The Greatest Defensive SS of the past 30 Years!

Ozzie Smith (the Wizard of Oz) of the St. Louis Cardinals

See his career stats from Baseball-Reference .

  • He has compiled 13 straight Gold Gloves at SS from 1980 to 1992
  • He has been selected to 15 All Star gameso
    • 12 Consecutive from 1981 to 1992
    • Then 3 more consecutive appearances between 1994 and 1996
    • He has started 11 out of the 15 All Star games
      • Only once did he not play (1995)

When I was younger and still playing baseball I wanted to play SS because of the Wizard of Oz, Ozzie Smith! I saw him make amazing play after amazing play. He would throw guys out mid-jump, both vertically and horizontally, even when his momentum was heading towards 3B. I have a very fond memory of watching him in an all out dive towards third, catch the ball and throw the batter out before even hitting the ground (remember, he’d have to throw this while in the air and across his body to do this). Utterly mind-blowing!

I have never seen any other SS make SO many amazing, jaw-dropping plays in their career, never mind as many as Ozzie would make in a given season. He is arguably the most athletic SS to have ever played the game. Sure, he wasn’t a great hitter, heck, he was barely an average hitter at times and with almost no pop in his bat. Although, he was clutch later in his career when the Cardinals needed him to be! He had his best years at the plate three-fourths of the way through his career and he posted pretty good OBP numbers most of the time. He simply took your breath away on a regular basis defensively, back flips included for emphasis! J

Has any other player in recent times been selected into the Hall of Fame purely on the defensive prowess? I honestly can not think of one, but I’m sure there’s a few guys out there.

If anyone out there has one of those player videos on him I’d be interested to hear how I could get my hands on a copy!

**If you Agree or Disagree, please speak your mind in the comment section!**

Keith at wrote: Bill Mazeroski, voted in for defensive reasons in 2001. Like Smith, he also has some unlikely postseason heroics to his credit.


  1. Keith

    January 10, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    Bill Mazeroski, voted in for defensive reasons in 2001. Like Smith, he also has some unlikely postseason heroics to his credit.

  2. Sky

    January 13, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Have you taken a look at Mark Belanger’s fielding numbers according to the advanced metrics? He gives Ozzie a run for his money.

  3. Peter Schiller

    January 13, 2008 at 10:04 pm


    I see what you mean about Belanger’s fielding %, but Ozzie had more gold gloves & more all star appearances (mostly all starts, too). Smith also had way better offensive numbers, but then again this post was not about offense.

  4. Sky

    January 14, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Peter, Sean Smith has done some awesome work with historical fielding numbers, ignoring the traditional stats (errors, assists, chances) in favor of something more robust. You can download a spreadsheet of the rankings from ’56 to ’86 at the bottom of the explanatory article:

    In the years included for Ozzie, he’s about 20 runs above average per season. Belanger’s peak is more like +25.

    I don’t give credit for GGs and All-Star appearances because I know how awful writers and managers are at deciding those things nowadays.

  5. Peter

    January 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm


    I don’t doubt your stats at all, but remember, this is suppose to be about the best SS in the past 30 years (since 1978). Belanger played in the 60’s, but you’re correct about his defensive ability.
    I don’t think that Ozzie should be scrutinized because of the writers. Who would have beat him in those peak years for a gold glove?
    Plus, that link that you sent me in the last comment states that Ozzie Smith’s stats only reflect half of his career. What does David Pinto’s defensive stat say about these two players?

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply