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The Hall of wWAR: Shortstops


Shortstop is a position with a lot of turnover when moving from the Hall of Fame to the Hall of wWAR. Seven players are bumped from the Hall. Honestly, only one stands out as a particularly poor selection, according to wWAR (Rabbit Maranville).

Four non-Hall of Fame shortstops are added to the Hall of wWAR—two started their career in the 1800s and two played very recently.

Who's Out?

These seven players are in the Hall of Fame, but did not make it into the Hall of wWAR:

  • Dave Bancroft: A .279 hitter with no power, Bancroft was elected because of his defensive prowess. Luckily, Total Zone concurs that he was a great fielder (he rates at 93 runs above average). He was worth 46.4 WAR for his career and his peak was decent (thanks in part to an 8.1 WAR season). His 65.2 wWAR is excellent, but just falls a bit shore. No same in that.
  • Joe Sewell: Sewell reminds me a lot of the .300-hitting second basemen and shortstops who may have been on a Hall-worthy path but ended too soon. Sewell is also well-known as the toughest player in history to strike out. He whiffed 114 times in in 8329 plate appearances. He even walked 842 times for a .391 OBP. However, his short career and a move to third base in his 30s helped drop his wWAR to 63.1.
  • Joe Tinker: First Chance and Evers were bumped. Now it's Tinker. All were good players and all rank among the best players outside of the Hall of wWAR. Tinker's offense was pretty average (96 OPS+ and –20 batting runs). But, Total Zone agrees that his defense was legendary. He was worth a mind-boggling 180 runs on defense (not including the positional adjustment). That total ranks him behind just Ozzie Smith and Mark Belanger among shortstops all time. Tinker's 62.0 wWAR still falls a little short.
  • Luis Aparicio: Aparicio ranks near Tinker in terms of defensive value (149 Total Zone runs and even more of a positional boost because of a longer career at short). The big difference however, is Aparicio's –235 runs on offense. That's tough to climb back from. He does earn much of it back thanks to nice baserunning (+95), ROE (+10), and GIDP (+18) numbers. His 49.9 WAR and 59.5 wWAR still fall short, though.
  • Travis Jackson: Jackson is another defensive whiz, with 139 Total Zone runs in a shorter career (he was done after his age 32 season). He hit .291, but his .337 OBP puts his offense around league average (102 OPS+ and +9 Batting Runs). A longer career with similar numbers might have gotten him in, but instead he falls short.
  • Phil Rizzuto: In Rizzuto's age 23 and 24 seasons, he posted marks of 4.3 and 5.4 WAR. He then missed three years because of World War II. Even if he posted 3.5 WAR in each of those seasons, he would have had a high enough wWAR to gain induction. That's another area where I'm a slave to the math in this case—I can't adjust for time missed because of military service. Rizzuto continues in the long line of defensive shortstops here with 121 runs. His bat was a little worse than Jackson's (–10 runs). As a result, he finishes short with 41.8 WAR and 57.1 wWAR.
  • Rabbit Maranville: Maranville was a great defender, but really has no place in the Hall of Fame. However, let's compare him to a player I hear frequently considered a Hall of Famers:
  Maranville Vizquel
PA 11256 11668
H 2605 2799
OPS+ 82 83
Batting Runs –238 –214
Total Zone Runs 130 138
WAR 38.2 43.1
WAE 6.1 4.5
WAM 0.0 0.6
wWAR 44.3 48.2

Who's In?

