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Everyone says that this era seems to be the golden age of shortstops with all the talented youth that is currently in the majors. I didn’t grow a deep love for baseball until sometime around 2003 when I had the joy of watching Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Jose Valentin man the position. Shortstops were usually known for their defense back in the day, but in the modern game there are a good amount of sluggers that play at the #6 position.
Although there is an abundance of major league talent at the position, the fantasy baseball side of shortstop is very top heavy compared to any other. After the top 7, shortstop gets very risky because each of the players is a specialist at one to two categories or has a very volatile fantasy value, such as Tim Anderson, Trevor Story, and Paul DeJong. There are some names that could break out as well this year, but there is a ton of risk by tabbing them as your Opening Day starter. They could be great bench bats to start the season in case of an injury or trade bait down the road if you were lucky enough to snag one of the names from the top tier. So let’s get into the rankings so you understand what I mean by all of this.
These rankings below were based on standard 5×5 head to head leagues.
You can listen to our full discussion of these elite and sleeper shortstops in the latest episode of Six Man Roto here:
Tier 1- The Clearly Elite
1) Carlos Correa- This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Astros starting shortstop is our consensus #1 at the beginning of 2018. Before injuring his thumb on July 17th, Correa was destroying the league in every way possible with his triple slash line of .320/.400/.566 and 20 HR and 67 RBI in 375 plate appearances. This means he was on pace for 35 home runs at that rate! Unfortunately, the thumb injury not only took away his plate appearances, but his power as well. Correa only hit 4 homers over the final 24 games of the season while also losing 70 points off of his slugging percentage. I wouldn’t worry about that going into the new season, but I do worry that we won’t see Carlos running as much as he did when he first came into the league. However, Correa is the only shortstop in the league that could easily hit 40 home runs and no one would blink.
2) Trea Turner- You could make an argument that he should be #1 in the rankings because Turner can easily win you steals or pile up points week in and week out with his speed. We have yet to see a full season from the young Nationals shortstop, but there is a lot to love from the young speedster. In the 171 games Turner has played the past 2 years, he has stolen 79 bases while hitting 24 dingers. Even if you took away 15 games to factor in rest days, he would have had 19 home runs and at least 70 stolen bases. I haven’t even mentioned the .309 batting average in that same span as well. Turner is a 5 category contributor and there is no downside to his game whatsoever. If the rest of your league passes on him, you can repeat some of Eminem’s greatest lyrics “Motherfuckers act like they forgot about Trea.”
3) Francisco Lindor- I still remember the days when everyone thought that Lindor wasn’t going to be an effective fantasy contributor because he was a glove first player. Those days are long gone as proven by his .273 batting average, 99 runs, and 33 home runs. He also tacked on 15 stolen bases throughout his 2017 campaign. Lindor has gotten very pull heavy over the past couple of seasons, going from 35% in 2015 to 40.5% last year. This lead to some bad BABIP luck and a lower average, but the 8% increase in his hard hit percentage should relieve any concerns. Lindor could have been changing his approach to help spark the Indians’ offense, but the floor is so high with the 24-year-old that I wouldn’t worry about his dropping batting average.
Tier 2- The Surging Seager and Segura
4) Corey Seager- The young Dodgers shortstop is super exciting to watch, but at this point just doesn’t have the same ceiling as the previous three. Seager continues to be a strong 4 category contributor each year, but his ground ball rate continues to limit what he can do power wise. He has dropped it by 11% since coming into the league in 2015 so there is no telling how much more change we might see out of him. Even though he is a part of a great Dodgers lineup, he hasn’t been able to provide the same amount of counting stats.
5) Elvis Andrus- Last year was a career year for the Rangers shortstop and everyone wants to know if he can repeat his 20/20 performance from last year. There is a lot of optimism that he finally found his power because of the uptick in fly balls and hard hit percentage, but the biggest outlier for Andrus is his HR/FB rate, which nearly doubled from the year before. I think Andrus is the poster boy for the juiced ball last year as shown by his production. He still has a very high floor due to the sub 15% strikeout rate and speed on the basepaths that he provides, but the ceiling likely isn’t as high as last year. Steamer has Andrus dropping down to a 12 HR and 23 SB season, which you still can’t be upset about.
