Shortstop is one of the thinnest positions for the 2015 season. Three of the four top shortstops all come with an injury risk and could force you to scramble for a replacement at any time. The next three or four are stable yet uninspiring options. You’ll get a little power or speed, maybe a combination of both; good overall numbers but a step below the top guys. After that it is a complete and utter crap shoot and not even the best fantasy analyst can predict with any certainty what kind of numbers you will get. Is Danny Santana for real? Can Jimmy Rollins stay healthy and fantasy relevant? Will Jean Segura ever live up to his potential? What kind of power will we get from J.J. Hardy? Is Andrelton Simmons all glove or will his offensive production match his defensive prowess? We can go player by player but each player named will have a question mark after their name. If you reach you could find yourself searching through waivers at some point, and if you don’t grab one of the next best things there is little guarantee what you will get as far as production. Happy hunting.
Below are our top 25 Shortstops for the 2015 season. We used a 10 games started minimum eligibility requirement for Players. If you feel we overlooked someone or would like to debate a players ranking, feel free to do so in the comment section below.
Tulowitzki has to share the top spot with Ian Desmond which should show you that health and playing time is just as important as raw power. If you look at the top 8 players; all of the players here are in agreement with the exception of one vote for the final few. After that we are all somewhat close on our players ranked 9-19; these would be the best of the rest. The final six are where we agree to disagree, but we all have our favorites when it comes to late round picks. Maybe favorite is the wrong word here; more like the players we think will hurt you the least if you drafted them.
Overall there were 32 players ranked in our top 25. The seven players that did not make the cut are Brad Miller, Francisco Lindor, Josh Rutledge, Adeiny Hechavarria, Didi Gregorius, Brock Holt and Everth Cabrera. With the exception of Miller, none of them appeared on more than two lists or were ranked higher than 21. I’m sure Jim will cover a number of them when he covers the bottom of the barrel players for shortstop. So who are the players we are looking at (and avoiding) in 2015?
Players that you would reach for in the draft
Tommy: There is not really a single player on this list who I would reach for, but I could see myself owning Alcides Escobar often because I value him more than most. He improved a lot last year, and is a good bet to deliver a strong batting average along with 30 steals. If he continues to bat near the top of the order, his run production will improve also.
Kevin: Honestly, no one in the top-5 make me want to reach above their ADP. There are question marks for everyone. The least risky is Ian Desmond, which is why I rank him first, but Hanley or Tulo could easily return #1 SS value.
Will: Troy Tulowitzki, Ian Desmond and Hanley Ramirez – Honestly I am not too fond of how SS kind of falls off in the later rounds, so despite Tulo and Hanley’s injury troubles, I am willing to take the risk on them, but Desmond has the most appeal to me, here. This is the proven pop at SS.
Ron: I will gladly take Ian Desmond as my shortstop in the second round of a draft. He is in a contract year and the only SS with a chance to have a 20/20 season. Speaking of 20/20 seasons, 2015 could be his fourth in a row. That’s rare in today’s game no matter what position a guy plays.
Jim: Ian Desmond represents the only top option with 20/20 potential and a body healthy enough to play an entire season. If Desmond is gone, I can’t see myself reaching for anyone else and will settle for the best available option for the round I’m in.
Players you will avoid drafting
Tommy: Jose Reyes is always an expensive SS option, but he is clearly in decline. His 254 foot average fly ball distance shows that his power is drying up, and I worry that he may not reach 30 steals again either. Danny Santana is another player who may be drafted too highly in 2015. His average was fueled by a .405 BABIP. He has terrible plate discipline and looks more like a .270 hitter to me. Santana may be drafted as a top 10 option, but in reality he belongs in the tier with the average Joes.
Kevin: I realize that he’s generally considered the #1 shortstop, but I really want reliable, healthy players in the first round, so I won’t draft Troy Tulowitzki. It’s bad enough when your healthy first pick goes down with an injury. Don’t draft a guy who consistently nets under 450 AB.
Will: Alcides Escobar – He doesn’t walk and I am not buying the 2013 batting average. Plus I think you’ll see some regression in steals and runs. Just not the type of player I go for in fantasy.
Ron: Andrelton Simmons will not be on a roster of mine in 2015. This has much to do with my belief that Simmons has already had his career year and has since been exposed as a glove only shortstop as it does with my hate for having anything to do with the Braves offense in 2015. Sad to think that by the time the season starts, Simmons might be Atlanta’s third or fourth best bat in their lineup.
Jim: Alexei Ramirez – 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.
Average Joe, the players that you would wait on and settle for.
Tommy: There are quite a few players here who should be useful SS options in 2015. Owners will likely get a good bargain on vets like Jimmy Rollins, Erick Aybar, Ben Zobrist, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. I will happily take any of these guys in the second half of the draft.
