Top 10 Short Stops in the MLB Right Now
This is the third part of the nine part segment ranking the top ten players in each position. Today, we will be ranking the top ten short stops in the MLB projected going into the 2014 season. After all nine positions have been ranked, I will be compiling a segment ranking the one hundred players in the MLB. So, instead of one of these top tens a week, I will be publishing two weekly. This change was made in order to get all of these segments completed, before Spring Training begins. I will say it again there will be controversy, and I respect any objective opinions you have on the subject! Please share with me your opinions! I also spent time scouring Social Media, to see your top five lists and they were all very different from each other. This was by far the hardest list to make, and you could make a legitimate case for about 15-17 guys to make this list and you would not be wrong. So without further ado let’s begin the top ten short stops right now!
Yunel Escobar-2013: .256/.332/.366, 3.9 WAR, 0 Net Steals, 4 DRS, UZR/150 12.2, 100 WRC+
Career: .278/.350/.386, 8 Net Steals, 102 WRC+, 50 DRS, 4.5 UZR/150
Stephen Drew-2013: .253/.333/.443, 3.4 WAR, 6 Net Steals, -2 DRS, UZR/150 6.7, 109 WRC+
Career: .264/.329/.435, 25 Net Steals, 96 WRC+, 2 DRS, -3.3 UZR/150
Alexi Ramirez-2013: .284/.313/.380, 3.1 WAR, 21 Net Steals, 1 DRS, UZR/150 5.0, 86 WRC+
Career: .277/.315/.404, 54 Net Steals, 89 WRC+, 42 DRS, 7.0 UZR/150
Everth Cabrera-2013: .283/.355/.381, 3.1 WAR, 35 Net Steals, -3 DRS, UZR/150 -1.7, 113 WRC+
Career: .252/.330/.342, 88 Net Steals, 91 WRC+, -16 DRS, -7.1 UZR/150
Elvis Andrus-2013: .271/.328/.331, 2.8 WAR, 34 Net Steals, 11 DRS, UZR/150 5.0, 78 WRC+
Career: .274/.339/.348, 114 Net Steals, 85 WRC+, 34 DRS, 7.2 UZR/150
Eric Aybar-2013: .271/.301/.382, 1.6 WAR, 5 Net Steals, -7 DRS, UZR/150 -7.5, 90 WRC+
Career: .277/.317/.386, 72 Net Steals, 92 WRC+, 7 DRS, 0.5 UZR/150
Jose Iglesias-2013: .303/.349/.386, 1.8 WAR, 3 Net Steals, 0 DRS, UZR/150 8.3, 102 WRC+
Career: .274/.325/.354, 4 Net Steals, 86 WRC+, 7 DRS, 16.5 UZR/150
Jhonny Peralta-2013: .303/.358/.457, 3.6 WAR, 0 Net Steals, 0 DRS, UZR/150 4.8, 123 WRC+
Career: .268/.330/.425, -8 Net Steals, 102 WRC+, -16 DRS, -0.4 UZR/150
Peralta is fresh off a monster post-season performance where the shot stop hit for a clip of .333/.353/.545 in ten games. Jhonny Peralta is also fresh off from an All-Star season, but was suspended for illegal substance abuse. Some people are hesitant, that Peralta’s success in the MLB had largely in part, been due to performance enhancers. People fear that Peralta’s true talents will come to fruition in 2014, in his new home in St. Louis and Peralta will be only a shell of his former self. Peralta ranks as one of the best all-around hitters amongst the weak hitting short stop position, hitting for power as well as good on base value. Peralta though not being the most quick footed short stop in the Majors, put up average defensive metrics, which is very good considering how good defenders usually are at SS.
Jed Lowrie-2013: .290/.344/.446, 3.6 WAR, 1 Net Steal, -18 DRS, UZR/150 -9.2, 121 WRC+
Career: .264/.332/.427, 4 Net Steals, 106 WRC+, -22 DRS, -0.7 UZR/150
The Oakland A has established himself as one of the better offensive short stops in the league and one of the best offensive players on the team as well. Lowrie, like Peralta hit for above average power and on base value, however his defensive metrics grade much, much worse than Peralta’s did in the 2013 season. The only reason Lowrie lands ahead of Peralta is because of the questions surrounding PEDs and what he would be like without the juicers. Lowrie has played for three different uniforms, in his past three seasons. Lowrie played for the Red Sox, Astros, and Athletics in that order from the span of 2011-2013, each for a year a piece. However, Lowrie has found his home in the Bay area, and will likely continue to rake in the top of the A’s line-up.
