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Braves' Andrelton Simmons -- not Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki -- is MLB's best SS, says Ozzie Smith

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The Wizard is probably right in this context, but still ... ugh!

Dustin Bradford

Most old-school Denver baseball fans know a great shortstop when they see one. That's because, long before the arrival of the Colorado Rockies and eventually, superstar Troy Tulowitzki, a huge chunk of people in the region claimed the St. Louis Cardinals as their own. Those Cardinals, of course, featured Ozzie Smith, who is the best shortstop in the history of Major League Baseball according to most metrics.

So, when The Wizard talks shortstops -- and during an interview with the Hall of Famer during the All-Star break, I asked him to do just that -- it's definitely worth a listen.

"I always get put on the spot as far as that's concerned," Smith quipped, after I asked him his opinion on who is the best shortstop in baseball. "I presented the Gold Glove to Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta Braves last year when he won his first, and I think he will eventually be one of the greatest defensive shortstops."

Smith stressed that he judges shortstops purely from a defensive standpoint, and on that fact, it's hard to argue with the 15-time All-Star. Simmons lapped the competition in UZR/150, Fangraphs' advanced catch-all defensive metric, in 2013, while Tulowitzki was merely in the top 10. This season, Zack Cozart of the Reds leads all shortstops in that category, but Simmons is firmly entrenched in the top five and still has a cushion on Tulo.

Of course, it would be hard for The Wizard to say that any shortstop in baseball is a better two-way player than Tulowitzki, but for a man who compiled 76.5 WAR despite having only four above-average offensive seasons, the glove understandably reigns supreme.

The 13-time Gold Glove winner played in an era that featured all-time greats such as Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey Jr., Greg Maddux, Tony Gwynn -- the list goes on and on. But, when I asked him who was the best player he had the chance to play with or against, his answers were fairly surprising.

"I had a chance to play with Dave Winfield in San Diego and Dave was one of those players who could hit for power, hit for average, throw, run ... in the National League, he probably was the best all-around player." Smith, perhaps caught up in the moment of being in Minneapolis, also named another one of the area's legends.

"In the AL, it was probably Kirby Puckett," said Smith, who mentioned that Puckett had all of the same strengths as Winfield. "But if Bo Jackson would have stayed healthy, he probably would have been the first player to make the Hall of Fame in two sports."

Smith was at the All-Star fesitivies in Minneapolis as part of the MLB and Target All-Star Teachers program, which honored 30 of the best educators in the country prior to the All-Star Game last Tuesday. The campaign is part of Target's $1 billion commitment to education, a passion that Smith holds as a result of the educators that helped him get to where he is today: a baseball legend who is responsible for a number of post-career philanthropic efforts.