Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11th, 1999

Dodgers at A's

One hears a great deal about the evolution of the shortstop position. Although they occasionally still exist--hello, Neifi Perez--the no-hit shortstop of the Mark Belanger or Ray Oyler type is all but gone; almost no team is willing to carry a guy who can't hit at all to play short. In the age of hitting shortstops like Derek Jeter and Miguel Tejada (to say nothing of Alex Rodriguez, an all-time great hitter moved off the position for factors beyond his competency there) it's important to remember that for most of baseball history, shortstops hit like pitchers. Or pitchers hit like shortstops. Honus Wagner aside, it's really either way.

There are lots of ways to illustrate this point, but today provides an especially vivid one. The aforementioned Tejada had a great day, leading his A's to a 12-6 victory over the Dodgers. Tejada drove in five runs on the back of three home runs, a tremendous one game accomplishment. Obviously, few people have ever hit three home runs in one game (and perhaps no one has done it on a bigger stage than Reggie Jackson) but in the thousands (millions?) of games that had been played to that point, Tejada was only the tenth man to hit three home runs in a game while playing shortstop all nine innings.

Think about that for a minute. All the games that have been played in history, around a hundred years worth (depending on how one counts it) and a shortstop only managed to hit three home runs in a game ten times. Derek Jeter may represent the modern shortstop, but if want to see the historical variety; it's all about Neifi Perez.

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