Targets and Avoids: Shortstop

Good fantasy teams come in all shapes and sizes. How your league is scored, how your opponents build their teams or when the draft runs occur – all of these impact how your team should look. For instance, it’s somewhere around pick 50 and all of a sudden Matt Carpenter, Anthony Rendon, Eugenio Suarez, etc.., come off the board at third base. You can go with the run and take your own third baseman, but the best way to succeed is to already have your own or to be brave enough to buck the trend and grab what falls.

I’m good at drafting. It’s a particular fantasy strength of mine. I’ve never missed the playoffs with a team I drafted (and played) myself. For the sake of full disclosure, I’m still learning on rebuilds, and evaluating prospects is (by far) my biggest fantasy weakness. I’m in 3 long-term leagues at the moment – 2 are rebuilds where I took over a bad team someone else built (I’ve guided 1 of those to the playoffs so far). The third is a full 30 team dynasty league.

I’m sharing this with you so you’ll know that I follow my own advice. I firmly believe that in any league of any size or depth, your first two picks should be an outfielder and a shortstop. Full stop. I had the misfortune in this particular league of having the high minors draft card (pick 4 of 30) and the low majors card (pick 27 of 30). As both Vlad Jr and Tatis were off the board, I traded my minors pick for a second first round pick (30 of 30), and promptly took Javier Baez and Giancarlo Stanton. Outfield and shortstop are where the fantasy superstars line-up to play.

Targets

Francisco Lindor

Listen, I’m not telling you to take Lindor over Mike Trout or Mookie Betts. I’m also not offended if you do. I am telling you that the top 4 players in fantasy are Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Ramirez, and Francisco Lindor. I don’t really care what order you draft them in. Furthermore, I will say that second and third base are substantially deeper positions than outfield or shortstop, which bumps Ramirez out of my theoretical top 3.

Last season, Lindor nearly went 30/30. He mashed 38 home runs, stole 25 bases, had a career-high .871 OPS, walked 70 times, scored 129 times, and still struck out less than 100 times. My friends, that is the profile of a superduperstar. He even added 92 rbi!

Lindor does everything well. He has much better plate discipline than Trevor Story or Javy Baez, more power than Trea Turner (or just about any shortstop beyond Story or Manny Machado), more speed than Alex Bregman . . . any way you slice it, he’s generally in the top 5 of his position at the skill. Whether it’s with pick 1.1 or any pick thereafter, picking Lindor is not a mistake.

Corey Seager

Let’s assume you’re not among the fortunate few who end up with Lindor. Maybe you had the chance and went for Trout or Betts. Maybe you had the awful mid-round pick and had to gamble on which of 10 guys would actually play like a first-round pick. It doesn’t matter.

Seager basically didn’t play in 2018. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers do crazy things with their lineups. I get it. Except, really… I don’t get it.

Fantrax has Seager going outside the top 60 picks. He’s still only 24 years old, and at 22 and 23 he had back-to-back 20+ homers, .290+ batting average campaigns. Maybe I’m missing something, but the guy should be entering his prime. Sure, maybe he’s a little rusty, and maybe he’s a better fit in long-term leagues than yearly ones, but I’m not going to be the guy betting against him.

Avoids

In case you don’t know by now, avoid is a figure of speech. I’m not telling you “hey, this guy has swine flu, if he’s walking down one side of the street you should go out of your way to walk down the other.” None of these guys have swine flu, or bird flu, or any other flu or contagion that I know of. Just don’t reach for them, and don’t be so single-minded in acquiring them that you can’t look at what else is out there. Sometimes an avoid will actually be the best available pick – and that’s fine! Just make sure it is before you go through with it.

Elvis Andrus and Amed Rosario

I’m lumping these guys together because they both worry me. I was fortunate enough to own Andrus in the year of his 20/20 season. He’d never even had double-digit home runs before, and I remain skeptical that he can ever do anything similar again. He didn’t run last year even when he was healthy, the batting average was down – the list goes on. I think 2017 was his Joe Mauer/Buster Posey style MVP season that he’ll never come close to reproducing. It was a heckuva season, but don’t expect it to happen again.

As for Rosario, the more I look at his profile, the more I see the second coming of Andrus. He runs, but not as much as Turner, and not nearly enough to offset his lack of power compared to dual-threat players like Lindor, Story, Javy Baez, or even guys like Jurickson Profar or Tim Anderson. I know he was a top prospect, but with Gleyber Torres, Jose Peraza and Willy Adames around, Marcus Semien doing his 10+/10+ routine, Correa, Bogaerts, Simmons, Segura . . . you get the picture.

There are probably 20 shortstops with more interesting profiles than Rosario. If you want to take a chance with a utility spot or a bench spot, fine, just expect his numbers to be more decent than awesome.

Targets and Avoids
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Seth Bias

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I'm Seth. I love baseball, especially the Braves, and rock n' roll on vinyl. Books, sandals and tacos too, though I find most of my money for those things going to vinyl these days. Once turned Prince Fielder into Justin Verlander and Paul Goldschmidt in a dynasty league. Also ashamed to say I once cut Jose Ramirez. I don't hate your favorite team unless your favorite team is the Nationals or Phillies. May or may not have cried when David Justice hit that home run in game 6 of the 95 World Series - though if you actually ask me, I'll claim I did not.

3 thoughts on “Targets and Avoids: Shortstop”

  1. Small correction, Lindor scored 129 runs last year, so that superduperstar line is even better than shown. 30 whole runs better, which is basically 2 full months of runs from the avoids on the list.

  2. Indeed. Not sure remotely sure how I did that, considering I just highlighted a year, copied it and turned it into a sentence, but then again, I once managed to create a table in wordpress that went diamond shaped every time I hit space bar. Thanks for the catch though!

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