The fantasy baseball train just keeps a rollin’. So far we’ve stopped 1B, 2B and 3B. This time we close out the middle infield with the shortstops. As with second base there is something of a dearth of quality options for fantasy purposes, so it should not be surprising that in most drafts, the top two at the shortstop position will be taken. Furthermore, by the fifth round, any SS whose fantasy value is a known commodity will be gone as well.
Elvis has entered the building, leaping the rankings in a single bound
After the big 5 are off the board you’ll be looking for potential breakout guys, or guys who offer a solid average with decent speed. Once you get past those players it all becomes a guessing game of upside and sleepers. We’ll give you our take, but trust your own instincts as well.
Troy Tulowitzki, COL ~ Here I go again making crazy picks. Tulo over HanRam? Yes, and I’ll make my case: In only 122 games Tulo was 1st in most offensive catagories, including, HR’s, total bases, average, slugging, double. He was a beast. Any place where he wasn’t first he was top 5. And the best part is, his numbers are improving each season while his strike outs reduced. He has the leg up on HanRam because he can, and likely will, out-perform him in most statistical fantasy areas (except SB’s), and his price tag will be 10-20 picks later in most leagues.
Hanley Ramirez, FLA ~ HanRam remains the man in 2011.. Just not THE man. He’s about as consistent as they come at his position. and he’s worthy of a late 1st round pick due to the scarcity of the position. Despite missing 42 games in 2010, he still tied for the league lead among shortstop’s in SB’s (32), he tied for third with a .300 BA, and was third in total bases and HR’s… all in a bit of a down year.
Jose Reyes, NYM ~ You’re buying Reyes for a decent average and a bucket of stolen bases. Anything else is icing on the fantasy cake. Pray he stays healthy.
Elvis Andrus, TEX ~ Surprise, surprise. The youngster leap frogs Jeter and Rollins. He’s entering his third full season, and he’s been fairly consistent in average at .266, and SB’s (at least 32 both years). But his Runs, Hits and on base percentage went up in 2009. Look for him to continue to improve in most offensive categories, and know you can pocket at least 30 swiped bags. In all honesty, I’d rather take Elvis two rounds later than Reyes, and hope for improved batting average over the prospect that Reyes stays healthy.
Jimmy Rollins, PHI ~ While fantasy GMs got excited in 2009 when Rollins fantasy numbers started to pick back up, it was really just a tease. His batting average has steadily declined each season since 2007, and overall he’s simply not been a top tier guy. Still he plays on an offensively explosive team, and he could blow up with them at any time. Still, he’s more likely to be adequate than impressive.
Derek Jeter, NYY ~ While Jeter seems eternally young, he’s not. He started in 1995, and 2010 represented his lowest B.A. (.270) of any full season he’s played, dropping his career average to .314. He still led all shortstops with 111 runs, but the significant decline in his average (over 60 points from 2009) is a concern. Still he’s about as steady as they come at this thin position.
Alexei Ramirez, CWS ~ He’s not flashy, but he’s solid, and the White Sox boosted the team’s offense this off season so that should help improve his all around numbers.
Stephen Drew, ARI ~ Many had hoped Drew would progress faster, but he’s inched along. While he hasn’t taken a leap forward he’s been very steady.: good for 80+ runs, 60+ RBIs a dozen homers and a .270ish average. Last season he hit double digit SBs.
Starlin Castro, CHC ~ This kid’s going to be a stud fantasy SS in the not to distant future. Still he’s too young and raw for it to happen in 2011. He’ll continue to be streaky, though despite that he ended 2010 with a .300 average. Look for him to take a step forward in his first full season.
Ian Desmond, WAS ~ Desmond had a quietly solid rookie season with double digit homers and steals. Desmond will continue to improve and should be a long term fantasy fixture at SS.
Cliff Pennington, OAK ~ I haven’t seen this guy’s name on anyone’s SS rankings this year, but in his first full season as the A’s SS, he swiped 29 bags which was good for 4th at his position behind guys all listed above. His peripheral fantasy numbers weren’t gaudy, but they were top 15 in many categories. At this point decent numbers and 25+ bags seems like a steal.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, MIN ~ The Japanese infielder signed this off season with the Twins to play 2B, and he also qualifies at SS. Nishioka won the Japanese Pacific League batting title last season after hitting .346 for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He led the league in hits (206), runs (121) and total bases (287), in addition to hitting 11 home runs and delivering 59 RBIs. Nishioka also stole 22 bases in 2010
Jed Lowrie, BOS ~ Another name not showing up on rankings this year, but I expect big things from this kid, especially in that Red Sox line-up. The fact that he plays like a dozen positions (yes, I’m exaggerating) doesn’t hurt either, and he has more potential and upside from some of the vets listed below. Yeah I know, they have Marco Scutaro listed as their starting SS, but I expect the kid will steal the job, and regardless he’ll get plenty of playing time. Keep an eye on this in spring training. You may need to swap him with #20 below.
Rafael Furcal, LAD ~ Let me start by saying, he will not be on any of my teams, but if you think he can stay healthy, he could be a bargain and a nice source for SBs.
Miguel Tejada, SF ~ Long gone are his monster mashing days, but he can still hit 15-20 dingers and put up decent peripherals. Just don’t expect a career renaissance in San Francisco.
Alcides Escobar, MIL ~ His average was downright ugly (.235) in 2010, but his other numbers weren’t bad. The kid can hit, so if he can make a solid improvement (shouldn’t be too hard) in that average, he makes a good SS option in deeper leagues.
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE ~ He missed half of 2010, but he looked okay when he played. If he can remain healthy, look for a nice bounce back season.
Erick Aybar, LAA ~ He had 22 SB’s last season, so he has some speed, but so far that’s about all he has. The upside is there though.
Jhonny Peralta, DET ~ He lays third and short, but his value is in the SS slot on most fantasy teams. Most fantasy GM’s have given up on him, but on a team like the Tigers, he has a real opportunity to put up good numbers.
Marco Scutaro, BOS ~ If you’re this far down the list you’re pissing up a fantasy rope, but Marco will get plenty of playing time in Boston, and he always manages to put up decent numbers.
Fuente: Fantasy Knuckleheads