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MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 30186116 More of the best ever More+of+the+best+ever MLB

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MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887043 1. Honus Wagner 1.+Honus+Wagner MLB

The fact his baseball card is worth $50,000 says it all. The Flying Dutchman was one of the first five players inducted into the Hall of Fame. During a 21-year career he batted .328 with 1,733 RBI, 1,736 runs and 722 stolen bases, all four the top numbers all-time for shortstops. Oh, and he could field a little bit, too.

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MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887044 2. Derek Jeter 2.+Derek+Jeter MLB

When the Yankees acquired one of baseball’s best shortstops, Alex Rodriguez, they moved him to third base and left Jeter at shortstop. In 1992, Houston scout Hal Newhouser wanted the Astros to draft Jeter with that year’s overall first pick. When the Astros drafted Phil Nevin, Newhouser quit. Was Newhouser right. Well, during his 17 years with the Yankees, Jeter is a 12-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glove winner, four-time Silver Slugger winner, is the all-time hits leader for shortstops with more than 3,000 and still counting, was Rookie of the Year and in 2003 he was named captain of the Yankees.

Gary A. Vasquez - USA TODAY Sports
MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887046 3. Cal Ripken Jr. 3.+Cal+Ripken+Jr. MLB

His nickname was Iron Man for obvious reasons — a record 2,632 straight games, meaning he never missed a game over a 17-year period. On the night he broke Lou Gehrig’s record of 2,130 straight games he hit a home run. At 6-4, 225 pounds, he erased the mold that a prototype shortstop should be small and fleet of foot. While known for his offensive propensities — his 345 home runs are the most ever by a shortstop — he is acknowledged as one of the all-time best defensive shortstops and set records at the position for assists, putouts, fielding percentage, double plays and fewest errors in a season while playing all 21 years of his career with the Orioles.


- USA TODAY Sports
MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887042 4. Ernie Banks 4.+Ernie+Banks MLB

His favorite saying, “Let’s play two,” meaning he wanted to play a doubleheader every day, follows him everywhere and he is forever known as Mr. Cub. He started with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League in 1950 and signed with the Cubs in 1953. Shortly after that the Cubs signed second baseman Gene Banks, giving the first African-American double play combination in major league baseball. He played all 19 years with the Cubs and won the MVP in 1958 and 1959 when the Cubs finished toward the bottom of the NL standings. He hit 512 career homers.

Malcolm Emmons - USA TODAY Sports
MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29886166 5. Ozzie Smith 5.+Ozzie+Smith MLB

The Wizard of Oz is recognized by most as baseball’s best-ever defensive shortstop and emphasized his athleticism by sometimes doing a back flip while running to his position. Smith set the all-time record for assists for any position with 8,375 and is second all-time in double plays with 1,590. He won 13 straight Gold Gloves. While known as a light-hitter early in his career, he became more of an offensive player later in his career and won the Silver Slugger award in 1987. He hit a game-winning home run in the 1985 playoffs and broadcaster Jack Buck uttered his famous phrase when Smith’s homer cleared the wall, “Go crazy, folks.”

- USA TODAY Sports
MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887561 6. Luke Appling 6.+Luke+Appling MLB

A chronic complainer, his White Sox teammates called him “Old Aches and Pains.” He signed out of college with the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern League and made 42 errors in his first 104 games, causing the Cubs to shy away from him and enabling the White Sox to sign him for $20,000 in 1930 and he played 21 straight years for the White Sox. From 1933 he hit over .300 nine straight times and won the batting title in 1936 at .388 with 124 RBI. As a leadoff hitter he had an on-base percentage of over .400 eight times. When ownership once refused him some baseballs to autograph because they were too expensive, he fouled 10 straight pitches into the stands on purpose.

MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 30204854 7. Arky Vaughan 7.+Arky+Vaughan MLB

Earned his nickname because he was from Arkansas. He engaged in a famous clubhouse fight with his manager of the Dodgers, Leo Durocher. He hit over .300 his first 10 years in the majors, including .385 in 1935 and finished his career with a .318 average and a .406 on-base percentage. Bill James of Baseball Abstract included Vaughan in his list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All-Time and called him the second best shortstop of all-time behind Honus Wagner. He died in a boating accident at age 40.

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MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887045 8. Robin Yount 8.+Robin+Yount MLB

He began his 20-year career with the Milwaukee Brewers at age 18. When he become embroiled in a contract dispute in 1978 he threatened to quit baseball and become a professional golfer. The Brewers relented. He was MVP twice, in 1982 (unanimously) and, amazingly, in 1989 when he didn’t even make the All-Star team. The 1982 American League East season came down to the final game and the Brewers and Orioles were tied. In the final game against the Orioles, Yount homered in his first two at-bats against Jim Palmer and finished with four hits during a 10-2 victory.

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MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 30204853 9. Joe Cronin 9.+Joe+Cronin MLB

Senators scout Joe Engel signed Cronin, who was hitting .221 in the minors, and said “I knew I was watching a great player. I bought Cronin and told Senators owner Clark Griffith and he screamed, ‘You paid $7,500 for that bum? Well, you didn't buy him for me. You bought him for yourself. He's not my ballplayer — he's yours. You keep him and don't either you or Cronin show up at the ballpark.’” Cronin led the Senators to the 1933 World Series, played in seven All-Star games, hit .346 with 126 RBI to win the AL MVP in 1930, hit over .300 eight times and drove in more than 100 runs eight times.

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MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887048 10. Luis Aparicio 10.+Luis+Aparicio MLB

The White Sox stole Aparicio away from the Indians, who were set to sign him. But fellow Venezuelan shortstop Chico Carrasquel recommended that the White Sox sign him. They did, for $5,000, and Aparcio took Carrasquel’s job with the White Sox. Aparicio was Rookie of the Year in 1956 and made the All-Star team 13 times. He won nine Gold Gloves and led the league in fieldering percentage eight times. He set a record with 500 or more plate appearances for 13 straight seasons and finished with 2,677 hits.

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MLB 49 43 Best shortstops ever 29887057 The short list The+short+list MLB

Shortstops are a dime a gross and even great shortstops are a dime a dozen. Because the position is so important, a team’s best athlete usually can be found manning shortstop so that picking the best of all-time is like shooting a harpoon into the ocean with hopes of hitting a whale. The toughest part of this exercise was not including Omar Vizquel, Lou Boudreau, Barry Larkin, Luke Sewell, Alan Trammell and about a dozen others.

— Hal McCoy

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