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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.