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Good Company Of Young Shortstops

FanGraphs lists 18 shortstops who put up at least 2,000 plate appearances by the end of their age 23 season, and the list actually looks pretty good.

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Seven (Arky Vaughan, Rogers Hornsby, Cal Ripken, Travis Jackson, John McGraw, Robin Yount, Rabbit Maranville) are in the Hall of Fame. One should be when his career is up (Alex Rodriguez), and another is one of the most glaring Cooperstown omissions, at any position (Alan Trammell). Half the list should be in the Hall of Fame, and seven others (Jim Fregosi, Donie Bush, Cecil Travis, Garry Templeton, Cass Michaels, Edgar Renteria, Dick Bartell) fell a bit short but still managed a long career littered with some elite seasons. Only one player (Shorty Fuller) who barely even makes the list failed to be anything more than mediocre (save for one outlier season).

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The last player is Elvis Andrus. Who has just barely begun his age 23 season.

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That is the company this gifted young shortstop is in. If he stays healthy, he will join Rodriguez, Yount, and Michaels as the only shortstops with 2500+ PAs through their age 23 season.

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On a related note, the 19 shortstops who produced more than the 11.4 career Wins Above Replacement Andrus currently has includes those nine should-be Hall of Famers, along with Hall members Lou Boudreau and Joe Cronin. It places him ahead of names like Jose Reyes, Joe Tinker, Hanley Ramirez, and Pee Wee Reese. Most importantly, if he merely spends the rest of the season playing the way ZiPS projects him to (4.7 WAR), he will end up with the ninth best career total for a shortstop through 23, with seven Hall of Famers and Jim Fregosi ahead of him.

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This is the company Elvis Andrus currently finds himself in. When you complain that he has not yet developed much power yet, remember how young he is, and how rare it is for a player this young at such a demanding position to even be around; let alone playing well.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.