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Who are the heftiest shortstops of all time?

Oct 21, 2010, 10:46 AM EDT

juan-uribe-sac-fly-nlcs-game-4

After watching Juan Uribe throw a rocket from deep in the hole at shortstop to nail Ross Gload at first base in the top of the ninth inning last night I wondered via Twitter: “Best throw by a fat shortstop in playoff history?”

In retrospect “fat” is probably too harsh of a term. Pablo Sandoval is fat. Aaron Gleeman is fat. Juan Uribe is fat for a shortstop, but just sort of hefty in general. And that got me thinking, not just about the best playoff throws by a hefty shortstop, but about the best hefty shortstops in baseball history, period.

It’s probably a tough question to answer objectively, because players’ listed weights often aren’t updated as they add pounds. However, according to the listed weights on Baseball-Reference.com Uribe is the heftiest shortstop of all time at 230 pounds. Actually, both Hanley Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez are tied with him at 230 pounds, but they’re both 6-foot-3 while Uribe is six feet even.

Yuniesky Betancourt is listed at 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, and definitely has the gut to put him in the mix, but aside from Betancourt and Uribe it’s tough to find any chubby shortstops from this era or any other. Which is why I’m now turning to you, the Hardball Talk posse, for help answering this question: Who are the heftiest shortstops in baseball history? You can post your answers in the comments section or send them to me via Twitter, and I’ll be back later with a follow-up post breaking down all the candidates.

  1. BC - Oct 21, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Jhonny Peralta

  2. BC - Oct 21, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Actually, Kirby Puckett played shortstop for four games (I had to look up how many games, but I remember one of them – the Boston game in 1992. Does that count?
    Reference: http://mlb.mlb.com/min/history/puckett.jsp

  3. pestiesti - Oct 21, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    I was actually researching this, this morning. I was trying to figure out if Sandoval has the highest BMI of any player other than a pitcher, first baseman or DH.

    • josephabernard - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:10 AM

      I think the rulebook states that the runner actually has to beat the ball to the base to be safe – e.g. a tie does not go to the runner.

      • Utley's Hair - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:43 AM

        And yet umpires are human and replay is not available on those types of plays and blah, blah, blah…

    • BC - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:51 AM

      I don’t know, but some catchers might give him a run. Bengie Molina could stand to drop a few.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 21, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Not that it would have necessarily changed much, but I thought from every angle, Gload was tied with the throw, making him safe. Wouldn’t that make it a play that was nice, but one where he caught a break because of a bad call?

    • josephabernard - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:11 AM

      Oops – take 2

      I think the rulebook states that the runner actually has to beat the ball to the base to be safe – e.g. a tie does not go to the runner.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:18 AM

        Um, sorry, but a tie goes to the runner. Don’t know what rulebook you are referring to, but everyone knows that the tie goes to the runner. It was a bang-bang play, and the umpire got it wrong. It didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but let’s not go too crazy for Uribe since Gload should have been called safe. Plus, he hit a game winning sac fly. The way everyone makes it sound, he beat the runner and hit a bomb to win it for the Giants. He did neither.

      • Andrew - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:32 AM

        Chris, you’re wrong. The rule book does not say anything about “tie goes to the runner.” However, there is this, which is Rule 6.05(j) from the MLB rule book (defining how runners can be called out)…

        After a third strike or after he hits a fair ball, he or first base is tagged before he
        touches first base.

        “Tie goes to the runner” is an assumption made from this rule, but is not necessarily true.

    • nps6724 - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:13 AM

      It would make it about the 10th close call (with several being wrong) that went in the Giants’ favor this postseason.

    • jgreiner9 - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:18 AM

      theres no such thing as tie goes to the runner. hes got to beat the throw.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:20 AM

        Am I living in the 4th dimension here? The tie goes to the runner. It always has. What planet are you guys living on? We can debate whether he got there the same time as the ball…it was close, but I think it was a tie…and the tie goes to the runner.

      • jgreiner9 - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:39 AM

        that was a so-called rule that was made up in little league. there is no such rule in baseball. ive played in high school, division 1 college and rookie ball and there is no such thing period. he has to beat the throw, or have the ball pull the first baseman off the bag, but because he might “tie” it doesnt mean hes automatically safe. hell its a judgement call anyway which might have gone either way, but when a fielder makes a great play on a ball and the play at first is bang-bang, 95% of the time the runner is going to be out.

      • O.Handwasher - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:39 AM

        Yes, the tie goes to the runner. And a pitch in the strike zone is a strike. And a homerun ball a fan interferes with is an out.

        But we have humans who screw up these calls all the time. The tie goes to whoever the ump says it goes to, because he’s the ump. Or, to quote Yoda:

        “No! Tie not! Safe, or safe not. There is no tie.”

