When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and yesterday, Zack Smith offered his thoughts on shortstop draft strategy. We have also provided you with our Top 30 shortstops rankings for 2014:
Included in the rankings above, we provided 2014 projections for almost every shortstop ranked, courtesy of Daniel Schwartz from Fake Teams and Rotobanter.
In addition, Daniel Kelley provided you his shortstop breakdown using his new fantasy stat called Equivalent Fantasy Average, or EFA.
Now that we have provided you all these tools you need to prepare for your drafts, your fantasy draft preparation would be incomplete without some shortstops to target, which we provide you today, and some shortstops to avoid, which publishes tomorrow.
We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the shortstops they would target in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.
Shortstops to Target in 2014
J.J. Hardy, Orioles - Ray Guilfoyle (follow @faketeams)
There are certainly better fantasy shortstops,, but none are as consistent and bring less risk than Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. If you are looking for power from your shortstop, Hardy is your guy. Over the last three seasons, no shortstop has hit more home runs or driven in more runs than Hardy. He has hit 77 home runs and driven in 224 runs over that time period, playing in the hitter-friendly Camden Yards. In addition, only five shortstops have played more games than Hardy, with only one of them, Elvis Andrus, ranked ahead of him in our consensus shortstop rankings. That tells you how much risk some of the shortstops ranked ahead of him bring on draft day.
Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox - Jason Hunt (follow @jasonsbaseball)
The hype on Bogaerts is going to be extremely high this year, as he comes in touted as a potential .300 hitting shortstop with 30 home run potential. Once you are past the top 4 or 5 shortstops, I want upside, especially given that there is depth at the position in the back half of the rankings. I'd rather take the shot that Bogaerts delivers this year as a rookie, and go grab someone like Brad Miller or Jonathan Villar much later as a backup plan.
Starlin Castro, Cubs - Matt Mattingly (follow @mattmattingly81)
The Cubs' shortstop hit .244 with 10 HR's and 9 SB's in 2013. Considered a very disappointing year for the budding superstar, Castro now finds himself about to enter a make-or-break season, as one of the top prospects in all of baseball in Javier Baez will soon be making a claim for Castro's position. Sometimes, all it takes for a player like Castro is a little motivation. And after many of the Cubs offensive weapons fell short of expectations in 2013, Dale Sveum was fired and Rick Renteria was brought in as the new manager for his ability to work with the younger players. Sure there will be risk that comes with drafting Castro this year. But if you are looking for a shortstop that is capable of greatly outperforming their draft position, look no further. I expect Castro's 2014 stat line to be more in line with his 2011 and 2012 performances than his substandard 2013 season.
Everth Cabrera, Padres - Alex Kantecki (follow @rotodealer)
I'm not the biggest Everth Cabrera supporter, but the Padres shortstop can potentially lead all middle infielders in stolen bases. Last year's 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs was unfortunate, but I don't see it affecting his most coveted skill going forward. After stealing 44 bases in 2012, Cabrera swiped 37 in 95 games last season before his suspension kicked in. I can see the 27-year-old approaching 45-50 steals in 2014, and an improved offense that includes Chase Headley, Jedd Gyorko and Will Venable could help Cabrera reach 70 runs for the first time. I don't see him contributing a strong batting average (think .260), but I'm not too worried about that. If I can get him as the eighth shortstop off the board, I'll be thrilled.
Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals - Daniel Kelley (follow @danieltkelley)
The only shortstops last year who bested Peralta in both home runs and wRC+ were Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez, and that was with Peralta playing only 107 games. Yeah, whatever, we all know why he missed those games. But you've got to do a lot of logic bending to see Peralta's three-year wRC_ numbers of 122, 86, and 123, and credit the 123 to PEDs. Was he taking them all three years, but they didn't work in 2012? Or did he go off them for a year, then back on? Or was he good, then bad, then drugged? I'm sticking with "dude can hit, PEDs are secondary." In a great lineup, Peralta should have plenty of run and RBI opportunities, and he'll give you power at a powerless position.
Jed Lowrie, Athletics - Joe Pytleski (follow @agape4argentina)
I have multiple reasons for you to love Jed Lowrie this year. I linked to a piece I wrote over at Rotobanter, but here is an excerpt:
Jed Lowrie plays in a bad hitter's park. Jed Lowrie...is good. In his first taste of non-injury-ness last year (662 PAs), do you know what he did? Just this (w/ qualified PAs): top 5 SS in (BB%, ISO, Runs, RBI, BA, OBP, SLG, wOBA, and LD%). He was tops at the position in hitting the fewest amount of ground balls, and hit more fly balls than anyone too (while posting a 5% IFFB rate...again, best at the position! Shall I go on? Ok. Top 6 in Contact% at 86%, top 10 in swinging-strike rate (6.8%), and top 5 in O-Swing% (the rate at which he offers at pitches outside the zone, 28.5%).
The only thing holding him back from being a top 10 SS this year is his health (he's had past problems staying on the field). However, when he's playing he's productive and it doesn't seem that the secret is out on him yet as he's still be drafting as the 11th best overall SS. I like him better than JJ Hardy, Andrelton Simmons, and probably Starlin Castro (not a believer).
If you are looking for more position rankings, or plain old fantasy baseball goodness, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one place to get all things fantasy.
- NFBC ADP Rankings Analysis: Shortstop
- 2014 Shortstop Draft Strategy
- 2014 MLB Prospect Profile: Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Does Francisco Lindor Make the Grade?
- Consensus Position Rankings/Projections: Top 30 Shortstops for 2014, Part 2
- 2014 LABR Mixed League Draft Results
- Equivalent Fantasy Average: Learning as we go
- Shortstop Profile: Jhonny Peralta
- Fantasy Fall Out: Jean Segura