Fantasy Baseball: Shortstop Rankings – Roto

Carlos Correa

Over the past few seasons shortstop has been one of the weakest positions in all of fantasy baseball. Well, this year is no different. In fact, I could even argue that the overall depth in this group is only marginally better than that at catcher. Further, I believe the gap between the first two tiers at shortstop is larger than at any other position. There is a lot of optimism about the future here however, as four of my six highest ranked players are all 23 or younger. This is obviously more relevant for dynasty formats than redraft leagues, but worth noting nonetheless.

Another major issue with this position is the overall lack of consistency. Granted some of this is because the aforementioned youngsters haven’t been in the majors long enough to establish any sort of track record, but that in of itself is a risk. Additionally, the top tiers also include several former superstars who have clearly started to decline, thus making it difficult to project their new values. With all these factors in mind, I feel fairly confident in saying that shortstop will be the position I wait the longest on to draft this year. This doesn’t mean that taking one early will destroy your team, just that I’m completely comfortable switching back and forth between a few players from the fourth and fifth tiers. So with all that out of way, here are the rankings. (Note: as always all rankings are based on Yahoo position eligibility and tiers indicate players with comparable values).

C    1B    2B    SS    3B    OF    SP    RP

Tier 1 (The Elite)

  1. Manny Machado (BAL)
  2. Carlos Correa (HOU)

Machado is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Yahoo’s lenient position eligibility rules. Though Correa has very similar upside, I find Manny to be safer in every category except steals and even in that area he’s so young that there’s no reason to think the 20 bases he stole last season were an anomaly. While I don’t expect Correa to suffer from the much discussed “sophomore slump”, it’s a factor worth mentioning when two players are this close. Either way both should at worst be top 15 picks.

Tier 2 (The Next Up)

  1. Troy Tulowitzki (TOR)
  2. Xander Bogaerts (BOS)
  3. Corey Seager (LAD)
  4. Jose Reyes (COL)

I intentionally didn’t name this tier “The Near Elite” as I’ve done in previous rankings because I really want to stress the drop off from the first group. According to FantasyPros ADP data, Tulowitzki is going almost 40 picks after Machado and Correa, which is easily the biggest gap between any consecutively ranked players at the position. I’m actually not as down on Tulo as some others, but I would not reach for him under any circumstances. He’s going to hit atop a very strong lineup and in a great power ballpark so the only questions are his health and how quickly he can adjust to American League pitching.

Bogaerts made some huge strides at the plate last season, but I still can’t confidently project him for 15 homers or steals and that obviously caps his upside. Seager was highly impressive after getting called up both in terms of power and plate discipline so he’s a clear breakout candidate. There’s certainly risk involved with a player that young who’s only played 27 games in the majors, but it’s very easy to see him outperforming his current sixth round price tag. I can’t really comment on Reyes until his domestic abuse case gets resolved so check back for an update once the league makes an announcement on that.

Tier 3 (The Solid Starters)

  1. Francisco Lindor (CLE)
  2. Jhonny Peralta (STL)
  3. Ian Desmond (FA)
  4. Brandon Crawford (SF)
  5. Addison Russell (CHC)

The term “solid” is relative here as I’m using it to describe these players in the context of the position rather than in a vacuum. Lindor stands out in this group and a case could be made that he actually belongs at the bottom of the previous tier. That said, he performed much better at the plate last season than his minor league record would have suggested so it will be interesting to see if he can sustain that level of production. Peralta is certainly not an exciting option, but he’s safe in average and is one of the few players at the position who could hit 20 home runs.

Desmond’s value is tough to assess until he signs, although I expect him to have a starting job wherever he lands. His plate discipline has declined significantly over the past couple seasons, albeit he’s still only a year removed from three straight 20/20 campaigns. While the risk is evident, very few shortstops can match his upside. Crawford is similar to Peralta in many ways, though he’s a bit more volatile in average. I already discussed Russell in my second base preview, but he’s an even more appealing option at shortstop given the relative shallowness of the position.

Tier 4 (The Fringe Starters)

  1. Elvis Andrus (TEX)
  2. Jung-Ho Kang (PIT)
  3. Starlin Castro (NYY)
  4. Alcides Escobar (KC)
  5. Jean Segura (ARZ)

With this group we’re at a point where all of the players left have very obvious weaknesses. That said this is a great tier for those looking to find steals in the later rounds. Andrus, Escobar and Segura are three of the best options in this category and each could also score a decent amount of runs. Castro certainly has the talent to be included in the previous tier and there’s hope that getting out of Chicago will help rejuvenate his career. Kang is one of the more balanced players at the position, but it’s hard to accurately judge his value until we know exactly when he’s expected to return to the lineup.

Tier 5 (The Middle Infielders)

  1. Erick Aybar (ATL
  2. Ketel Marte (SEA)
  3. Marcus Semien (OAK)
  4. Brad Miller (TB)
  5. Asdrubal Cabrera (NYM)
  6. Alexei Ramirez (SD)

This tier is a contrast to the previous group in the sense that none of these players stand out in any single category. Aybar and Marte should provide some speed and a serviceable average, but not much else. Semien, Miller and Ramirez all hit double digits in both home runs and steals last year so they’re certainly useable options. I would actually probably target Miller out of the three simply because he’s yet to play a full season as a starter so there’s a greater chance for him to exceed expectations. Cabrera is a competent power option, but it’s uncertain if he will be an everyday player.

Tier 6 (The Backups)

  1. Eugenio Suarez (CIN)
  2. Eduardo Escobar (MIN)
  3. Andrelton Simmons (LAA)
  4. Jose Igelsias (DET)

For the most part, these are players I would never want in my lineup for an extended period of time. Suarez could be an exception to that as he was certainly a usable option towards the end of last season. Still, his playing time this year is likely uncertain with Cozart returning from injury. Escobar is also somewhat intriguing, mainly because he’s eligible at four different positions. He could be an appealing utility player in deeper leagues, especially if he remains Minnesota’s everyday shortstop. Simmons and Iglesias meanwhile are two players I will almost certainly not own as neither offers upside or safety in any category.

Tier 7 (The Long Shots)

  1. Javier Baez (CHC)
  2. Didi Gregorius (NYY)
  3. Danny Espinosa (WAS)
  4. J.J. Hardy (BAL)

This last group is essentially comprised of the remaining players who should receive consistent playing time for their respective teams. Baez was included because he has the potential to be relevant even if he’s not an everyday player. Espinosa is eligible at every infield position so there’s some value in that, but it’s hard to overlook the fact that he’s a career .230 hitter.

And if you’re looking for points rankings, you can find those here

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