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 Athletics are tied for first place in the AL West for the first time since Opening Day. They took the first of a three-game series against the Astros on Friday with a wild (and controversial) overturned replay call in the ninth and Matt Olson‘s decisive walk-off home run in the 10th — the first of his career to date — then returned on Saturday and bested the Astros 7-1 to take first place.
Saturday’s win was less of a nail-biter than Friday’s had been, but its rewards were just as sweet. Trevor Cahill led the A’s through the first seven innings of one-hit, seven-strikeout ball, backed by seven runs on five RBI doubles from Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty and Josh Phegley. All told, the four players struck eight doubles to tie the franchise single-game record.
The Astros, meanwhile, were stymied by both Cahill and the A’s bullpen through the first eight innings of the game. Following Cahill’s seven shutout innings, Jeurys Familia took the ball in the eighth and blanked the Astros to preserve the seven-run lead. Yusmeiro Petit wasn’t quite so lucky: with one out in the top of the ninth, he pitched to a full count against Tony Kemp, then saw his 90.1-MPH fastball returned to right field for a home run. That was the first and last time the Astros crossed home plate, however, as Kyle Tucker popped out to third base and Alex Bregman cemented the loss with a fly ball to right.
Entering Saturday’s game, the Astros had not been out of first place since June 13, when they played second fiddle to the now third-place Mariners. They’ll share first-place honors with the Athletics until Sunday’s finale; it’ll take a series sweep for Oakland to take the lead in the division, but they’ve already delivered incredible results over the last two weeks (and it’s worth noting, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart pointed out, that Houston has now lost seven of their last eight games). The A’s climbed out of the no. 3 spot at the start of August and have steadily progressed toward first place ever since, driven by two separate four-win streaks and their two decisive wins this weekend. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also notes that the club has not been in first place in a non-April month since August 25, 2014 — the last year they qualified for the playoffs.