An MLB shortstop has one of the most physically and mentally demanding positions to play out of the four major sports leagues in the US. In addition to on-field performance, shortstops are also the captains of the infield and the clubhouse.
To be successful at the position, they need to have arm strength, speed, range of motion and the ability to hit for contact. Longevity and production while playing shortstop can lead to fame, massive contracts and lucrative endorsement deals. Can you name the top 10 richest shortstops of the 2013 season? We can, and here they are.
10 Alexei Ramirez - Chicago White Sox - $7 Million
Signed as an amateur free agent out of Puerto Rico in 2008, Alexei Ramirez has played over 900 games for the White Sox over the past six seasons. With his arm strength and range in the infield, Ramirez has consistently been in the AL’s top five for putouts, assists and errors. His career .277 batting average and ability to stay healthy has led him to become one of the top shortstops in the game, making his four-year/$32.5 million contract one of the most valuable on our list.
9 JJ Hardy - Baltimore Orioles - $7.4 Million
The former Minnesota Twin and Milwaukee Brewer has been a staple in the Orioles' lineup for the past three seasons. As an Oriole, JJ Hardy has played at least 130 games each season and made his second All Star Game appearance in 2013 batting .263 with 25 home runs on the season. While he has struggled at the plate in the post-season, Hardy has consistently had a .990 fielding percentage, making him the rock of the Orioles' defense. Hardy is only signed through the 2014 season and as a 31-year-old his days of making $7 million a year may be numbered.
8 Rafael Furcal - St. Louis Cardinals - $7.5 Million
The 36-year-old out of the Dominican Republic is the second-oldest player on our list, and his age may have finally caught up to him. After playing for the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Cardinals in 2011, Rafael Furcal finally settled in and made the All Star Game in 2012. However, he has one of the lowest fielding percentages on this list with a career .966 and he missed the entire 2013 season after having “Tommy John” surgery. The 2000 Rookie of the Year Award-winner signed a one-year/$3.5 million deal with the Miami Marlins in December 2013; a small price to pay for a player who may have one more All Star season left in him.
7 Erick Aybar - Los Angeles Angels - $8.75 Million
Signed as a free agent by the Angels in 2002, Aybar has spent his entire career with the organization, playing in over 900 games while holding down a career .277 batting average. In 2009 and 2011, Aybar ranked first in the AL in double plays as a shortstop and has been in the top five in the AL for least errors committed over the past five seasons. After winning his first Golden Glove Award in 2011, Aybar signed a five-year/$40 million deal, making him an Angel until 2017 when he will turn 33.
6 Stephen Drew - Boston Red Sox - $9.5 Million
Stephen Drew’s stats are a little bit deceiving if you look at them from a risk-reward standpoint. He ranks in the middle of the pack in batting average and range in the field, yet he's in the top three for on-base and field percentage; consistent for sure, but nothing to knock your socks off. What gives him the push to be worth the $9.5 million he received last year is his experience at the position. He played 124 games in 2013, his first year with the Sox, but with Xander Bogaerts waiting to become the everyday SS, Drew’s days of big money are over unless he can find a new team. Still, his experience could serve the Red Sox in 2014 as Bogaerts works through his growing pains. Unless he gets some free agent offers from other clubs, Drew can expect a hefty pay cut, even if his agent is Scott Boras.
5 Troy Tulowitzki - Colorado Rockies - $10 Million
“Tulo” has been a lightning bolt for the Colorado Rockies and is arguably one of the best shortstops in the game today. Since his debut in 2006, his career batting average is .295 and he has made the All Star Game three times. Tulowitzki won two Golden Gloves with the Rockies and has ranked in the top three for putouts and double plays turned at SS in four separate seasons. Although he was signed through 2013, he agreed to terms on a contract extension with the club in 2010 and was inked through 2020, essentially making him a Rockie for life. His $10 million from 2013 may seem small in comparison to his new upcoming salary; making $16 million in 2014 and then $20 million each year until 2019. So what does he do with all that money? In November, he pledged to donate $1 million to his Alma Mater’s baseball program at Long Beach State.
4 Jose Reyes - Toronto Blue Jays - $10 Million
One of the most feared players in baseball when healthy; Jose Reyes has played in over 1300 games and has a career .292 batting average. While the majority of his time was spent with the Mets, Reyes signed with the Marlins as a free agent for a six-year/$106 million deal and was eventually traded to the Blue Jays in a blockbuster move. He has made it to the All Star Game four times, won the 2011 NL batting title and led the league in stolen bases from 2005-2007. His career .973 fielding percentage ain’t too bad either. Under his current contract, Reyes will earn the equivalent salary of a teacher after working just 38 hours and the salary of President Obama in just 350 hours. Similar to Tulo, he is set to make $16 million in 2014 and $22 million for the duration of his contract.
3 Jimmy Rollins - Philadelphia Phillies - $11 Million
At the age of 33, Jimmy Rollins signed what may be his last contract with the Phillies. In his 13 seasons with the club, he has appeared in nearly 2000 games, including all 162 during the 2007 season. He has made it to the All Star Game three times, ranked in the top five in the NL for putouts and double plays eight times and led the NL in fielding percentage in from 2008-2012. Mr. Dependable was signed to a three-year/$33 million deal in 2011 and will be a free agent after the 2014 season. Rollins’ salary accounts for 6.51% of the total team’s payroll, but due to his age we may see the end of his long career after this season.
2 Hanley Ramirez - Los Angeles Dodgers - $15.5 Million
After making his debut with the Red Sox in 2005, Hanley Ramirez played for the Marlins and Blue Jays before finally making it to the Dodgers in 2012. Although he hasn’t played a full season as a Dodger yet due to injury, he batted. .271 in 2012 and an insane .345 in 2013. He made three consecutive All Star games from 2008-2010 and was the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year. Ramirez has been in the top five for double plays turned in five different seasons and should continue the streak when he is fully healed come the 2014 season. He takes up just 6.7% of the team’s payroll, yet he accounted for over 12% of its production, making him one of the most valuable assets in the league.
1 Derek Jeter - New York Yankees - $16.7 Million
Derek Jeter; ladies love him and guys want to be him. The Yankees Captain comes in as the highest-paid SS for the 2013 season, although he played in just 17 games due to injury. Since joining the Yankees in 1995 at the age of 21, Jeter has played in 2602 games, held a .312 batting average, and won five Golden Gloves. He is a 13-time All Star and has been in the top three in fielding percentage, double plays turned and putouts for his entire career. He is signed through the 2014 season when his four-year/$60 million deal is set to expire. It takes Jeter just 22 hours to make the average teacher's annual salary and he has helped the franchise grow from being worth $200 million in 1995 to $5 billion today. As the oldest member of the list, it will be a sad day for baseball when he finally decides to hang up the cleats.