The Fantasy Landscape: Shortstop

Jason Miller

Alex Kantecki opens shortstop week with an overview of the position, including his thoughts on AL-/NL-only leagues and draft strategy

You know the drill. Today we kick off shortstop week at Fake Teams, where the staff brings you positional rankings, player profiles and much, much more. In addition to all of the great content you are about to see throughout the week, we are again very excited to bring you Daniel Schwartz's projections and auction values from Rotobanter.com, as well as Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average. As Ray outlined on Sunday, here is the schedule for the following week:

Time Slot/Day

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

7am

State of the Position (Alex)

Prospect Profile: Carlos Correa (Brian C.)

Top 30 Shortstop Rankings, Part 2 (Ray)

Shortstops to Target (Staff)

Shortstops to Avoid (Staff)

10am

Top 30 Shortstop Rankings, Part 1 (Ray)

Prospect Profile: Xander Bogaerts (Jason)

Prospect Profile:Francisco Lindor(Matt)

Prospect Profile:Addison Russell(Matt)

AL-only sleepers (Ray)

12pm

Shortstop Profile: Andrelton Simmons (Joe)

Shortstop Profile: High/Low on Jean Segura (Alex, Daniel K,)

Prospect Profile: Chris Owings (Jason)

Shortstop Profile:Starlin Castro (Zack)

NL-only Sleepers (Ray)

2pm

Shortstop Profile: Everth Cabrera (Zack)

Shortstop Profile:Jhonny Peralta(Brian S.)

2014 Shortstop Draft Strategy (Zack)

Breakout Candidate:Brad Miller (Daniel K.)

Shortstop Profile: J.J. Hardy (Ray)

4pm

Shortstop ADP Trends (Ray)

EFA Analysis: Shortstop (Daniel K.)

Prospect Profile:Javier Baez(Brian C.)

The Lay of the Land

Milwaukee's Jean Segura, who was drafted in the mid-200s, finished the year as fantasy's No. 1 shortstop. The 23-year-old was an asset in batting average (.294) and runs (74), but he made his biggest impact on the bases (44 steals) and, surprisingly, in the power department (12 home runs). It's fair to question his power (11 homers in the first half, one in the second), but the speed is for real. He enters the season as a consensus top-five shortstop. I've seen him ranked second in a few places.

The two shortstops likely to go ahead of Segura in 2014 drafts are Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki. Neither is a lock to remain on the field for more than 100 games, but they are -- potentially -- the biggest difference makers at the shortstop position. Ramirez slashed a ridiculous .345/.402/.638 in 86 games, while Tulo smacked 25 home runs and drove in 82 runs in 125 contests. They are both late first-round/early second-round considerations with high risk.

Ian Desmond proved 2012 was no fluke, backing up a 25/20 season with a very respectable 20 home runs and 21 steals in 2013. While Nationals Park isn't all that hitter friendly, Desmond is fast becoming someone you can trust to provide a combination of mid-20s' pop and speed. Since 2012, he has a .286/.333/.480 line and 122 wRC+ -- the third best mark at his position.

Someone who didn't change teams in the offseason but might have seen his fantasy stock improve the most is Elvis Andrus. The Rangers shortstop will be in one of the cushiest spots in baseball, hitting No. 2 behind on-base superstar Shin Soo-Choo and in front of Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios. He could score upwards of 100 runs in Texas' new-look offense.

After the top five, there are many question marks. Will Jose Reyes avoid injury and return to his previous elite self? How will Everth Cabrera respond to last year's suspension for performance-enhancing drugs? Can Starlin Castro bounce back after an all-around disastrous 2013. Is Andrelton Simmons' power sustainable?

The Great Divide (AL/NL)

The Official Fake Teams Consensus Rankings will be coming out shortly (in two separate posts, with the first in a matter of hours), and the American League leads the National League by the slimmest of margins, 16 to 15 (32 total players ranked, one free agent). The NL, however, claims the top three shortstops (Ramirez, Tulowitzki and Desmond), and six out of the top 10.

