Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who Is The Tallest Active Shortstop In The Majors? Glad You Asked

After seeing the video of 7’3” Dave Rasmussen’s professional debut for the St. Paul Saints two weekends ago (something tells me he won’t be invited back), I wanted to learn more about the tallest players in major league history. Right away, the Internet told me that the tallest guy ever to put on a big league uniform was Jon Rauch, a fifth year reliever who appeared in 85 games for the Washington Nationals last season.

Rauch is followed on the big and tall list by a trio of 6’10” giants, all pitchers: Arizona’s Randy Johnson (no introduction necessary aside from the words, “future Hall of Famer”), San Diego’s Chris Young and former New York Met Eric Hillman.

After those three, however, the trail runs cold. Yahoo! searches only turn up so much information and Baseball-Reference does not appear to have a search function for this particular feature (although given the massive amount of information on that site, it’s probably either hidden somewhere or in development). So the project changed from a list of the tallest players in major league history to a 25-man roster featuring the tallest active players by position.

And you know what? There’s some big boys playing these days.

As you can see from the list below, the tallest players overall are pitchers – everyone under 6’7” ended up being left out, which was almost a shame because of the relative lack of size at other positions (most notably the middle infield). The biggest problem at many positions was overflow: in the outfield, for instance, there were five players listed at 6’5” or over. In those cases, I made whatever cuts seemed right (sorry Chris Duncan).

If you have anyone to add to this list, or any other historical names to contribute, feel free to send an email or leave a comment. All feedback is appreciated.

Starting Lineup

C – Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins, 6’5” – If Mauer doesn’t stop growing soon, Rauch and company could welcome a newcomer to the top of the beanstalk.

1B – Richie Sexson, Seattle Mariners, 6’8” – My wife loves Richie Sexson because he is the only person she has ever beaten me with when we play Homerun Derby on MVP Baseball 2005.

2B – B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 6’3” – He’s actually played more career games at third base, but Upton’s primary position this season has been at second, where he’s played 32 of his 34 games.

3B – Troy Glaus, Toronto Blue Jays, 6’5" – Glaus appeared in eight games at shortstop last season. That’s a big friggin’ shortstop.

SS – Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, 6’3” – The Yankees are in rough shape but Jeter is off to a great start: .375 batting average and .921 OPS in 35 games, and he is on pace to walk more times than he strikes out (16/13 currently) for the first time in his career.

OF – Adam Dunn, Cincinnati Reds, 6’6” – Takes a lot of heat for his huge strikeout numbers (he owns the top two highest single season totals), but also hits forty homeruns and OPSs around .900 every year. Fair trade.

OF – Jermaine Dye, Chicago White Sox, 6’5” – Dye won the World Series MVP in 2005 and followed it with a monster year in 2006 (44 homeruns, 120 RBI, 1.007 OPS). So far, 2007 hasn’t been anything to write home about.

OF – Alex Rios, Toronto Blue Jays, 6’5” – It’s easy to forget how young Rios is (he turned 26 last February). He had an OPS of .865 last year and made his first All-Star Game despite missing over thirty games. Losing his starting spot on the Tall Man Team, possibly to Chris Duncan, is not out of the question, especially if the Blue Jays continue to freefall and malaise sets in.

Reserves

C – Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Atlanta, 6’4” – The guy with the longest name in major league history is also the second tallest active catcher.

1B – Tony Clark, Arizona, 6’7” – After watching him forget how to hit while playing for the Red Sox in 2002, I can never enjoy Tony Clark again.

2B – Don Kelly, Pittsburgh, 6’4” – Even though he’s only played three games at second base in his career (all of them this season), I’d rather have Kelly on my team than the 6’2” Jeff Kent.

3B – Chipper Jones, Atlanta, 6’4” – Baseball-Reference lists him at 6’3”. Yahoo! has him at 6’4”. I don’t know who to believe.

DH – Frank Thomas, Toronto, 6’5” – If you’re scoring at home, this is the third Tall Man Team entry for the Blue Jays.

OF – Corey Hart, Milwaukee, 6’6” – Another guy in danger of losing his roster spot. The only thing keeping him here is his one-inch advantage over Rios, Dye, and Duncan. If any of those guys grows an inch or two, Corey’s gone.

Pitchers

SP – Randy Johnson, Arizona, 6’10” – Can you imagine Johnson pitching in Little League? He probably could get close enough to flip the ball to the catcher.

SP – Chris Young, San Diego, 6’10” – At least he’s right-handed. Johnson terrorized National League lefties for long enough.

SP – Mark Hendrickson, Los Angeles Dodgers, 6’9” – Dabbled in basketball before turning his attention to baseball full-time. He’s off to a pretty good start this season, at 2-0, 2.61 in five starts.

SP – Daniel Cabrera, Baltimore, 6’9” – Listed at 6’7” but the Mauer article cited above mentions that he has sprouted up a couple of inches in recent years, so I’ll go with that.

SP – Jason Hirsh, Colorado, 6’8” – Probably doesn’t belong, especially with Harang and Sabathia behind him on the list. He’s taller than either of them, however, so looks like we’re carrying seven starters for now.

SP – Aaron Harang, Cincinnati, 6’7” – He tied for the National League lead in wins last year with 16, but got no love when the time came to vote for the Cy Young Award.

SP – C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland, 6’7” – According to Baseball-Reference, the historical pitcher most similar to Sabathia is Orlando Hernandez. Does that mean C.C. is gonna pitch into his 60s?

RP – Jon Rauch, Washington, 6’11” – His 85 appearances were second best in the National League last season and he’s already pitched 21 times this year. More importantly, he was born a year and a day before my wife.

RP – Andrew Sisco, Chicago White Sox, 6’10” – The biggest of the big men, Sisco is listed at 270 lbs., twenty more than Rauch and forty more than the other members of the 6’10” club. He appeared in 65+ games in both 2005 and 2006, but they were for Kansas City so I’m not sure they really count.

RP – Kyle Snyder, Boston, 6’8” – Another successful Kansas City first round draft pick: 7-14, 5.71 in four seasons. He’s been good for the Red Sox this season, however, with a 1.98 ERA in twelve appearances.

RP – Kameron Loe, Texas, 6’7” – Neither of his names are what you would expect. Really should be “Cameron Lowe”. Why his middle name isn’t “Davyd” instead of the traditional “David” will always trouble me.

2 Comments:

Mr. Thursday said...

I like the team.

If you want to follow up on this, and actually see the biggest players of all time, I have a spreadsheet that has the height, weight, and a bunch of other sortable facts about players. I could send it your way, if you like.

Though, unsurprisingly, players are bigger today than they were in the proverbial "yesterday", and your biggest active team is essentially the biggest ever team, anyway.

If you want the spreadsheet, send me an email, mrthursday128 [at] gmail [dot] com

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