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18-May-2015 16:27

The subhead of the cover story — written by Tom Verducci — was “Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez Head Up the Finest Group of Shortstops Since World War II,” and what probably is most remembered from the piece was an accompanying photo that had Jeter, A-Rod, Alex Gonzalez, Rey Ordonez and Edgar Renteria shirtless.It seems unlikely, two decades later, that we will get a similar shot of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell, Corey Seager and Trevor Story, but 20 seasons later we have the best shortstop group emerging since an era that would be defined by Jeter, A-Rod, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada.Correa, Lindor and Seager did not have enough plate appearances to qualify in 2015, and Russell spent the majority of his time as a second baseman.From 1997-2003 — after which Rodriguez shifted to third — that quartet combined for 14 top-10 MVP finishes and victories by Tejada and A-Rod.The group Verducci compared them to from 1941 had 10 shortstops (in a 16-team league) either in their first or second years — including future Hall of Famers Lou Boudreau, Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto. Correa and Lindor finished 1-2 in the AL Rookie of the Year last season despite not being promoted until the second week of June; Russell and Seager displaced veteran shortstops (Starlin Castro and Jimmy Rollins) to make playoff teams better; and Story set a record this year by becoming the fastest player at any position to reach eight homers in a career (13 games). The transitions are coming so rapidly, in fact, that the words short and stop never have been so fitting. Hardy), Royals (Alcides Escobar), Rangers (Elvis Andrus), Reds (Zack Cozart, though he missed much of last season), Marlins (Adeiny Hechavarria) and Giants (Brandon Crawford) have had the same shortstop each of the past four seasons.Freddy Galvis, Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons graduated to their age-26 seasons.Wilmer Flores has become a utilityman, and Castro (Yankees) and Juan Segura (Diamondbacks) have become second basemen. 24, 1997, is Derek Jeter in a Yankees uniform with his arm wrapped around Alex Rodriguez in a Mariners uniform.

And there is a next wave coming soon, perhaps later this year with Washington’s Trea Turner, Philadelphia’s J. Fourteen of the 30 teams changed their primary shortstop from last year this season, and 21 since the end of 2013. Andrus has been in the job the longest, replacing Michael Young in 2009.When we are listing the great young shortstops, it also should be noted that Boston’s Xander Bogaerts is just a month older than Story, yet already was a key part of the 2013 champion Red Sox.There were not that many again until nine qualified last year.There were nine again so far this year — but not the same nine.

Also, Baltimore’s Manny Machado is just a few months older than both of them and could be playing shortstop, but was moved to third because the Orioles had Hardy.

In 1998 and ’99, there were eight shortstops 25-or-under who qualified for the batting title, highlighted by Jeter and Rodriguez.



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