New York Yankees all-time best shortstops – No. 6: Kid Elberfeld
In the earliest days of the franchise, when the Yankees were still the Highlanders, Kid Elberfeld held down shortstop. Evidently, Elberfeld wasn’t the nicest of players, according to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
"Kid Elberfeld, called “the dirtiest, scrappiest, most pestiferous, most rantankerous [sic], most rambunctious ball player that ever stood on spikes” for his vicious arguments on the diamond…"
That statement says a lot considering Elberfeld was a contemporary of Ty Cobb. This style of play led to Elberfeld being hit by a lot of pitches. As a Highlander, he was plunked 81 times. According to SABR, he encouraged pitchers to hit him. Over his entire
"He perfected the art of angling his body in toward the plate, holding his arms in such as way as to take only a glancing blow while simultaneously appearing to make an honest attempt to avoid the pitch, and then, for effect, shouting and gesticulating at the pitcher."
As was normal in his era, Elberfeld didn’t have any power but stole lots of bases. He seldom struck out (never more than 20 times in a season). He got on base, usually banging out triple digits hits, walking twice as much as he struck out, and of course, getting hit by pitches.
For his day, he was considered one of the best hitting shortstops in the game. From SABR:
"From 1904 to 1906, he had the highest batting (.275) and on-base-plus-slugging (.688) percentages of any shortstop in the American League, and second in the majors only to Honus Wagner,"
His garrulous ways led to feuds with umpires, opponents, and teammates, which in turn caused him to miss plenty of time due to injuries and suspensions. Eventually, he wore out his welcome with the Highlanders, and he was sold to the Senators after the 1909 season.