The Shortstops preview

The Shortstop position has historically produced the most well-rounded players in Major League Baseball. Players who can field their position at an elite level, produce at the plate, and steal bases. Today’s shortstops are no different, with the top 5 at the position fitting this criterion. Each of them could be number one, though what separates them, as it does at any other position, is production with the bat.

Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts arrived in 2023 as a free agent, signing with the San Diego Padres. This was after a successful career in Boston, where he was regarded as one of the best-hitting shortstops in baseball. In 2023, he started the year rough while he adjusted to his new surroundings. However, he finished the year with great numbers, batting 285 with 19 home runs and 19 stolen bases while having an OPS of 790. That is to go along with a 4.4 WAR coming off a 2022 season with a 5.4 WAR.

Bogaerts is one of the best shortstops in baseball and has been for a while, as he has an impressive career batting average of 291. The only flaw in his game before 2021 was his lack of above-average elite defense. Since 2021, he has averaged a defensive WAR of 0.7. Before that, not including the shortened 2020 season, it was 0.1. This is a huge improvement and further solidified his impressive track record.

Bobby Witt Jr.

The Kansas City Royals shortstop has emerged as one of the best in the game following a great 2023 season. He hit 276 with 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases, a WAR of 4.4, and an OPS of 813. Bobby Witt Jr. has done all this in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, becoming the cornerstone of the Royal’s future. In 2022, he was one of the most hyped-up rookies and had a respectable 2022 season, finishing with 20 home runs, a 254 batting average, and 30 stolen bases to go along with a 0.9 WAR. Offensively, he had great output in 2022, but his defense was among the game’s worst at the shortstop position with a -1.6 defensive WAR.

Going into 2023, Bobby was looking to grow upon his rookie campaign, and he significantly improved defensively with a 0.3 defensive WAR. If Bobby Witt Jr. can continue along the road of improvement, there’s no doubt he could be the best shortstop in the game. Look out for him to make a dark horse run at the 2024 AL MVP.

Francisco Lindor

Francisco Lindor is Major League Baseball’s best defensive shortstop since he joined the league in 2015. His great defense combines extremely well with his strong offensive production from both sides of the plate as a switch hitter. 2023 was one of his best seasons, hitting 254 with 31 home runs, stealing 31 bases, an OPS of 806, and a WAR of 6.0. He has done all of this in a pitcher-friendly ballpark and what was a weak New York Mets lineup. Since joining major league baseball in 2015, Lindor has had a defensive WAR below 1.0 only once in eight major league seasons. His career average is 1.4 over eight full seasons.

Undoubtedly, the quality of play he brings to the Mets is undisputed. Lindor is a superstar and arguably a top-10 player in baseball. Year after year, he produces both at the plate and in the field, and with a potentially stronger Mets team in 2024, Lindor could win his first NL MVP award.

Trea Turner

For the past couple of seasons, many people regarded Trea Turner as the best shortstop in baseball. It is easy to see why, as he is one of the most complete players in the game. Turner’s career batting average is 296 over nine major league seasons. He has also led the league in steals two times. This goes along with his underrated power, where he has hit over 21 home runs in the past three seasons.  There are few more productive players in the league than Trea Turner, but in 2023, he had a slight down year. He returned in the second half of the season, finishing the year with a .266 batting average, 26 home runs, 30 stolen bases, an OPS of 778, and a WAR of 3.4. Only two seasons ago, he finished with a 6.4 WAR.

Another aspect where he struggled was in the field, where he only had a defensive WAR of -0.3 compared to 2022, where he had a defensive WAR of 1.0. Turner was adjusting to Philadelphia, and he will probably have a great 2024, especially after his strong end to the season.

Corey Seager

Corey Seager is baseball’s best shortstop going into 2024. He finished the year with a 6.9 WAR, batting 327, homered 33 times, and had an OPS of 1.013. If that was not enough, his defense was elite, finishing the year with a 1.2 defensive WAR. Seager is the best-hitting shortstop in baseball and one of the league’s best hitters.  Over nine major league seasons, Seager has hit 292 and has consistently improved in all facets of his game, especially defensively, since undergoing Tommy John Surgery.

Seager is likely to improve as time passes since he plays in a team with great hitters around him. His defense could keep improving as he plays next to the best second baseman in baseball, Marcus Semien, who could be a lethal double-play team for years.

Main Photo Credits: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Akash Mahi, a dedicated enthusiast of the game, is a recognized expert in the domain of tennis balls. With a keen understanding of materials and aerodynamics, he has contributed to the evolution of tennis ball design, enhancing playability and performance. Mahi's expertise continues to impact both casual players and professionals alike.