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Creating baseball's perfect shortstop

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

The hypothetical best shortstop would include a lot of Troy Tulowitzki. (USATSI)
The hypothetical best shortstop would include a lot of Troy Tulowitzki. (USATSI)

Creating the perfect: Catcher | First baseman | Second baseman

As we move ahead in creating the perfect baseball player at each respective position -- using current players only -- we turn our attentions to shortstop.

For those new to what we're doing with the series, welcome. First of all, go check out the catcher and first baseman entries in the series to get a better idea of what we're doing -- which is essentially saying that if we could build a "Frankenstein" second baseman, what skill and/or trait would he draw from the respective shortstops in the majors right now?

Baseball's perfect shortstops would have ...

Troy Tulowitzki's bat

Tulowitzki is a career .295 hitter with a career .367 OBP. Neutralize those numbers to correct for the "Coors Effect," and you get an AVG of .281 and an OBP of .352. By way of comparison, the average major-league shortstop last season put up an AVG of .254 and an OBP of .308.

Also considered: Jose Reyes

Troy Tulowitzki's power

The era of the "big shortstop" -- most recently embodied by the Derek Jeter-Alex Rodriguez-Nomar Garciaparra troika -- seems to have largely receded, but Tulo stands as an exception. In a related matter, his power also stands as an exception. Over the course of his career, he's averaged 29 homers and 35 doubles per 162 games played. Sure, Coors Field lifts those totals, but Tulowitzki owns a career .471 SLG on the road. As well, of his 155 career homers, a respectable 70 have come away from Coors.

Everth Cabrera's speed

As base-runners go, Cabrera has few peers. In 2012, he paced the NL with 44 steals despite playing just 115 games, and for his career he's pilfered 118 bags in 148 attempts. As well, he has more career triples (19) than GIDPs (15).

Also considered: Jose Reyes, Elvis Andrus, Jean Segura

Yunel Escobar's plate discipline

For his career, Escobar has struck out 438 times and drawn 339 unintentional walks. That's a strong ratio -- he strikes out just 11.3 percent of the time and walks 9.1 percent of the time -- especially by contemporary standards. As well, Escobar has never whiffed more than 73 times in any individual season. The trend at large, of course, is toward decreasing contact rates, but Escobar stands as an exception.

Troy Tulowitzki's arm

Sensing a trend here? Tulo's as close to the ideal as we have in the game today. While Derek Jeter (more on him in a moment) is a the most famous pracitioner of the "jump throw," no one does it better than Tulo. Here's a representative example ...

That was ... not close.

Andrelton Simmons's glove

As already examined in this space, Simmons's glove-work in 2013 was simply superlative. According to Ultimate Zone Rating, Simmons this past season save more than 30 runs with his defense. Those numbers, of course, square with the glowing scouting reports and the eyeball test ...

That's 25 minutes and 41 seconds of defensive highlights. In related news, 24-year-old Andrelton Simmons is good enough to yield 25 minutes and 41 seconds of defensive highlights.

Also considered: Elvis Andrus

Alexei Ramirez's durability

And here we have Tulowitzki's most conspicuous flaw as a player. Ramirez, in contrast, has averaged 157.5 games per season over the last four years. As well, he's never been on the disabled list in his six-year major-league career.

Also considered: Elvis Andrus, Jhonny Peralta

Derek Jeter's intangibles

Jeter is pushing 40, still working his way back from a late 2012 leg injury, in decline at the plate and defensively challenged. With that said, would anyone question his leadership and poise? The Yankees' captain has for years been the quintessence of a "steady presence."

In conclusion, if you're looking for a perfect shortstop, then, in general terms, think Tulowitzki plus better health.

 
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