Xander Bogaerts-2013: .250/.320/.364, 0.2 WAR, 1 Net Steal, 2 DRS, UZR/150 53.2, 86 WRC+
Career: .250/.320/.364, 1 Net Steal, 86 WRC+, 2 DRS, 53.2 UZR/150
Red Sox’s third base coach, Brian Butterfield suggests that Xander Bogaerts will in fact be a short stop until the day he retires, and until we here otherwise, I assume he will be playing there in 2014 and beyond. Bogaerts having poor offensive numbers in a short sample size, absolutely tarred it up in the post-season with the World Champs. Bogaerts hit for a terrific line at .296/.412/.481, in 27 At Bats, displaying his true offensive potential. Before his debut with the Sox’s, Bogaerts ranked high on the top ten prospects list on MLB.com. Bogaerts has shown great defensive skills and offensive skills throughout his Minor League career and there is no reason to think that he won’t transitions his superb talents in to the MLB. Bogaerts very well, could be in the top three short stop’s next year at this time but for now the rookie has a lot to prove with a lot of hype to go along with it.
J.J Hardy-2013: .263/.306/.433, 3.4 WAR, 1 Net Steal, 8 DRS, UZR/150 6.1, 99 WRC+
Career: .260/.312/.428, 0 Net Steals, 95 WRC+, 68 DRS, 6.1 UZR/150
The recipient of the last two A.L Gold Glove SS award, Hardy arrives on the list at number seven for two reasons, power and defense. Hardy has hit 20 plus home runs in each of the last three seasons, including in 2011 owning a .491 SLG, which is for any player not just for a SS amazing. Though the defensive juggernaut enjoys hitting in the small dimensions in Camden Yards his plate discipline has never been a strong suit for Hardy. The average walk rate in the MLB in 2013 was 7.9% and Hardy was two points below that at 5.9% and has not surpassed the 6% threshold in the last three seasons. Hardy if he could develop good plate discipline in 2o14, could become a premier short stop but until then Hardy’s arsenal only contains power and defensive value, so Hardy will remain at number seven until he can prove otherwise.
Jean Segura-2013: .294/.329/.423, 3.4 WAR, 31 Net Steals, 3 DRS, UZR/150 -1.1, 107 WRC+
Career: .287/.326/.403, 37 Net Steals, 99 WRC+, 3 DRS, -4.8 UZR/150
After hearing multiple people lobby for the breakout short stop to appear on this list via Social Media, I couldn’t refuse to put him on! Just kidding! The 2013 All-Star made a name for himself in Milwaukee, despite a dismal effort collectively. The Brewers finished in 4th place in the N.L Central at a poor 74-88 record. Segura was the lone bright spot for the Brewers besides Carlos Gomez and kept the fans entertained until the very end, even though the controversy on Ryan Braun’s PED suspension ran rampant through the clubhouse. Segura accumulated the most net steals of any short stop amongst the candidates, swiping 44 bags and being caught 13 times in the 2013 season. Segura provided above average offensive value, power wise and on base wise, while providing consistently good defense. It is hard not to put the athletic middle infielder on the list, given his incredible 2013 campaign, however how the breakout player will fair in 2014 has yet to remain seen.
Jose Reyes-2013: .296/.353/.427, 2.2 WAR, 9 Net Steals, -4 DRS, UZR/150 -8.0, 114 WRC+
Career: .292/.342/.439, 316 Net Steals, 107 WRC+, -21 DRS, 0.5 UZR/150
Reyes only managed to play a little more than half of a season in 2013 with the lone Canadian team in the big leagues. Reyes put up very good offensive value but struggled to bring to the table consistent defense that he usually possesses. A lot of people have decided to write him off, on their top five SS lists after sampling multiple fans but a lot of people forget how good of a player and valuable commodity that Jose is in the course of a full season. I am willing to gamble that the thirty-year old will bounce back, pending an injury set back and he will be higher than number five going into the 2015 season.
