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September 5, 2013

Skewed Left

The Literal Rise of the Shortstops

by Zachary Levine


If your Creator or your chromosomes or whatever combination of the two you deem responsible for such things didn’t make you short enough to play shortstop, then you just have to get that short yourself.

That’s Xander Bogaerts’ key to being a tall shortstop. The superb Red Sox prospect and rookie big leaguer is listed at 6’ 3”, claims 6’ 2”, and realizes that when he’s at the position, he has to act like he’s 5’ 9”.

“Make sure you’re always low and in a good position to field the ball because shorter guys are low to the ground,” Bogaerts said. “Maybe for some taller guys it’s difficult, but I have no problem at all.”

Bogaerts, to a lesser extent than Manny Machado in Baltimore, is partially biding his time at third base for now, and is still ticketed for the shortstop position. He is part of a growing list—in the more literal sense of growing—of taller players manning that position.

Of the 18 qualified players this season who have played a majority of their games at shortstop—a group that doesn’t count Bogaerts, Machado, or the 6’ 3” Troy Tulowitzki and Derek Jeter—a third are listed at 6’ 2” or taller, led by 6’ 3” Ian Desmond. And the 6’ 2” list includes Andrelton Simmons, the consensus pick as the best defensive shortstop in the league.

So how did we get here? Former minor league middle infielder and current Red Sox infield guru and third base coach Brian Butterfield traces the lineage back to the 1980s.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article What You Need to Know:... (09/05)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Skewed Left: Overlooke... (08/29)
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Premium Article Skewed Left: Three Nar... (09/12)
Next Article >>
Reworking WARP: The Un... (09/05)

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