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Barry Larkin and the 20 greatest shortstops of all-time

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer
Where does new hall-of-famer Barry Larkin rank on the all-time list of greatest shortstops? (Getty Images)

On the occasion of Barry Larkin's richly deserved induction into the Hall of Fame, let's take a timely look at this scribe's ranking of the 20 greatest shortstops of all-time. Hint: Mr. Larkin makes the cut ...

1. Honus Wagner; Pirates, Louisville Colonels

He's the indisputable top choice. In terms of dominance, Wagner was Babe Ruth before there was such a thing as Babe Ruth. Simply put, Wagner's one of the five greatest players ever.

2. Cal Ripken Jr., Orioles

The player who checks in at number three has been the better hitter overall, but Ripken was much better in the field and enjoyed an outstanding peak. He may have had the strongest arm ever at the position.

3. Derek Jeter, Yankees

No, Jeter has never been much with the glove, but only Wagner compares in terms of producing at the plate over such a lengthy span. A run at 4,000 career hits is possible.

4. Barry Larkin, Reds

Larkin truly did it all: outstanding glove-work, excellent production at the plate by positional standards, and speed and smarts on the bases. He's one of the most complete players ever and a no-doubt hall of famer.

5. Ozzie Smith; Cardinals, Padres

Smith was the greatest defensive shortstop of all-time and an excellent base-stealer, and he eventually evolved into a useful hitter.

6. Alex Rodriguez; Mariners, Rangers, Yankees

Yes, A-Rod has been a third baseman for the entirety of his Yankee career, but he was a shortstop for eight-plus seasons. While at short, he won two Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers and an MVP.

7. Arky Vaughn; Pirates, Dodgers

One of the great offensive shortstops in baseball history, Vaughn ranks 43rd all-time with a career OBP of .406.

8. George Davis; Giants, White Sox, Cleveland Spiders

Davis, who began his career way back yonder in 1890, became one of the best players of the late 19th century after being traded to the Giants prior to 1893 season. He ended his 20-year-career with a batting line of .295/.362/.405.

9. Ernie Banks, Cubs

Like Rodriguez, Banks was moved off short late in his career but not before he redefined the position with his power. Of his 512 career homers, 264 came while he was playing short.

10. Luke Appling, White Sox

"Old Aches and Pains" spent almost two decades at the position, and he retired with a high-quality slash line of .310/.399/.398. Appling was moved to third late in his career, but then he was moved back to short ... at the age of 42.

11. Alan Trammell, Tigers

The criminally underrated Trammel, who should be in the Hall of Fame, was a plus-plus defender who put up impressive offensive numbers for the era and the position.

12. Joe Cronin; Red Sox, Washington Senators, Pirates

A fine, fine hitter as shortstops go, Cronin ended his career with 2,285 hits and 515 doubles.

13. Pee Wee Reese, Dodgers

Despite missing three full seasons to military service during World War II, Reese was still able to tally 2,170 career hits. Eight times he finished in the top 10 in the NL-MVP balloting.

14. Robin Yount, Brewers

While Yount spent time at four different positions in his career, he spent the majority of his games at short. His five-year peak from 1980-84 compares favorably to almost any shortstop ever.

15. Lou Boudreau; Indians, Red Sox

Boudreau enjoyed his finest season in 1948, when he won the MVP and, as player-manager, led the Indians to a World Series triumph. Three times Boudreau led the majors in doubles.

16. Phil Rizzuto; Yankees

Rizzuto was a defensive specialist who was a steady presence on the great Yankee teams of the 1940s and 50s. While he wasn't a great hitter by any means, Rizzuto was better with the bat than he's generally given credit for.

17. Omar Vizquel, too many teams to name

For almost a quarter-century, Vizquel has made a go of it. He's spent almost 23,000 innings at short, claimed 11 Gold Gloves and chipped in a couple of quality offensive seasons along the way.

18. Luis Aparicio; White Sox, Orioles, Red Sox

Aparicio wasn't much of a hitter, but he played in more than 2,500 games, stole more than 500 bases and was a brilliant glove-man.

19. Jim Fregosi; Angels, Rangers, Mets, Pirates

Younger fans may recall Fregosi as a former manager, but in his playing days he was a terrifically underrated shortstop. His offensive numbers don't look impressive to contemporary eyes, but in the context of his time -- an era dominated by pitchers -- Fregosi was a highly productive player.

20. Tony Fernandez, too many teams to name

Fernandez was an above-average hitter for his career and a regular shortstop for more than a decade. A four-time All-Star and four-time Gold-Glove winner, Fernandez was regularly mentioned alongside Ripken and Trammell as being one of the AL's best shortstops in the 1980s.

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