Players Pick The Best Among NL Shortstops

Players gave their opinions lately about who is the best shortstop in the National League. It's widely considered that Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez are the three best, but just how do they rank among players?

Jimmy Rollins is a leading candidate for the NL MVP award, but he wasn't selected the top NL shortstop in a vote of 488 major league players. Rollins, who became the first player ever to have at least 200 hits, 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, was edged out by Florida's Hanley Ramirez. The Mets Jose Reyes finished third in the voting.

While the voting has nothing to do with the MVP balloting, it's interesting to see how the players view the shortstops in the National League.

Among the three, Rollins is the elder-statesman at age 28 and he's been in the league longer than either Ramirez or Reyes, having played seven full seasons with the Phillies. He's also the highest paid, by far, since the other two are too young to have hit their first major pay day. Keep in mind, that the question posed to players was "who is the best shortstop in the National League?" It was not, which shortstop had the best season or which shortstop deserves the MVP.

The case for Reyes

Without a doubt, Reyes is one of the most exciting players in the Majors and probably has the most star value of the three shortstops, which will serve him well playing in New York City. He's averaged the most stolen bases of the three (although he's got the lowest stolen base percentage of the three) and he's got two all-star appearances, just short of Rollins' four appearances, but that's over seven full seasons, while Reyes has played just five full seasons. Through his first five seasons, Rollins had three all-star nods.

Actually, short of his flashiness and speed, Reyes comes up short to both Rollins and Ramirez and that includes defensively. He's a great young player that gets a lot of deserved recognition, but is just a short step below Rollins and Ramirez at this point. He is the most likely of the three to move into more of a run producing role with his team and be able to handle the adjustment, although Ramirez could possibly move down in the order before too long as well.

The case for Ramirez

According to, Ramirez and Reyes have a 4.19 range factor at shortstop, compared to a league average of 4.00. Reyes came in at 4.09. Ramirez has the lowest fielding percentage of the three over his career. When you combine the two stats, you see that Ramirez is a guy who makes great plays and a lot of them, but will occasionally boot a relatively easy play, which could be attributed in part to his youth. After all, he is just 23 years old and just finished his second full season in the majors.

Ramirez has one thing that neither Rollins or Reyes can claim; a Rookie of the Year Award, won last year. Reyes finished eighth in the balloting in 2003 and Rollins was third in balloting in 2001.

If you want to look at power, Ramirez is your guy, averaging 24 home runs over 162 games played, while Rollins averaged 17 and Reyes averaged 12 in the same comparison. Run production also goes to Ramirez with an average of 126 runs scored and 72 driven in over 162 games. Ramirez also possesses the highest on-base percentage (.369) of the three shortstops.

There is a definite case to be made for Ramirez and his numbers may surprise a lot of fans. This is a young kid who can hit and has plenty of speed - he's stolen 51 bases in each of the last two seasons - and knows how to make things happen. He's going to be a definite superstar and many believe that while he might not be the best now, when all is said and done, he has the potential to be a better overall player than Rollins or Reyes.

The case for J-Roll

If you want flash and team leadership, Rollins is your guy. Some are amazed that he's never won a Gold Glove, but believe that could very well come this season. An MVP Award could also come this season, giving the Phillies back-to-back MVPs. As far as a single season goes, Reyes and Ramirez, along with most other players, could only dream of putting up the sort of numbers that Rollins did this season with the Phillies. Rollins became just the second Phillie ever to have 30 or more home runs and 30 or more stolen bases in the same season. He is also the only player in Major League Baseball to have 200 hits, 20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 home runs all in the same season. When you've done something that no other player has ever done, you deserve to be in a pretty elite group of players.

Defensively, Rollins has the best fielding percentage of the three at .982 and as mentioned earlier, is tied with Ramirez for the top range factor. He's known for making spectacular defensive plays and has teamed with Chase Utley to form what could become one of the best double-play combinations in the history of the game by the time their careers are over.

Rollins has actually developed slowly over the past few seasons. For years, the rap on him was that he couldn't stay away from bad pitches and it's a somewhat legitimate argument, especially since he's a leadoff hitter. The bottom line though is that Rollins does get on base and he leads by example on the field and off. He's the guy who proclaimed the Phillies to be the team to beat and had a good chunk of the team, if not the entire team, on his shoulders down the stretch when he refused to let his club die. Of the three players, it's possible that the other two will have better overall numbers when their careers are done, but it's also very likely that neither will have a season like Rollins had in 2007.

Player's stats over 162 games played

Rollins 17 71 .277 685 112 190 39 12 36 .818 54 93 .331
Reyes 12 66 .284 684 114 194 32 14 64 .775 48 83 .330
Ramirez 24 72 .312 657 126 205 48 9 53 .779 56 116 .369

Numbers in bold represent the best numbers of the three shortstops in that category.

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