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Fantasy Baseball 2015: Top 30 Shortstop Rankings

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Ray updates his fantasy shortstop rankings for 2015, making updates for Pirates new shortstop Jeong-Ho Kang, the Mariners two-headed shortstop and others.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today, I take another look at my 2015 shortstop rankings, offering some thoughts on a few shortstops including Starlin Castro, Brad Miller, Chris Taylor, Chris Owings and recently signed Jeong-Ho Kang. I have included Kang in my shortstop rankings assuming the Pirates, who won the bidding for Kang, come to an agreement with Kang and he begins the season as their starting shortstop.

Jeong-Ho Kang, Pirates

The Pirates won the bidding rights to sign Korean shortstop Jeong Ho Kang, and have until late January to sign Kang to a contract. I have included him in rankings below, and assume once he signs, he will be the Pirates starter at shortstop. Kang is coming off a monster season, where he hit .356-.459-.739 with 40 home runs, 103 runs scored and 117 RBI in the hitter-friendly Korean baseball league. In seven seasons with Nexen and Woori, he hit .298-.383-.504 with 139 home runs, 470 runs scored and 540 RBI in 3560 plate appearances.

I am not sure how his numbers will translate in major league baseball, but we should learn more about his abilities in spring training. Here is what ESPN's Keith Law wrote about Kang in his post season free agent rankings back in late November:

Kang seems to have split scouts into two disparate camps: Those who see a power-hitting middle infielder, and those who see an unathletic corner guy whose power won't translate outside of Korea.

I'm closer to the former camp, as I see a swing that will generate legit plus power even once he leaves his hitter-friendly home park in the Yangcheon District of Seoul. Kang has a huge leg kick and gets his lead foot down late, which could create timing issues, but the swing is rotational, and I don't think the power surge he has had the past three years is strictly a function of the rising level of offense in the KBO. It's a power swing more than a hitting-for-average swing, which makes it somewhat more important that he stay in the middle infield.

Based on that scouting report from Law, I am going to take an optimistic view and rank Kang pretty high, ranking him as my #12 fantasy shortstop in 2015, due to the power potential. PNC Park may limit that to some degree, but I am willing to take a chance and rank him at 12 rather than my initial ranking of around the 20 range.

Starlin Castro, Cubs

I recently traded for Castro in one of my NL only keeper leagues, and have ranked him as my #5 fantasy shortstop for 2015. My ranking hasn't changed after the trade, but I traded for Castro for two reasons, one of which is based on the thought from Cubs GM Jed Hoyer that he sees more power in Castro's bat, from this piece from MLB.com's Carrie Muskat:

"He's really talented with a bat," Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said of the three-time All-Star shortstop. "There's no question he's always going to be a guy who puts the ball in play. I believe there's a lot of power there and that will start showing up." The Cubs saw that power emerge in August, specifically with a long homer Aug. 30 at St. Louis. Unfortunately, Castro fractured his left ankle in an awkward slide at home on Sept. 2 and didn't return the rest of the season. Said Hoyer: "The biggest disappointment in him getting hurt is that it felt like [the power] was going to happen."

The second reason is that I wonder if Castro will be running a bit more on the bases under new manager Joe Maddon. But, the fact that he is coming off an ankle injury, I don't see that happening until later in the season.

2015 will be Castro's sixth season in the big leagues, and I was shocked to see that he will turn 25 years of age in March, so maybe there is more power to come from his bat in the years ahead.

Brad Miller/Chris Taylor, Mariners

Who wins the shortstop job in Seattle? Fantasy owners will be asking this question through spring training, and we may not know until the end of spring training. The Mariners website lists Taylor as the starter in their depth chart, but that could change based on their performance in Arizona. If you look at their 2014 performance, Taylor hit well in his 150+ plate appearances, hitting .287-.347-.346 with 16 runs scored, 9 RBI and 5 stolen bases, while Miller struggled in his 411 plate appearances, hitting .221-.288-.365 with 10 home runs, 47 runs scored and 36 RBI. I have read that the Mariners will use Miller in the outfield should he lose the shortstop job to Taylor, but that might change after they traded for Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano this offseason.

Chris Owings, Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks traded shortstop Didi Gregorius to the Yankees this offseason, so Owings will have little competition for the shortstop job in spring training. Owings is coming off offseason shoulder surgery to repair the posterior labrum in his left shoulder. Reports indicate that he will not be ready for the start of spring training, but should be ready for Opening Day.

Owings possesses the power and speed to reach double digits in home runs and stolen bases, but I wonder if the recovery from shoulder surgery will sap some of his power in 2015.

Now let's take a look at my updated Shortstop Rankings for 2015:

Rank

Name

Team

1

Troy Tulowitzki

Rockies

2

Ian Desmond

Nationals

3

Hanley Ramirez

Red Sox

4

Jose Reyes

Blue Jays

5

Starlin Castro

Cubs

6

Alexei Ramirez

White Sox

7

Jimmy Rollins

Dodgers

8

Jhonny Peralta

Cardinals

9

J.J. Hardy

Orioles

10

Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox

11

Javier Baez

Cubs

12

Jung Ho Kang

Pirates

13

Danny Santana

Twins

14

Elvis Andrus

Rangers

15

Jean Segura

Brewers

16

Erick Aybar

Angels

17

Alcides Escobar

Royals

18

Chris Owings

Diamondbacks

19

Chris Taylor

Mariners

20

Brad Miller

Mariners

21

Brandon Crawford

Giants

22

Jed Lowrie

Astros

23

Wilmer Flores

Mets

24

Andrelton Simmons

Braves

25

Asdrubal Cabrera

Rays

26

Didi Gregorius

Yankees

27

Josh Rutledge

Angels

28

Adeiny Hechavarria

Marlins

29

Yunel Escobar

Rays

30

Zack Cozart

Reds


Other 2015 Rankings

If you are looking for my other 2015 position rankings, check out the links below:

Top 30 Catchers for 2015

Top 30 First Baseman for 2015

Top 30 Second Baseman for 2015

Top 30 Third Baseman for 2015

Top 100 Outfielders for 2015

Top 100 Starting Pitchers for 2015

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more fantasy baseball, football or basketball articles and rankings, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown for links to the best fantasy sites on the 'net.