5. “The Wizard” Ozzie Smith
Ozzie Smith made defense an absolute joy to watch during his 19-year MLB career.
He patrolled the infield with incredible athleticism and unmatched fielding ability, constantly displaying an unabashed love for the game.
During the prime of his career, Smith won an astonishing 13 Gold Gloves from 1980 to 1992. He finished his career with the greatest defensive WAR (wins above replacement) of all-time, a true testament to his prowess in the field.
Smith made highlight-reel plays appear routine seemingly every game. His signature move was an acrobatic back flip on his way to shortstop, something he continued even at age 40.
For his defensive wizardry, Smith earned the nickname “The Wizard’, a reference to the 1939 musical “The Wizard of Oz”.
He compiled impressive numbers in other facets of the game throughout his career as well. Smith finished second in the National League MVP voting in 1987 after hitting .303 with 104 runs scored and 43 stolen bases. It was the only time in his career that he would earn Silver Slugger honors, as well as the only time he would surpass the 100-run mark in a season.
As consistent as Smith was on offense, though, there is no confusion that his nickname derives from his status as one of the greatest defensive players that baseball has ever seen.
“The Wizard” was a first-ballot Hall of Famer when inducted into Cooperstown in 2002.
Next: 4. Sultan of Swat / The Great Bambino