Sorry Ozzie Fans…Vizquel Is Better
Omar Vizquel is better than Ozzie Smith was...and it's not really all that close.
Is Omar Vizquel (above) the best defensive shortstop, ever?
Last week, an article was posted on our website, discussing where Derek Jeter ranks, all-time, among Major League shortstops.
It didn't surprise me that a lot of people said that they would rank Rogers Hornsby, Cal Ripken, Jr., and maybe Alex Rodriguez, prior to his to move to the Yankees, and third base, ahead of Jeter.
What really got my attention, is how many people ranked Ozzie Smith ahead of Jeter.
Now, is Jeter better than Smith? Well, that's another argument, for another day.
My argument is that Ozzie, while a top-1o shortstop, all-time, in my opinion, doesn't rank ahead of a shortstop that's still currently active...Omar Vizquel, currently with the Chicago White Sox.
Nope, Vizquel isn't the media darling that Ozzie was. He doesn't have a cool nickname, and he doesn't do an eye-catching back-flip when he takes the field, so he tends to be overlooked. And because of that, most people don't see what I see...that Vizquel is better, even defensively, than the "Wizard" was.
Offensively, Ozzie hit a .262, in 19 seasons. He collected 2,460 career hits, with 402 doubles, 69 triples, 28 homers, 793 RBI's, 1,257 runs scored, and 580 stolen bases.
By contrast, Vizquel, in 23 seasons, has a career .273 batting average. He has collected 2,823 career hits, with 449 doubles, 76 triples, 80 homers, 944 RBI's, 1,423 runs scored, and 401 stolen bases.
Vizquel does have about 1,000 more career at-bats than Ozzie, but even if you give Smith those at-bats, and project them, based on his career averages, he'd still be well-behind behind Vizquel in batting average, hits, doubles, triples, homers, RBI's, and runs scored.
You can make the argument that Ozzie played in more of a pitcher's era than Vizquel. While that may be true, the stats don't fib...Vizquel is better.
Oh, wait! I know what you're saying; "What about defense? Ozzie was the best! He was the 'Wizard of Oz'. Who could be better?"
Truth be told, Vizquel is.
Ozzie made 281 errors in his career, while Vizquel has accumulated only 183. And Vizquel has played in close to 200 more games!
Ozzie had a career fielding-percentage of .978, while Vizquel's is a .985.
Ozzie had five seasons in which he made more than 20 errors. In seasons in which he played at least 100 games, there was only one in which he committed less than ten errors.
On the other end of the equation, Vizquel has never made more than 20 errors, in a season. NEVER.
In seasons in which Vizquel has played at least 100 games, there have been nine in which he committed less than ten errors.
Even more impressive, in seven of those seasons, Vizquel committed seven-or-less errors.
Yes, Vizquel has been THAT GOOD!
Gold Glove Awards? I think those are overrated, but they each have 13.
This isn't an anti-Ozzie blog.
As a baseball fan, I loved Ozzie.
He was charismatic and fun to watch.
It's more of a pro-Omar Vizquel blog.
It's amazing to me how many people just skip right over how good this guy has been.
Defensively, he's the best of all-time.
To show you how good, again, Vizquel has committed 183 errors in his career. To compare, Honus Wagner, widely considered the best of all-time, at the shortstop position, made 676 career errors.
Now, it's tough to compare eras, and I understand that Vizquel played on much better fields than Wagner, but man...183 errors, to 676. Who would you think is better!?!?
But back to Ozzie. He was a great defensive shortstop, who was exciting to watch, and is in the Hall of Fame, because he deserves to be there.
Ozzie Smith is certainly one of the top-ten shortstops of all-time, and is arguably one of the top-five.
That being said, he wasn't better than Omar Vizquel.