The Youth Obsession with the Shortstop Position

It’s easy to see why so many youth baseball players are enamored with the idea of playing the shortstop position when you look at the rising stars in Major League Baseball today. From Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros, to Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies, the current movement of future All-Stars is largely residing at the shortstop position.

This phenomenon in youth players dates back long before the Correas and the Storys of the world. This love affair has been occurring for decades, as far back as I can remember, in fact. Here’s the problem though, not all talented youth baseball players are shortstops, or any one particular position alone.

Source: Norm Hall/Getty Images North America

Source: Norm Hall/Getty Images North America

A major-league caliber starting shortstop should posses speed in the range of a 6.5 to 6.9 second 60-yard-dash, complimented by an exit velocity somewhere in the range of 85 to 90 mph. In layman’s terms, you have to be able to posses above-average speed, agility, and throwing power to hold down a starting job at the shortstop position in the major leagues.

Most high school baseball players average a 60-yard-dash time somewhere between 7.5, and 8.5 seconds. According to Perfect Game, one of the largest high school baseball showcases in the country, only 13 players in the high school class of 2016 posted a 60-yard-dash with a time under 7.0 seconds. That means only a handful of high school seniors in the country are on par with the speed needed to be a starting shortstop in the major leagues.

A Division I college baseball player looking to be a starting shortstop should posses a 60-yard-dash time of 6.8 or below, based on the principal that a D1 baseball player’s speed and arm tools should be polished, and near major-league ready.

Also noted by Perfect Game‘s top performers in the class of 2016, about the same amount of players posted an infield throwing velocity of 85 mph or greater, the bottom end of the major-league average for a starting shortstop.

A Division I college baseball player looking to be a starting shortstop should posses a throwing velocity of 85 mph or greater.

Now, obviously with the amount of high schools, summer teams, and scouting services those numbers are very fluid, and constantly changing. But not significantly enough to support the massive number of players that are consumed with being the next Carlos Correa.

Here’s the problem with the massive amount of young ball players hell bent on cementing themselves at the shortstop position, and maybe one of the most detrimental factors in youth baseball players.

Robert Beary #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks sits in the dugout before Game 1 of the men's 2010 NCAA College Baseball World Series against the UCLA Bruins at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 28, 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Robert Beary #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks sits in the dugout before Game 1 of the men’s 2010 NCAA College Baseball World Series against the UCLA Bruins at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 28, 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Players become so consumed with the idea of playing a certain position, that they spend their prime developmental years worrying about where they aren’t playing, as opposed to concentrating on being the best player they can be wherever they are actually playing.

As coaches, we see it on a regular basis; a player comes into try-outs, claims that he plays a specific position and then under-performs at said position. As a coach, we see that and attempt to move him into a position that better suits his specific skills to give him the best chance at success.

Some players accept that change and actually do focus on being the best player that they can be, regardless of the assignment for the day. Unfortunately, more often than not, the player does not embrace the position change, and as a result shows a lack or work ethic as well as discipline in their approach to the game as a whole because they are not happy with where they are.

As a result of the player’s poor attitude and work ethic, their entire game suffers. They play average to sub-par defense, and compound their mishaps defensively into poor at-bats. By the time someone steps in and tries to show them what they are doing to themselves, they have most times already lost an entire season of development.

As I stated earlier in the article, a D1 college baseball player is expected to have their essential skills polished and near major league ready for the most part. A players high school years are their most crucial years to develop and hone these tools and skills, so needless to say, washing away a year of developing those tools and sometimes even regressing is potentially damning to a players chances of potentially playing D1 college baseball.

I can’t stress enough how important it is for youth baseball players to avoid becoming stuck on the concept of playing one single position, or sold on the idea that if they have been a particular position during their pre-high-school years, that that is they position best suited for their advancement in their playing career.

Be open minded when it comes to your position defensively or even your spot in the batting order. Consume all of the knowledge and experience that you possibly can, and naturally you will find your niche. Work hard every day to be the best player you possibly can, regardless of your given assignment, and focus on developing your essential tools as well as your knowledge of the game.

At the next level, being a hard working and polished baseball player and baseball mind is a basic requirement, being a shortstop is not. Being the position you played when you were 12-years-old is not, but being versatile and skilled both physically and mentally definitely is.

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2 Responses

  1. Jim Hainline

    I hate to be critical, but I would re-check your Perfect Game numbers. There are far more than 13 high school players running sub 7 second 60yd dash. Also, there are way more shortstops throwing 85 across the diamond. I wonder if you were just looking at one PG showcase, rather than stats from each region of the country. I can tell you that in our NORTHWEST region alone we have about 15 kids running 6.9 or less (BBNW verified) and about a dozen who are 85+ velo from SS.

  2. Jim Hainline

    I want to correct myself. There are about 15 kids in the Spokane, WA area alone who are sub 7 in the 60. I counted well over 100 in the NW region!
    There are probably closer to 1000 kids nationally who can run sub 7. Again, I’m not trying to be critical


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