Being National League baseball fan means being a fan of tradition. Of legacy. Of sepia-toned halcyon days of lore. And being a barbaric sadist obsessed with watching pitchers fail at batting. The good news for N.L. fans (or perhaps bad, if they really are sadists) is that they can brag to their elitist American League counterparts about having the best shortstops in the land.
Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki play the role of Shortstop #1 and #2. If you go by offensive numbers of shortstops with 250+ plate appearances, then Rafael Furcal and Stephen Drew are the next two, with Jose Reyes, Alex Gonzalez, Starlin Castro, Jamey Carroll (clearly he’s hit decently while playing short), and Ian Desmond making up the top nine. The American League’s first entry comes at 10, with Alexei Ramirez.
The leagues alternate over the next few positions as such:
It takes 17 shortstops to find five American Leaguers. Since those numbers are not adjusted for league or park there is some reason to believe the exact order might differ here or there. Defense and baserunning also come into play. WAR has Ramirez, Cliff Pennington, Hardy, and double agent Yunel Escobar placing in far more respectable slots.
The balance of power at any position should be nothing more than a cyclical process. For instance, 2005 (a random year I selected) had six of the top 10 shortstops (via WAR) residing in the American League. Another random year, 2002, had seven ALers in the top 10. That is to say, don’t confuse this for some grandstanding analysis about how National League teams evaluate shortstop talent better. It’s just their time, and boy, are they ever making the most of it.