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.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.