The 10 Best MLB Shortstops of All Time

How hard is it to be the best in the MLB? Well, about nine hundred or more players play in the MLB every season. And the league has been around since 1876. So, you can calculate how many people one has to put behind to be the best of all time in any position.

Shortstop is one of the most crucial positions in Baseball fielding. It is the position between the third baseman and the second-base bag. A shortstop is usually considered the captain of the defense team.

A shortstop is in charge of handling the ball hit in the air and infield communication. He must be quick, smart, a team player, and able to execute routine and non-routine defensive plays properly.

It may seem that players can hardly have so many qualities. However, there have been players who had all these qualities, excelled in the position, and became the best MLB shortstops of all time. Who are they? Let’s find out.

Best MLB Shortstops of All Time

We have compared players across different eras and made a list on the basis of their performance, impact, and team achievement.

Player NameCareer
Honus Wagner1897 – 1917
Ernie Banks1953 – 1951
Alex Rodriguez1994 – 2016
Cal Ripken Jr.1981 – 2001
Derek Jeter1995 – 2014
Barry Larkin1986 – 2004
Ozzie Smith1978 – 1996
Robin Yount1974 – 1993
Omar Vizquel1989 – 2012
Alan Trammell1977 – 1996

As a baseball fan, you must have heard of their names, as they are often mentioned while speaking of legendary players. Let’s find out what makes these players so great.

1. Honus Wagner

Full NameJohannes Peter “Honus” Wagner
Date of BirthFebruary 24, 1874
Place of BirthCarnegie, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DebutJuly 19, 1897 (Louisville Colonels)
TeamsLouisville Colonels and Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Appearance1917
Hall of Fame1936 (95.13% Votes)
DeathDecember 6, 1955

World Series Champion: 1 Time (1909)

Batting Champion: 8 Times (1900, 1903, 1904, 1906–1909, 1911)

Stolen Base Leader: 5 Times (1901, 02, 14, 07, 08)

RBI Leader: 5 Times (1901, 1902, 1908, 1909, 1912)

Honus Wagner, one of the best hitters of all time, had been a batting champion eight times. He was so good at his job that he is still remembered even after retiring from the game over a century ago.

Wagner holds many records as a shortstop. He is first in WAR among the shortstops, fourth in OPS, and first in OPS+. He had more than three thousand hits and scored 1739 runs. He became a five-time RBI leader and a five-time stolen base leader.

In 1909, Wagner won the World Series championship with the Pittsburgh Pirates. After dominating the game for twenty years, he retired in 1917. Wagner was elected a Hall of Famer in 1936 with more than 95% votes. The Pittsburgh Pirates No. 33 retired to honor his legacy.

Career Stats of Honus Wagner:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

2. Ernie Banks

Full NameErnest Banks
Date of BirthJanuary 31, 1931
Place of BirthDallas, Texas, U.S
DebutSeptember 17, 1953 ( Chicago Cubs)
TeamsChicago Cubs
Last AppearanceSeptember 26, 1971 (Chicago Cubs)
Hall of Fame1977 (83.8% Vote)
DeathJanuary 23, 2015

Career Highlights:

All-Star: 14 Times (1955–1960², 1961²–1962², 1965, 1967, 1969)

NL MVP: 2 Times (1958, 1959)

Gold Glove Award: 1 Time (1960)

NL Home Run Leader: 2 Times (1958, 1960)

NL RBI Leader: 2 Times (1958, 1959)

The fourteen times all-star Ernie Banks is one of the finest players of the 50s and 60s. He debuted in the MLB in 1953 and soon came into the spotlight when he announced an all-star in 1955, which was only the beginning of his 11 consecutive all-star appearances.

Banks never moved on to another team, and this earned him the nickname “Mr. Cub,” and he is considered amongst the best players ever played for the franchise. Banks was great at both batting and fielding.

On the one hand, he is a two-time RBI leader while also winning the Gold Glove award for his excellent performance in fielding. Banks gave his best performance in 1958 and 1959. In these two seasons, he led the RBI chart, was named the most valuable player, and also was the home run leader in 1958.

