Who Are Left-Handed Shortstops in MLB History?

Nieka Ranises

Do you ever wonder why there are never any left-handed shortstops in Major League Baseball?  There may be a question in your mind, “Who are the left-handed shortstops in MLB history?”

Introduction to left-handed shortstops in MLB

Who Are Left-Handed Shortstops in MLB History

It is no secret that baseball enthusiasts are captivated by right-handed shortstops, capable of executing double plays and performing acrobatic fielding maneuvers. In spite of this, left-handed shortstops stand out with their unorthodox style, captivating fans and scholars alike.

Historical context: The rarity of left-handed shortstops

In Major League Baseball, the historical annals reveal a scarcity of left-handed shortstops due to attitudes regarding defensive positioning and player handedness. In the past, left-handed players have typically played outfield roles or pitched, eschewing infield roles.

A left-handed THROWING shortstop is one of only five available.

  • Lou Gehrig
  • Nino Escalera
  • Royce Stillman
  • Tom Chism
  • Mark Ryal

A variety of left-handed HITTING shortstops have emerged over the years, among them:

  • Ozzie Guillen
  • Johnny Pesky
  • Joe Sewell
  • Arky Vaughan

You can find out more about the history of left-handed shortstops in Major League Baseball by reading on!

History of Left-Hand Throwing Shortstops in Major League Baseball

Who Are Left-Handed Shortstops in MLB History

There are many Yankee fans who are surprised to see “Iron Man” on this list and will wonder, “WHAT! ? ” In his 56 years of playing consecutive games, Gehrig held the record for most consecutive games (2,130) played! Gehrig’s record was broken in 1995 by Cal Ripen Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles. 

Seeing Lou’s name on this list of shortstops is a surprise to all true baseball fans. Besides being one of baseball’s greatest first basemen, Gehrig was also left-handed. As a shortstop, the Yankee slugger made his debut with a hit!

Tom Chism

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Tom Chism also makes this strange list.  Chism played shortstop in 1979 against the Toronto Blue Jays. As a first baseman, Chism played in only six MLB games.

Mark Ryal

As a shortstop for the California Angels, Ryal faced the New York Yankees back in 1987. It is the first time in MLB history that a shortstop has been left-handed.

Nino Escalera

His first season was with the Cincinnati Reds in 1954, when he played shortstop with a left-handed pitching style. In Major League Baseball, Nino played only one season in right field.

Royce Stillman

Even though Stillman isn’t well-known to most baseball fans, he holds the record for most games played by a left-handed thrower at shortstop. A total of six games were played by Stillman at shortstop during the 1975 MLB season. The Baltimore Orioles usually used Stillman in left field.

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Here are the best left-handed hitting shortstops of all time

Who Are Left-Handed Shortstops in MLB History

Johnny Pesky

There is a pole in Fenway Park called “Pesky’s Pole” that has become synonymous with this name for Boston Red Sox fans.  In terms of power, Pesky wasn’t a great hitter.  There were only 17 home runs he hit. 

Nonetheless, the right field pole is named after him after he hit a key home run just barely in fair territory. Baseball purists often refer to the pole as a “short porch” because it is only 302 feet from home plate. Pesky was still a good hitter despite not possessing much power at the plate. 

In his prime playing career, he hit .307 and served in the United States military for three years.  Over the course of his first three MLB seasons, Pesky totaled 205, 208, and 207 hits. In the period 1946 to 1951, Pesky also led the league in run scoring. In addition to having a foul pole named after him, Pesky should be remembered as a true great.

Joe Sewell

The name Joe Sewell is unfamiliar to many young baseball fans. In the 1920s and 1930s, Sewell played for the Cleveland Indians during the roaring 20s (1920-1929). During his three seasons with the New York Yankees, Joe also played for the team. He earned his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977 with a batting average of .312 and 1,054 runs batted in throughout his career. 

While Sewell excelled at many things, opposing pitchers found it near impossible to strike him out. As a pitcher, Sewell had a great knack for getting the ball in play. Although he was only 5-6 and 155 pounds, Joe was a natural with a baseball bat!

Ozzie Guillen

As a lefty-hitting shortstop in the MLB for 16 years, Guillen is renowned for his fiery personality.  “The Ozzie” played for the Chicago White Sox for most of his career, but he also played for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. A .273 batting average and nine triples earned Guillen the 1985 American League Rookie of the Year Award!

Throughout his MLB career, Guillen posted a respectable batting average of .264. He stole 169 bases in his illustrious career as well as being known for his above average speed. Additionally, Guillen managed the MLB for a period of time. A World Series title was won by the White Sox under his coaching in 2005. A brief stint as a manager for the Miami Marlins was also part of his career.

Arky Vaughan

A left-handed shortstop who also became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. With a career average of .318 and a .406 on-base percentage, Vaughan deserved to be inducted to the Hall in 1985. Additionally, Arky scored 1,173 runs during his impressive career.  Over the course of his career, he played for both the Pirates and the Dodgers. 

