Astros: Adam Everett remains underrated at shortstop

SAN FRANCISCO - August 7: Adam Everett of the Houston Astros fields during the game against the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park on August 7, 2005 in San Francisco, California. The Astros defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Don Smith /MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - August 7: Adam Everett of the Houston Astros fields during the game against the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park on August 7, 2005 in San Francisco, California. The Astros defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Don Smith /MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Former Houston Astros shortstop Adam Everett often doesn’t get his due respect.

When making a list of the greatest players in Houston Astros history, Adam Everett probably isn’t going to be high on that list. But if you limit it only to the best defensive players in club history, there’s an easy case for him to be at the very top.

We all remember how Everett’s bat was, shall we say, anemic. He posted below average OPS marks in every season of his major league career. But there’s a reason he was the team’s starting shortstop for the better part of five seasons — he was a truly elite defender, and one who often went unnoticed.

Everett was drafted 12th overall by the Red Sox in 1998 and came to Houston in a Dec. 1999 trade for, interestingly enough, Carl Everett (no relation). Adam Everett played sparingly in the majors in the 2001 and 2002 seasons but took over as the starting shortstop after the Astros cut Julio Lugo early in the 2003 season after Lugo allegedly assaulted his wife in public.

Everett held down the job until June 14, 2007, when he fractured his fibula in a collision with Carlos Lee. In that time, he may not have been much at the plate, but he justified his everyday job by what he did in the field.

The Numbers

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From 2003 to 2007, Everett totaled 13.9 defensive WAR by Baseball-Reference’s metric. That’s the highest mark in baseball over that span by any player at any position, and it wasn’t very close. He also totaled 110 defensive runs saved, which are nearly three times as many as the next-highest total by a shortstop in club history.

Amazingly, though, Everett never won a Gold Glove, which is an absolute travesty, especially when you compare him against the winners. In 2003, the NL winner was Edgar Renteria, who totaled 0.7 defensive WAR and -1 defensive runs saved. Everett had 2.2 defensive WAR and 16 defensive runs saved.

The next year, at least, was close. Cesar Izturis won it in 2004 with 2.3 defensive WAR and 15 defensive runs saved. Everett totaled 2.5 defensive WAR and 20 defensive runs saved. The next two years were based more on reputation than performance, as Omar Vizquel took home the NL Gold Glove in 2005 and 2006.

In 2005, Vizquel totaled 0.8 defensive WAR and just one defensive run saved, while Everett racked up 3.3 defensive WAR and 25 defensive runs saved. He had his best year in 2006 by totaling a ridiculous 4.1 defensive WAR and 34 defensive runs saved, while Vizquel won the hardware with 1.4 defensive WAR and seven defensive runs saved.

Everett had no shot at winning it in 2007 thanks to his injury, but look at the stats anyway. The winner, Jimmy Rollins, totaled 1.3 defensive WAR and five defensive runs saved. Everett, in only 66 games, totaled 1.8 defensive WAR and 15 defensive runs saved. Holy Toledo!

Perhaps the reason he never got the respect and recognition he deserved is how easy he made it all look. Just look at how he turned that double play in the video above. He displayed amazing footwork to get the force out while avoiding the runner, and he released the ball so quickly and got plenty on the throw to nab the runner at first. The announcer thought the team had no chance at turning two, but Everett was just that good.

He was so fluid in the field that he made the tough plays look routine. He had it all — the glove, the range, the arm. He was as good a defensive shortstop as we’ll ever see and quite possibly the best defensive player in franchise history.

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