In NL-only leagues, Ramirez and Tulowitzki could be your team's MVP, but the risk of taking them with your first pick must be weighed against the odds of them finishing the season healthy. I'd feel most comfortable waiting and taking Desmond or Segura shortly after, but before Everth Cabrera, Castro and Simmons.

In the AL, locking down a top shortstop is going to be more difficult because there aren't as many. Reyes and Andrus offer the most upside, but given Reyes' slow start in Toronto last year, Andrus is probably the safer bet of the two. The middle tier of shortstops in the AL is somewhat underwhelming, but young upside plays like Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar (if eligible) are potential options after Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera. The Astros' Jonathan Villlar is a pure speed play that you could gamble on late, while Erick Aybar is perennially underrated.

The Draft Strategy

Zack Smith will bring you an in-depth look into the draft strategy at shortstop on Wednesday, much like he did last week with second base. The talent at the shortstop position was thin entering 2013, but it appears deeper heading into 2014. Ramirez and Tulowitzki should go one-two in drafts (and in the first two rounds), followed by some combination of Ian Desmond, Jean Segura, Jose Reyes and Elvis Andrus. NFBC's more recent ADP data has all six going inside the top 55, so they should all all require a fifth-round choice or better.

After the top six is where it gets a little confusing. If you miss out on Ramirez, Tulowitzki and Desmond, the only shortstop whose displayed consistent power is J.J. Hardy. He has three straight seasons of 20-plus home runs, including 25 last year and 30 in 2011 -- Hardy's current ADP is 138.47. If speed is more your thing, the obvious selection is the Padres' Cabrera. He stole 37 bases in 95 games and has an ADP of 83.38. He'd likely be higher if not for last year's suspension. Some other speed options include Alexei Ramirez (149.36), who stole 30 bases in 2013 and Alcides Escobar (242.70).

Other shortstop ADPs include: Castro (120.53), Simmons (144.21), Lowrie (145.15), Bogaerts (163.47), A. Cabrera (171.70), Brad Miller (188.13), Jimmy Rollins (191.85), Jhonny Peralta (200.70), Villar (212.72) and Aybar (215.06).

The New Kids on the Block

Last year we saw an impressive group of young shortstops really make a splash at the major-league level, including Segura, Simmons, Villar, Brad Miller, Jose Iglesias and Bogaerts. I saved Bogaerts for last because he's the rookie shortstop with the greatest chance of impacting the fantasy scene in 2014. After Byron Buxton, Boston's Bogaerts is the consensus No. 2 prospect in the country, and -- if he's not already -- he should become shortstop eligible in your league in short time (usually 10 games at the position). In his prime, Bogaerts could be a middle-of-the-order producer who hits for average and plus power (think .300 BA and 25 home runs).

Chris Owings -- the 2013 Pacific Coast League MVP -- is another young shortstop I'm relatively high on, but, unlike Bogaerts, his role is not defined. Owings and Didi Gregorius will compete for the starting job in spring training -- it's one spring battle to keep a close eye on. Chicago's Javier Baez has a great chance of earning an early promotion if he continues to destroy minor-league pitching. The Cubs shortstop can hit 30 home runs in his prime, with some thinking he can reach 35-40 at his peak.

The Fake Teams Prospect Staff -- Jason Hunt, Brian Creagh and Matt Mattingly -- will highlight six prospects in the coming week, including Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Owings, Addison Russell and Baez.

What's Next?

In three hours, Part 1 of The Fake Teams Consensus Shortstop Rankings will be released, along with projections and auction values from Rotobanter and Daniel Kelley's Equivalent Fantasy Average for every player ranked. Over the next five days, we'll bring you 13 player profiles, including six prospect profiles. The staff will also highlight multiple shortstops to target and avoid, a comprehensive draft strategy and AL- and NL-only sleepers. Ray and the gang have worked long and hard to bring you the best pre-season coverage available, so we appreciate all of the feedback, whether it's good, bad or in-between. If there is anything you'd like to see in addition to the content being provided, please let us know about it in the comments below.

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