There is a possibility that Vaughan’s lack of fanfare was due to his quiet and possibly even shy personality.  In 1945, Arky batted an incredible .385 to win the batting title!  It was the only time he scored triples three times in the league!  Vaughan, at the age of 31, led the league in stolen bases in 1943. When Vaughn was only 40 years old, he drowned while out fishing in 1952.

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What are the reasons for the absence of left-handed throwing players at catcher, second base, or third base?

Who Are Left-Handed Shortstops in MLB History

Lefty throwers are not appropriate to play these positions for the following reasons:

Making tags is easier

An infielder must make a “swipe tag” whenever an opponent attempts to steal an infielder’s base. It takes a righty (with his glove on the left-hand) less time to make this motion.

It would be necessary for a lefty to catch the ball from the catcher before making the swipe tag. However, a right-handed batter can simply snap the ball down at a fast pace after catching it from the catcher.

Momentum

Watching a great deal of baseball, you’ll notice that right-handed fielders tend to naturally go to first base on most ground balls. The opposite would occur if a lefty fielded the same ground ball, stopping, pivoting completely, then throwing to first. 

Shortstop, second base, third base, and catcher are among the positions where left-handed throwers are at a distinct disadvantage.

Timing

Getting a fast runner out of first base takes too long for a left-handed thrower.  To make an accurate throw to first base at any of the positions listed above (SS, 2B, 3B, C), lefty fielders would have to pivot their entire body 180 degrees.

Inches and milliseconds matter in baseball. Right-handed pitchers can throw to first base much faster and more accurately. It is also less taxing on their bodies and less stressful on their throwing arms if they can do it in one smooth motion.

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What are some of today’s left-handed shortstops?

Who Are Left-Handed Shortstops in MLB History

The following shortstops are left-handed hitters in baseball today:

Corey Seager

When the season was shortened due to the pandemic, Seager helped the Dodgers win the World Series. In the Dodgers’ championship campaign, Seager hit .307 with 15 homers. In addition to leading the National League in doubles for the 2019 season, he had 44 extra base hits. For many years to come, Seager will be among the best shortstops in the majors.

Didi Gregorius

A 6-3 left-handed pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, Didi has a lot of power.  In his 9-year MLB career, Gregorius has scored 451 runs and hit 120 home runs during his career. In addition to the Cincinnati Reds, Gregorius also played for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees.

J.P. Crawford

We have a second Seattle Mariners player on our list, Crawford. The only time J.P. has played in the Big Leagues is four years ago. Crawford was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round of the 2013 draft.  As a hitter, he has often struggled, even though he plays above average defense.

Brandon Crawford

The San Francisco Giants currently have Crawford at shortstop. He will be on the Giants’ roster in 2021 for his 11th season. With 106 home runs and 564 runs batted in, Crawford has enjoyed a respectable career. 2016 was also his best year for triples in the National League.

JT Riddle

In 2020, Riddle will join the Pittsburgh Pirates after 3 seasons with the Miami Marlins. The shortstop has above-average power, but he struggles to maintain a high enough batting average to play every day. It seems likely that the 6-1, 190-pounder will be able to play baseball for many more years to come.

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Challenges faced by left-handed shortstops

Adapting to unconventional fielding angles and maneuvering through defensive positioning present inherent challenges for left-handed shortstops. It takes unwavering determination and commitment to mastery to overcome skepticism and the skepticism of traditionalists.

Impact on the game and team dynamics

In the absence of right-handed shortstops, the game is unpredictably unpredictable and nuanced. Through their unconventional flair and unique perspective, they contribute to a diversified team dynamic.

FAQs

What factors contribute to the scarcity of left-handed shortstops in professional baseball?

The prevalence of left-handed shortstops in professional baseball is limited by historical norms and entrenched beliefs regarding player handwriting and defensive positioning.

How do left-handed shortstops influence team dynamics and strategy?

The left-handed shortstop challenges opponents’ expectations and necessitates innovative defensive strategies by adding a sense of unpredictability and strategic complexity to team dynamics.

Are left-handed shortstops as effective defensively as their right-handed counterparts?

Due to their defensive positioning, left-handed shortstops face unique challenges, but their effectiveness depends on their ability to adapt and acquire new skills.

How do managers strategize around the presence of a left-handed shortstop in the lineup?

Shortstops with left-handed swings are often configured defensively to accommodate their unique attributes, maximizing performance by maximizing their strengths.

Are there any current left-handed shortstops in Major League Baseball?

Major League Baseball has never seen a prominent left-handed shortstop in recent years, according to recent records.

Conclusion

As a poignant reminder of Major League Baseball’s ability to evolve and innovate, left-handed shortstops stand out among its proudest members.

There is no doubt that professional baseball has been shaped by a spirit of defiance and determination that spans decades and stories, from trailblazers like Larry Doyle and Bert Shepard to modern anomalies like Greg Harris and Glen Gorbous.

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Author

  • Harrison Idris

    I'm Harrison Idris, not only a seasoned baseball player with over a decade of experience on the field but also a passionate advocate for the sport. As the owner of baseballes, i am dedicated myself to sharing my expertise through comprehensive guides and insightful reviews.

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