Deep League Drafting: Shortstop

Stephen Dunn

I continue analyzing each position around the diamond to find out who has been the most durable and the most productive fantasy producers in the league the past three years.

Continuing my series on deep league drafting, today we turn our attention to shortstop. This is a good time to mention that I am currently putting some of this into practice, which you can see at our Fake Teams 20-team draft analysis by Brian Creagh. I picked at #9 in our initial draft and was glad to take who I believe is the #1 SS on the board this year, Hanley Ramirez. For good reason, too...

From 2011-2013 there have been 14, 11, and 5 shortstops (gulp!) who performed at or above league average in wOBA and wRC+ and accrued a qualified amount of PAs. The lucky five you ask: Troy Tulowitzki, Jed Lowrie, Ian Desmond, Jean Segura, and J.J. Hardy. That's it! It was a tough year on the position, and though we might expect a slight rebound this year, the fact is that the trend according to our three data points (2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons) is negative. That is to say, shortstops have been less durable and less offensively productive the past few years. All told it is the thinnest position in fantasy this year.

The future of the position, however, is bright, with multiple prospects coming up this year or getting ready to come up from the minors. While not all of these prospects will have a significant impact right away, they will inject some much needed talent into the position soon. Some of the names that could stick at SS in the future are Xander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, and Carlos Correa (who is still a couple of years away).

After the stats, I will offer some observations as before.

2011 Stats

Name Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
1 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 143 606 30 81 105 9 9.70% 13.00% 0.242 0.305 0.302 0.372 0.544 0.389 133
2 Jose Reyes Mets 126 586 7 101 44 39 7.30% 7.00% 0.156 0.353 0.337 0.384 0.493 0.376 142
3 Jhonny Peralta Tigers 146 576 21 68 86 6.90% 16.50% 0.179 0.325 0.299 0.345 0.478 0.356 122
4 Yunel Escobar Blue Jays 133 590 11 77 48 3 10.30% 11.90% 0.123 0.316 0.29 0.369 0.413 0.348 116
5 Asdrubal Cabrera Indians 151 667 25 87 92 17 6.60% 17.80% 0.187 0.302 0.273 0.332 0.46 0.344 119
6 J.J. Hardy Orioles 129 567 30 76 80 5.50% 16.20% 0.222 0.273 0.269 0.31 0.491 0.344 113
7 Starlin Castro Cubs 158 715 10 91 66 22 4.90% 13.40% 0.125 0.344 0.307 0.341 0.432 0.338 109
8 Emilio Bonifacio Marlins 152 641 5 78 36 40 9.20% 20.10% 0.097 0.372 0.296 0.36 0.393 0.335 109
9 Derek Jeter Yankees 131 607 6 84 61 16 7.60% 13.30% 0.092 0.336 0.297 0.355 0.388 0.331 104
10 Erick Aybar Angels 143 605 10 71 59 30 5.10% 11.20% 0.142 0.301 0.279 0.322 0.421 0.325 107
11 Jimmy Rollins Phillies 142 631 16 87 63 30 9.20% 9.40% 0.131 0.275 0.268 0.338 0.399 0.325 103
12 Alexei Ramirez White Sox 158 684 15 81 70 7 7.50% 12.30% 0.13 0.288 0.269 0.328 0.399 0.322 97
13 Elvis Andrus Rangers 150 665 5 96 60 37 8.40% 11.10% 0.082 0.312 0.279 0.347 0.361 0.319 93
14 Jamey Carroll Dodgers 146 510 52 17 10 9.20% 11.40% 0.058 0.332 0.29 0.359 0.347 0.317 103

