Now that we have completed our consensus position rankings for 2014, it is time to address rankings for those of you in AL only and NL only leagues. Ray has already begun posting his NL only positional rankings and you can find them here:
In case you missed the consensus mixed league position rankings and projections that we have published to date, you can find the links to each post below:
I started posting my AL only rankings last week and you can find them here:
Today, we'll take a look at shortstop.
Shortstop in the American League is a little thin at the top. Lacking names like Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes is the top guy in the Junior Circuit. While his speed is not what it once was, it's still among the top at the position and he adds double digit pop to form a combo unmatched by his peers. Elvis Andrus has the speed part down but he has little-to-no power and hits for slightly less average. Ben Zobrist does a little bit of everything without having any significant flaws which is something that can't really be said for anyone else at the position. JJ Hardy has the power of the group by far but don't expect him to add anything in terms of steals and he is mediocre in batting average and runs scored.
Jed Lowrie finally played a full season and he showed what he could do when staying on the field. I think if he does it again, we could be looking at Ben Zobrist without the stolen bases. I can't stand Alexeo Ramirez but the position is thinning out already. What I can't stand about him is that you don't know what you are getting when you draft him. He has upside in both power and speed but don't expect him to produce in both areas in the same season. At least Alex Rios used to give us the "every other season" thing. Ramirez can't even do us that courtesy. Asdrubal Cabrera's average has fallen each of the last four year and other four roto categories have fallen over the last two years. He will do a little bit of everything but his strikeout rate jumped up significantly in 2013 and I don't see him improving much beyond last season.
Jonathan Villar and Alcides Escobar are similar players but I think Villar has slightly better speed and with how poorly Escobar hit last year, I'm not convinced that he won't be a better hitter as well. Both will bat at the bottom of the order and their value is tied almost entirely to their stolen base total. I think Villar wins that battle this season. Erick Aybar has really fallen, stealing only 12 bases and getting caught in about 40% of attempts. He offers little power and a decent average so if he's not stealing 30 or even 25 bases, his value is limited.
Brad Miller and Yunel Escobar are complete opposites. Miller is a up and coming player with upside in all categories whereas Escobar is veteran who doesn't offer much more than a warm body. Escobar is consistent but he is extremely uninspiring and the upside wins out in this situation. Stephen Drew would jump up two spots if he signed with an AL team to be the full time guy as he's a little more exciting than Yunel Escobar and has done it longer than Brad Miller. I'm not optimistic about Derek Jeter and think he maxes out at about 130 games this season. In those 130 games, I expect a decent average but I can't imagine he will be running and don't expect him to hit for much power.
Addison Russell and Francisco Lindor are prospects who look like they will join their big league teams at some point this summer. I'm much higher on Russell because I think he will get called up first but also because I think he will be an offensive force. He has a mature approach, excellent bat speed and above-average power for a shortstop. Lindor is often thought of as a glove-first shortstop but he should hit for a strong average and has the speed and instincts for 30 stolen base seasons. There were some questions about whether or not Russell could stay at shortstop but he's improved to the point where he should stick there. Lindor is a shortstop without question and these two will be at the top of these rankings in a few short years.
You can follow Zack on Twitter at @FantasyNinja8.