Despite the size of players you typically see at a professional baseball game, there are small players who play in the Major Leagues as well. You might think players like Miguel Cabrera and Giancarlo Stanton dominate baseball because of their size – and for the most part you would be correct. But the player with the most hits so far this season stands a mere 5’5” or 5’6”, depending on who you ask. Jose Altuve leads the Majors with 160 hits as of August 11 and is second with a .335 batting average. While Altuve is definitely one of the outliers in terms of height of players, he is an example that you don’t have to shop at the Big and Tall store to wear a Major League uniform. This chart shows the height of MLB players from 1876-2012. It excludes players with a ½ height. According to the page and Baseball Almanac, the shortest player in MLB history was Eddie Gaedel. He stood at 3’7” and only played in one game in 1951. At the opposite end, the tallest player was Jon Rauch who was 6’11”. It definitely helps to be taller than shorter if you plan to pursue a career in professional baseball. Traditional scouts based a player’s potential on his physique and build which meant that the taller you were, the stronger you could be, and the better a player you could become. Even today, scouts and coaches are more likely to give a second look to a guy who is over six feet versus someone who is shorter.
Short players win MVPs
Altuve signed a four-year, $12.5 million contract before last season; he was an All-Star in 2012 and again in 2014. The Houston Astros, and the rest of baseball, may not see Altuve as the ideal baseball player in terms of his height, but you can’t argue with what he has accomplished since his debut in 2011. Another player who stands less than six feet, 5’8” to be exact according to his own words, is Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia was the 2008 American League MVP and is a four-time All-Star. He is better known than Altuve but sees the game from the same perspective as the Astros’ second baseman. Being short does not mean there is a lack of power either: Pedroia has 104 career home runs. Playing at Fenway Park doesn’t hurt his chances, but it still takes a high level of talent to hit that many balls out of a Major League ballpark. A player’s ability isn’t measured by what size his jersey is or how much he weighs. There are plenty of players who didn’t make it to the Majors and were towers of terror. There are also plenty of people who are just naturally tall but do not possess baseball skills. It is all a matter of hard work and dedication to mastering the craft. Whether that means hitting a fastball or throwing one, numbers never lie and games are not won based on height and weight of players. Short players can make just as much of a difference as taller ones. *While there aren’t as many pitchers who are as short as Altuve, Billy Wagner, Roy Oswalt, and Whitey Ford were all 5’10”.