2012 Stats

Name Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
1 Ben Zobrist Rays 157 668 20 88 74 14 14.50% 15.40% 0.202 0.296 0.27 0.377 0.471 0.365 137
2 Ian Desmond Nationals 130 547 25 72 73 21 5.50% 20.70% 0.218 0.332 0.292 0.335 0.511 0.362 128
3 Derek Jeter Yankees 159 740 15 99 58 9 6.10% 12.20% 0.113 0.347 0.316 0.362 0.429 0.347 117
4 Jose Reyes Marlins 160 716 11 86 57 40 8.80% 7.80% 0.146 0.298 0.287 0.347 0.433 0.335 109
5 Asdrubal Cabrera Indians 143 616 16 70 68 9 8.40% 16.10% 0.153 0.303 0.27 0.338 0.423 0.332 113
6 Hanley Ramirez - - - 157 667 24 79 92 21 8.10% 19.80% 0.18 0.29 0.257 0.322 0.437 0.328 106
7 Starlin Castro Cubs 162 691 14 78 78 25 5.20% 14.50% 0.147 0.315 0.283 0.323 0.43 0.323 98
8 Jimmy Rollins Phillies 156 699 23 102 68 30 8.90% 13.70% 0.177 0.262 0.25 0.316 0.427 0.322 100
9 Elvis Andrus Rangers 158 711 3 85 62 21 8.00% 13.50% 0.092 0.332 0.286 0.349 0.378 0.322 97
10 Erick Aybar Angels 141 554 8 67 45 20 4.00% 11.00% 0.126 0.316 0.29 0.324 0.416 0.321 106
11 Alcides Escobar Royals 155 648 5 68 52 35 4.20% 15.40% 0.098 0.344 0.293 0.331 0.39 0.316 96

2013 Stats

Name Team G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+
1 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 126 512 25 72 82 1 11.10% 16.60% 0.229 0.334 0.312 0.391 0.54 0.4 143
2 Jed Lowrie Athletics 154 662 15 80 75 1 7.60% 13.70% 0.156 0.319 0.29 0.344 0.446 0.345 121
3 Ian Desmond Nationals 158 655 20 77 80 21 6.60% 22.10% 0.173 0.336 0.28 0.331 0.453 0.341 116
4 Jean Segura Brewers 146 623 12 74 49 44 4.00% 13.50% 0.129 0.326 0.294 0.329 0.423 0.329 107
5 J.J. Hardy Orioles 159 644 25 66 76 2 5.90% 11.30% 0.17 0.263 0.263 0.306 0.433 0.322 99

Observations:

1. As you can probably could have guessed already there is not one shortstop who made our list all three years. Given the physically-challenging nature of the position you can see why. Injuries abound at shortstop, which makes it all the more reason to try and draft a durable middle infielder.

2. Ben Zobrist would have been the only one to make the list had he qualified at SS in 2011. He continues, however, to move around the diamond as needed for Joe Maddon, and continues to be the epitome of the fantasy Swiss-army knife.

3. Grabbing a SS early is either fantasy gold or fantasy kryptonite. If you manage to grab an elite talent like Hanley Ramirez or Troy Tulowitzki, AND they manage to stay healthy, then you have a huge advantage over the rest of the league. The chances of that happening are slim to none, as past DL stints are the biggest predictor of future DL stints.

4. I'll be following the SBN Texas Rangers' page to find out the 2014 Rangers' projected batting order. That will go a long way to seeing how much value Elvis has next year. Should he hit in the two-hole behind Choo and in front of Beltre/Fielder he could be in for a bump in value. If, however, he starts out cold and gets moved down it could be a long year for Elvis' owners. I've already noted my disdain for him and will refuse to draft him.

5. Much has been made of Starlin Castro's disastrous 2013 campaign. However, at least someone thinks you should buy low on him. I don't see why not if the price is low enough; for what it's worth, he did make the list two of the last three years.

Target/Avoid:

Andrelton Simmons, ATL. I am completely torn on this guy. For me it all comes down to whether or not you actually believe in his power. If you do, then you buy, and Mike Podhorzer makes a pseudo-endorsment for Simmons being in the top 10 this year as SS. His ISO has increased every year since he started rookie ball, and he's always been penciled in to swipe 15-20 bases a year. So, I can see the argument that we could legitimately have a 15-20 candidate here. However, there's just something keeping me from giving a ringing endorsement here. It just feels like people will be overly optimistic on Simmons and he'll get too much love from his 2013 stats. Final note though, he actually hit better in the 2nd half last year and managed a blech .247 BABIP, so maybe there's still room for improvement in the .248 BA. Maybe.

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