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Top 20 NL-Only Shortstop Rankings for 2016

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Ray ranks his top 20 shortstops for NL-only leagues with Dodgers young shortstop Corey Seager leading the rankings, but after that there are some question marks.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you who play in mono or "only" leagues, I will be publishing my NL-only shortstop rankings today and my AL-only shortstop rankings tomorrow. Ranking players at each position for an "only" league is highly recommended, as there are times, like this season, where a position may be thin, and that is the case with the shortstop position in the National League this season.

After the first six or seven shortstops, the position thins out, but even within the top six or seven, there are questions. Leading the NL-only rankings is Dodgers young shortstop Corey Seager, who is entering his first big league season after a very productive 100 plate appearances in September and the playoffs. He should bat at the top of the Dodgers lineup, probably in the second or third spot in their lineup vs right handed pitchers, and in the five or six slot vs lefties.

Following Seager in my NL-only shortstop rankings is a player who still hasn't signed with a big league team, so he could sign with an American League team, or not sign at all. Pitchers and catchers have already reported to spring training and position players have reported as well, so it may take an injury before Desmond signs with a team. I think the pressure of turning down a $100 million contract and his pending free agency wore on him last year, and see him bouncing back to the 20-20 hitter he was in 2012-2014.

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford is coming off a breakout season where he hit 21 home runs and drove in 84 runs and was the best shortstop in the game according to Fangraphs WAR. The question for fantasy owners is whether he can repeat the power production in 2016. His HR/FB% jumped to 16% from 6% in 2014, but he also made more hard contact, so the power could be here to stay.

I have written earlier this offseason that I think Cubs shortstop Addison Russell could be on the cusp of a breakout season in 2016. He hits enough fly balls to hit 20 home runs, but will need to improve the number of hard hit balls and reduce his strikeout rate in 2016.

One sleeper in my rankings is Cubs utility man Javier Baez. Baez has 20-20 potential, but just needs an every day job, and that could be with another team. Or, in center field for the Cubs. Spring training will be very telling for Baez's value in 2016, but an injury changes things as well.

If you want power from your NL shortstop, there are several names to focus on: Seager, Desmond, Crawford, Kang and Russell, but don't forget about former Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko. He hit 16 home runs in 428 plate appearances last season, and could see time at second base and shortstop in St. Louis this season, so 15 home runs is possible once again.

With Troy Tulowitzki moving to the AL, the best pure hitting shortstop is probably Pirates shortstop Jung-ho Kang and Seager. After those two, if you want a shortstop with a high batting average, you need to look a Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria or Reds unproven shortstop Eugenio Suarez.

Diamondbacks shortstop Jean Segura is the only pure speed hitter at short in the NL, but after him there are few double digit stolen base guys at shortstop. That said, there is some speed guys coming in the names of Trea Turner, J.P. Crawford and Orlando Arcia. The timing of their call ups is an unknown right now, but most believe that they will be called up soon after the Super Two deadline this season.

The news on Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes this week certainly doesn't help his fantasy value, and none of that really matters based on what he did. His ranking below could change based on the decision from MLB on his upcoming suspension. Based on that decision, the value of the back up shortstop in Colorado will change as well, but we don't know the identity of his back up just yet. Those clamoring for Trevor Story to get the call may have to wait a little while longer due to the presence of Christian Adames, Daniel Descalso and Rafael Ynoa, all who will get some looks at shortstop in spring training. That said, manager Walt Weiss has indicated that if Story proves he is ready for the big leagues, the team will not send him to AAA to start to season to delay his arbitration clock.

Top 20 NL-Only Shortstop Rankings for 2016

Rank

$ Value

Name

Team

1

$24

Corey Seager

Dodgers

2

$16

Ian Desmond

Free Agent

3

$15

Brandon Crawford

Giants

4

$14

Addison Russell

Cubs

5

$12

Jhonny Peralta

Cardinals

6

$9

Jung Ho Kang

Pirates

7

$6

Asdrubal Cabrera

Mets

8

$6

Eugenio Suarez

Reds

9

$10

Jose Reyes

Rockies

10

$9

Javier Baez

Cubs

11

$7

Jean Segura

Diamondbacks

12

$4

Erick Aybar

Braves

13

$7

Alexei Ramirez

Padres

14

$5

Jonathan Villar

Brewers

15

$2

Wilmer Flores

Mets

16

$3

Trea Turner

Nationals

17

$2

J.P. Crawford

Phillies

18

$3

Trevor Story

Rockies

19

$2

Orlando Arcia

Brewers

20

$2

Jedd Gyorko

Cardinals


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