Let’s not beat around the bush here folks, shortstop is quite the boondoggle right now. Yeah, boondoggle. There’s Tulowitzki, Hanley, Desmond and then a bunch of jumbly mess. There’s lots of sort of mediocre fellas, some unproven youngsters and some up and coming prospects. Like I said, jumbly mess. So, aside from the obvious choices, there are about 20-35 questions marks at the position. Now, about 15-17 of those question marks were ranked in the Fantasy Assembly shortstop keeper/dynasty rankings which you already read. Now, as you read them, I know you probably thought, “Will is all over the place compared to his fellow Fantasy Assemblers.” Well, that is true.
There were a few rankings where I was more or less on an island; my rankings being, one might say, wildly different from the rest of the pack. I could be completely wrong, that is for sure, but at the very least I figure I should present some sort of reasoning for those rankings, right? That’s rhetorical, folks, of course I should. Now, again, I could be completely wrong on my rankings…it happens. I mean, to really know who will be right, we’re going to have to wait five years or so, so it’s up in the air right now. Nevertheless, here we stand, with me to defend some of my rankings. So, strap yourself in, cause here we go.
Alcides Escobar, Royals – Alcides comes in as our number ten shortstop for keeper and dynasty leagues. This means, on average, over the next four to five seasons, Mr. Escobar should be a #1 shortstop for teams in a 10-12 team leagues. Where did I rank him? Well, I only ranked 20 shortstops and he did not make the cut. Now, I will admit, Alcides had a better season than I thought, in 2014. Escobar was actually a top five fantasy shortstop in 2014, who knew? Well, maybe the rest of my Fantasy Assembly colleagues, I suppose? They were clearly not overly persuaded by his numbers though, as he still only barely cracked the top ten.
Escobar has been a regular for five seasons and he has a career slash line of .263/.299/.349. There is nothing impressive about that. Once, he hit five home runs. Once. The RBIs I won’t even get into because, well, no one is looking for Escobar for RBIs. Escobar’s fantasy value is in steals and runs. In 2014, Escobar scored the most runs of his career and, quite frankly, I don’t see him scoring more than that any time soon. You see, Escobar has trouble getting on base which, for the most part, will cut down on one’s ability to steal bases and, of course, score runs. If you believe in Escobar you are believing in that 2014 .317 OBP, which is already, actually, super low. That OBP may be attainable, but it’s still not good. So you have no power and a guy who maybe, maybe, gets you 70 or more runs and 30 steals. I actually think you see the OBP fall closer to his career number which, in turn, will reduce the steals and runs. If you want a light hitting shortstop with, steals in the low 20s and runs in the 60s, maybe, then be my guest, but I want no part of Alcides going forward.
Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals – Did you know there were only two shortstops in 2014 that had 20 or more home runs? Well, there were, and one of them was Jhonny Peralta. Did you also know that exactly one shortstop had more RBIs than Peralta in 2014? Cause this is also true. While we’re on a roll, here, did you know Peralta was also #3 among 2014 shortstops in slugging percentage? That is a another fact.
Look, Peralta is out of his prime as a hitter but, at 32, he is still very productive. In three of his last four years he has been highly productive. With the 21 dingers in 2014 Peralta has clearly found his power stroke again and, while it may not happen every year, you should see the 20 or so dingers fairly consistently for several years to come. Peralta is a good slugging SS, and should be in the top ten at the position for two to three seasons and just outside the top ten for the two to three after that.
Jean Segura, Brewers – Segura was a fantasy superstar in 2013 and in 2014, well, he was on the complete other end of the fantasy spectrum. The sample size is small so, right now, well, it’s all about which season to believe. Well, the 12 dingers, those are probably not for real. I mean, in like 1400 or so minor league plate appearances Segura has 24 total home runs. It’s my belief that you won’t see many double-digit home run seasons from Segura in his career and, much like the aforementioned Alcides Escobar, Segura’s value lies in steals and runs. Well, also, much like Escobar, Segura does not get on base much.
The on-base percentage is a tad better than Alcides, but still, like Alcides, not getting on base, cuts into his value. Less time on base, means fewer opportunities to steal and or score runs. Just under 60% of Segura’s batted balls were on the ground in 2014. That was no different from what he did in 2013. In fact, the batted ball numbers in 2014 were not much different from his batted ball numbers in 2013, except he had a much lower BABIP. Segura not only hit more balls on the ground in 2014, but he also had fewer infield hits. It’s dangerous to rely on a guy dependent on runs and steals, who doesn’t get on base or hit the ball in the air. Right now, it’s all about whether or not you believe in Segura’s 2013 season or his 2014 season. Me, I believe in the latter.
Andrelton Simmons, Braves – I love the name Andrelton. Now, that is a fact, but I guess, not at all pertinent to why you are here at Fantasy Assembly. So, Andrelton, fantasy wise, was about as sad and disappointing as Segura was in 2014. Much like Segura, Simmons was more disappointing because he was coming off a nice 2013. Simmons socked 17 homers in 2013, and then in 2014, he hit, well far less. Now, Fangraphs had a nice little bit on the Braves asking Simmons what kind of hitter he wanted to be. This worked out not so well, judging by the 2014 numbers.
Simmons is a fantastic contact hitter who will, most likely, get a few more walks down the road, as is natural with a matures a maturing hitter. Most of his real life, not fantasy, value is tied to his defensive prowess, but I think, as he comes into his own and matures as a hitter, he will start to produce a bit more. Simmons has adjusted quickly at each level but, while I don’t know that he gets to 17-20 homers again, 10ish could be in the cards for him for several years to come. Plus, he now gets the tutelage of Kevin Seitzer as a hitting coach. Seitzer has done a pretty darned decent job as the Blue jays hitting coach and seems like he may be just what Simmons need to help mature into a viable fantasy producer. Mark my words Andrelton will be a great buy low SS, folks!