6) Jean Segura- Jean Segura came over to the Mariners organization in the November 2016 trade with the Diamondbacks. The Mariners couldn’t have been happier with there return as Segura compiled a .300 average while slugging 11 home runs. He racked up the counting stats as well with 80 runs, 45 RBI, and 22 stolen bases in the 125 games he played. He was a solid 5 category contributor in 2017, albeit with less pop than his 2016 season with the Diamondbacks. The addition of Dee Gordon only boosts Segura’s value since Gordon will keep opposing pitchers off balance with his speed. Expect the same kind of production for Segura without fear this year.
7) Didi Gregorious- Here we have another ex-Diamondback shortstop that has gone elsewhere and produced well, although in a much different way than Segura. Since going to the Yankees before the 2015 season, Gregorious was never a power hitter yet has developed into one over the past couple seasons while improving his contact rates as well. Over the past 2 seasons, Didi has averaged 22.5 home runs and 78 RBI while maintaining a .281 average. Don’t worry about the addition of Giancarlo Stanton bumping Gregorious down too far in the lineup though. Didi was slotted anywhere from 4th to 6th in the lineup and is likely to stay there for the future as well.
Tier 3- The Slim to Shady
8) Xander Bogaerts- Will the real Xander please stand up? It is hard to know what Bogaerts we will be getting this year as we have seen 3 different versions over the past 3 seasons. Last season was the worst fantasy year for Xander as he excelled at no category. The 15 stolen bases were nice, but he was a disappointment everywhere else with his 10 home runs and .273 batting average. It might have been the patient approach that Chili Davis stressed or the discourse in the clubhouse, but the Red Sox are looking to get their shortstop going again. The best part is if Xander does bounce back, he will continue to be in the middle of the lineup with plenty of run and RBI opportunities.
9) Andrelton Simmons- Simmons finally broke out for the second time in his career during the 2017 campaign (last time was for the 2013 Braves). He smacked 14 long balls, stole 19 bases, and combined for 146 RBI and runs. The .278 average was the second best mark of his career during a full season and the same could be said of the 14 home runs. The power isn’t 100% likely to stay as Simmons’ had a HR/FB rate of 8.4%, which is well below league average, but was double his normal years, likely due to how pull heavy he got for the Angels last year (45% pull rate). The two years great offensive years that Simmons had came when he had pull rates above 40%, but he isn’t one for hitting the ball with a lot of authority. So while the possibility is there to repeat, be warned that there is a lot of volatility in his fantasy possibility as well.
10) Zack Cozart- Here is another Angels’ player, but while he won’t play much shortstop for them in 2018, he will retain eligibility for the coming season. There is a lot to love with Zack’s game as he doubled his career walk rate last year while keeping his batting average north of .290 for the first time in his 7 year career. Cozart is already 32 and 2017 may have been his offensive ceiling, but the increased walk rate and stable strikeout rate makes Cozart very appealing at his current ADP of 216.
11) Addison Russell- Russell’s 3 years in the majors has been filled with a lot of ups and downs, but with very little statistical success compared to what he was made out to be. Even though the fantasy production from Russell was lacking, there was a lot of growth for the Cub shortstop. He dropped his soft contact percentage by 10% and dropped his infield flyball rate by nearly the same amount. There has been some growth to Russell’s game and with all the distractions from 2017 mostly behind him, Russell could continue taking strides forward to become the hitter people expected from him when he was in the minors. Keep an eye on the Cub shortstop as he is a nice late round flyer.