Kevin: Danny Santana will be undervalued in 2015. He’s not amazing but will perform solidly as your SS in non-shallow leagues.
Will: Look up the word consistency in the dictionary and you’ll find the definition of the word consistency. Read that definition and you will see it applies perfectly to Erick Aybar over the last four seasons. You know what you’re getting, 7-10 dingers, high 60s, low 70s in runs, with 50-60 RBIS and a decent average.
Ron: Elvis Andrus is finally headed for a reasonable ADP and I will gladly take his 30+ SB potential hitting out of the second spot in a Rangers lineup that should bounce back. Catcher has often been considered the ultimate set it and forget fantasy position but I think shortstop is inching that direction as well. With that in mind, Ben Zobrist is about as safe as they come as an Average Joe and his position flexibility plays nicely in deep formats.
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 picks that could make an impact
Tommy: If Jose Ramirez is able to hold of Francisco Lindor, he will make a sneaky under the radar play. I expect similar numbers to what Danny Santana will deliver, just at a fraction of the cost. Jordy Mercer is another guy who goes largely unappreciated in fantasy circles. He lacks upside, but has a good chance to finish on the top 12 SS fringe just as he did in 2014 with his steady play.
Kevin: Any young player who struggled in 2014 or haven’t had much playing time could produce nicely if they are endgame picks: Xander Bogaerts, Javier Baez, Wilmer Flores, and even Francisco Lindor. But if they are going higher than 15th at the position, they’re not worth the risk.
Will: I think Didi Gregorius was a sneakily decent pickup for the Pinstripes and could be a nice late round flyer for your squad. Even more intriguing is the Pirates’ Korean sensation Jung-ho Kang. From what I have read, Kang could provide you some late round pop from a position that doesn’t have much.
Ron: The Diamondbacks have cleared room for Chris Owings to be their everyday shortstop. Owings offers double digit home run and stolen base potential you can have a crack at cheaply on draft day. Wilmer Flores is another sneaky late draft play who could put up something worthy of consideration for your middle infield spot in deeper formats.
Jim: Not sure how far Wilmer Flores will fall to qualify as a late round pick, but I like him as one none the less. If the Mets stick with him at short, I can see a batting average around .280 along with 16-18 home runs; basically a similar line to Starlin Castro in 2014. Chris Owings could be another sneaky pick. He has a nice power speed combo (more speed) and if he can pick the batting average up, you could be looking at someone who will be ranked in the bottom half of the top 12 in 2016.
Defend Your Rankings
Players ranked higher or lower than the rest of the group that need some explaining.
Tommy: So my Alexei Ramirez ranking may be a little extreme, but seriously, what is the difference between the veteran shortstop options ranked between 5 and 17? I can’t see much of one.
With Ramirez, his 2014 value was propped up by a very flukey HR/FB rate of 8.4%. When compared to the his average fly ball distance of just 262 feet, it is easy to see that he will not match 15 HRs again. Considering that his HR/FB ratio had been declining for two straight years and that Alexei failed to reach double digits in the HR category the previous two seasons, I think Ramirez owners will be lucky to get 8 HRs from him in 2015. Ramirez has had three consecutive seasons with 20+ steals, but he is now 33 years old and he ran less frequently last season.
When you add it all up, you get a .270ish hitter with limited power and a low 20s SB ceiling. Since he never walks and bats in the bottom half of the lineup, run production totals should regress sharply also. Don’t pay for 2014’s numbers when you are more likely to get 2013’s return on investment.
Ron: Jean Segura: Of all the players I might have to defend in my rankings, I was not expecting Jean Segura to be one of them. That is to say he is not a player I am particularly high on or one I expect to target heavily in drafts. I simply see him as having a shot at a 10 home run, 30 SB season and I cannot see that being possible from any SS I have ranked below him. While so many were high on Segura a season ago I was really down on him going into 2014. The consensus feelings on Segura entering this season seem to have swung the other way and I think people are overlooking the human element that has to be considered here. I can only guess that losing a child last season had an enormous impact on Segura’s ability to perform at the highest level. Because of that I am willing to give him a pass on his 2014 performance to some degree and expect a nice bounce back in 2015. The best news for drafters is you do not have to overpay for Segura this season.
Jim: Wilmer Flores: The Mets have been hesitant about naming him their starting shortstop, but his bat is ready. Flores was a .300 hitter in AA and AAA, doesn’t strike out much and has enough pop in his bat to hit 12-15 home runs. Realistically he could reproduce Starlin Castro’s line from 2014; that would be good enough to land him in the top 12. And, since nobody seems to be a believer in him, you can get him for dirt cheap. I hate most of the shortstops available this year, but I like Flores.
Still 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.