One thing most Major Leaguer’s have in common is size. Most combine superior athleticism and with a big frame. Think Mike Trout (6’2″, 235), Bryce Harper (6’3″, 215) Madison Bumgarner (6’5″, 235), and Miguel Cabrera (6’4″, 240). Even the best ball players from 100 years ago were bigger than the average man. Babe Ruth (6’2″, 215), Ty Cobb (6’1″, 175) and Christy Mathewson (6’1″, 195). With the rise of salaries and the grueling schedule front office personnel prefer the athlete with the larger body to endure baseball’s 162 game grind over the smaller framed Dustin Pedroia‘s of the baseball world. The following list proves that not every great player needs to have a herculean frame. This is a list of the best player at each position who are under six feet tall.
Catcher – Yadier Molina 5’11”
First Base – Carlos Santana 5’11”
Second Base – Jose Altuve 5’6″
Third Base – Adrian Beltre 5’11”
Shortstop – Francisco Lindor 5’11”
Outfield – Mookie Betts 5’9″
Outfield – Yoenis Cespedes 5’10”
Outfield – Adam Eaton 5’8″
Starting Pitcher – Johnny Cueto 5’11”
Closer – Fernando Rodney 5’11”
Yadier Molina is the undisputed best catcher in the game and the best defensive catcher since Benito Santiago. There is no part of a defensive game that any current catcher can claim thrown to, Molina owns the position. He has also made himself into one of the better hitting catchers. He is a seven-time NL All-Star (2009-2015), he’s won eight consecutive Gold Gloves (2008-2015), and he’s finished in the top 5 in NL MVP voting twice (4th in 2012 and 3rd in 2013). While his age seems to be catching up with him Yady is still the gold standard when it comes to catcher and with no catcher under six feet waiting in the wings Molina seems to have a lock on this spot.
Prince Fielder‘s retirement has left a big void in this spot. Carlos Santana can fill the void adequately. While he doesn’t carry the batting average Fielder did Santana hits for power and is better than average at getting on base, doing so at a .365 career clip.
This position has several quality options. We’re going with Jose Altuve over among others Dustin Pedroia, Brian Dozier, Dee Gordon, and Jason Kipnis. The 26-year old Altuve has already won two batting titles, led the AL in hits three times, stolen bases twice and made four All-Star teams. He’s also won a Gold Glove and three Silver Slugger Awards. It’s not a stretch to think that there may be an MVP trophy in his future. He is one of only 15 players in history to have three 200-hit seasons before turning 27 joining the likes of Hall of Famers, Ty Cobb (4), Lloyd Waner (4), Jim Rice (3), Joe Medwick (3), Hank Greenberg (3), Billy Herman (3), Chuck Klein (3), Paul Waner (3), and Rogers Hornsby (3).Altuve is the spark plug at the top of what will be a very potent Astros lineup for several years.
At 5’11” and a rock solid 220 Adrian Beltre is one of the best and most often overlooked third baseman of all time. His first full season came at the age of 20 with the Dodgers. Despite compiling over 2,900 hits, 591 doubles, 445 homers, 1,571 rbi, and batting .286 he has led his league only three times; 2004 (home runs, 48), 2010 (doubles, 49), and 2013 (hits, 199). It’s hard to believe that he didn’t make an All-Star team until his 12th year in the league in 2010 at the age of 31 with Boston. Since then he has been selected to four All-Star games, has five Gold Gloves, four Silver Slugger Awards, and finished as high as second in the MVP voting in 2004 even though he wasn’t selected to the All-Star team. He finished in the top five one other time, coming in third in 2012. Every year we think that his production will start to drop off yet it still has not happened.
Francisco Lindor has taken the undersized torch from Jimmy Rollins and is running full steam ahead. At 22 he made the AL All-Star team, hit .301 with 15 homers, 78 rbi and 19 steals while finishing ninth in the MVP voting and winning a Gold Glove. He also helped the Indians to the World Series leading them to within a few outs of their first World Series title since 1948. While the title will have to wait we get to watch the career of a potential superstar unfold before our very eyes. Sit back and enjoy.
Mookie Betts announced his presence with authority during the 2016 season. His 2016 season is among the best seasons by an outfielder in Red Sox history by a player not named Ted Williams or Carl Yastrzemski. At the young age of 23 his great slash line of .318/.363/.534 is just the tip of the iceberg. He scored 122 times, collected 214 hits, had 42 doubles, 5 triples, hammered 31 homers, drove in 113 runs, while also swiping 26 bases. He made the AL All-Star team, won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award and finished second in the MVP voting behind two-time winner Mike Trout.
Yoenis Cespedes is a Cuban export who stands 5’10” and weighs in at 210. He has one of the best arms in the Majors, just ask Howie Kendrick. Besides his cannon, he posses speed and raw power to burn. He likes to swing the bat. Cespedes started his career as a 26-year old so he didn’t have much time to adapt. He finished second in the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Mike Trout. He is also a two-time All-Star, has won one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger Award.
Adam Eaton is a sabermetric darling who has never really gotten the love or attention he deserves. He does everything good but nothing spectacular, except maybe play defense. He finished 2016 with 20 defensive runs saved and 18 outfield assists. He has twice led the AL in triples and for three consecutive years has carried a batting average of .284 or better while stealing double-digit bases and exploding for 14 home runs in 2015 and 2016. The man gets on base, scores runs and plays great defense.
Johnny Cueto, who stands 5’11” and tips the scales at 220, gets to take the hill. He has had some injury issues during his career starting only 24 games in 2011 and 11 in 2013. But in 2012, 2014 and 2016 has proven when healthy for the season he has been one of the best pitchers in the game not named Clayton Kershaw. Over 1,109 innings since 2011 Cueto has held opponents to a .228 batting average against while striking out 21% of batters faced. During that same time, he’s also posted an ERA of 2.73 and a WHIP of 1.084. Cueto has earned two All-Star selections and finished second (2014), fourth (2012), and sixth (2016) in Cy Young voting.
Fernando Rodney is the best closer under six feet. Making his debut at the of 25 he got a late start to his career but has proven to be an asset to several franchises needing someone to close out games. He has made three All-Star teams, led the league in save once and in 2012 posted a 0.60 ERA in 74 2/3 innings. In 2012 he also finished fifth in the AL MVP voting along with winning the AL Delievery Man of the Year Award and the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award.