The SS position has 2 elite options in Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki. Both will most likely cost you a first round selection but both are still in their prime. If you miss out on either of these guys (and in standard leagues, 10 owners will), there is a solid second tier of SS to choose from. After that tier, there are some interesting prospects to consider in Dynasty leagues. Shortstop may not be a very deep position today but it is one that may prove to be deeper in the next 3-4 years if the elite talent develops.
1. Hanley Ramirez, LAD : As a Red Sox fan, Ramirez will always hold a special place in my baseball heart, both from a what was and what could have been perspective. Since being traded from the Red Sox to the Marlins in a deal with Anibal Sanchez that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston has been arguably the most productive SS in baseball. In 6 healthy seasons, Ramirez has averaged 672.8 plate appearances, while in his 2 injury-shortened seasons he averaged 360.5 plate appearances. While his steals have declined since back to back 51 stolen base seasons in Florida, Ramirez can still be counted on for 15-20 steals (maybe more). He has great power, is a career 0.300 hitter, and will have ample opportunities to drive in and score runs in an All-Star laden Dodger lineup.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, COL : Since taking over as SS in Colorado in 2007, fantasy owners have come to know what to expect from Tulo. In the 5 seasons where he played more than 120 games, Tulo has averaged 27.6HR, 89.4 runs, 94.6 RBI. In the 2 seasons where he played 101 games or less, he averaged 8HR, 40.5 runs and 36.5 RBI. When he is healthy, the production is second only to Hanley. If you can find a replacement for the 20-30 games that he may miss (take a peak at the end of this list), then you will be willing to pay first round money for Tulowitzki.
3. Jean Segura, MIL : Owners who drafted Segura certainly got a bit more than they expected from the 24-year old Brewer SS. Segura swiped 44 bases while hitting 12 homers, displaying a nice power-speed combo. Factor in a return of Ryan Braun in the Brewer lineup in 2014, and Segura could approach the 90-100 runs scored plateau.
4. Elvis Andrus, TEX : Sitting atop the Rangers lineup, Andrus’ primary responsibility is to get on base and score. He has done that to the tone of 86.4 runs per year (with 91 runs scored in 2013). He has stolen at least 32 bases in 4 of his 5 professional seasons, with a career high 42 in 2013. He won’t deliver HR, but Andrus can also drive in 60 runs.
5. Jose Reyes, TOR : When Jose Reyes ended up in Toronto it was supposed to signal a change north of the border. Instead, fantasy owners had to suffer through an injury-plagued season. Reyes was still productive when on the field, hitting 10 homers and stealing 15 bases while batting 0.294. While these were not the numbers that owners we anticipating, Reyes could be a nice bounceback candidate in year 2 in Toronto.
6. Xander Bogaerts, BOS : The success of Bogaerts in 2014 will depend on what the Red Sox organizational plans are for Stephen Drew (free agent after this season) and Will Middlebrooks (struggled mightily at the plate in 2013). Bogaerts is a superstar waiting to emerge. Thus far a small sample at the MLB level, but the tools are there and, given a chance to start next season, he could end up inside the top 10. In Dynasty leagues, he is a must own commodity.
7. Everth Cabrera, SD : Before being suspended for his connection with BioGenesis, Cabrera was having a productive 2013 season. In 95 games, he had stolen 37 bases, which at the time was among the league leaders. He was also batting a career best 0.283. While Cabrera does not bring power, he will run and can score some runs as well (though probably in the 70-80 range). Once the top tier SS are gone, Cabrera is a nice pick.
8. Ian Desmond, WAS : Back-to-back 20-20 seasons have Desmond climbing the ranks of SS. Delivering a solid batting average (career 0.373 but hit 0.280 in 2013), Desmond will also score and drive in around 75 runs. He still strikes out more than 20% of the time, but if he can cut that down and increase his HR/FB% from the 12.9% he had in 2013, an uptick in production could be expected in 2014.
9. Anderlton Simmons, ATL : Simmons was the fantasy draft darling at SS heading into 2013, with the job in Atlanta his to lose. His final stat line is impressive for a 24-year old: 17 HR, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored and 6 steals to boot. His K% was a tidy 8.4% and his BABIP was a mere 0.247, meaning his 0.248 batting average stands to gain a few points if he can correct his 18.5% Line-drive rate. Atlanta is a hitters park, and the lineup is loaded with talent, so Simmons should be an impact SS and drafted inside the top 10 at the position.
