2015 Early Rankings: Shortstop

The shortstop position has not changed much in the past few years.  Most of the names you drafted in 2013 are still there, and probably around the same rank.  Several new comers like Danny Santana, Xander Bogaerts, Javier Baez, Wilmer Flores and Jordy Mercer have joined the ranks.  Also up and comers Addison Russell, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa could make their debut sometime this season.  Some of these players could become mainstays at the top of the rankings in the next few years replacing aging stars like Tulowitzki, Ramirez and Reyes.  Others will join the serviceable group you settle for once the big guns are gone.  The rest will either become players that you grab off waivers in case of an emergency or fade into obscurity.

The shortstop class of 2015 has some talent, but the top stars are all aging and come with injury concerns.  The rest of the class is full of aging veterans, average players and potential hopefuls with little track records.  Trust me when I say it isn’t a pretty picture.  The number of players you can truly rely on for consistent numbers are few and far between.  A player like Ben Zobrist becomes a standouts when looking at this group, and Jimmy Rollins looks like a really good fallback option if you wait too long.  Regardless of whether you reach for a shortstop or wait, you may want to grab a second man for short, just in case.

Joining me as always for these early rankings (along with where you can find them) are:

Seth Klein (@SethDaSportsMan) from Fantasy Pros and contributor at RazzBall
Doug Anderson (@rotodaddy) from Fantasy Sports Network
Timothy King (@TKing978) from The Sports Script and host of Fantasy Forecaster on Blog Talk Radio.
Chris Meyers (@FantsyChillpony) from David Gonos and contributor for Fake Teams.

Each week we will be bringing you our top (and bottom) players at each position for those baseball junkies who crave fantasy baseball all year round.  Before we get to the rankings, lets take a look at this years free agent class.  Hanley Ramirez, Jed Lowrie, Stephen Drew, Asdrubal Cabrera and Clint Barmes.  Mike Aviles has a 3.5 million dollar club options with a 250K buyout.  Aviles isn’t expensive so it will come down to if the Indians want to go younger or keep him around as an insurance policy and stopgap for Francisco Lindor.  Cabrera should find work and is a fallback option for fantasy owners depending on his new home.  Lowrie is a wildcard as far as fantasy value goes and should land a job somewhere.  The big name here is Hanley Ramirez.  His fantasy value is already high, but signing with a high-powered offence or a team with a favorable home park could increase that value.  Injuries and inconsistencies are still an issue, but that won’t stop some team from showing him the money.

The rankings below represent the top 20 Shortstops for the 2015 season.  We used a 20 game minimum for games played to qualify so several players who may be eligible in your league might not have made the cut.  If you see a player omitted or not ranked, feel free to inquire about them in the comment section below.  On with the rankings.

Rank Player Jim Tim Chris Seth Doug
1 Troy Tulowitzki 1 1 1 1 1
2 Ian Desmond 2 3 3 2 2
3 Hanley Ramirez 4 2 2 3 3
4 Jose Reyes 3 4 4 4 4
5 Starlin Castro 5 5 5 5 5
6 Alexei Ramirez 6 8 10 7 8
7 Ben Zobrist 7 11 9 9 12
7 Jimmy Rollins 10 14 7 6 11
9 Xander Bogaerts 14 6 13 10 7
10 Elvis Andrus 8 9 8 17 13
11 Erick Aybar 12 13 6 16 10
12 J.J. Hardy 13 18 15 11 6
13 Alcides Escobar 9 17 16 14 9
14 Danny Santana 11 16 12 12 15
15 Johnny Peralta 15 15 17 8 16
16 Javier Baez 16 7 N/R 15 14
17 Asdrubal Cabrera 20 12 14 18 19
18 Jean Segura 17 10 N/R N/R 17
19 Andrelton Simmons N/R 19 11 N/R 20
20 Everth Cabrera N/R 20 18 N/R 18

There are zero questions about who the top 5 shortstops are.  Tulowitzki, Reyes and Castro are all where they should be, but there is some debate between Hanley & Desmond on who should be the number 2 guy.  Alexei Ramirez and Ben Zobrist are the two safest choices after that judging by the closeness of their rankings; after that, it is complete and utter crapshoot on who to take and where they should be ranked.  Jimmy Rollins comes in tied for seventh with Zobrist, but he is ranked anywhere from 6 to 14.  Same thing goes for Xander Bogaerts.  Dependable Elvis Andrus is ranked between 8 and 17, Erick Aybar between 6 and 16, J.J. Hardy between 6 and 18 and so on.  Of all the players ranked below seventh, Danny Santana is the only one that shows any type of consistency as for where he should be ranked and taken.

