Just a few short years ago it looked like the shortstop position was experiencing a revolution. The position would no longer be home to below average hitters. Big, physical athletes like Arod and Derek Jeter were changing how teams viewed their shortstops. Flash forward a few years and it looks like the revolution was a false alarm. Arod moved to third base. Nomar became the president of the walking wounded. Now, a power hitting shortstop is as rare as Piazza gunning down a basestealer.
Derek Jeter Jeter is one of the few elite non-power hitters in MLB today. Jeter has been a hit-machine ever since coming into the league. He averages close to 190 hits per season. His career batting average is .313. He has over 200 stolen bases. He’ll easily reach 3,000 hits barring injury. In fact, if he plays until he’s 41, he should be close to 3,800 hits which would put him third on the all-time list. His World Series heroics will only bolster his legend. I think Jeter will be one of those players that is remembered more fondly after they finish playing. Jeter is very good and will be deserving of a HOF nod.
Just need a little more time: (1)
Miguel Tejada Three years ago, Tejada was trying to turn the Big Three (Arod, Jeter, and Nomar) into the Big Four. Who would’ve thought that three years later, he’d be the best shortstop in the game? He’s every bit as dangerous as Manny Ramirez but adds strong defense to the equation. Tejada has big numbers across the board. As long as he doesn’t get hurt, he’ll waltz into the HOF. This will be his sixth straight season with 100+ RBI’s. His best year came last season when he won the AL MVP by hitting .311 with 34 home runs and 150 RBI’s. With Arod and Nomar no longer in the SS debate, Tejada is the game’s elite power hitting shortstop.
Will come up just short: (2)
Nomar Garciaparra Nomar was well on his way to Cooperstown. It’s actually kind of sad because he had everything set up to be the “Golden Boy” of baseball. He won two batting titles. His hit totals in his first six full seasons went 209, 195, 190, 197, 197, and 198. His career batting average is .320 but he’s only reached that once in the last five seasons. His OPS is very respectable at .912. Nomar couldn’t have had it better. Then, he inexplicably became injury prone. His last two seasons have produced a total of 107 hits. He’s 32 years old and despite his impressive numbers early on, he’s behind the curve. Nomar would need to come back strong to get back on pace for the Hall. He no longer has a legitimate shot at reaching 3,000 hits. Nomar is proof that you can never be sure how a career will turn out. It would not be impossible for him to make the HOF. His career average of .320 will go along way but it’s important to remember that public sentiment plays a roll. If the voters like you, they might overlook a deficiency in raw numbers. If they don’t like you, then you’re SOL. It’s safe to say that Nomar was more popular before his outrageous contract demands and his “injury” that popped up when Boston wouldn’t give him his ransom.
Michael Young Three years ago, nobody had even heard of Michael Young. Now it looks like he’s taking over where Nomar left off. His career batting average is a remarkable .324. He’s well on his way to his third straight season of 200+ hits. Young is unquestionably one of the best shortstops in the game today. The unfortunate thing for Young is that he didn’t play his first full season until he was 25. That should be the end of the discussion. However, if Young plays ten more seasons (that would put him at 38) and averages 180 hits which is a significant reduction in his current yearly average, he would have 2,600 hits. If he keeps his batting average above .315 and gets to 2,600 hits, I think he’ll be headed to the Hall. As it stands now, it’s probably about a 25% proposition.