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Short at First Base

Posted by Raphy on February 26, 2009

In 2008 Ron Belliard played 33 games at first base for the Nationals. Belliard became the first 5 ft 8 (or shorter) player since 1971 and only the sixth since 1901 to play at least 20 games at first in one season.

  Cnt Player            Year  Ht  Age Tm  Lg  G   PA  AB  R   H  2B 3B HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  Positions
+----+-----------------+----+----+---+---+--+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+---------+
    1 Ron Belliard      2008 5.08  33 WSN NL  96 337 296  37  85 22  0 11  46  37   1  58   3   1   0   6   3  2  .287  .372  .473  .845 354/6
    2 Roberto Pena      1971 5.08  34 MIL AL 113 293 274  17  65  9  3  3  28  15   3  37   1   3   0   7   2  1  .237  .279  .325  .604 356/4
    3 Paul Smith        1953 5.08  22 PIT NL 118 427 389  41 110 12  7  4  44  24   0  23   3  11   0   8   3  0  .283  .329  .380  .709 *37
    4 Heinie Mueller    1924 5.08  24 STL NL  92 320 296  39  78 12  6  2  37  19   0  16   2   3   0   0   8  7  .264  .312  .365  .677 83/97
    5 Hack Simmons      1910 5.08  25 DET AL  42 126 110  12  25  3  1  0   9  10   0   0   2   4   0   0   1  0  .227  .303  .273  .576 *3/589
    6 Charlie Dexter    1901 5.07  25 CHC NL 116 488 460  46 123  9  5  1  66  16   0   0   7   5   0   0  22  0  .267  .302  .315  .617 3549/827

In fact, in 2008, Belliard was the only player to play at least 20 games at first and admit being less than 6 feet tall. (However, the number of players at 6-0 leads one to believe that there is a lot of  liberal rounding involved.) There were however, 21 players who did see some action at 1st despite being under 6 feet.

    1 Ron Belliard        5.08   2008  33 WSN NL  96 337 296  37  85 22  0 11  46  37   1  58   3   1   0   6   3  2  .287  .372  .473  .845 354/6
    2 Luis Rodriguez      5.09   2008  28 SDP NL  64 225 202  22  58 11  1  0  12  13   0  13   0   7   3   9   1  1  .287  .326  .351  .677 *6/435
    3 Howie Clark         5.10   2008  34 MIN AL   4   8   8   0   2  2  0  0   1   0   0   2   0   0   0   0   0  0  .250  .250  .500  .750 /*345
    4 Marco Scutaro       5.10   2008  32 TOR AL 145 592 517  76 138 23  1  7  60  57   0  65   5   6   7   8   7  2  .267  .341  .356  .697 645/37D
    5 Javier Valentin     5.10   2008  32 CIN NL  94 144 129  10  33  8  0  4  18  14   0  27   0   0   1   2   0  0  .256  .326  .411  .737 23/5
    6 Paul Lo Duca        5.10   2008  36 TOT NL  67 193 173  16  42  9  0  0  15  15   0  11   5   0   0  10   1  0  .243  .321  .295  .616 23/7D
    7 Brian Barden        5.11   2008  27 STL NL   9  10   9   0   2  0  0  0   1   0   0   4   0   1   0   0   0  0  .222  .222  .222  .444 /543
    8 Curtis Thigpen      5.11   2008  25 TOR AL  10  21  17   2   3  0  0  1   1   1   0   8   1   2   0   0   0  0  .176  .263  .353  .616 /*23
    9 Jason LaRue         5.11   2008  34 STL NL  61 189 164  17  35  8  1  4  21  15   1  20   5   3   2   6   0  0  .213  .296  .348  .644 *2/3
   10 Damion Easley       5.11   2008  38 NYM NL 113 347 316  33  85 10  2  6  44  19   0  38   7   2   3  15   0  0  .269  .322  .370  .692 *4/673D5
   11 Marlon Anderson     5.11   2008  34 NYM NL  87 151 138  16  29  6  0  1  10   9   0  27   0   2   2   2   2  1  .210  .255  .275  .530 7/34D
   12 Pablo Sandoval      5.11   2008  21 SFG NL  41 154 145  24  50 10  1  3  24   4   1  14   1   0   4   6   0  0  .345  .357  .490  .847 352
   13 Henry Blanco        5.11   2008  36 CHC NL  58 128 120  15  35  3  0  3  12   6   1  22   0   2   0   4   0  0  .292  .325  .392  .717 *2/3
   14 Ramon Vazquez       5.11   2008  31 TEX AL 105 347 300  44  87 18  3  6  40  38   3  66   0   5   4   4   0  1  .290  .365  .430  .795 *564/3
   15 Jose Vidro          5.11   2008  33 SEA AL  85 330 308  28  72 11  0  7  45  18   2  36   0   2   2   5   2  1  .234  .274  .338  .612 *D/3
   16 Chris Burke         5.11   2008  28 ARI NL  86 199 165  20  32  5  1  2  12  27   8  33   2   2   3   2   5  0  .194  .310  .273  .583 47/3956
   17 Oscar Salazar       5.11   2008  30 BAL AL  34  94  81  13  23  3  0  5  15  12   0  13   0   0   1   1   0  1  .284  .372  .506  .878 3/5D6
   18 Brad Ausmus         5.11   2008  39 HOU NL  81 250 216  15  47  8  0  3  24  25   3  41   2   6   1   4   0  2  .218  .303  .296  .599 *2/345
   19 Yadier Molina       5.11   2008  25 STL NL 124 485 444  37 135 18  0  7  56  32   4  29   1   3   5  21   0  2  .304  .349  .392  .741 *2/3D
   20 Brian Myrow         5.11   2008  31 SDP NL  21  24  21   1   3  0  0  1   3   2   0   5   0   0   1   1   0  0  .143  .208  .286  .494 /3
   21 Max Ramirez         5.11   2008  23 TEX AL  17  55  46   8  10  1  0  2   9   6   0  15   3   0   0   0   0  0  .217  .345  .370  .715 *2/3D   