Unfortunately, Banks never won the World Series. But apart from that, his accolades of personal achievement were filled with many successes. He hit more than 500 home runs in his career. With such a wonderful career, no wonder he is one of the best MLB shortstops of all time.

The legend was honored with the Hall of Fame induction in 1977. He passed away in 2015, leaving behind an inspiring legacy to follow for the upcoming talents.

Career Stats of Ernie Banks

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

3. Alex Rodriguez

Full NameAlexander Emmanuel Rodriguez
Date of BirthJuly 27, 1975
Place of BirthManhattan, New York City, U.S.
DebutJuly 8, 1994 (Seattle Mariners)
TeamsSeattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, and New York Yankees
Last AppearanceAugust 12, 2016 (New York Yankees) 

Career Highlights:

World Series Champion: 1 Time (2009)

AL MVP: 3 Times (2003, 2005, 2007)

Gold Glove Award: 2 Times (2002, 2003)

Silver Slugger Award: 10 Times (1996, 1998–2003, 2005, 2007, 2008)

All-Star: 14 Times (1996–1998, 2000–2008, 2010, 2011)

MLB Batting Champion: 1 Time (1996)

 AL Home Run Leader: 5 Times (2001–2003, 2005, 2007)

RBI Leader: 2 Times (2002, 2007)

Alex Rodriguez is the only second player who is not a Hall of Famer as he retired only in 2016, and judging by the career he had, he is definitely becoming one very soon. His MLB career began with the Seattle Mariners in 1994.

Rodriguez quickly excelled as a hitter and won the Silver Slugger in 1996, which is the award given to the best offensive player. From then, there was no turning back.

Rodriguez won the Silver Slugger a record ten times. From being an MVP three times to 5 times home runs leader, and 14 all-star appearances, he had done it all in his career. Because of his great fielding, he won the Gold Glove in two back-to-back seasons.

Rodriguez retired in 2016, and by then, he had hit a total of 696 home runs and scored 2021 runs with 320 stolen bases.

Career Stats of Alex Rodriguez:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

4. Cal Ripken Jr.

Full NameCalvin Edwin Ripken Jr.
Date of BirthAugust 24, 1960
Place of BirthHavre de Grace, Maryland, U.S.
DebutAugust 10, 1981 (Baltimore Orioles
TeamsOctober 6, 2001 (Baltimore Orioles)
RetirementBaltimore Orioles
Last Appearance2007 (98.53% Votes)

Career Highlights:

World Series Champion: 1 Time (1983)

All-Star: 19 Times (1983–2001)

AL MVP: 2 Times (1983, 1991)

AL Rookie of the Year (1982)

Gold Glove Award: 2 Times (1991, 1992)

Silver Slugger Award: 8 Times (1983–1986, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994)

The “Iron Man” Cal Repkin Jr. is commonly known for setting the record for playing most games. He broke the record of Lou Gehrig and set a new record of 2632 games. This feat often overshadows his performance as a hitter and a shortstop.

Ripken debuted in 1981 and immediately made his presence felt in the league. He has announced the rookie of the year in 1982. And from 1983 to 2001, he never missed the all-star appearance for about 19 years.

His other achievements include being the MVP twice, winning the Gold Glove twice, and winning eight Silver Sluggers. The Iron Man finally retired in 2001 and was introduced to the Hall of Fame in 2007. Because of all his achievements, he is considered one of the best MLB shortstops of all time.