Doug and Tim have every player ranked in the top 20 on their lists, but the other three have some alternate choices to consider for the bottom half.  Chris prefers Jed Lowrie and Chris Owings for his final two spots over Javier Baez and Jean Segura.  Seth also like Jed Lowrie at 19 along with Francisco Lindor.  He is also very high on Jordy Mercer (13) and would take him or either of the other two players over guys like Jean Segura, Everth Cabrera and Andrelton Simmons.  Jim is also a Francisco Lindor guy and likes Wilmer Flores as a late round pick, and like Seth he doesn’t think much of Cabrera or Simmons.  All of the names listed here along with those bottom ranked players can be ignored on draft day in 12 team leagues that do not use a MI slot.  A few of them are worthy of a late round pick or a spot on your watch list.

 

Player(s) that you would reach for in the draft

SethJavier Baez – Baez is sort of a catch-22 for me – in where I don’t really like him a whole lot (this year), but would also reach for him depending on my team’s needs. We all know the power this (young) man possesses. At only 21 years old, he managed to hit some of the biggest bombs of the 2014 season – of course, that came with a price. His inexperience showed, racking up 95 K in just 229 plate appearances and hitting a putrid .169. It may be a while till he starts to hit for some average, but playing every day in the Cubs lineup will afford him lots of chances to crank some dingers out of Wrigley. If extrapolated over 600 at-bats, Baez would have hit 25 HR in 2014. Baez isn’t a guy I’d take anywhere before the late rounds, but I would grab him a little ahead of his ADP if I was lacking power elsewhere. You won’t see him in my 2B rankings because I think it’s a deeper position, but 25+ HR with 2B/SS eligibility is very nice for a late-round flier.
Also considered: Jhonny Peralta, Alcides Escobar

DougJavier Baez – At each rung he’s struggled in his first exposure and then conquers it. I think he hits above .250 and he just might lead all 2B in HR. Also very high on Kolten Wong.

Tim:  This position really hasn’t evolved much over the past several seasons. It’s more or less the same old group minus Bogaerts and Baez. For that reason, there aren’t any SS I’m willing to reach on. I more or less just fill the position later in the draft. With that being said, I like Ben Zobrist quite a bit. He’s always overlooked but always scores a healthy amount of runs while posting a batting average that won’t hurt. Furthermore, he’s a lock for double-digit homers and steals. I’ll probably be the highest on him.

ChrisTroy Tulowitzki – I will reach for tulo once again. Injury plagued or not he produces elite numbers when healthy.

JimIan Desmond represents the only top option with 20/20 potential and a body healthy enough to play an entire season.  While most teams are loading up on elite pitching and home run hitters, I like to aim for guys like Desmond, Rendon and Frazier who will give me nice rounded numbers everywhere.  If Desmond is gone, I’ll grab a power hitter and aim for Starlin Castro a few rounds later.  He came around this year after a disastrous  2013 season.  He has power, and while it didn’t make an appearance this year, he still has speed.  Castro has the ability to be a very similar player to Desmond.

 

Player(s) you will avoid drafting

SethElvis Andrus – If any of you follow me on Twitter, you know how much I hate Andrus from a fantasy perspective. Every year, this guy is taken as one of the top shortstops, and every year, he continues to put up, well, Alcides Escobar numbers. Andrus has hit a mere 20 home runs during his entire six-year career (he even failed to knock a single ball out of the park in 2010), has never topped 67 RBI in a season, and only once has he batted better than .280. By taking him earlier on, you’re essentially drafting him for his steals and runs, which quite frankly, you get can elsewhere.
Also considered: Brandon Crawford, Jean Segura, Everth Cabrera

DougHanley Ramirez – Everybody talks about Tulo being injury prone. Ramirez has his own problems staying on the field. He hasn’t stolen 20 bases in the last two years and is no lock to hit 20 HRs. Batting average has been all over the place… and he’ll be an early 2nd round pick.

Tim:  I’m forever fading Tulowitzki. The month-long benders he goes on are more than impressive don’t get me wrong. Without fail though, once he convinces everyone he is finally going to put together that otherworldly season, he tears something in his lower body. Troy, if you’re reading this, stop skipping leg day.

ChrisEverth Cabrera – 2014 Helped show owners steals can be found. A player in a scarce position who only has one strength I try to avoid.