The last player who was officially listed at under 6 ft., played enough to qualify for a batting title and played at least half his games at first was Ron Coomer in 2000. Here are the qualifiers for the last 20 years.

  Cnt Player            Year  Ht  Age Tm  Lg  G   PA  AB  R   H  2B 3B HR RBI  BB IBB  SO HBP  SH  SF GDP  SB CS   BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  Positions
 ----+-----------------+----+----+---+---+--+---+---+---+---+---+--+--+--+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+-----+-----+-----+-----+---------
    1 Ron Coomer        2000 5.11  33 MIN AL 140 589 544  64 147 29  1 16  82  36   2  50   4   0   5  25   2  0  .270  .317  .415  .732 *3/D5
    2 Gregg Jefferies   1995 5.10  27 PHI NL 114 521 480  69 147 31  2 11  56  35   5  26   0   0   6  15   9  5  .306  .349  .448  .797 *37
    3 Orlando Merced    1994 5.11  27 PIT NL 108 431 386  48 105 21  3  9  51  42   5  58   1   0   2  17   4  1  .272  .343  .412  .755 *9*3
    4 Gregg Jefferies   1994 5.10  26 STL NL 103 447 397  52 129 27  1 12  55  45  12  26   1   0   4   9  12  5  .325  .391  .489  .880 *3
    5 John Kruk         1993 5.10  32 PHI NL 150 651 535 100 169 33  5 14  85 111  10  87   0   0   5  11   6  2  .316  .430  .475  .905 *3
    6 Gregg Jefferies   1993 5.10  25 STL NL 142 612 544  89 186 24  3 16  83  62   7  32   2   0   4  15  46  9  .342  .408  .485  .893 *3/4
    7 John Kruk         1992 5.10  31 PHI NL 144 607 507  86 164 30  4 10  70  92   8  88   1   0   7  11   3  5  .323  .423  .458  .881 *39/7
    8 John Kruk         1991 5.10  30 PHI NL 152 615 538  84 158 27  6 21  92  67  16 100   1   0   9  11   7  0  .294  .367  .483  .850 *378/9
    9 Brook Jacoby      1990 5.11  30 CLE AL 155 624 553  77 162 24  4 14  75  63   6  58   2   2   4  20   1  4  .293  .365  .427  .792 *5*3

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 26th, 2009 at 2:27 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Short at First Base”

  1. Interesting - 2 of the 5 guys in that last list played a signiicant part of their careers in Philadelphia, yet neither was a Phillies prospect (Jefferies came up through the Mets organization and Kruk came from the Padres). I guess the Phils never read "the book" on acquiring tall first basemen.

    The Twins also employed two of those platers - Merced spent part of the 1998 season in Minnesota - so I guess they were sharing the Phillies scouting reports.

    It may have already been looked at previously, but I'd be interested in an analysis of short pitchers, particularly starting pitchers. This is a position where a bias for tall players is really prominent. A quick scan of the top 10 career Wins leaders shows only Pud Galvin at 5'8" was under six foot tall. (Kid Nichols and Tim Keefe do not have heights listed.) If we extend that by two -- the top 10 winningest pitchers of KNOWN height -- we also get John Clarkson in at 5'10". Among the top 10 active career wins leaders, only Pedro's 5'11" frame is under six foot, but Bartolo Colon, also at 5'11", (currently 12th) will join him once Mad Dog and Moose are officially "scrubbed" from the active list.

    Is anyone interested in doing a PI search for most career wins by pitchers under 6'0", 5'9", 5'6", etc.? What about most career strikeouts by short pitchers? (The theory is that tall pitchers have an advantage in that category.) Finally, how about K/IP among short pitchers?

  2. Keep in mind back in the 19th century, heights were a tiny bit shorter (by a few inches) than they are today. So Galvin's 5'8 might have been of decent height.
    11 players got 200 wins in the 19th century and their height is known. The average height was about 5'11 and the tallest was Jack Stivetts and Cy Young at 6'2.
    From 1990 to 2008, there were 11 pitchers with 200 wins and their height is known. Pedro Martinez at 5'11 is the only guy under 6 feet. The average is about 6'3 and the tallest is Randy Johnson at 6'10.