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Ten Who Shouldn't Be Sold Short
Robert W. Creamer
September 27, 1982
Shortstop is a fielder's position, the most important part of the defense except for pitching. Third base has become more glamorous, with its spectacular diving stops, but the best third baseman isn't as good a fielder as the man playing next to him. If he were, he'd be the shortstop: There's more ground to cover over there, more balls to get to, more plays to execute. That's why third basemen have to be productive hitters; a team can't afford what Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver calls "the luxury of defense" at third base unless it gets hitting to go with the D. Shortstop is a different matter. Defensive skill is so important there that clubs have gone long periods with non-hitters at the position. Mark Belanger, a .227 batter who was the Oriole shortstop for 14 seasons, is a case in point. So was Detroit's Ray Oyler; in 1968 he batted only .135, but his fielding helped win the American League pennant.
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September 27, 1982

Ten Who Shouldn't Be Sold Short

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8. Pee Wee Reese (2,014, 1940-58). He and Phil Rizzuto (No. 10) were the shortstops on the two best teams in baseball for a decade and a half. Both were excellent fielders, superb base runners, deft hunters, valuable offensive players. Reese was more of a team leader than Rizzuto and was better offensively. He wangled more than 1,200 walks and scored 1,338 runs, all for the Dodgers.

9. Dave Bancroft (1,873, 1915-30). He was an extravagant fielder for four National League teams whose brilliant plays more than made up for his frequent errors. He was a prolific run scorer and a team spark plug, a pennant-winning ballplayer.

10. Phil Rizzuto (1,647, 1941-56). The Scooter played shortstop in nine World Series for the Yankees, a record for the position. He was the American League's Most Valuable Player in 1950.

As for fielding alone, the 10 best glove men were 1) Aparicio; 2) Glasscock; 3) Roy McMillan; 4) Mickey Doolan. a better fielder than Wagner, his contemporary, but who couldn't hit as well as Wagner's cat; 5) George McBride, who couldn't hit as well as Doolan; 6) Everett Scott; 7) Belanger; 8) Bancroft; 9) Eddie Miller; 10) Marty Marion.

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