Next Generation of Shortstop Greatness

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L to R: American League All-Stars: Omar Vizquel of the Indians; Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Nomar Garciaparra of the Red Sox talking during practice before the game. 7/13/99. (E-T photo/Carl Russo)

Baseball is a game that is very unique in the way that talent develops.  It is the only sport that a first round draft pick is not immediately playing. On average it takes four to five years to reach the major leagues. No other sport even comes close to taking that amount of time to develop players. That is why these next generation players are so special to watch and cheer for. There is a new class of impressive rookies that looks eerily similar to some of their predecessors. The mid 90’s boasted some great young and up and coming shortstop talent. You know who I am talking about, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra. Well, These players are all either retired or at the end of their careers, and a new class of shortstops are taking over. These young guys have the potential to be the best in the league for years to come, and just maybe earn the right to be mentioned with the guys who did it before them.

Derek Jeter was and is one of the classiest, and all around best shortstops to ever play the game of baseball.  He was the captain of the New York Yankees. When you think about epic post season baseball Derek Jeter and the Yankees are one of the first teams to come to mind. From multiple all star selections to being nickname Mr. November, Jeter is a legend that every young ball player looked up to.Alex Rodriguez, steroid scandal aside, when it is all said and done will be considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He debuted at the age of 18, and immediately was in the running for the MVP award. He quickly became the cornerstone of a franchise.  He was a true five tool player that general managers dream of building their team around.Nomar Garciaparra had the shortest lived career out of the three, but he was no slouch on the ball field.  Nomar set multiple rookie records his first year in the league along with unanimously winning the rookie of the year award, hitting 30 home runs in his rookie season.  Right away Nomar was one of the most beloved Boston Red Sox in recent history. He might have even been the best of the three if injuries didn’t slow down his career.

These three iconic shortstops ushered in a new generation of player that young fans would look up to and remember forever. It’s not too often that you see three players reach the majors around the same time playing the same position, and all three having immense talent.  Even though each of their careers took different turns, they combine for an astounding 34 all-star games, six gold gloves, and two rookie of the year awards among many others.  These were the players that kids imitated in the back yard, players that fans buy tickets to see. Just as these careers are ending and still fresh in our mind there is another group of young an upcoming shortstops that will usher in the new generation of baseball fans.

Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, and Francisco Lindor finally made their highly anticipate major league debut this year.  All three of these players were listed as top five prospects prior to the season starting.  These players have the makings and tools to be as good if not better than the generation that came before them.  Carlos Correa has hit 14 home runs in his first 52 games.No other shortstop in the history of baseball has ever done that. All the while he is boasting a .290 batting average with a 2.9 WAR.  He has also helped turn the Houston Astros into a playoff contender.  Addison Russell started the season playing second base because of the incumbent Starlin Castro, who has been to a few all star games himself.  Just recently Russell took over the starting shortstop duties as they moved Castro to the bench. The slick fielding Russell may not be putting up the same offensive number as Carlos Correa, but he is also anchoring the middle of the diamond for a playoff contending team.  Francisco Lindor is the prospect every fan in Cleveland has drooled over and wished for since Omar Vizquel left over a decade ago.  He may not put up the offensive numbers that his other two counterparts will, but he is a so called “wizard” with the glove and has the ability to win the gold glove year in and year out.  Let’s not forget that these three players are all 21 years of age, and are already making an impact in the major leagues.

I grew up idolizing the shortstop generation of the 90’s and 2000’s. These were the typesof players kids dreamed they would be when they grew up. Derek Jeter will be voted into the Hall of Fame as soon as his five years are up.  Alex Rodriguez has the stats and career of a Hall ofFame player, but his documented steroid use will keep him out of Cooperstown.  Nomar had a great career but the latter half saw him struggling due to injuries. This new rookie class of shortstops is already making an impact for their respective teams, and look like they could for a long time to come. I can’t predict the future. I can’t sit here and tell you these new rookies are going to the best shortstops to ever play the game, but what I do know is that it is going to be a fun ride watching these kids play every day.  So sit back grab a beer and hot dog and enjoy the ride.