Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Each of your favorite FT writers let you in on who the shortstop they will be targeting at their current values.
Each week, when we cover a position here at Fake Teams, in addition to all of the content you've been seeing, we're going to be doing two staff posts where each of the writers will contribute a brief comment on a player they will personally be targeting in drafts and a player they will be avoiding. Because we're generally an optimistic group here, we're going to start with a player each of us thinks is a good value. Come back tomorrow to find out who the guys we're avoiding are.
So without any further ado, I present the Fake Teams staff and their favorite shortstop targets for 2013:
"Jimmy Rollins quietly put up an excellent season for fantasy owners in 2012, hitting .250-.316-.427, which on the surface is not very good at all. Somehow that triple slash line resulted in Rollins hitting 23 HRs, scoring 102 runs, driving in 68 runs and stealing 30 bases. One can make the case that he is still a top 5 fantasy shortstop putting up numbers like that. Here is where he ranked in the 5 x 5 categories amongst all qualifying shortstops in 2012:
HRs: 3rd; Runs: 1st; RBI: tied for 6th; SBs: 3rd; BA: 15th
"He has stolen 30 bases in every year of his career, with 2010 the only season he did not steal 30 bases, as he played in just 88 games, but was well on his way to another 30 steal season before getting hurt. He also put up his second 20-30 season in the last four years in 2012, so age has yet to catch up to the Phillies shortstop. I see Rollins hitting .260 with 20 HRs, 95 runs, 65 RBI and 25 stolen bases in 2013. Rollins should be one of the the top shortstops off the board in 2013." --Ray Guilfoyle
"Ever since Jean Segura broke out back in 2010 during his stint in the Midwest League (where he was the other guy scouts noticed when they went to see Mike Trout in full-season ball), he's been someone I've been very high on. In fact, that season hinted well at what his major league potential is -- .313 with 10 HR, 79 RBI and 50 SB. The book on Segura is that he's a contact hitter. He walks less than you'd probably like him to, but he does not strike out much. He barrels balls with more pop than his size lets on. Now in Milwaukee, he should be given every shot to be the Brewers starting SS in the spring -- which he was in August and September. His 2012 major league numbers weren't that impressive on their own, but considering he had missed much of 2011 due to injury and only had around 400 AB above A-ball before getting the call, it was impressive nonetheless. If he wins the job as expected, I believe Segura can hit upwards of .280 with high single-digit HR and 30+ SB. Essentially, he can be Alcides Escobar from 2012 with a little more extra-base pop (not to mention a more favorable home park). If you're looking for a sleeper at SS, Segura is your guy." --Bret Sayre
"I tend to wait around on shortstops in the draft, so I was pretty surprised (and happy) to find Elvis Andrus barely cracking our top-10 consensus rankings. He had a big drop-off in steals from 2011 (37) to 2012 (21), but, before last year, he averaged 34 thefts over his first three seasons. I expect him to get there again. If he survives trade rumors and sticks in Texas, he'll be batting in one of the league's premiere offenses, and he should have no problem reaching 90 runs, with the possibility of hitting 100. If he reaches those marks, he's a top-5 shortstop in 2013. If he doesn't, he's still a safe top-10 option." --Alex Kantecki
"The biggest knock on Danny Espinosa is easily the strikeouts, and with good reason. That said, I am a sucker for middle infielders who can give both power and speed, and Espinosa is one of the few shortstops that has the chance to provide 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Remember, only 3 shortstops reached those numbers last season (Desmond, Ramirez, and Rollins). You're going to be able to get Espinosa later than all three of those shortstops in all likelihood, with the added bonus of having 2B eligibility as well. Understand that you're going to have to pair him with some batting average elsewhere on your team, but it's going to give you power at a position that isn't known for it." --Jason Hunt
"Coming off a monster season in which he was the 4th best shortstop in 2011, many owners had high hopes for Asdrubal Cabrera entering 2012. For quite a few owners, myself included, there was concern about the power numbers Cabrera displayed, and as such, he was lower on my draft board when compared to owners who believed he was the next big thing. The major red flags included the number of home runs that were classified as "Just Enough" (15 - second most in baseball) as well as a HR/FB rate that spiked from 4.7% and 3.0% in 2009 & 2010, to 13.3% in 2011. To be fair, his FB% did rise nearly 7% to 38.7%, so there were signs he was making more of an effort to hit the ball out, but regardless, it was safe to project a drop in the home run category for 2012. That is exactly what happened, as Cabrera hit 16 home runs in 2012, and also saw his stolen base total drop from 17 to 9. So why is a player who underperformed many expectations in 2012 my target short stop for 2013? Perception. While Cabrera was drafted too early in my opinion last year, there's a decent chance he'll go right around his 2013 converted projection to auction dollar figure in drafts this spring. I currently have Cabrera as my number 8 short stop in mixed leagues. Cabrera provides production across all five rotisserie scoring categories, and at the age of 27, is in the prime of his career. A 20/15 season for power/speed isn't out of the question. My 2013 projections: 77 runs, 16 HR, 77 RBI, 11 SB, .273 BA." --Dave Morris Jr.
