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“The Shortstoppys” October 13, 2007

Posted by Brad in commentary, stats.
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Now’s the time for thoughts on post-season baseball and post-season awards. I stayed up to watch the end of the Rockies-Diamondbacks, but the only concrete thoughts I took away from the game were that Jose Valverde has the crazed eyes you love in a closer, Ubaldo Jiminez’s delivery (especially the snapping motion he makes when he extends his right arm) is fun to watch, and Willy Taveras can play.

For post-season awards, The MVPs seem fairly straightforward: Alex Rodriguez and Matt Holliday both led their teams to strong playoff finishes with ridiculous stat lines. A-Rod’s .314 average and 54 home runs for the highly scrutinized Yankees all but guarantees he’ll get the award. Holliday led the NL in average and RBIs (in Coors Field, a hitters’ park to distort all hitters’ parks), but more importantly led the Rockies into the playoffs. David Wright led the Mets to a collapse, even though he did have a better VORP.

But who were the best shortstops? Well, that’s what the lamely-named Shortstoppys are for. (Hey, putting a y on the end works so well for the ESPYs)

And the Rookie Shortstoppy is… Troy Tulowitzki. Everyone keeps talking about how Tulo’s “exerted his will” upon the Rockies, which is mostly compliment, but a little creepy also. There’s no competition–if you Google “rookie shortstop” everything comes up Tulowitzki. The Seattle P-I has a nice profile (from the Rocky Mountain News) about how Tulowitzski was excited to get a Derek Jeter autograph this year. Speaking of which:

The Shouldn’t Be a Shortstoppy is… Jeter. As the beautifully named Blastings Thrilledge points out, the $21 million dollar ‘stop was the worst fielding shortstop of the year, according to the Hardball Times. He was 25 runs below average for a shortstop. Using runs to describe fielding is a bit confusing, but saying “Derek Jeter is a bad shortstop” sounds right, so this stat must be accurate.

The Prettiest Shortstoppy is… J.J. Hardy. He may have fizzled in the second half (with an OPS that was 100 points less after the All Star break) but fizz… no, just do a Google Image search and you’ll see. I put in this category, because there are far too many ugly shortstops. David Eckstein, Hanley Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, and Khalil Greene all look kind of creepy. (Honorable beauty mentions to Jose Reyes and Jason Bartlett).

The Bloggers’ Favorite Shortstoppies are… Adam Everett and John McDonald. I’ve never seen either of these guys play short, but I know from reading far too many other blogs that they’re the two best fielding shortstops around. Everett was called the second best fielder on TangoTiger’s fan scouting report. There needs to be a word for players who are completely anonymous, except of sports blogs. Blog-hold names?

The Shortstoppy for Overall Excellence and Shortstopmanship is… um, I can’t decide. It’s either Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins, or Hanley Ramirez. Hanley’s stat line is ridiculous, Rollins had a 30/40 season, and Tulo
is the great will-exerter. The advanced stats sources aren’t much more helpful. FanGraphs puts Rollins on top, Baseball Prospectus says Ramirez was the second-best hitter this year (behind A-Rod), while The Hardball Times says Tulo made 86 “out of zone” plays defensively. It comes down to what you want in a shortstop–the best possible offensive production? Take Ramirez. A team-leading veteran that’ll play well every day? That’s Rollins. What about a “will-exerting” rookie? Tulowitzki?

This Blogger’s Favorite Shortstoppy is… Yuniesky! (I thought I should end on a happy note.)

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