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.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.