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:43 AM

        @jgreiner…unless the play is the 27th out of a perfect game and Jim Joyce is the first base umpire ;P

      • vatvslpr - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:57 AM

        Sorry, no. According to the rule book, the throw has to beat the runner. It’s 6.05(j):

        A batter is out when— 6.05:
        (j) After a third strike or after he hits a fair ball, he or first base is tagged before he touches first base

        If the ball doesn’t beat the runner, he’s safe.

  5. aarcraft - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Chris, you are wrong. The official rule states “a runner is out if: he fails to reach the next base before a fielder tags him or the base, after he has been forced to advance by reason of the batter becoming a runner.” If he does not reach the base BEFORE the fielder tags the base, then he is out. If he is tied, then its not before, and he is out. I know we’ve always heard that the tie goes to the runner, but as is the case with a lot of things we have always heard, its wrong.

  6. Andrew - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    I take this thread to mean that we can’t think of any hefty shortstops, Aaron.

  7. Craig Calcaterra - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    Matt Williams played shortstop. Does he count? Was he fat, or just a muscular guy for the position?

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Oct 21, 2010 at 12:09 PM

      FROM http://www.rose-hulman.edu/~rickert/BB/avgSSleaders.html:
      ***
      The tallest regular shortstops
      6’4″ Cal Ripken
      6’3″ Bill Almon, Ron Hansen, Jeff Huson, Derek Jeter, Tony Kubek, Andre Rodgers, Alex Rodriguez, Roy Smalley Sr., Virgil Stallcup
      6’2.5″ Jerry Kindall

      The shortest regular shortstops
      5’3″ Dickey Pearce
      5’4″ Davy Force, Billy Gilbert
      5’5″ Sparky Adams, Bill Keister, Rabbit Maranville, Tom McMillan, Fred Patek, Jackie Taverner
      5’5.5″ Bill McClellan

      The heaviest regular shortstops
      The weights of these players are taken (mostly) from Total Baseball which gives a “career weight” for most of the players listed in the TB.
      215 lbs. Cal Ripken
      200 lbs. Hubie Brooks, Ron Hansen, Jim Peoples, Andre Rodgers, Honus Wagner
      198 lbs. Tim Bogar
      195 lbs. Phil Lewis
      191 lbs. Tony Kubek, Tom Tresh

      The lightest regular shortstops
      The weights of these players are taken (mostly) from Total Baseball which gives a “career weight” for most of the players listed in the TB.
      129 lbs. Zeb Terry
      130 lbs. Davy Force, Tom McMillan, Jim Snyder
      138 lbs. Joe Bean, Mike McGeary, Jackie Tavener
      140 lbs. Donie Bush, Ike Davis, John Radcliffe
      143 lbs. Harvey McClellan
      144 lbs. Houston Jimenez, Henry Kessler
      If any one can explain to me why there are three shortstops at 138 pounds (but none at 139,137,136,135,…) I’d love to hear from them.
      ***
      NOTE: This data seems dated and I have no clue how to substantiate it.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 21, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    LOLZ learn something new every day I guess. However, I have never heard anyone say, on a play at first base, that it was a tie so the runner is out. NEVER. And I have watched alot of games over the last 30 years.

    • ThatGuy - Oct 21, 2010 at 12:03 PM

      What people say doesn’t make it a rule.

      • Utley's Hair - Oct 21, 2010 at 12:10 PM

        Tell that to Dallas Braden.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Oct 21, 2010 at 12:04 PM

      30 years and you still don’t know “a lot” is two words? LOLZ!

    • donniebb23 - Oct 21, 2010 at 12:14 PM

      And clearly if you haven’t heard it it can’t POSSIBLY be true, since you’re the master of the baseball universe and all

    • Andrew - Oct 21, 2010 at 3:45 PM

      Chris, I’d relate “tie goes to the runner” to how many people assume the giant, green monster is Frankenstein, when actually it is nameless (also attributed as Frankenstein’s monster).

    • Adam - Oct 21, 2010 at 6:10 PM

      I think the important thing to remember is there’s no such thing as a tie. Either the ball beats the runner to the bag or the runner beats the ball.

      It can look like there’s a tie, but it’s up to the umpire to determine which happened first.

  9. Detroit Michael - Oct 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    My first thought was Joel Guzman, who was fairly enormous. He is listed at 245 pounds, leaving unanswered the question of how much he would weigh if he put his other foot on the scale. (Yes, I just stole an old Bill James quip.) However, Joel Guzman had largely moved off of shortstop by the time he played in the majors in 2006-07, playing just 9 innings at shortstop.

  10. ddorf50 - Oct 21, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    Kevin Mitchell played a number of games at short for the Mets in the mid 80s–and he was a VERY BIG guy.

    • BC - Oct 21, 2010 at 1:30 PM

      I didn’t think Mitchell got that big until he went to SF, and got hooked up with the guys at BALCO.

  11. The Common Man/www.platoonadvantage.com - Oct 21, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Compared to the other shortstops he played with, I have to go with Honus Wagner. He was listed as 5’11″ and 200 lbs and is pretty clearly the best shortstop of all time anyway.

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