The Short End of the Stick

You may well have heard of a player on the Houston Astros names Jose Altuve, who is 5’5″ tall. That is not very big. That is in fact, quite small. The smallest in baseball. While glancing at Jose Altuve’s stats, I started to wonder, how short is Jose Altuve compared to other second basemen? Dustin Pedroia is also a second baseman, and he is generously listed at 5’9″, which is also quite small. Are second basemen the shortest players in the league? How tall is the average first baseman? These are all examples of questions that I asked myself. I also asked myself – where should I go for lunch today? – but that is unrelated. Although the answer was Quiznos. As as result of those first few questions, I decided to try to do some research. And here I will present some of what I found.

First off, I had a bit of trouble getting height information for players in some sort of export file. I ended up just copying and pasting each team’s 40 man roster from ESPN’s website into excel. As a result, my study comprises 1193 players, or all members of the baseball playing public that are currently on a 40 man roster. It does not include players such as Jamie Moyer, who played earlier this year, but are not currently with a team. All heights are therefore from ESPN’s website, as well as the position of each player.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the average height of each position in the majors:

Position Average Height (in Inches) Rank
C 72.81 7
1B 74.46 2
2B 71.13 11
SS 72.18 10
3B 72.82 6
LF 72.74 9
CF 72.78 8
RF 73.55 5
DH 74.38 3
RP 74.36 4
SP 74.80 1
Total Avg 73.69

There are a couple points of interest here – starting with my correct assumption that second basemen are the shortest players in the major leagues on average at 5 feet, 11.13 inches. They’re also the only position to average under 6 feet tall, and are a full inch shorter than the next smallest position – short stops. The tallest position on average is starting pitcher, at 6 feet, 2.8 inches tall. Designated hitters, relief pitchers and first baseman all average over 6 foot 2 as well – and are the only positions that average a greater height than the overall major league average.

Left fielders and center fielders are almost exactly the same height at 72.74 inches and 72.78 inches, but right fielders are around 3/4 of an inch taller on average – for reasons I cannot explain.

Stay tuned, as I will be posting some more height-based facts in the future. Please try to contain your excitement.

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