12) Paul DeJong- DeJong was a huge breakout last year after coming up from the Cardinals Triple-A squad and being relatively unknown as he was the 14th best prospect in the St. Louis system. In his 108 games, DeJong smashed 25 dingers and drove in 65 RBI with his .285 batting average, although that is likely to regress. DeJong is a pure hitter, although not a patient one, but all he has ever done is hit. He constantly keeps the ball off the ground and has only had a ground ball rate higher than 38% once and that was in A-ball during the 2015 season. The very pull heavy approach can be a concern, but he has shown that he can re-adjust to pitchers once they adjust to him. I am buying DeJong everywhere I don’t grab a shortstop early, even if he doesn’t provide any stolen bases since the Cardinals always have some magic up their sleeve with their lesser known prospects.
13) Trevor Story- We all know the story of Story. He is the power hitting shortstop of the Rockies in Coors Field, but hasn’t put it all together just yet. Story had a meteoric rise in 2016 when he broke onto the scene, but hasn’t lived up to the hype since. Even with the 24 home runs and 82 RBI in 2018, fantasy owners were bogged down by his .239 batting average. I know there are rumors about Brendan Rodgers getting ready to steal his job, but I wouldn’t worry about that in 2018. The bigger worry should be Story’s inability to improve on his swinging strike rate and contact percentage of pitches inside the zone. The power will be there, but don’t expect much than the .240 average at best.
Tier 4- Scrap heap with some hidden gems
14) Marcus Semien- Semien perennially has 20/20 potential out of the stolen base position, but because is unlikely to ever reach the 20 stolen bases thanks to the conservative nature of the Oakland Athletics. Plate discipline was never Semien’s strong suit, but he walked at nearly a 10% clip and still isn’t done perfecting his craft at 27-years old. If Semien was anywhere other than Oakland, I would love him a lot more.
15) Brandon Crawford- This is another San Francisco Giant that anyone is super high on, nor should they be. Crawford can be effective, but the ceiling is very low because he doesn’t excel at any one thing for fantasy. He can get you a good amount of RBI and runs, but he will only net you 12-14 home runs and 3 stolen bases while weighing down your batting average or OBP. He bats anywhere from 2nd to 8th in the Giant’s order, so you never know what you are getting week in and week out from Crawford.
16) Tim Beckham- Beckham spent just over 3 seasons with the Rays, but was moved to the Baltimore Orioles late in the 2017 season. The power output spiked for Beckham once he reached Baltimore as he hit 10 home runs in 50 games, but the .365 BABIP from 2017 should raise a red flag for fantasy owners. He still hits ground balls nearly half the time he hits it and nearly doubled his home run rate, which isn’t sustainable. That being said, Beckham fits right in with the Orioles system as a guy who swings and misses a ton and hates to take a walk. The contact rates have improved for Beckham, but without the ability to work the zone, the cold stretches will really hurt your team.
17) Dansby Swanson- Swanson hype was at its peak before the 2017 season, but it fell dramatically from Opening Day and the rest of the season. People thought he could have been a 13 home run and 13 stolen base shortstop in 2017, but he only hit 6 long balls while swiping 3 bases. Swanson showed up the good plate discipline, but the contact never really appeared. If you watched Dansby, you would see that he struggled to catch up to good fastballs, which you just can’t do in the majors. I would love Swanson in dynasty or deep OBP leagues, but it is hard to trust him in redraft leagues. I would rather have the next guy on this list.
18) Jose Reyes- Even at 34 years old, Reyes is still getting it done, no matter who he plays for. The speed is clearly falling, but he can still net you a floor of 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases if he can find a place to play. I would be keeping my eye on Reyes because we know the Mets are likely to lose players to injury as always, which means Reyes will be the first man up for any spot in the infield but first base.
19) Jorge Polanco- At only 23-years-old, Polanco got his first full season chance for the Minnesota Twins and he took full advantage of the opportunity. He piled up 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases in his 488 at-bats along with 74 RBI. The overall .256 batting average was a disappointment for fantasy owners, but look at what Polanco put together in the second half of 2017. After the All-Star Break, Polanco had a triple slash of .293/.359/.511 for an .870 OPS and that is when he hit 10 of his 13 home runs. Most fantasy owners will overlook Polanco, but he is ready to break out and I would be willing to grab him 2 rounds earlier than his current 256 ADP just to secure that I get him.
