We’re back with a look at the players in the Mariners’ system who could play a role with the big league club in the next few seasons. Today we look at the shortstops.
Before we look at actual players, let us take a moment to share a few words about that most important of ball-handlers, the shortstop. Throughout baseball lore, the shortstop has been the lynchpin of the defense, the captain of the infield. From the first days of little league, the most athletic, best fielder assumes responsibility for that huge patch of land between second and third, and that doesn’t change no matter how far one goes in baseball. They must cover the most ground and field the most balls. They have to have lightning for feet, a rocket for an arm, and the grace of a dancer around second base. Aside from the pitcher, the shortstop is the most important person on the field.
For all those reasons, little offense has traditionally been expected of shortstops. It was enough to do all of the above, and if one could chip in with the bat occasionally, so much the better. Those who could field the position and hit are legends. Honus Wagner is still considered the best shortstop of all time, and he played before Babe Ruth. There have been teams who sacrificed defense to gain some offense at short, but far more often teams have leaned the other way. It’s always tempting to think that a good hitting shortstop will have a big enough offensive impact to offset weak defense, but the fact that so few managers are willing to play a bad defender is an argument that statistical analysis is hard-pressed to counter. Continue reading