Career Stats of Cal Ripken Jr.:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

5. Derek Jeter

Full NameDerek Sanderson Jeter 
Date of BirthJune 26, 1974
Place of BirthPequannock Township, New Jersey, U.S.
DebutMay 29, 1995 (New York Yankees)
TeamsNew York Yankees
Last AppearanceSeptember 28, 2014 (New York Yankees)
Hall of Fame2020 (99.75%)

Career Highlights:

World Series Champion: 5 Times (1996, 1998–2000, 2009)

World Series MVP: 1 Time (2000)

Rookie of the Year: (1996)

All-Star: 14 Times (1998–2002, 2004, 2006–2012, 2014)

Gold Glove Award: 5 Times (2004–2006, 2009, 2010)

Silver Slugger Award: 5 Times (2006–2009, 2012)

Hitting 260 home runs, scoring nearly two thousand runs, and 14 all-star appearances! Derek Jeter had a significant career. His pro career began in 1995, and he was named the Rookie Player of the Year in the same year.

Jeter was great at fielding and won five Gold Gloves. Jeter helped the Yankees win five World Series championships. He was named the MVP in the 2000 World Series. Jeter has been idolized by many young players, and some of them have already found success in the league, including Xander Bogaerts.

Jeter declared his retirement in 2014 and, six years later, was elected a Home of Fame. The Yankees retired no.2 in honor of the player.

Career Stats of Derek Jeter:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

6. Barry Larkin

Full NameBarry Louis Larkin
Date of BirthApril 28, 1964
Place of BirthCincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
DebutAugust 13, 1986 (Cincinnati Reds)
TeamsCincinnati Reds
Last AppearanceOctober 3, 2004 (Cincinnati Reds)
Hall of Fame2012 (86.4% Votes)

Career Highlights:

World Series Champion: 1 Time (1990)

All-Star: 12 Times (1988–1991, 1993–1997, 1999, 2000, 2004)

NL MVP: 1 Time (1995)

Gold Glove Award: 3 Times (1994–1996)

Silver Slugger Award: 9 Times (1988–1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999)

The Cincinnati Reds legend Barry Larkin scored more than 1300 hundred career runs and hit 198 home runs. Many call him Mr. Red for his loyalty to the team. He helped the team win the 1990 World Series Championship.

Larkin had a strong arm that allowed him to make some vicious throws. Having a strong arm helps a player field well in the position. From 1994 to 1996, he won three consecutive Gold Gloves.

Larkin played his last game in October 2004. Eight years later, in 2012, he received the Hall of Fame recognition. Cincinnati Reds No. 11 retired in honor of Larkin.

Career Stats of Barry Larkin:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

7. Ozzie Smith

Full NameOsborne Earl Smith
Date of BirthDecember 26, 1954
Place of BirthMobile, Alabama, U.S.
DebutApril 7, 1978 (San Diego Padres)
TeamsSan Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals
Last AppearanceSeptember 29, 1996 (St. Louis Cardinals)
Hall of Fame2002 (91.7% Votes)

Career Highlights:

World Series Champion: 1 Time (1982)

All-Star: 15 Times (1981–1992, 1994–1996)

Silver Slugger Award: 1 Time (1987)

Gold Glove Award (1980–1992): 13 Times

Ozzie Smith had an amazing range, a quick release, and acrobatic athleticism, which earned him a place amongst the best MLB players of all time. He was a good hitter but an even better fielder.

He won thirteen Gold Gloves in thirteen years straight and one silver slugger in 1987. He also had fifteen all-star appearances. The 1982 World Series Champion had scored a total of 1257 runs and hit 28 home runs.

Smith is also considered the greatest defensive shortstop of all time. He was a great leader, and under his leadership, the Cardinals reached the World Series three times and finally won it in 1982.

Smith knew his teammates well and could understand how to bring the best out of them. Pitchers would feel more confident having Smith behind them. Baseball had very few players like Smith, and he was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award in 1995.

Career Stats of Ozzie Smith:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

8. Robin Yount

Full NameRobin R. Yount
Date of BirthSeptember 16, 1955
Place of BirthDanville, Illinois, U.S.
DebutApril 5, 1974 (Milwaukee Brewers)
TeamsMilwaukee Brewers
Last AppearanceOctober 3, 1993 (Milwaukee Brewers)
Hall of Fame1999 (77.5% Votes)

Career Highlights:

World Series Champion: 

All-Star: 3 Times (1980, 1982, 1983)

AL MVP: 2 Times (1982, 1989)

Gold Glove Award: 1 Time (1982)

Silver Slugger Award: 3 Times (1980, 1982, 1989)

Robin Yount debuted in 1974 and took some time to reach his peak. He was at the peak of his career from 1980 to 1984. During this time, he had three all-star appearances and won 1 MVP, along with a Gold Glove award.