20) Ketel Marte- Originally Marte was going to have to fight for playing time going into Spring Training, but with the trade of Brandon Drury he is in line for the second base job with shortstop eligibility. In his 73 games last year, he walked over 11% of the time while getting contact on 91% of pitches inside the strike zone. There is a lot to love about Marte and he really only needed the playing time to prove himself. My biggest concern is the power ceiling may be limited thanks to the addition of a humidor in Arizona since he was never a huge power hitter. Marte will likely hit 7th or 8th in the lineup, but if he can jump to the top of the Diamondbacks’ lineup, he will gain a ton of value by hitting in front of Goldy and Lamb.
21) Orlando Arcia- I am a huge believer in the Brewers this year and for their success. Arcia will be a part of it, albeit at the end of the order as he mostly batted 8th last year and is likely to stay there thanks to the additions of Yelich and Cain. Even at the back of the order in 2017, he put up 15 home runs and 14 stolen bases. The Brewers love to run so the double digit stolen bases are a lock for a cheap price in your draft. Nothing really stands out for Arcia, but at 23-years-old, he has a lot of room to still grow into his game.
22) Tim Anderson- I know Tim Anderson doesn’t seem like a sexy name this year, especially with his refusal to take a walk. Last season, Anderson walked only walked 13 times in 587 at-bats while piling up 162 strikeouts. However, the stats aren’t the full story for the White Sox shortstop. Not only was he dealing with the slog of a 162 game season, Anderson had to mentally handle the death of a very close friend in early May. Anderson spoke near the end of the season that he hadn’t been eating or sleeping right because of the grief, but began speaking to a counselor in late July about the loss that he suffered. From August 1st until the end of the season, Anderson put it all together and stole 9 bases and smacked 8 home runs to the tune of a .293 batting average. He is one of the easier guys to peg for a 20/20 season, but the lack of walks clearly hurt his value during cold streaks and in OBP leagues.
23) Amed Rosario- Fantasy owners were sat waiting for Rosario for a long while last year, but when the call finally came, he didn’t bring the same production that people expected. He has a similar approach to Tim Anderson where he refuses to work a walk into his arsenal while having swing and miss tendencies. Rosario is presumably the Opening Day shortstop barring some weird circumstance with the Mets front office. Rosario is a good candidate to get in the late rounds for steals, but as of now, Rosario is a 1 or 2 above average category contributor.
24) Aledmys Diaz- The joy of the 2016 season for Diaz quickly faded last season after the Cardinals shortstop hit .217 in the first month of the season. The hitting recovered a bit as the season went on, but thanks to the emergence of Paul DeJong, Diaz was quickly relegated to a part time role. He was then moved to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder J.B. Woodman during this off-season. It is unclear whether Diaz will get much playing time, but Troy Tulowitzki is still unsure whether he will be ready for Opening Day. Diaz could see time at second base as well with how often Devon Travis hits the disabled list each season. If Diaz can see playing time and get back to the groove he found for the 2016 season, he could become a good late round flyer since he has had success before.
25) Jose Peraza- With Zack Cozart signing with the Angels in free agency, the shortstop position for the Reds was left wide open for the 23-year-old Jose Peraza. Peraza is only useful for steals at this point of his career. The biggest issue that could come up on Peraza is the top Reds prospect, Nick Senzel, who has been taking reps at shortstop with Eugenio Suarez locking down third base at the moment. Should Peraza struggle for a long time to start 2018, he could be benched for the young Senzel. The Reds have some good to great hitters in Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, and Adam Duvall that Reds manager Bryan Price doesn’t feel he should waste.
Thanks for reading the breakdown of shortstops. Here at Six Man Rotation we always love to hear from our readers with criticism and opinions as well. You can follow me on Twitter @DadSox or our fantasy baseball podcast Twitter @SixManRoto. Our top 50 outfielders rankings will be out in the next week so keep your eyes out for that!