It’s time to look at the best shortstops in baseball today, as the Notebook completes the infield portion of the final season-ending All-Star team. You can scroll down the blog for explanations of the other selections, which are as follows…
1B: Miguel Cabrera (Det)/Joey Votto (Cin)
2B: Robinson Cano (NYY)/Brandon Phillips (Cin)
3B: Adrian Beltre (Tex)/Aramis Ramirez (ChC)
There’s little doubt who the best shortstop in baseball is. Throughout a lot of the year it seemed like Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t having his best year. Maybe some of that was just projecting the struggles of his team onto him, but perhaps a lot of it was expectations that have just become so high. Tulowitzki does everything well—he hits over. 300, he draws walk, he’s popped 30 home runs and he’s driven in 105. His grades on the defensive metrics are tops in the league. The numbers alone make the case for him as the best. We’ll still give honorable mention to what’s a very strong position, at least in the National League. Jose Reyes may have cooled down a bit after a hamstring injury, he’s still hitting .331, and Chicago’s young Starlin Castro is a .300 hitter and a rising star. Reyes and Castro join Tulowitzki as the best three shortstops in all of baseball, not just the National League.
The NL trio is the best overall not just on their own merits, but through the weakness of the American League group. While Derek Jeter’s second half of the season has been strong, his extremely poor start, lousy defensive grades and fading power can’t make him an All-Star anymore. Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera has slumped along with his team, with an on-base percentage down to .328. Jhonny Peralta at Detroit easily has the best offensive line, with a .351 OBP and .381 slugging percentage. But Peralta is very mediocre defensively, and at this position I prefer to go with someone who has a strong glove, so long as they are at least comparable with the bat. And there are two other viable candidates—Yunel Escobar in Toronto and Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy.
Hardy’s power has been impressive, with 26 home runs, though a lack of patience at the plate really hurts his on-base percentage. Escobar doesn’t have the same power, but he has a 54-point edge in OBP (.359 to .305) and beats out his Oriole counterpart on defense, as these two rank 1-2 in the league. For this reason, I give the Toronto shortstop the nod in the American League.
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