Hall of Fame Hopefuls- Shortstops

Shortstops tend to be the most underrated hitters in history, mostly because they are typically known for their gloves first.  However, without some positive contributions offensively, even an Ozzie Smith level defender would have difficulty making it into the Hall of Fame.  Shortstop is one of the more populated positions in Cooperstown, with 22 inductees at the position.  The median score for shortstops comes in between Luis Aparicio and Barry Larkin at 26116.  Here are how some outside shortstops rank:

Should be definites:

1. Alex Rodriguez

Score: 57168

Most similar to: Honus Wagner

Next eligible: 2022 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Yankees

Synopsis: Everyone knows A-Rod has the numbers for induction, and those numbers put him in contention for greatest shortstop ever (despite someone lower on the list preventing him from playing shortstop while with the Yankees because he really wasn’t a team-first player).  And, everyone knows it’s nearly impossible at this point for A-Rod to get in, but with Bonds and Clemens trending strongly in early balloting for this induction year, that could change in six years.

2. Derek Jeter

Score: 41107

Most similar to: Robin Yount

Next Eligible: 2020 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Yankees

Synopsis: Despite being the weaker glove and not letting A-Rod play shortstop when Rodriguez came to the Yankees from Texas, Jeter was still one of the best hitting shortstops of all-time.  While he was probably not worthy of all of his Gold Glove awards, Jeter early in his career was a decent fielding shortstop that lost a lot of range quickly due to age and playing a lot of games.  Adding into that his 3000 hits and 260 homers, Jeter will likely be a unanimous pick for induction if the new edict of publicized ballots has the desired effect.

3. Jimmy Rollins

Score: 26449

Most similar to: Pee Wee Reese

Next Eligible: Still Active

Suggested Team: Phillies

Synopsis: This may come as a surprise, but Rollins early in his career was clearly the best shortstop in the National League, and had a fairly long period of excellence with the bat and glove.  He currently has over 2500 hits and a lot of them for extra bases (511 doubles, 115 triples and 231 homers).  Rollins was also a great base runner, stealing over 400 bases and scoring over 1400 runs in addition to being a great fielder at the position.  His last couple years haven’t been great, but his overall body of work is excellent.

4. Alan Trammell

Score: 25136

Most similar to: Larkin

Next Eligible: 2018 (Veterans Committee)

Suggested Team: Tigers

Synopsis: Just like his partner Lou Whitaker, Trammell being overlooked by the BBWAA is a shame.  His glove was overshadowed by Ozzie’s and his bat overshadowed by Ripken, but Trammell was always a great player in his own right, with nearly 200 defensive runs and a wRC+ of 111.  The 1980’s have a case as being the most overlooked decade in terms of inductees (hence the new era committees), and inducting Trammell and Whitaker would go a long way to correcting that mistake.

On the Bubble-Probably Yes

5. Omar Vizquel

Score: 19385

Most similar to: Lou Boudreau

Next Eligible: 2018 (BBWAA)

Suggested Team: Indians

Synopsis: This is the player that is the most puzzling for shortstops.  On the one hand, Vizquel was one of the best fielders in the AL in the post-Ozzie Smith era with more than 260 defensive runs.  On the other, he had a wRC+ of 100 or better twice in a very long career, which includes a long decline phase from 2007-2012 where he put up wRC+ values of 37, 58 and 44.  Vizquel probably has the reputation and narrative about him as a great defender which will push him into the Hall of Fame, but it wouldn’t be a crime if he doesn’t make it.

Never Gonna Happen:

6. Edgar Renteria

Score: 16524

Most similar to: Dave Bancroft

Next Eligible: 2017 (BBWAA)

Synopsis: Normally, the down-ballot filler would be skipped on a ranking like this.  But, because someone decided to use one of his 10 precious spots for Hall of Fame voting on Edgar Renteria (instead of Billy Wagner or Mike Mussina), it’s time to look at his case.  Now, Renteria wasn’t a bad player by any means of the imagination, in fact he was a very good player.  But, only ended his career with 35.2 fWAR, a 95 wRC+ (the same as Rollins) but without being a great base runner or fielder to compensate for those values.  A good player and fun to watch, Renteria just doesn’t have the resume to be a Hall of Famer.

7. Nomar Garciaparra

Score: 15712

Most similar to: Bancroft

Next eligible: 2019 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: Nomar was a great hitter in the late-90’s.  However, injuries really hit him hard in the early-2000’s and derailed what should have been a Hall of Fame career.  Nomar was a good hitter and good defender, but his wrist and groin injuries prevented him from being better than that.

8. Dave Concepcion

Score: 13986

Most similar to: Bobby Wallace

Next eligible: 2018 (Veterans Committee)

Synopsis: Just like Ozzie Smith ranks highly because of a good OBP and base running ability, Concepcion lacking them would cause him to rank poorly.  He was a great fielder, and key part of the Big Red Machine in the 1970’s, but didn’t produce enough offensively to be worthy of induction.

Stay tuned for the next update.

On deck 1/4/16: Let’s round out the infield with catchers.

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