"While I'm surely not the only one who thinks highly of Starlin Castro (each ranker had him in the top 3), I've always had an affinity for him. While his batting average dropped about 20 points in 2012, Castro still hit in the .280s. In the new age of depressed offense, that was plenty good enough, and he was even unlucky. Castro's BABIP of .315 might seem high if anything, but his career average before 2012 was .345. Part of BABIP is luck, but certain players have shown the ability to sustain higher averages, and I believe Starlin's over 1000 at-bats at a clip of .345 says he's due for a rebound in the average department in 2013. What I love about Castro is that you get both security and upside. He's only 23 years old, so there is the potential for more power, despite the double digits he's going to get you anyway. He's also going to swipe some bags, as he pilfered 20+ in both of the last two seasons. While I usually laud the player who draws walks because they can be productive even during a hitting slump, Castro wins my vote because I have supreme confidence in his hitting ability. He will excel in batting average, keep you afloat in home runs, and steal you some bags. Runs and RBI...probably not his strongsuit given the Cubs lineup, but he won't kill you there either. As I said earlier, Castro is my guy because he gives you security with plenty of room for growth as well." --Craig Goldstein
"Expectations. It's all about the expectations. If you drafted Erick Aybar in 2012 did you draft the player that had the 10 HR-30 steal season in 2011 or did you draft the 6 HR- 22 steal average from the three previous seasons? Did you hope that 2011 was a spring board for bigger and better things, or did you wonder if it was a potential blip? Judging from 2012's average draft position, most owners took the spring board approach, and therein lies the problem. In general, I look at the three year average, try and make adjustments that appear to fit, and go from there. For me, the 2011 season was not so much a breakout as it was just part of the overall picture. I look at Mr. Aybar and I see high single digit homeruns, 20+ steals, and a .275 average, and I am fine with that. Of course, I will be drafting said Aybar after the starting SS are gone, and I am looking for middle infielder. If I get more, that's great, but my expectations are that Erick is who he is, which, after all, is all you can say about any of us." --Brad Dengler
I know he's had his share of injuries, but the shortstop I'm targeting in 2013 drafts is Troy Tulowitzki. Let's take a quick look at what in all likelihood will represent the top three shortstops off the board shall we?
As you can see from the three year averages provided above, Tulowitzki has an elite skill set. His games played average is somewhat misleading given the fact that he missed 39 days with a fractured wrist in 2010 after being hit by a pitch. I'm willing to give him a free pass on that injury. With that said, he does appear to have a propensity for soft tissue injuries, but the bottom line is, all three of these shortstops have injury risk, with none having averaged more than 140 games played the past three seasons. If it's a toss-up on the health front, give me Tulo, who holds substantial advantages in both Isolated Power and OPS. Reyes was shipped to Toronto, and will have to play half of his games on turf, which is not very assuring given his chronic history of leg injuries. Hanley Ramirez has become a batting average liability recently, having posted averages of .243 and .257 in 2011 and 2012 respectively. I think Tulowitzki is going to fall to the 2nd or 3rd round in most formats, and at that point, I'm more than comfortable taking him, because if he can log 525+ ABs, he's still the class of the position." --Jim Farley
"Let's just get this out of the way. I freaking love Ben Zobrist. He hits home runs, scores a lot of runs, draws a ton of walks, steals bases, won't hurt your batting average, and he's eligible at three positions. Zorilla has reached 20 homers in three of the past four years, has stolen bases in the double digits four years in a row, has reached 90 walks three seasons in four, and all this while being eligible at two premium middle infield positions. Now that he can be slotted at shortstop for 2013, he's one of the five best at the position and has, frankly, been one of the more underrated fantasy producers for the past two seasons." --Paul Rice