressive career total of 3,142. Yount earned MVP awards at two positions and his 1982 MVP campaign carried the Brewers to the World Series.
5) Omar Vizquel
Played for: Seattle Mariners (1989-1993), Cleveland Indians (1994-2004), SF Giants (2005-2008), Texas Rangers (2009)
Numbers: .273 Batting Average, 2657 Hits, 77 Home Runs, 892 RBI, and 385 SB.
Analysis: Vizquel is considered one of baseball's all-time best defensive shortstops, winning nine consecutive Gold Gloves (1993-2001) and two more in 2005 and 2006. Vizquel is the all-time leader in games played at that position, passing Luis Aparicio and is the all-time leader shortstop in double plays made.
4) Ozzie Smith
Played for: San Diego Padres (1978-1981), St. Louis Cardinals (1982-1996)
Numbers: .262 Batting Average, 2460 Hits, 28 Home Runs, 793 RBI, and 580 SB.
Analysis: “The Wizard of Oz,” Ozzie Smith combined athletic ability with acrobatic skill to become one of the game’s great defensive shortstops. His ninth-inning home run won the fifth game of the 1985 National League Championship Series. The 13-time Gold Glove Award winner set major league shortstop records for assists, double plays, and total chances.
3) Derek Jeter
Playing for: New York Yankees (1995-Present)
Numbers: .316 Batting Average, 2535 Hits, 206 Home Runs, 1002 RBI.
Analysis: Jeter is the captain of the current-day Yankees. He is fifth in career batting average of all active players. He is a four-time World Champion, the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, nine-time All Star, and 2000 World Series MVP. He is known as "Mr November." He also has the most hits in postseason history.
His plaque at Cooperstown is probably already made and needs a storybook ending.
2) Honus Wagner
Played for: Pittsburgh Pirates (1900-1917)
Numbers: .329 Batting Average, 3430 Hits, 101 Home Runs, 722 SB.
Analysis: One of the Hall of Fame's five original inductees in 1936, Honus Wagner combined rare offensive and defensive excellence throughout a 21-year career. He had eight National League batting titles. He had 215 of the 226 votes for eligibility.
1) Cal Ripken Jr
Played for: Baltimore Orioles (1981-2001)
Numbers: .276 Batting Average, 3184 Hits, 431 Home Runs, 1695 RBI.
Analysis: Ripken played in 2,632 straight games for the Baltimore Orioles, shattering Lou Gehrig's "unbreakable" mark of 2,130. Ripken methodically put together a remarkable career, notching 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, 19 straight All-Star appearances, and two Most Valuable Player Awards.
His solid, steady play earned him hero status throughout America. His "2131" game was ranked as No. 1 of all time MLB Moments by the fans on MLB.com. Simply put, Ripken is the reason why fans came back to MLB after the strike in 1994. You can argue that Ripken had almost an impact in the game of baseball as Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson.
This was my hardest position to rank all-time greats. They were so many players that were left out (Pee Wee Reese, Joe Tinker, and others.) Ripken was my favorite player growing up. My first MLB game I ever watched was his 2131 game on ESPN. This is biased as you'll ever see me towards an all time list.
Next Week: The greatest second basemen of all time.