When the Colorado Rockies came in the league in 1993 Ozzie Smith was 38 years old. My friend and I had tickets to a couple of Rockies games versus the Cardinals. We went early so we could watch the Cardinals take fielding practice so we could watch Ozzie field. We were never disappointed.
I don’t know of a way someone can say the Ozzie wasn’t the greatest fielding shortstop of all time. He was that great. Bill James did a study of fielding against zero for shortstops a few years ago, but Ozzie was by far the best. Bill did his study on shortstops in the 1980s. Ozzie led 9 of the 10 years. He also played the most innings and had the most runs saved per innings.
Ozzie learned how to hit better so he could become an average hitter by mid-career. One of the things he did was show more patience at the plate which helped him get on base. He had a career high of 89 in 1987 when he was runner-up for MVP. I would have voted for Ozzie. Anyway those 89 walks helped him get to an on base percentage of .398 almost to .400. Also, 89 walks is great for a non-power hitting batter who steals bases.
Ozzie was a very good base stealer. He could steal 40 or 50 bases with less than 10 caught stealing’s. The Cardinals in the 1980s thrived on stealing bases. That helped led to 3 pennants in the 1980s. Ozzie is 20th on the all-time stolen base list.
Ozzie was the greatest fielder and used all of his abilities to be enough of an offensive force to help his team win. That make him an easy hall of famer.