Second tool: Fielding
As I continue my quest to find the perfect position player, the second tool is fielding. Once again, I scavenged the internet looking for the best fielders in the game's history. I must clarify that I am not listing the top 5 fielders of all-time, I am simply offering a list of people who deserve to be on that list. I got some opposition on my hitters list, so I wanted to clarify.
So without further ado, some of the greatest fielders in the game.
1. Johnny Bench- Catcher, Cincinnati Reds, 10x Gold Glove Winner
I may be a little bit bias in putting Johnny Bench in the 1 slot, but as a former catcher, Division One, and Minor League Bullpen Catcher (humble brag), I'm a sucker for the position. It is indeed the most difficult position on the diamond, therefore, arguably the best to ever do it deserves the number one spot. Bench threw 43% of the runners that had the audacity to steal on him over the course of his career, and during 1969 and 1972, he threw out 57 and 56 percent of runners, respectively. To go along with his 10 Gold Gloves, he's a 2-time World Series champion, 2-time MVP, World Series MVP, and 14-time All-Star.
2. Greg Maddux- Pitcher, Chicago Cubs/Atlanta Braves, 18x Gold-Glove Winner
Best fielding-pitcher is kind of an oxymoron, but Maddux is well-deserving of being in this group. Maddux played 22 seasons, winning 18 Gold Gloves. That's absurd. In fact, he won 13 straight gold gloves from 1990-2002, until Mike Hampton won in 2003, then Maddux bounced back winning another 5-straight from 2004-2008. Outside his first season in the majors, over the course of his career, Maddux never had a fielding percentage under .933 which is incredible, even for a pitcher.
3. Ozzie Smith- Shortstop, St. Louis Cardinals, 13x Gold-Glove
Shortstop is stereotypically known as the leader of the team, thanks to guys like Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken Jr., and of course Ozzie Smith. A 13 straight gold glove winner from 1980-1992, Smith had some of the smoothest hands in the game. For the entirety of his career, his standard fielding percentage never went below .964 over the course of 18 years in the league. His best year was in 1987 where his fielding percentage was .987, where he faced 771 defensive chances with only 10 errors.
4. Omar Vizquel- Shortstop, TEX/CHW/TOR/CLE/SFG/SEA, 11x Gold-Glove
Right behind Smith, Vizquel had some of the best hands the game ever had to offer. Let me rephrase, Vizquel STILL has some of the best hands. Don't believe me? Just watch this video of him at 52 years old. An 11-time Gold Glove winner, Vizquel made it 23 years in the league by being becoming an anchor on the infield and being that type of defensive specialist every team needs. Over the course of his career, he played every infield position, showing his versatility in the field.
5. Willie Mays- Outfielder, San Francisco Giants, 12x Gold Glove
Every baseball fan knows about "The Catch." Willie Mays' famous over the shoulder catch sprinting straight backward in Center Field at Polo Grounds during the 1954 World Series. Playing at Polo Grounds, Mays was the man in Centerfield, running down fly balls all over the ridiculous dimensions of the park. It's 279 down the line in left, 258 in right and a mere 483 feet to straightaway center. Willie Mays played almost a quarter-century in the MLB and is a household name among even the most average of baseball fans.
Brooks Robinson- 16x Gold Glove Winner
Roberto Clemente- 12x Gold Glove Winner
Ken Griffey Jr.- 10x Gold Glove Winner
Yadier Molina- 9x Gold Glove Winner
Ichiro Suzuki- 10x Gold Glove Winner
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