Historically, shortstop has always been reserved for glovesmen or speed artists without much of a bat. Times are changing, though, and as we speak, numerous teams can brag about having true power threats in the position.
Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees’ all-time leader in WAR, was a hitting machine, and for many years since the mid-nineties to the mid-2010s, he was the gold standard at shortstop.
The top five Yankee shortstop, ranked by FanGraphs’ version of WAR, feature two fantastic batters and three outstanding fielders, from different times.
To the list:
Derek Jeter, 73.1 fWAR
As it was expected, the captain is the Yankees’ all-time leader in WAR at the shortstop position. Neither UZR nor DRS have Jeter as a particularly good fielder—even though he won multiple Gold Gloves—but boy, could he hit.
During his long, successful career, Jeter accumulated 332.7 batting runs per FanGraphs. He was an above-average offensive performer, with a .360 wOBA and a 119 wRC+, he was a great baserunner (24.0 base running runs and 358 stolen bases), and he hit 260 homers without being a power hitter. He was born to hit.
Jeter leads the Yankees in hits (3,465), doubles (544, games played (2,747), and stolen bases (358.) He was selected to the All-Star game 14 times and won five Gold Glove Awards, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and a Roberto Clemente Award. Most importantly, he was a five-time World Series champion.
Jeter was also money in the playoffs. His career .309 postseason batting average, and .321 mark in the World Series, are proof of that. He holds several postseason records including hits and runs.
Phil Rizzuto, 41.3 fWAR
If you think about it, Phil Rizzuto is quite different than Derek Jeter, even though they played the same position. The Scooter was known as a light-hitting (.273/.351/.355, 96 wRC+) shortstop, as opposed to Jeter. However, Jeter wasn’t in the same league as a fielder.
Rizzuto was a key cog on a Yankees team that won 10 pennants and seven World Series. He was the AL MVP in 1950 and was a five-time All-Star. He is also considered one of the best bunters of all-time.
No Yankees’ player can use Rizzuto’s number 10.
Roger Peckinpaugh, 41.4 fWAR (29.7 with the Yankees)
Peckinpaugh was a player, manager and captain of the New York Yankees when he was 23. He was a true leader who played eight seasons in the Bronx, from 1913 to 1921. He even played with Babe Ruth before continuing his career with the Washington Senators, when he was MVP in 1925.
Peckinpaugh was a slick-fielder with not much of a bat, although much of his career occured in the deadball era. He retired with a .259/.336/.335 line and a 89 wRC+, but he managed to steal 205 bases. With the Senators, he won the World Series in 1924.
Frankie Crosetti, 27.4 fWAR
You may not know this, but Crosetti spent 37 years with the Yankees organization: 17 as a player and 20 as a coach. The Crow sure knew how to win. When combining both roles, he was part of 17 World Championship teams (!) and appeared on 23 Fall Classics. Yes, that is a record, if you were wondering.
Crosetti was a good defensive shortstop that didn’t do much damage with the bat (.245/.341/.354 career line and a 88 wRC+). However, he was an important contributor for many championship teams.
Crosetti was a two-time All-Star (1936, 1939) and the stolen base leader in 1938 with 27.
Tom Tresh: 23.7 fWAR (22.7 with the Yankees)
Tresh’s career was very short: he played in the majors nine years. After a fast start, he began to fade, with averages of .219, .195 and .211 in his last three seasons. Nevertheless, he made quite an impact over those nine summers, with a .245/.335/.411 line and a 115 wRC+, plus 153 homers.
Tresh played with Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard and other Yankees’ greats. He helped the team win the 1962 World Series, and he was the Rookie of the Year that season. He was a three-time All-Star and won the Gold Glove in 1965.
Other notable Yankees’ shortstops
- Tony Kubek, who shared a team with Tresh, is sixth in the list with 17.8 fWAR.
- Sir Didi Gregorius is eight, with 15.7 fWAR with the Bombers.
- Bucky Dent, who the Red Sox sure have some fond memories, is ninth with 11.8.
- With 5.6 fWAR, Gleyber Torres is 14th!