Rodriguez played two innings at shortstop
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez was the best shortstop in the American League for the sixth straight season, according to baseball's annual rankings.
That's right, shortstop.
Even though he moved to third base following his February trade from Texas to the New York Yankees, Rodriguez was counted as a shortstop because he played more games at that position over a two-year period (160) than he did at third base (155).
Rodriguez's appearances at shortstop this year were limited to two innings -- July 1 against Boston and Aug. 23 at Cleveland -- after Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter got hurt. The rules for the rankings, compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau, were established by players and owners in their settlement of the 1981 strike.
Rodriguez had an 87.013 ranking on a scale of 100, followed by Baltimore's Miguel Tejada (85.714) and Jeter (83.766). If Rodriguez had been listed as a third baseman, he would have been second to Oakland's Eric Chavez (92.857).
Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado was the top player in the major leagues at 98.333, followed by Boston outfielder Manny Ramirez (97), Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield (96.75) and St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols (96.667).
Delgado led AL first basemen for the second straight season and third year overall, while Seattle second baseman Bret Boone (86.207) and Chavez topped their positions for the third straight year.
Ramirez was among the top three AL outfielders for the eighth time in nine seasons -- he led designated hitters in 2002. He was joined by Sheffield and Anaheim's Vladimir Guerrero (94.75), who replaced Chicago's Magglio Ordonez and the Yankees' Bernie Williams.
Baltimore's Javy Lopez (91.597) replaced the Yankees' Jorge Posada at catcher. Toronto's Roy Halladay (95.833) repeated at starting pitcher, and Boston's Keith Foulke (94.426) repeated at reliever. David Ortiz of the Red Sox (90) replaced Seattle's Edgar Martinez at designated hitter.
Pujols, among the top three NL outfielders last year, took over from Colorado's Todd Helton at first, San Diego's Mark Loretta (91.837) replaced Montreal's Jose Vidro at second, Scott Rolen of St. Louis (93.651) led at third base for the third straight year and Cardinals teammate Edgar Renteria (89.655) repeated at shortstop.
Houston's Lance Berkman (92.809) was among the top three outfielders for the second time in three years and San Francisco's Barry Bonds (91.461) for the third time in four seasons, joined by Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu (92.584). They replaced Pujols, Guerrero and San Diego's Brian Giles.
San Francisco's A.J. Pierzynski (86.1) took over from Ivan Rodriguez at catcher, Roy Oswalt (94.667) replaced Curt Schilling at starting pitcher, and Eric Gagne of Los Angeles (95.83) repeated at reliever.
These rankings are used to decide whether players are Type A, B or C free agents, and what draft picks their former teams get as compensation if they sign elsewhere. The top 30 percent in each group get an A ranking, the next 20 percent a B ranking and the group between 50 and 60 percent a C ranking.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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