10. Javier Baez, CHC : The Chicago Cubs are proving that they have some elite talent collected in their minor leagues, and Baez offers hope that the team could be competitive in the near future. The 20-year old (he turns 21 in December) has made a steady climb through the minors. In 2 levels in 2013 he totaled 37 HR and 20 steals, driving in 111 runs and scoring 98. Baez still strikes out too much, currently 27% over his career, but did show increased plate discipline with an increased walk rate in 2013. He may be a couple years away, and unless the Cubs move Castro he may need to shift positions, but he has an elite bat that owners should covet on their roster.
11. Carlos Correa, HOU : The 19-year old SS showed he was ready for professional baseball in 2013, batting a robust 0.320 in 117 games for the Quad City Bandits (A). He showed great discipline at the plate, with an 11.2% BB rate and 16% K rate. Nearly totaling a double-double season (9 HR/10 steals), Correa displayed the complete package that led the Astros to select him #1 overall. He did have a high BABIP (0.375) so some regression in his average should be expected. However, he is the type of high-floor/high-ceiling player that should be owned in Dynasty leagues.
12. Jonathan Villar, HOU : I have Villar climbing in the ranks for next season. The 22-year old may have struggled to hit (0.243 average) but when he got on base, he stole 18 bases in 58 games (you can do the math, but that translate to some elite speed potential). He is not going to hit HR, but he could score and steal, and that has value, especially in roto leagues.
13. Addison Russell, OAK : Another 19-year old prospect with a great package of speed and power, Russell smacked 17 HR while stealing 21 bases at high-A Stockton (Oakland A’s). Oakland as an organization does a really nice job of identifying and developing talent, so I expect Russell to continue that trend. A 20/20 SS is definitely someone to be owned in Dynasty leagues.
14. Starlin Castro, CHC : Oh how the fantasy darlings have fallen. Just a year removed from talk of becoming a top SS in fantasy, with 0.300 averages/15 HR/25 SB potential, Castro struggled in 2013 and while he played in 161 games, it seems that opinions of him are changing in the Windy City. His K% went up 4%, his BA dropped nearly 40 points, and he only stole 9 bases. The Cubs would be wise to give him more time to develop, and fantasy owners should do the same. A change of scenery may benefit him.
15. Francisco Lindor, CLE : The 19-year old Indians prospect completed a successful season, mostly at high-A ball in 2013. Between high-A and stint at AA, Lindor swiped 25 bases on 32 attempts, and carried a 0.300 average. His potential power has not yet developed, but he connected on 31 extra-base hits in 403 at-bats, which indicate that there is some potential there. Lindor may be a player who is more valuable in real-life than fantasy due to his defense, but he should serve fantasy owners well with a solid average and speed.
16. Adeiny Hechevarria, MIA : The Marlins are in full rebuild mode and the 24-year old Hechevarria is a big part of that plan. While he struggled at the plate, with a 0.227 average, he was able to steal 11 bases (though he was caught 10 times, so unless he ups his success rate, he may get a yellow light on occasion). He is a few years away from making a true fantasy impact, but keep him on your radar in keeper leagues.
17. Raul Adalberto Mondesi, KC : The18-year old held his own in single A in 2013, stealing 24 bases in 34 attempts and hitting 7 homers. Obviously there is a lot of growth remaining, and plenty of time before he reaches the majors, but the pedigree is there (son of Raul Mondesi). He may not be more than a 12-15 HR guy, but with speed and a good approach at the plate, will be a very solid SS option.
18. Brad Miller, SEA : He showed a little bit of power (8 HR in 76 games) and 5 steals means he could approach 20/10 levels. A low-end option at this point.
19. Alen Hanson, PIT : Competing at 3 levels in 2013, Hanson stole 33 bases, but was caught 17 times. His 27 doubles and 13 triples indicate that he has good gap power, which could translate to a few additional homeruns as he ages.
20. Didi Gregorius, ARI : The 23-year old Arizona SS still has plenty of growth, but the overall ceiling is not that high.
Don’t sleep on these guys:
Trevor Story (Colorado)
Daniel Robertson (Oakland)
Corey Seager (LA Dodgers)
Check out the rest of the Dynasty League Rankings.