Recently, as I was writing my post on why Barry Larkin deserves to be a first-ballot hall-of-famer, I got to wondering who the top 10 shortstops of all time are. In order to get an answer, I decided to crowdsource my question to the internet!
What I did was I went to Google and looked up the first ten top-10 rankings of shortstops that I could find, and tallied up their rankings to get a final top-10.
As for the question of whether the first ten random top-10 lists I found are reliable or not, I crowdsourced that too, in a manner of speaking – because these lists were the ten highest ranking according to Google’s PageRank formula, by some definition they are the best lists, because they are the lists more people want to link to.
Taking each player’s ranking from each of the ten top-10 lists, I subtracted that number from 101 to get a point total, which I added to their score. In other words, a first place ranking on a list was worth 100 points, for a theoretical maximum of 1000 points over the 10 polls, and a 10th place ranking on a list was worth 91 points. This ensured that appearing low on two lists was still worth more than appearing high on just one list. If lists listed more than 10 players, I did not give points for any ranking after 10, in order to ensure that all lists were weighted equally.
So without further ado, here are the top ten shortstops of all time, according to the average of ten random internet top-10 lists, along with total final score and total “first place votes” in parentheses:
1. Honus Wagner – 992 (5)
2. Cal Ripken Jr. – 974 (1)
3. Alex Rodriguez – 885 (2)
4. Derek Jeter – 858
5. Ozzie Smith – 765 (2)
6. Robin Yount – 669
7. Ernie Banks – 661
8. Barry Larkin – 657
9. Luke Appling – 562
10. Arky Vaughan – 561
Amazingly, given the rather ridiculous method I used, this is not a bad list at all. In fact, it is pretty close to a list I might have made myself using some sort of advanced statstics-based measures. A-Rod got left off of one ballot on account of his time at third base, so his ranking of #3 seems fair, especially given that by the end of his career he will almost certainly have more innings played at third base than at shortstop (not to mention his admitted steroid usage). Even if we leave A-Rod out, assuming he is going to wind up remembered more as a 3B, it’s pretty hard to argue with a top 5 of Wagner, Ripken, Jeter, Ozzie, and Yount.
Ernie Banks was similarly left off some ballots since he played more games at first base, so it’s right for him to not be in the top five, but given that he still played 1125 games at shortstop, was one of the first power-hitting shortstops, and is best remembered as a shortstop, #7 doesn’t seem like a bad spot to have him at.
All in all, I find myself quite encouraged by this little experiment in crowdsourcing, as this is really a pretty decent result. If people are interested, it might be worth doing this for other positions, and seeing what comes up.
By the way, altogether across the ten top-10 lists, 20 different players appeared at least once. Although I was mostly interested in the top ten, where outliers were not likely to appear, in case you are interested the next best ten shortstop according to the average of these lists were:
11. Luis Aparicio – 369
12. Lou Boudreau – 373
13. Joe Cronin – 279
14. Omar Vizquel – 187
15. Alan Trammell – 184
16. Phil Rizzuto – 183
17. Dave Concepcion – 94
18. Pee Wee Reese – 93
19. Nomar Garciaparra – 93
20. George Davis – 91
Here are the ten lists I used (again, these were the first ten lists to come up on Google):
“Top 50 Shortstops of All Time” (The Baseball Page.com)
“Top 10 Greatest MLB Shortstops Of All Time” (Bleacher Report)
“Top 10 Shortstops In Baseball History” (About.com)
“Best Shortstop of All Time?” (FanIQ)
“Top Ten Shortstops of All Time” (World in Focus)
“MLB’s 10 Greatest Shortstops of All Time” (Bleacher Report)
“FSN Sports Top 10 Shortstops” (Baseball Fever)
“Greatest Major League Baseball Shortstop All-Time” (Rankopedia)
“All-Time Top 100s: Shortstops” (SethSpeaks)
“Best Shortstops in History” (RateItAll)