Can Brandon Crawford win the World Series all by himself?
Lots of times people ask me who the most important person on the ball field is. They always are surprised when I don’t say pitcher or hitter, but shortstop. But without the shortstop, the hitters would be in power. Imagine if that instead of the fielding configuration that there is in baseball, there was four outfielders, similar to that of a softball configuration. That one little change would make all the difference in the world.It may be a bit easier for the outfield, but think about the chaos that would happen in the infield. All of this chaos would come from the 3rd base side of the diamond. The 3rd baseman would have to shift into the gap where the shortstop would be, or risk having the ball hit into the gap. But that would mean that the ball could be very likely hit down the third base line, resulting in a single. Also, you could easily steal third. The third baseman would be in the gap. When the second base runner takes off, the third baseman must recognize that the runner is stealing, beat the runner to the bag, get in a good position to tag the runner, and await the throw. All the runner has to do is sprint. An athletic 20 to 30 year old sprinting 90 feet takes about 5 seconds. A third baseman of the same age doing all the things I just listed takes about 8-10 seconds. You would have to be extremely slow beyond compare and have a very stupid third base coach to get out under those circumstances. And just to get this out there, speed isn’t really a third baseman’s thing.
Another major thing that makes a shortstop very important is that a shortstop is like a free safety in football. Because a shortstop has virtually no base to cover, he can go pretty far into the outfield to make a cutoff throw. Because he has no real base to cover he can also shift around the field a lot. A shortstop can go onto the opposite side of the field, whereas other positions need to stick to where they are in case a double or the rare tripe occur. Also, when you hit a ground ball to the shortstop, you know you’re done for. A shortstop has access to every base, so it’s pretty tough to get a play in as a runner when the shortstop has the ball early.
Now, I asked a question in the beginning of my blog: can Brandon Crawford win the World Series by himself? Probably not. While his position is still the most important in the game, other factors include Pablo Sandoval and the notoriously skilled first baseman, Brandon Belt (it’s weird how both of San Fransisco’s best playmakers are named Brandon, isn’t it?). But Omar Infante couldn’t do it either. And while there are some shortstops who are the one’s who win their games, those teams aren’t WS worthy.
So while I think shortstops are the most valuable position, they aren’t always the most valuable players.