Joe Posnanski is doing writeups for everyone on the HOF ballot. Here's what he wrote about Hardy.
Let's Get Back to the Hall of Fame Ballot (substack.com)
A three-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop and a two-time All-Star. Hit a career-high 30 home runs for Baltimore in 2011.
Here’s one thing I absolutely love about J.J. Hardy’s career: He never played a single inning at any position except shortstop. I mean, that’s pretty cool. He never filled in at third or second, never played an inning in the outfield, the man was a shortstop, beginning to end, and he was a darned good one.
Hardy played 1,561 games, every one of them as a shortstop. By weird coincidence, that’s where Brandon Crawford currently stands; he has played 1,561 games, all at short. The only exclusive shortstops who played more games are Luis Aparicio (2,599) and Ozzie Smith (2,573). People sometimes mistakenly put Derek Jeter on this list because Jeter never played any other defensive position except short. But Jeter was a designated hitter more than 50 times in his career.
Hardy came from an athletic family. His father, Mark, was a professional tennis player who once made it to No. 323 in the world in doubles. His mother, Susie, was a superb amateur golfer, among the best in the country in the mid-to-late 1970s. It was Susie who every day used to hit ground balls to the young J.J. when he was growing up in Arizona.
J.J. was an unusual ballplayer — he was a great defensive shortstop and he hit with power. That was his whole game. Those attributes don’t usually go together. He couldn’t really run, he hit for low averages, he didn’t walk, but he’d be a defensive marvel and he’d bang 25-30 home runs.
And by defensive marvel, I do not mean he made a lot of spectacular plays. He didn’t. “His flair is consistency,” his manager Buck Showalter said. What made Hardy such a wonder at short was how he made easy plays look easy and he also made difficult plays look easy. He was, pre-Javy Baez, perhaps the best tagger in baseball history. It doesn’t make him a Hall of Famer, but you’d want him on your team.