Draft This, Not That: Shortstops

The shortstop position began a major youth movement in 2015 with the arrival of instant superstar, Carlos Correa, followed by Francisco Lindor who looks like he could be Derek Jeter-lite, and then finally Corey Seager came on the scene late in the season. If you want Correa, Lindor, or Corey Seager to be a part of your 2016 plans for re-draft leagues you’re going to have to pay up. Correa has become an instant first rounder, while Seager and Lindor will likely go inside the top 60 to 70 picks overall along with another fellow youngster, Xander Bogaerts. There’s still some fantasy love being dished to Troy Tulowitzki as well, who will likely go inside of the top 50 to 55 overall picks. 2016 could see another crop of young shortstop talent with J.P. Crawford and Orlando Arcia likely to arrive at some point. Even the first three picks in the 2015 amateur draft were shortstops. The position is on the upswing, and I believe there’s some overlooked value to be had late. A few guys who hold onto name value can be had between picks 100 and 200, but after pick 200 is where I become interested in the position again if I miss out on one of the youngsters early on.

Draft This Not That

Draft Starlin Castro – Not Addison Russell

Cubs fans are going to love this one! I suppose I could have used this option for the second base position as well with both players having dual position eligibility. Addison Russell is going to be a fine option at the shortstop position for years to come. Depending on what the future holds for Starlin Castro, this could be his final year with shortstop eligibility. For those of you who think Addison Russell’s “upside” is worth calling his name some 70+ picks before you could have Starlin Castro, I’m here to crush your spirit.

Upside is nice, and maybe Addison Russell has a sliver of it. However, there’s only so much upside you can have hitting 8th with the pitcher protecting you, or hitting 9th, after said pitcher. Now, it won’t be much better for Starlin Castro in the Yankees lineup. I imagine he will hit 7th or 8th most nights. but at least he will be surrounded on both sides by other competent offensive players. Furthermore, shouldn’t Starlin Castro be granted at least a small dose of upside too, given that he will be just 26 years old throughout the entire 2016 season?

One of the biggest differences in their underlying stats is that Addison Russell struck out 28.5% of the time compared to just 15.7% of the time for Starlin Castro. The authority of contact each player makes is about the same with a large portion coming in the medium contact range. Addison Russell does hit fly balls at a much higher rate, checking in at 40.7% compared to just 28.9% for Castro. Since most of the contact Russell makes is in the medium range paired with the frequency with which he strikes out, the higher percentage of fly balls does not give him much favor when it comes to the frequency with which he jumps the yard. Neither player had great success stealing bases in 2016. Russell was successful on 4 of 7 attempts, while Castro was successful on just 5 of 10 attempts.

If there is any edge to be had, I would say the home run total should be slightly higher for Addison Russell in 2016, while Castro should be a better bet to hit for a higher average. With similar R+RBI production expected to go with an insignificant number of stolen bases for either player, Castro is the player I would feel better about on draft day given the 70+ pick discount.

For 2016, I project the following stat lines:

Addison Russell: 65/15/60/6/.250
Starlin Castro: 60/13/65/4/.265

Draft Ketel Marte – Not Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus comes with the security of having a fairly certain idea of what you’re getting. He punches his time card daily as a near certainty to play 155+ games as he has each of the past four seasons. But if the expected stat line for Andrus excites you for a player you would likely have to pick before 150 overall, we have a problem. His batting average is on a four-year slide from his career high of .286 in 2012, down to his career low of .258 produced this past season. What you have to hope for from Andrus is a .265 average to go with 3-7 home runs, around 25-30 stolen bases and whatever amount of run and RBI numbers he can accumulate hitting in the bottom third of the Rangers’ lineup.

I see nothing from the paragraph above that Ketel Marte couldn’t accomplish in 2016, and he can be had 80+ picks after Andrus goes of the board. If anything, I could see Marte being counted on for a slightly higher batting average and maybe a few less steals. Marte’s .341 BABIP seems a tad high for the common player, but it falls in line with his BABIP output at each of his AA and AAA stops the past two seasons. A .280+ batting average is a real possibility for Marte, something Elvis Andrus only accomplished once in his MLB career.

What I really like about Marte is that there’s a chance he could be slotted in as the number two hitter in the Mariners’ 2016 lineup. He may not begin the season there, but he could work his way up the order with continued development and success. Another possibility is that Marte finds himself hitting second against right-handed starting pitchers. With these possibilities in play, there’s some reason to believe that the R+RBI totals could favor Marte.

For 2016, I project the following stat lines:

Elvis Andrus: 65/5/60/25/.260
Ketel Marte: 70/3/55/22/.280

Draft This / Not That Series
CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseOutfieldPitchers

 

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Ron Vackar
Though Ron is a Dodgers fan, he is more likely to be found at Angel Stadium or Petco Park during the regular season. The Dodgers play 9-10 games a year in San Diego so Petco is basically Dodgers Stadium south. By day he is a high school teacher as well as a golf coach and previously coached baseball. When not working, he can be found at home with his beautiful wife and dog Brooklyn.
Ron Vackar

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