His performance in 1982 was one of the best performances ever by a shortstop. He hit 29 home runs and led the AL in slugging OPS, doubles, and hits. Though he never again matched his performance but became a consistent performer and, in 1989, again became the AL MVP.

Later in his career, he was moved to the outfield position, but before that, he recorded 50.4 WAR as a shortstop. Yount played his last game on October 3, 1993, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 with 77.5% of votes.

Career Stats of Robin Yount:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases

9. Omar Vizquel

Full NameOmar Enrique Vizquel González
Date of BirthApril 24, 1967
Place of BirthCaracas, Venezuela
DebutApril 3, 1989 (Seattle Mariners)
TeamsSeattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays
Last AppearanceOctober 3, 2012 (Toronto Blue Rays)

Career Highlights:

All-Star: 3 Times (1998, 1999, 2002)

Gold Glove Award: 11 Times (1993-2001, 2005, 2006)

The eleven times Gold Glove award winner Omar Vizquel is considered the second-best defensive shortstop after Ozzie Smith. He played for six different teams in his twenty-year career.

Vizquel scored more than 1400 runs and hit 80 home runs. Under his leadership, the Cleveland Indians reached the World Series twice but failed to win the title on both occasions. The presence of Vizquel would inspire his team players and make them more confident. He was a very supportive leader. He played his last game on October 3, 2012.

Career Stats of Joe Cronin:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBI

10. Alan Trammell

Full NameAlan Stuart Trammell
Date of BirthFebruary 21, 1958
Place of BirthGarden Grove, California, U.S.
DebutSeptember 9, 1977 (Detroit Tigers)
TeamsDetroit Tigers
Last AppearanceSeptember 29, 1996 (Detroit Tigers)
Hall of Fame2018 (81.2% Votes) 

Career Highlights:

World Series Champion: 1 Time (1984)

World Series MVP: 1 Time (1984)

 All-Star: 6 Times (1980, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990)

 Gold Glove Award: 4 Times (1980, 1981, 1983, 1984)

Silver Slugger Award: 3 Times (1987, 1988, 1990)

After his debut in 1977 with the Detroit Tigers, Alan Trammell spent his whole MLB career with the Tigers, never changing the franchise. He helped the Tigers win the World Series Championship in 1984 and was the World Series MVP.

Trammell had six all-star appearances and won the Gold Glove award four times, along with three Silver Slugger Awards. Unfortunately, though, he never won the MVP award, though his performance in 1987 was worthy of winning the award.

Despite having a great year in 1987, Trammell did not win the MVP, which triggered many fans and experts also criticize the voters for not choosing Trammell.

Trammell had a 70.7 WAR record in his career, scoring 1231 runs and hitting 185 home runs. He achieved many things in his career, which put him in the class of the best MLB shortstop of all time.

Career Stats of Alan Trammell:

WARAt BatsHitsHome RunsRunsRBIStolen Bases


Being the shortstop puts extra responsibilities, and not everyone is capable of taking it. Mental firmness, leadership, and understanding of the game are important to excel in the position. From Honus Wagner and Ernie Banks to Ozzie Smith and Alan Trammell set examples of becoming the best MLB shortstops.

They are the inspiration and idols for all the upcoming shortstops. They have become the best MLB shortstops of all time with their accomplishments and contribution.

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Toybur Rahman is a seasoned MLB journalist with over 4 years of experience covering the league for various online media publications. He has a deep understanding of the sport, a keen eye for detail, and a great talent for breaking down compound issues into easy-to-understand language.


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