Ok, not so fast. The mid-to-late 1990s produced the best crop of young shortstops in years. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Nomar Garciaparra. All three were heralded stars who competed with one another for the right to play shortstop for the American League in the All-Star game. All three took drastically different paths to where they are now. Derek Jeter has played on five World Series winners and was the World Series MVP in 2000. Alex Rodriguez became arguably one of the best players in baseball, winning a batting title at the age of 20 and three MVP awards since 2003. Nomar Garciaparra, on the other hand, had a great career with the Red Sox as the face of the franchise. He was the 1997 Rookie of the Year and won two batting titles - at age 25 and 26.
In 2004, Garciaparra's career took a turn. Mid-year, he was traded by the Red Sox to the Chicago Cubs. The Sox went on to win the World Series and Nomar was never the same player as he was with the Red Sox. After a year and a half with the Cubs (including an injury-plagued 2005 campaign), Garciaparra signed with the Dodgers. He showed a flash of his former self in 2006, earning an All-Star selection and finishing with a .303 batting average, 20 home runs, and 93 RBI. In 2007, Nomar had the last full season of his career, hitting in the .280s with less than 10 home runs. He spent 2008 in Los Angeles before finishing his career in Oakland.
Nomar ends his career with a solid .313 batting average but lacks the other magic numbers that would ger him enshrined him in Cooperstown. He had 229 home runs, six All-Star selections and no Gold Gloves. His best years came in Boston, where he hit .323 in parts of eight seasons, hit at least 20 home runs six times, drove in at least 95 runs six times, and had 200 hits once. After Boston, Nomar's batting average dipped to a very respectable .287, but he just wasn't the same player. When the writers consider Nomar for the Hall, they'll see a guy who had a brilliant first half of a career but seemingly faded away. This lack of prolonged greatness will keep Garciaparra off the writers' ballot. Baseball-Reference.com says that Garciaparra's career is most similar to that of Joe Gordon, the Yankee second baseman from the 1950s,who was recently elected to the Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee. It will be by this method that Nomar will ever have a shot at election to the Hall of Fame.