MLB Rankings: Omar Vizquel and The 10 Best Defensive Shortstops In MLB History
Shortstops are rarely known for their offensive prowess.
Instead, they are generally known for their defense. They play a position that sees more scorchers than any other and a team benefits greatly from having a sure-handed player there.
This is a list for the men who played the position the best, who sat in there and took countless bad hops to the chest just to record an out.
Bonus: Cal Ripken Jr.
Cal Ripken Jr. is known for many things.
One of the last thing you'll hear mentioned with his name is his defense, but he was pretty good at that, too.
In 1991 and 1992, Ripken was awarded with a Gold Glove for his defensive efforts. He probably should have won another in 1990, when he made just three errors. He finished his career with 8,212 assists and 1,682 double-plays.
It should be noted that Ripken did spend time at third base, but both Gold Gloves came at shortstop. His career field percentage as a shortstop was .968 compared to .949 as a third basemen.
Bonus 2: Jimmy Rollins
Jimmy Rollins has been getting better defensively with age.
He would probably have a few more Gold Gloves if not for injuries throughout his career, but he still managed three straight from 2007-2000.
His speed allows him to make plays most shortstops cannot. There should definitely be some more Gold Gloves in his future which would allow him to climb this list.
10. Alan Trammell
Alan Trammel wasn't known for having an amazing arm or incredible range.
But his precision made him good.
Trammell was a member of the longest continuous double-play combos in MLB history and his steadiness at shortstop won him four Gold Gloves.
9. Joe Tinker
Joe Tinker is remembered as one of baseball's best early defensive players.
Tinker played from 1902-1916 and led the National League four times in field percentage, not just for shortstops, but for all position players.
8. Tony Fernandez
Tony Fernandez was one of the most consistent shortstops to ever play.
The record he set in 1989 shows that. Fernandez hold the MLB record for shortstops with a .992 field percentage in the 1989 season.
Throughout his career, Fernandez won four Gold Gloves.
T6. Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter is responsible for one of the smartest defensive plays I have ever seen. If you have never seen "Jeter's flip" make sure to watch the posted video, but I don't know how a baseball fan could have missed it.
The Yankees' leader has won five Gold Gloves, including the last two seasons after a drought since three consecutive from 2004 to 2006.
Jeter and Concepcion are in a tie because incredibly they have the same amount of Gold Gloves AND the same career fielding percentage.
T6. Dave Concepcion
Dave Concepcion was a shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds from 1970 to 1988.
Concepcion wasn't the best hitter ever, but he was darn good defensively.
Throughout his career, he won five Gold Gloves and had a .972 fielding percentage.
5. Lou Boudreau
Lou Boudreau is a Hall of Fame shortstop whose offensive prowess overshadowed his defense.
The Gold Glove didn't exist when he played from 1938 to 1952 but he surely would have won quite a few. He led AL shortstops in fielding percentage eight times and had a reputation for making incredible plays.
4. Mark Belanger
Mark Belanger was one of the worst offensive players in the MLB from 1965-1982, but his defense kept him around.
Belanger won eight Gold Gloves, led the American league in assists and field percentage three times apiece and held almost all of the Baltimore Orioles fielding records at the time of his retirement.
However, the aforementioned Cal Ripken Jr. broke many of them due to the longevity of his stay.
3. Luis Aparicio
Luis Aparicio played for three teams from 1956 to 1973.
During that time, he was considered to be one the best shortstop in the game.
He won nine Gold Gloves, was a 13 time All-Star and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He finished his career with a fielding percentage of .962.
2. Ozzie Smith
Watch the video from the 2:00 mark to the 3:15 mark and you'll understand why Smith is one of the best ever.
Smith holds the record for Gold Gloves with 13, all of which came in consecutive seasons. He also holds records for career assists and the NL record for the games play at shortstop.
He would undoubtedly be No. 1 if not for having a fielding percentage that is .007 lower than the No. 1 guy, and holding a few less records.
1. Omar Vizquel
Watching the video of Vizquel made me say "wow" several times.
Vizquel is one of those guys who has the ability to make extremely hard plays look routine. He will be 44 in April, yet he still one of the better defensive shortstops in the game.
In his career, he has totaled 11 Gold Gloves, including nine straight from 1993-2001, with his most recent in 2006.
Here are some crazy records Vizquel holds:
- Highest career field percentage for a shortstop in MLB history at .985
- All-time leader in games played at shortstop
- All-time leader in double-plays turned at shortstop
- AL record for most consecutive games played at shortstop without an error