This was probably the weakest position for the Cubs in 2006. The VORP definitely suggests that as well. Here are the top five shortstops, with 500 plate appearances, followed by our very own shortstop.
1. Derek Jeter – 80.5
Jeter aggressively attacks pitches early in the count. His ability to stay inside the ball and let it get deep is well documented. Early-season struggles were blamed on his hands prematurely leaking forward, not letting the ball travel enough before he swung. Jeter will use the whole field, but his power stroke is the opposite way. Pitchers habitually challenge him on the inner half, trying to expose holes, especially down and in. He effectively inside-outs many of these pitches and is capable of getting the bat head out front when needed. ~ STATS Inc.
2. Carlos Guillen – 66.3
A switch-hitter, Guillen hits for much better average on the left side, although he has a bit more power from the right. Either way, he uses the whole field. If pitched away, he will take the ball to the opposite field. He is patient and will wait out the count. Guillen has gotten stronger to the point where he will turn on a mistake pitch and drive it out of the ballpark. ~ STATS Inc.
3. Miguel Tejada – 65.9
Tejada generates his home-run power to left and left-center field. His doubles power ranges from foul line to foul line. Tejada’s swing is more compact that it used to be, yet he struggles with soft-tossers. Finesse pitchers are able to keep him off stride and reduce his power. His slight uppercut swing allows groundball pitchers to keep the ball in the park and have success against him. Tejada remains one of the better hitters in the American League with runners in scoring position. He’s more productive batting fourth than in the No. 3 spot. ~ STATS Inc.
4. Jose Reyes – 58.8
The silver lining in Reyes’ otherwise-disappointing season was his gradual improvements. He displayed more aggressiveness by trying to bunt for base hits and employed his outstanding speed by stealing bases. His at-bats also improved when he showed the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field. With the assistance of former hitting coach Don Baylor, Reyes went to the plate with a game plan instead of relying exclusively on his natural abilities. He still lacks patience and needs to work the count in his favor, however. ~ STATS Inc.
5. Hanley Ramirez – 54.9
The Marlins get another bargain in the infield with Ramirez. He scored 119 runs and stole 51 bases and that’s not even taking into account the fact that he also hit 17 homeruns. He loves inside pitches that are high or low, hitting .387 and .500 respectively in those zones. On the other hand, you can get him out with the low and away pitch, where he hit just .224 last season.
19. Ronny Cedeno – (-17.8)
Before you get excited or relieved that Cedeno was ranked only 19th, that needs to be qualified. There were only 20 shortstops who had 500 or more plate appearances. Cedeno was the 2nd worst of them. Who did he beat out? Clint Barmes of the Rockies. What happened to that guy? He had a great season in 2005 before injuring himself in a grocery accident. Since then, he’s stunk the joint up.