Let's be honest. If you are reading this, you probably already know about the Holy Trinity of shortstops (that's what we call them here at GSI)--Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins. You also probably know that they will be drafted early in the first round of almost everyone's draft, including yours. If you are one of the fortunate to a draft slot that high, you can stop reading now.
Seriously. Stop now. You're set at this position. Move on.
But what if you're not one of the fortunate? What if you know that there is no chance in H-E-double hockey sticks that one of the Trinity will fall to you? What do you do? Be patient and wait.
An old adage says, 'Patience is a virtue'. It works in life. It works in a fantasy.
Shortstop is one of the deeper positions in the game, especially if you are participating in a mixed league. It is also a position where you can get good value later in your draft.
Why? Because there is a second, and even third-tier of shortstops that can be had in the middle-to-late rounds of your draft that are going to provide you with excellent production, and as an added bonus (wait for it....wait for it....) they are interchangeable.
That's right. I said interchangeable. As in you don't have to think, just name one.
Choosing anyone of the second-tier shortstops is like being in the middle of a Florida orange grove and being asked to pick an orange. Any orange. In much the same way you would just reach up and grab the first orange you see, you can simply reach out and snag a shortstop whenever you feel like.
Here's what I mean. I believe the second-tier of shortstops to be Jeter, Carlos Guillen, Tulowitski, Michael Young, Edgar Renteria. That's because all of these guys are going to give you solid production in all five categories (AVG, HR, RBI, R, SB), without forcing you to have to compensate in a particular area because of a deficiency. Using ESPN's fantasy guide (you should be using GSI's, but for the purposes of remaining unbiased, I chose to go outside the company), let's take a look at the projections for these five.
Derek Jeter: .327 / 14 / 79 / 109 / 20
Carlos Guillen: .305 / 19 / 91 / 91 / 14
Troy Tulowitski: .288 / 24 / 99 / 107 / 13
Michael Young: .305 / 11 / 97 / 90 / 10
Edgar Renteria: .311 / 10 / 62 / 100 / 12
You can now see what I mean by interchangeable. Select anyone of these guys and you're going to grab someone who hits over .280, steals you double-digit bags, scores in the neighborhood of 100 runs, and drives in around 80 RBI or better. The only difference is in home run stats, and even there, there isn't a significant gap that would cause you to lose an overall point or two in that category.
Now for the patience side of things. You don't have to grab any of these guys too early. You don't need to spend your first-round pick on them. You don't even have to feel antsy if you still don't have one of them in the third round. According to Mock Draft Central, the first one of the above being chosen is Jeter. On average, he's going with the 37th pick. If you play in a standard 12-team league, that's early fourth round. Tulowitski follows closely after, being drafted around the 46th pick (also 4th round).
Our own mock draft here at GSI bears that out as well. Jeter and Tulowitski both went in the fourth round, with Guillen following in the fifth. Renteria may be the best value as he isn't even listed in the Top 75 picks by Mock Draft Central, and in the GSI mock he didn't go off the board until the 11th round. Not bad to pick up a guy that will hit above .300, score 100 runs and steal double-digit bags in the 11th round, huh?
But the great thing about shortstop right now is that you can even wait longer. Value can still be had even after the second-tier group. Players like Orlando Cabrera, Jhonny "Who put this H in my name?" Peralta, Miguel Tejada and Kahlil Greene can be selected even later in most drafts. However, this group of players' value is limited. You have to draft anyone of these with that caveat in mind.
Tejada may not play for 50 games because of the Mitchell Report's investigation. Peralta will kill you in stolen bases. Greene will kill your average. Cabrera will kill your power. If you are prepared to draft so as to compensate for those deficiencies, then even these guys will be valuable late in the draft.
So if come draft day you don't have a top selection slot, don't worry. You let the owners ahead of you grab the Holy Trinity. You'll be secure in the knowledge that you can build your team around other studs like Howard, Fielder, Holliday or Pujols, or maybe develop a serious rotation with arms like Santana, Peavy, Webb or Beckett, and still have plenty of juice at the shortstop position waiting on you in a couple rounds.
Like picking oranges in China Grove (had to get a Doobie Brothers reference in).