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Shortstops to Target in 2015

The Fake Teams fantasy baseball staff offer you some shortstops that you should target in your 2015 fantasy drafts, including Jung Ho Kang, Starlin Castro and Marcus Semien.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a draft strategy, and yesterday, Daniel Kelley offered his thoughts on how to approach shortstops on draft day. We have also provided you with our Top 30 shortstop rankings for 2015:

Part 1

Part 2

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 2015

Marcus Semien, Athletics - Ray Guilfoyle

The A's traded starter Jeff Samardzja for Semien and some prospects this offseason. After the deal was announced we learned that GM Billy Beane planned to use Semien as his starting shortstop this season. After the deal was announced, I wrote that Semien was now fantasy relevant, and still think that. I also wrote about Semien in our Sleeper Series back in January.

Between AAA and the big leagues last season, Semien hit 21 home runs, scored 87 runs, drove in 80 ruins and stole 10 bases. In 2013, he hit 21 home runs, scored 117 runs, drove in 73 runs and stole 26 bases, across three levels, so he has power and speed to be an asset in fantasy leagues in 2015. In addition, he has solid plate discipline, even though that was not particularly evident in his 255 plate appearances in the big leagues last season.  Throughout his minor league career, he has put up double digit walk rates, so he should be valuable in OBP leagues as well.

Semien showed us, in a small sample size, in his 74 September plate appearances last year what kind of hitter he can be, hitting .273-.333-.485 with 3 home runs, 22 runs scored, 18 RBI and 3 stolen bases. Obviously, he won't repeat this every month, but if he can hit 3 home runs and steal 3 bases per month in a full season of plate appearances, he could put up a 15 home run and 15 stolen base season in 2015. Only three shortstops accomplished that feat in 2014 - Ian Desmond, Alexei Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins.

Wilmer Flores, Mets - Timothy Finnegan

Alex Kantecki pointed out that Wilmer Flores' NFBC ADP is roughly 368. That's too low, in my opinion. For a much more detailed write up on Flores, check out my piece that I published about him on Tuesday, located here. I'll shorten my case for him: look at his ZiPS projection for 2015:

AVG

HR

R

RBI

SB

.266

17

73

80

1

That projection is worth attention in fantasy leagues.

Compare Flores' projection to Starlin Castro's 2014 season:

AVG

HR

R

RBI

SB

.292

14

58

65

4

For where Flores is being drafted, he's a strong candidate to provide surplus value.

Starlin Castro, Cubs - Brandon Decker

Castro had a very solid bounce back season in 2014 sporting a .292/.339/.438 and was on track for a career year, before a high ankle sprain cut his season short after only 134 games. Castro was top 7 among all QUALIFYING shortstops (excluding Tulowitzki) in all major fantasy categories in 2014. He was 6th in hits (154) and HR's (14). He was 7th in RBI (65). His .292 average was best among all qualifying shortstops, and his OBP of .339 was second best.

Let's take a look at how Castro compared to two shortstops who seem to be going right before him in most drafts.

Player OBP OPS wRAA wOBA wRC+
Castro .339 .777 13.5 .341 115
Desmond .313 .743 9.2 .329 108
Reyes .328 .726 5.5 .321 102


From a sabermetrics standpoint, you can make a case for Castro having a better offensive season at the plate than both Desmond and Reyes. However, in fantasy terms, Castro does lack Desmond's power and Reyes' speed. That is why I rank him 5th entering the 2015 season behind Tulowitzki, Ramirez, Desmond, and Reyes.

The one thing missing from Castro's game the past two season is his SB total. We have seen flashes of Castro's ability to swipe bags at the big league level. In 2011 he had 22 SB and in 2012 he had 25 SB. With the hiring of Joe Maddon, who's Tampa Bay Rays lead all of baseball in stolen bases from 2008-2010 and finished second in 2011, there should be plenty of opportunities for Castro to get his stolen base numbers back up.

Projections:

Projection G AVG HR RBI Runs SB
Steamer 138 .273 12 64 65 8
Myself 155 .289 15 73 81 10

Brandon Crawford, Giants - Timmy Kennedy

Brandon Crawford is one the most underrated shortstops in the game, if not the most. Not only is he stellar on defense - boasting a career DRS of 25 and a career UZR of 16.1 - his bat is constantly improving. The average shortstop posts a wRC+ of around 85. Crawford had a wRC+ of 102 last season - rather impressive offensive value for a shortstop who is also a huge asset on defense. His WAR, HRs, wRC+, RBIs, Rs, ISO, SBs and BB% have steadily climbed year by year, for three straight seasons. And, there's nothing to say that they won't again next season. I'm targeting the San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford at shortstop.

Jung Ho Kang, Pirates - Rob Parker

Would you like a power-hitting under-the-radar shortstop that you can draft late? Me too. That's what you could get with Kang. The 2015 international signing with the Pirates is considered to be a polished player needing little, if any seasoning in the minors. He dominated pitchers in the Korean league (KBO) and some, like Dan Farnsworth at Fangraphs (FG+), believe he will translate that success to MLB. He will compete with Jordy Mercer for playing time, but if he hits like I think he will, he will run away with the full time gig. A .280 average with 20+ HR is possible here, at least after he settles  into MLB pitching. His approach has been compared to post-breakout Josh Donaldson and even Miggy. Don't let people scare you off because the KBO produces high offensive numbers for everyone. Kang's approach, strength, and pitch recognition skills should translate well, even in a more difficult league. Take a flier on his upside late in your draft to get a shortstop with lots of potential for profit.

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox - Daniel Kelley

One of our rankers last year didn't rank Xander Bogaerts - I never was quite sure why. Ignore that person's rankings, and we had the Boston shortstop/third baseman pretty firmly inside our top 10. It made sense, based on his great performance at the end of 2013 and his ridiculous pedigree even before that. In fact, coming into this season he's ranked basically the same as before. Which makes sense - balance that pedigree and natural professional growth against his largely awful 2014. But I side with the argument that says much of Bogaerts' 2014 struggles were due to his position instability, and a full year of shortstop time will help a lot. I'm buying in a big way.

Javier Baez, Cubs -  Jack Cecil

While I wrote a most slanderous piece on Baez last week as a second baseman, I now find myself rooting for him as a shortstop.  Essentially the landscape for shortstops is such a dumpster fire, I don't know what to think anymore.  Ian Desmond keeps putting up 20/20 years but I like his peripherals less and less, Tulo is always hurt, Hanley moves to the outfield, and newsflash, outfielders get hurt just as much as infielders (and he's going to be playing with a giant green metal wall behind him).  Baez was historically bad last year, and while he'll always have his prospect pedigree to bump his stock up, it can't be that huge of a bump considering what he did last year.  If Baez can put up a Pedro Alvarez season at SS (25+HR, 220 avg) with 10 steals, I think he should provide a fine return on investment.  In general, i think this is more of a "don't pay a kings ransom for a very good SS, when you can pay a kings ransom for an excellent something else" recommendation.

Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals - Nick Doran

Peralta had one of the best seasons of his career last year, in fact he has been really good the last two years. He provides excellent power for a shortstop, having exceeded 20 homers in a season 5 times in his career, including 21 last year. His batting average has been all over the map, ranging from .239 all the way up to .303. He plays every day in what should be a strong Cardinals' lineup that will provide him with plenty of opportunities to rack up Runs an RBI. He is not a superstar like Tulo but Peralta offers excellent value for his draft slot. Peralta is #22 on the all-time list for home runs by a shortstop and could be in the top 12 by the end of this year. Don't overlook this guy.

Fantasy Rundown

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