Ever since my last article went to press, I have been agonizing over who to feature in my love/hate piece for the shortstop position. After much deliberation, I realized that there really is not a single player that excites me on either side of the spectrum. Instead of forcing the issue with players I am merely fond of, or players who I have a mild prejudice against, I decided to break the mold and do something different this week.
When looking at the shortstop position this season, there really is not all that much to be excited about. There are not many elite performers at the position and there are some major question marks surrounding the top options. Depth at the position is somewhat questionable also. Stat lines expected from low-end SS 1 options are pretty underwhelming when compared to other positions.
My plan of attack at shortstop in 2015 will be very simple. There is not a single SS I am targeting at any point in the draft. I will rely solely on value and will look to draft my SS when there is not another player who I “love” near the top of my draft board. In this piece, I will share my personal thoughts on where I would consider drafting my top 20 SS options.
*All ADP data in this article is courtesy of fantasypros.com
Troy Tulowitzki (ADP 13) – I have Tulo ranked 13th overall. I would look to take him if my top 12 are off the board. Since Tulo’s current ADP is exactly 13, whether or not I own him will be a function of draft position. Since there are a couple of players like Rendon and Rizzo who I prefer over Tulo but also have lower ADPs, I doubt I will own him.
Ian Desmond (ADP 30) and Hanley Ramirez (ADP 33) – I am lumping these two together because I have them ranked within a couple of spots of one another, and so does ADP. I don’t expect to own either player this season, but I might take the plunge if they were available outside of the top 36 and a couple of my preferred options were scooped up before.
Jose Reyes (ADP 47) – If I wrote a hate piece, it probably would have been Reyes. The fact that I still have him ranked 4th speaks to my lack of confidence in the other SS options available. Injury risk, declining power and less aggressive base running all limit his upside. I would consider Reyes around pick 70 overall, but not before. I seriously doubt I will own Reyes.
Starlin Castro (ADP 112) – I have Castro ranked in the same neighborhood as Reyes. I think Castro is worth a pick in the 75-90 range but could actually be available a couple of rounds later. He looks to be developing 20 HR power and should offer a solid batting average in an improving lineup. I would not say that Castro is a safe pick, but seems a little safer than some of the other names on the SS draft board. If I don’t end up owning any shares of Castro, it will likely be because I am looking at pitching during this phase of the draft. The value looks pretty good.
Alcides Escobar (ADP 180) – I like Escobar as a solid three category producer. I think he is worth a selection near pick 100, but he should be available significantly later than that. I don’t see much difference between Escobar and Andrus, so give me the cheaper option. While I would not say I am specifically targeting Escobar, he could end up on many of my rosters.
Elvis Andrus (ADP 145) – The Andrus ADP is skewed by an extremely high 191 data point from Fantrax. Like Escobar, Andrus is a solid three category producer who should provide good value around pick 120. Since Escobar is so much cheaper though, I will likely pass on Andrus.
Xander Bogaerts (ADP 182) – I am a little skeptical of this number. I think Bogaerts may gain momentum as the season nears. If current ADP holds up, Bogaerts will make a strong upside value play. I think he is a few seasons away from the breakout, but I like the value after pick 150 or so.
Jean Segura (ADP 168) – The underlying stats for Segura’s 2014 season look eerily similar to his numbers from 2013. This ADP looks about right, but don’t expect a repeat of 2013.
Jimmy Rollins (ADP 137) – This is too rich for me given some of the other options. Rollins should produce in LA, but I would prefer a younger, cheaper option with a better batting average at this price.
Javier Baez (ADP 160) – I prefer to gamble on Bogaerts or Segura, or to take the safe production from Escobar at this point in the draft. Owners seeking a high risk/high reward power source should consider Baez’s upside at this spot.
Erick Aybar (ADP 234) – This ADP is again skewed by a big number from Fantrax. If I wait on an SS and miss on Escobar, Aybar makes a very solid back up plan. He is like the Howie Kendrick of the SS position. He is a good value after pick 180.
Asdrubal Cabrera (ADP 241) – Asdrubal makes another excellent fall back option for those waiting on the position. He is capable of 15 HRs and 10 SBs and should be available around pick 200. His ADP is also skewed by a super high Fantrax ADP. I guess they don’t like shortstops over there.
Ben Zobrist (ADP 125) – I personally don’t see much difference between Zobrist and Cabrera. Since Cabrera will be available much later, I can’t see myself owning Zobrist in 2015.
Jhonny Peralta (ADP 193) – Another solid fall back option who can be had near pick 200. I prefer Aybar and Cabrera, but they are all in the same tier.
Danny Santana (ADP 124) – Way too rich for my blood. No thanks. I would not consider taking Santana until the pick 200 range.
Alexei Ramirez (ADP 106) – Best of luck to owners chasing Alexei’s flukey power output from 2014. It is safe to say I will not own him this season.
J.J. Hardy (ADP 274) – Hardy makes a solid fall back for your fall backs. He was horribly unlucky with a 5.6% HR/FB rate despite an average fly ball distance of 277 feet. He is a good bet for 15-20 HRs and makes a good MI bargain toward the end of your draft.
Chris Owings (ADP 293) – Owings is another solid late round value with a little upside. I like the price here.
Wilmer Flores (ADP 412) – Flores is going undrafted in most leagues, but he appears to be locked in as the Mets opening day SS, and he has some decent power upside, although he is unlikely to contribute in the BA or SB categories.
Everth Cabrera (ADP 406) – Cabrera was a train wreck in 2014 and he is not even on an MLB roster right now after being cut by the Padres. That being said, he is worth a flyer pick in deep league drafts because there is a chance he gets signed by a club like the Blue Jays. If he is an every-day player in Toronto and if he remembers how to hit, he can easily be a top 15 SS with upside for more.
The best values seem to be found after pick 180. That is where I will likely pluck my 2015 SS. I just don’t see a ton of difference in value between some of the players available in that range and the other SS options outside the top 3. Because I am confident in my ability to find solid production later on, this makes me even more likely to pass on Tulo, Desmond and Hanley. I just don’t see the need to risk a premium pick on one of these players. In the few mocks I have done so far, I have yet to be presented with a value that tempted me to draft an SS before round 15.