Sore spots: The one position that most haunts all 30 MLB teams

  • Sports reporter, Kansas City Star, 2002-09
  • Writer, Baseball, Baseball Prospectus
  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus
  • Member, Baseball Writers Association of America
  • Member, Professional Basketball Writers Association

Is there a sore spot on the team you root for that the club just never seems to fully heal?

Growing up, my team was the Kansas City Royals, and the position that always drove me mad was shortstop. I am just barely old enough to remember the latter days of the beloved Freddie Patek as the Royals’ shortstop, but his best days were before I had reached the age of sports consciousness.

After that came U.L. Washington, and I actually have a picture on the wall of my office of me as a young lad standing on the fake turf at Royals Stadium with U.L.’s arm around my shoulders. And yes, U.L. has a toothpick in his mouth in the picture. Unfortunately, Washington is more remembered for his toothpicks than his performance. After that …

Once I recovered from flashbacks involving the Rey Sanchez-Neifi Perez-Angel Berroa dynasty, I wondered: Have the Royals really been that bad at solving the shortstop position? Has it even been their biggest problem area?

These are questions a fan of any team could ask. Yes, even a spoiled Los Angeles Dodgers fan. It’s also a question that can be poked at analytically, so I decided to do so. The foundational question is this: What positions on what teams have been the hardest to fill in terms of finding a sustainable, multiseason solution? And how is each team addressing that need so far in 2021?

The answer for your team might surprise you. Or maybe not. After all, you’re a fan.

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