keyboard_arrow_uptop

There are phrases that get repeated in the BP Annual that we do our best as editors to avoid, like "at the highest level" or "advanced approach" or "command and control." Then there are the phrases that get repeated because they're so crucial to analysis that you simply can't avoid mentioning them often. Like whether the player who is manning shortstop in A-Ball is going to be able to man shortstop at the highest level in the majors. So I'd argue that this repetition is justified:

  • Stick at shortstop: 11 instances in 2015 annual
  • Stay at shortstop: Twice
  • Remain at shortstop: Twice
  • Stick at short: Once
  • Stick at the position: Once
  • Stick at the six-sport: Once
  • Handle shortstop: Twice

Similar phrasing gets used to describe third basemen (who tend to end up at first) or center fielders (who gets filtered out and shipped to a corner) or catchers (who disappear in the bowels of the minors if found unable to stick at catcher/remain at catcher/handle catcher/stick at the position). But mostly, shortstops, and for a simple reason: Few can handle shortstop, but becuase the payoff is so great when it works, many, many, many, many are given the chance. How many? A brief rundown of the players who played shortstop in the minors:

The Guys Who You'd Forgotten Were Originally Shortstops But, Yeah, Okay, Makes Sense

The Guys Who You'd Forgotten Were Originally Shortstops And In Retrospect Are Momentarily Surprised By, Given Their Body Types And/Or Demonstrated Limitations At Other, Easier Positions
Same Category As Above, But With Exclamation Points In Parentheses After Their Names
Same Category, Except That They Played Shortstop In the Majors
The Outfielders, B.J. Upton Needing Not Be Mentioned Due To Recency And That GIF
I Absolutely Don't Believe These Guys Played Multiple Games At Shortstop
The One-Gamers, And Oh I Bet There's A Story Behind Each Of These
And, Finally, Not The Same Thing, But Not Altogether Different

Of course, everybody didn't play shortstop. All the people who aren't named above, for instance. Like Chris Hoiles, and Richard Hidalgo, and Carlos Gomez, and Mike Sweeney, and Stan Javier, and so on. That list is less interesting.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
leez34
2/18
I swear some of those guys throw left-handed.
doctawojo
2/18
1. I thought the same thing. 2. I'm not convinced Coco Crisp isn't still an actual second baseman who's been masquerading as an outfielder for a decade.
mjpals
2/18
I'll bet that anyone who throws left-handed was probably a center fielder at one time. As an aside, probably the most noteworthy baseball thing to happen on the day I was born was Don Mattingly's lone big-league appearance in center field.
Michael
2/18
Kevin Youkilis also played two major league games at 2B.
maphal
2/18
Did you ever play shortstop, Sam?
lyricalkiller
2/18
Age 10. The one year I made the All-Star team (but as a second baseman).
BillJohnson
2/18
To add to the one-gamer list, let the record show that for one brief, shining moment on August 2, 2002, the shortstop position in St. Louis (well, "in" Atlanta, actually, but "for" St. Louis) was manned by one Jose Alberto Pujols. You may be more familiar with him under a different name. Speaking of former Cardinals, another player with ... well ... an "improbable" body type who appeared at shortstop in the minors was The Walrus himself, Brett Wallace, he of the 6'1", 240# proportions and thighs larger in diameter than some players' waists. To his credit, he volunteered to fill in there for Houston's AAA team in Oklahoma City, when injuries and promotions left the team without a regular SS. The conversion didn't exactly take, however, as his .912 fielding percentage attests.
aquavator44
2/19
I remember a game in 1990 when Kirby Puckett played not only shortstop, but second and third in an effort to not burn a pinch hitter in a close game (I believe this might also have been the one game in which Kent Hrbek played third base as well). Overall, Puckett appeared at SS three times, but only 0.1 total innings and had no fielding chances. He also appeared at 3B four times (3.1 innings) and 2B four times (2.1 innings and his lone infield assist).
jfranco77
2/19
I love this article. This kind of stuff is so fun. But why the hate on Aaron Boone? B-R lists him as 6'2 and 190. I always thought he was pretty rangy at 3B. B-R has him listed as the 44th highest 3B ever in terms of RF/9.
briankopec
2/19
Mickey Mantle appeared in 7 games at shortstop with the Yankees, even starting one in 1954 only 2 seasons before winning a triple crown. Now excuse me while I try to go convince my fellow roto-owners to change the positional eligibility rules so I can get Miggy at SS.
gyoung858
2/19
Here's a team I'd watch play: C Neifi Perez, 1B Fernando Valenzuela, 2B Yonder Alonso, 3B Dmitri Young, SS Dave Magadan, LF Andrew Cashner, CF Wily Mo Peña, RF Todd Worrell.
50cubs
2/19
You didn't mention Rogers Hornsby, who played primarily SS for his first four years in the majors. Not really known as a good defensive 2B in later years, Ryne Sandberg was originally a shortstop, too. (he played SS all through the minors and five games there in 1981 for the Phillies.) Became a Gold Glover at 2B. Darwin Barney was a SS in college and all through the minors, and has won a Gold Glove at 2B and will win others if he can hit enough to stay in the lineup.
greywilliams
2/20
Did Ripken play SS in the minors at all? Are there others who made this kind of switch in the majors?
cdgarosi
2/20
Yes, he played about 1/3 of his MiLB games at SS and split time his first full year between 3B and SS.
cdt719
2/21
Mike Schmidt's also on the list, played 74 games in the minors and 24 in the majors (7 as a starter) at SS.
harderj
2/22
Here's another: Kevin Mitchell played 24 games at short in his rookie season with the '86 Mets (as well as 6 in CF ;-), though he had never played SS in the minors.
RossBukouricz7
2/22
Another ! guy: Mark Reynolds. Played 136 games at SS in the minors and didn't move off until he hit AA.