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Shortstop Breakout Candidates

With Rollins, Jeter and Furcal on the back 9 of their careers there is space atop the SS rankings. A few players could step their game up in 2011 and be among the leading players at the position.

J.J. Hardy - Once a top option, Hardy has fallen on hard times and off the fantasy radar. With a fresh start in Baltimore he could re-kindle some of the home run spark that made him a fantasy stud in the middle of the decade. Still only 28 he is a solid bet at a weak position. A .270 AVG with 15 HR won't single handedly win you the championship but it will likely make up for the price you will have to pay for it.

Alcides Escobar - Escobar's debut disappointed many but there is still hope for the youngster. He makes way too much contact for his AVG to be that low and he walks at a decent enough clip to put his speed to better use. He could work his way to the lead-off spot in the Royals lineup where he could give you 25+ SB and a .275+ AVG for 80+ R. An excellent buy low candidate as many owners will be turned off by his flukishly bad rookie season.

Jed Lowrie - Marco Scutaro stands in his way but if he falters Lowrie will be ready to step in and take over. Many see a 25 HR, .280 AVG hitter but I see something more along the lines of mid-teens home runs and a .275ish AVG. He has heaps of talent with the bat for a SS so all that he needs is more trips to the plate. The Red Sox look poised to use him in a utility role which could means great things for his 2012 value as he'll hold multi position eligibility.

Yunel Escobar - Another guy whose contact rate didn't match up to their AVG, Hampered by nagging injuries in 2010 he benefited from a move to Toronto where he looked more relaxed and confident at the plate. If Toronto's free swinging fly-ball hitting ways rub off on Yunel we could see a return to HR totals in the mid teens. At the very least we should see the AVG rebound some. He looks set to hit in the #2 spot of the Blue Jays lineup so he should get plenty of runs and high fives after being driven in on home runs. His contact and walk rates mean he's a good bet for OBP and R and he's worth the flier on the chance his "power" returns.