Future Hall of Fame Baseball Player Series:
- First Basemen
- Second Basemen
- Third Basemen
- Outfielders – American League
- Outfielders – National League
- Starting Pitchers
Shortstop is not the strongest position out there, but it’s certainly not as weak as second base is right now. I don’t think there are any “no doubt” hall of fame shortstops right now, although Derek Jeter is very close. I just couldn’t quite pull the trigger and say he’s in right now. On to the candidates.
Really good chance
- Derek Jeter
Without question, Jeter is one of the best shortstops of his time, and maybe the best, now that Alex Rodgiuez has moved over to third base. If he were to retire today, there’s a good chance he would get voted in, but I wouldn’t say its a guarantee by any means. Jeter is 32 years old right now, and has no history of injury to speak of, so he could probably play another five years at a pretty high level. Let’s examine some of his statistical high points:
- 2,223 hits – another five seasons averaging around 155 hits and he’ll reach the 3,000 mark.
- 1,312 runs scored – he’s scored over 100 runs in all but one season, so he’ll probably end his career among the all-time leaders in this category.
- .317 career batting average – That’s 5th among active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances, and his batting average has actually been getting better in recent years.
As far as awards and honors go, he won the Rookie of the Year award in 1996, was the 2000 World Series MVP, and has won 3 Gold Gloves. He’s also a seven time all-star. If he’s not already a Hall of Famer, he will be with another year or two of solid play.
- Miguel Tejada
I don’t think Tejada is in the same class as Jeter, but he is certainly putting together a potential hall of fame career. He’s been one of the most durable players for the past decade, playing in 162 games in each of the last 6 seasons. He’s 31 years old, so he might also have another five years or so of decent production left in him. His career stats include:
- 1,654 hits
- 246 home runs
- 982 RBI
- 901 runs scored
I’ve got a feeling that his power numbers will continue to decrease (steroids?), but 2006 was a very solid year for him – 214 hits, 24 homers, 100 RBI, .330 batting average. If he does anything close to this for the next 4-5 years, he should end up with 2,500 hits, 350+ home runs and 1,400+ RBI. Very good numbers for a shortstop. Oh yeah, and he won the MVP in 2002.
- Omar Vizquel
Vizquel is a very interesting case. He certainly is not known for his offensive prowess, but he is known for his defense. He has won 11 Gold Gloves, and could win another this year. He’s still the everyday shortstop for the Giants. His career is strikingly similar to Ozzie Smith’s. Let’s compare their numbers:
Vizquel Smith Hits 2,516 2,460 Runs 1,305 1,257 Doubles 406 402 Triples 69 69 Home Runs 73 28 RBI 832 793 Stolen Bases 369 580 Walks 910 1,072 Batting Average .275 .262 On Base % .341 .337 Gold Gloves 11 13
Vizquel is actually a little better in most offensive categories, and has nearly as many Gold Gloves. Ozzie just had that “it” factor going for him. I’m not sure Vizquel has that. In the end, I’m just not sure what to do with Omar, so that’s why I put him in the 50/50 chance category.
Iffy at best
- Edgar Renteria
When you think of Hall of Fame type players, Edgar Renteria doesn’t usually come to mind, but he has quietly put together a very good career over the last 11 years. Right now he’s got 1,844 hits, 734 RBI, 975 runs, 266 stolen bases, and a .290 batting average. He started his career very young (age 20), which certainly helped him accumulate these numbers, but you can’t hold that against him. He’s only 31 right now, so he’s actually got an outside chance at 3,000 hits. How long he plays will be key, but I doubt he’ll reach 3,000 hits. His lack of power (only 113 career home runs), will also hurt his case for the hall.
Too early to tell
- Jose Reyes
Reyes is really young (24 this month), but his career is off and running, literally. He has led the NL in stolen bases the last two season, and is killing the competition again this year. He’s got 186 career stolen bases so far, and barring injury, there’s a chance he could end up with 600+ by the time he’s done. The stolen base is a bit of a lost art, so its fun to see a guy that has a chance to dominate in the category again.
- Jimmy Rollins
Rollins looks like a little bit younger, and slightly better version of Edgar Renteria. He’s 28 years old, but has some good numbers so far: 1,162 hits, 217 stolen bases, and 69 triples. Longevity will obviously be key here, and the ability to keep up the stolen bases and triples. He’s got a chance to end up as one of the best triples hitters of his day, for what that’s worth.
- Michael Young
Michael Young has been one of the best pure and consistent hitters over the last 4 seasons. For the last 4 years, he’s finished in the top 3 in hits in the American League. He was the batting champ and hits leader in 2005. His career hit total is 1,164 and he’s 30 years old, so it will probably be tough for him to get very close to 3,000 hits. He’s off to a slow start this season, but if he can regain his form of the last four years, he’s got an outside shot at putting up HOF worthy numbers.
There are some other good, young shortstops out there like J.J. Hardy and Hanley Ramirez, but they don’t have enough skins on the wall to be in the conversation just yet. I think that Jeter, Tejada, Vizquel, and Reyes will end up getting in. I think the others will end up with very good careers, but it takes a great career to end up in the Hall of Fame.