These four players are not in the Hall of Fame, but are now being inducted to the Hall of wWAR:

  • Bill Dahlen: With so many old time players getting in because of their defense, it is puzzling that Bill Dahlen is not enshrined. Dahlen played forever, almost exclusively at shortstop. That alone builds a ton of value, but he did it at a high level. He was worth 139 Total Zone runs. He also happened to be worth 188 batting runs, thanks to a 109 OPS+ over 10,000+ plate appearances. He did pull a great deal of his offensive value from his 1064 walks (and .358 OBP), so that could explain his lack of support over the years. After all, he only hit .272! His unique combination of patience, defense, longevity, and ability to stay at shortstop create a perfect storm, making him worth 75.9 WAR. His peak is relatively tame, but he still comes in at 103.4 wWAR, #6 among eligible shortstops.
  • Alan Trammell: I used to waver back and forth on Trammell. Now, he might be the guy I support the most after Jeff Bagwell and Ron Santo. His 66.9 WAR and solid peak (26.1 WAE and 3.8 WAM) make him worth 96.8 wWAR (#8 on the shortstop list). Trammell is another player (like his double play partner Lou Whitaker) who was good at everything. He hit (124 batting runs thanks to a 110 OPS+), he ran well (+21 baserunning, +12 ROE, +19 GIDP), he fielded well (+76 Total Zone runs), and he stayed at shortstop forever (leading to a +118 positional adjustment). He never won an MVP award, but he easily could have won the award in 1984 (it went to a reliever on his own team) and 1987 (it went to George Bell because of his HR and RBI totals). He won four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers. He was everything you wanted in a player. For some reason, he has managed just 24.3% of the vote (though he is slowly trending upwards).
  • Barry Larkin: Right behind Trammell is Larkin. Larkin comes in at 68.9 WAR and 96.2 wWAR (#9 among shortstops). Larkin famously just managed 150 games four times because of injuries. It's amazing what value he was able to pack into his playing time, assuming he was playing hurt a lot of the time. In the 12-year span from 1988 to 1999, he averaged 5.1 WAR per season. Over 162 games, that comes out to 6.6 WAR (but he missed a lot of time). Larkin was worth the most with his bat (189 runs), though his defense did rate as above average (27 runs). Honestly, considering his defensive reputation, I thought he'd be worth more. That says a lot that he ranks #9 primarily due to his bat and position. My guess is he makes it into the Hall next year.
  • Jack Glasscock: Pebbly Jack is another player who caught my attention when I first discovered WAR. He started his career way back in 1879 (when the seasons were shorter) but needed no adjustment to get into the Hall of wWAR. He was worth 58.7 WAR and saw that boosted to 83.0 (16th among shortstops) after his solid peak was applied. Defense was his calling card, as he was worth 149 Total Zone runs and never spent much time away from shortstop. He also was a .290 hitter with over 2000 hits, an OPS+ of 111, and 116 batting runs. Add the fact that he wasn't below average at anything and you get a very valuable player.

Note: In the graphic above, the list includes Monte Ward. Ward didn't actually meet any of the WAR thresholds as a shortstop. But he was also a very successful pitcher and keeps his spot in the Hall thanks to the combined value.

Who's Next?

These three players are either still active or retired and not yet eligible for the Hall, but have already met the threshold to be inducted to the Hall of wWAR:

  • Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod became the 20th position player to clear 100 WAR last season. Of course, he has ridiculous peak numbers (57.7 WAE and 22.7 WAM) that boost his wWAR to 182.3. That puts him behind just Wagner. One thing to watch for—Rodriguez is less than two seasons away from watching his third base playing time surpass his shortstop playing time.
  • Derek Jeter: We've talked about a lot of good defensive shortstops here. Jeter bucks this trend by being worth –131 runs. But he was so good at everything else (313 batting runs, 50 baserunning runs, etc.) that he more than makes up for it and is still a 70.1 WAR player. His 28 WAE and 4.6 WAM bump him up to 102.7 wWAR, or 8th among shortstops.
  • Nomar Garciparra: Remember when everyone talked about that trio of shortstops—A-Rod, Jeter, and Nomar? They talked about how each of them would be in the Hall of Fame. Then Nomar's production dropped and everyone wrote him off. According to wWAR, before punching his timecard he put up the exact wWAR total needed to make it into the Hall of wWAR (69.0 wWAR, boosted with a tremendous peak all the way from 42.6).

Up next is left field!

The Hall of wWAR
Catchers | First Basemen | Second Basemen | Third Basemen | Shortstops
Left Fielders | Center Fielders | Right Fielders | Designated Hitters