Andrelton Simmons-2013: .248/.296/.396, 4.7 WAR, 1 Net Steal, 41 DRS, UZR/150 23.9, 91 WRC+
Career: .256/.304/.400, 2 Net Steals, 94 WRC+, 60 DRS, 26.1 UZR/150
The Atlanta Braves future star middle infielder arrives at number four for one reason, defense! Simmons finished first in Defensive Run Saves in 2013, being the only player to reach a DRS total in the 40’s. Simmons also finished in second place in Def. on Fangraphs.com behind only Orioles third basemen Manny Machado. The twenty-four SS while becoming an elite, I mean an elite defensive player in the league still remains a liability in the Braves line-up. Simmons hit for under average power and on base numbers and has given no indications that his offensive totals will improve vastly because his Minor League offensive numbers are not that great. Simmons, still is so good defensively that he not only lands in the top ten but at number four beating out a ton of worthy candidates due to his glove alone.
Ian Desmond-2013: .280/.331/.453, 5.0 WAR, 15 Net Steals, -3 DRS, UZR/150 4.4, 116 WRC+
Career: .273/.318/.432, 58 Net Steals, 103 WRC+, -22 DRS, -1.0 UZR/150
You can make the case that Desmond is the best bet to succeed in 2014, given his great all-around game while staying healthy and not subduing into the injury virus that plagues so many promising players year in and year out. Desmond is an average player all-around the diamond, hitting for above average on base skills and power skills. His defense metrics dip below average from time to time but looking at his UZR/150 and DRS collectively, they tell us that he is an average defensive commodity. Desmond swept 21 bags in 2013 and has accumulated a WAR exactly at 5.0 the previous two seasons. If you are not aware a WAR over and at 5 indicates an All-Star level player, despite Desmond only making the prestigious game once in his career in 2012. Desmond did take home the Silver Slugger award at SS in 2013 and would like to take it home again in 2014 and surpass the only two SS that stood in the way of Desmond passage to the top of the list.
Hanley Ramirez-2013: .345/.402/.638, 5.1 WAR, 8 Net Steals, 3 DRS, UZR/150 0.5, 191 WRC+
Career: .302/.373/.506, 169 Net Steals, 132 WRC+, -68 DRS, -8.0 UZR/150
One word to describe Ramirez’s bounce back season in a nutshell, would be WOW! Ramirez in 86 games in 2013 season among players with 300 plus plate appearances lead the league in Slugging Percentage and finished seventh in On Base Percentage after battling injuries the first half of the season. The Dodgers lead offensive contributor deserves a lot of credit for his contributions for his role in getting the Dodgers to play October baseball. Ramirez who usually brings to the table below average defensive metrics, put up solid defensive metrics in 2013, while also accumulating eight net steals. Ramirez’s all-around skills were maxed out in 2013 and he laid it all out on the line to reestablish himself among the games best players.
Troy Tulowitzki-2013: .312/.391/.540, 5.6 WAR, 1 Net Steal, 6 DRS, UZR/150 7.6, 143 WRC+
Career: .295/.367/.509, 24 Net Steals, 121 WRC+, 74 DRS, 5.7 UZR/150
Since 2007 the twenty-nine year old slugging short stop has accumulated a WAR over 5 in five of the last seven seasons. The other two seasons being injury orientated. Tulowitzki has struggled with injuries throughout his career and really is the only flaw in his game. When Troy is on the field he is superb all over the field hitting for tremendous offensive value as well as playing great defense. In a poll I conducted previously on Center Stage Sports forum, Tulowitzki received 100 percent of the vote as the title of best SS in the league. Tulowitzki is the notorious face of the SS position and is by far the most consistent in the MLB with the exception of injuries. Tulowitzki otherwise known a Tulo is hitting in an easy hitter’s ballpark but despite this Tulowitzki is the best SS in the league putting up way above average numbers and bringing Gold Glove defense to the Mile High City.
Patrick Green is a Staff Writer for Pro Sports Extra.