Like the third base pool, the shortstop position is about to get a major influx of talent. Some of the best minor league players are shortstops. The Fantasy Baseball world cannot wait for this turnover. Presently, it is very risky and just plain inadvisable drafting anyone past the Third Tier on this list. Unless a fantasy team has Joey Votto and Adrian Beltre to balance out a Erick Aybar-type pick, an owner should not even look past Tier Three. Next year will be a different story though.
Please note that all rankings assume a standard, mixed, five-by-five league (average, runs, stolen bases, RBI, home runs, ERA, wins, WHIP, strikeouts, and saves). Also, Xander Bogaerts played nine game at third base and eight games at shortstop, but is slated to start at short for the Red Sox. He is more valuable as a shortstop so he is addressed here.
Ramirez passed the eye test last year. He was playing with renewed enthusiasm and he actually appeared happy. Maybe he enjoyed winning as opposed to the deceit and pessimism that continually surrounds Miami. Or maybe it was something in his personal life. Whatever the reason, he looked like a different person. Tulowitzki will put up better numbers in 125 games than every other shortstop not named Hanley will put up in 160 games. Reyes’ legs will be going soon. His 40-steal days will come to an end this season or next (he turns 32 on June 11).
Some may prefer Desmond’s durability over the injury-riddled peers listed above him. Or maybe it’s his back-to-back 20-20 seasons. Andrus is going to score a load of runs hitting in front of the heart of the Texas lineup. Cabrera has improved every year and could win the stolen base title if Billy Hamilton cannot get on base. As much as Hanley Ramirez looked interested this past year, Segura looked disinterested after May. Segura hit one home run after June and had just seven RBI in August and September! And the Brewers are talked long-term extension with him? He has Starlin Castro written all over him.
Zobrist is listed at second base and shortstop. He was No. 6 on our list for the keystone so that tells you how shallow that position is. Try to draft him at that position. Simmons is the best fielding shortstop in the league and his bat is improving each year. He is a breakout candidate and a budding All- Star. Ditto for Bogaerts – both of these two could be picked ahead of Segura and you would find no argument here.
Whoever owned Castro in your league last year will probably never draft him again. That bridge has been scorched and then buried. Cabrera is an annual disappointment; owners need to stop setting lofty goals for him and the disappointment will cease. Miller is the sleeper here. He can be drafted late and he could easily out produce everyone in this tier when they get hurt (Lowrie and Hardy) or stop caring (Cabrera and Castro).
The Peralta signing was widely pined because he is replacing a zero, maybe even a minus in St. Louis. Keep that is mind: he is being overrated. Drew could move up the ladder depending on where he signs. Owings should win the starting shortstop job in Arizona over Didi Gregorius, who is just a younger, more athletic Paul Janish. Owings was the Pacific Coast League MVP and may go 12-12 in his rookie year…wow, 12-12…we are reaching here. What does that say about the people below him?
The one player who may move out of this tier and past Owings is Mercer. He is already 27 so he is what he is: a .265 hitter who will hit 12-15 home runs and steal 8-12 bases. Rollins would not start on most MLB teams; he is living on reputation alone after a .252/.318/.348 season that saw him hit six home runs. Cozart is part of the problem and not the solution in Cincinnati; anything thrown in Kentucky is in his wheelhouse. Escobar may be out of the league in two years.
Javier Baez, CHC
Carlos Correa, HOU
Francisco Lindor, CLE
Addison Russell, OAK
Adalberto Mondesi, KC
Corey Seager, LAD
It’s very possible that Starlin Castro never recovers his 2012 form, and if that happens, Baez may be in Chicago by July. On the other hand, Castro may recover some of his 2012 form and be traded while he still has value. Again, Baez is in Chicago by July. What is not very possible is Castro injuring himself while hustling or while colliding into a fence to catch a foul ball… you get the point. Baez has a very good chance of starting a great career this summer. The others on the list are another one year (Correa and Lindor) to three years (Seager) away from contributing.