Jim:  There aren’t than many shortstops I will turn my nose up at, mostly because I usually end up settling for one because the players I like are scooped up before I get a chance.  Alexei Ramirez is one player I will try to avoid though.  I like his overall numbers, but I am skeptical of the player.  How he has rediscovered his speed and shown improvement since age 30 is a complete mystery to me and makes me believe he made a deal with the devil down at the crossroads.  I ranked him high because his numbers dictate that’s where he belongs, but he’s not for me.  I’d probably avoid Jimmy Rollins as well.  He could put up productive fantasy numbers, but at age 36 I have to wonder when that cliff year will come.  I’ve been thinking the same thing about David Ortiz for years so obviously that line of thinking is flawed, but better safe than sorry.

 

Average Joe, the player that you would wait on and settle for.

Seth:  Erick Aybar – Nothing flashy here, just consistent numbers you can count on. Aybar is part of one of the most potent lineups in baseball and should net you a respectable BA (.277 career) with 7-10 HR, 55 RBI, 70+ runs scored, and double-digit stolen bases (since 2009, he’s averaged 19 swipes per season). He won’t even be drafted in some leagues, so feel free to grab him in the late rounds or wait to scoop him up on waivers.
Also considered: Jed Lowrie, Andrelton Simmons (if he bats higher in order), Chris Taylor, Chris Owings

DougBen Zobrist – The power and speed are slowly eroding, but he still plays every day and the position eligibility is a huge help.

Tim Asdrubal Cabrera and Erick Aybar are super boring, but they are fine starting options in 12 team leagues. Cabrera is a free agent and could potentially land in New York and Aybar will once again be hitting in a potent Angels lineup.  Jhonny Peralta is also an intriguing late-round option, and could be starter material in a deeper league; he has the ability to hit 20 homers.

ChrisErick Aybar – Boring, but consistently solid in all categories and produces at a thin position.

Jim: Erick Aybar is someone than ends up on at least one of my teams every year.  Uninspiring, mediocre numbers is all you’ll get, but he plays every day, delivers a little something everywhere and his batting average won’t kill you.  J.J. Hardy is my fallback option, and after his power outage in 2014, he’ll come cheap next year.  Hardy is usually good for around 70 runs and RBIs, about 20 home runs give or take a few and a batting average in the .260 range.  There is zero upside here, but there is little risk as well considering the round you’ll be able to acquire him in the draft.

 

Late round pick that could make an impact

SethWilmer Flores – The Mets’ shortstop nearly made my top 20, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. But just because he didn’t sneak in there, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be considering him as a high-upside pick in the last few rounds. Flores didn’t really start to get everyday at-bats till August, but he is definitely the middle infielder to own in Queens. Between his time at Triple-A Las Vegas and with the big club, the 23-year-old smashed 19 HR, including four for the Mets in September. He profiles as a power hitter, too, with 16 total home runs in 2013 and 18 in 2012. He won’t get you the stolen bases many owners have grown accustomed to from the shortstop position, but 15-18 HR and 60 RBI is not out of the question.
Also considered: Chris Taylor, Corey Seager (if Hanley Ramirez doesn’t re-sign), Francisco Lindor

DougWilmer Flores – Not sure he hits right away, but his potential makes him a nice play late in drafts.

Tim:  Who knows, maybe Everth Cabrera finds the magic (or non-detectable steroid) that saw him hit .283 with 37 steals in just 435 2013 plate appearances. Otherwise, I look to Andrelton Simmons for a bounce-back season. Eventually he is going to hit for enough power to matter.

ChrisAndrelton Simmons – I love Andeltron’s peripherals.  Think his 2014 struggles were flukey, and bad luck. If i get Tulo I will gladly roster Andeltron

JimFrancisco Lindor isn’t guaranteed a starting role with Cleveland to start the season, but Asdrubal Cabrera is gone and there is an open space waiting for him.  He currently looks like an Elvis Andrus type player, but he is younger, still growing and has much more potential as his body fills out.  If he starts the season with a job, an average in the .275 range with 30 stolen bases is possible.  I’ve also got a soft spot for Wilmer Flores.  I can see a season similar to what Starlin Castro put up in 2014 which is pretty good for a late round pick or potential waiver wire pickup.

Early 2015 Rankings

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Want to hear more about the players ranked here, listen to David, Seth, Doug, Tim, Chris and Jim discuss their rankings every Wednesday on FantasySquads Radio – AskROTObaseball Livecast hosted by David Kerr.

Podcast Archives

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Fantasy Rundown BannerStill need more rankings, head on over to Fantasy Rundown where Goose will be compiling rankings for the 2015 season as well as prospect rankings and the best baseball links available this off-season.

Jim Finch

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The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.