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Staff Post: Shortstops to Target in 2016

Our writers offer you some shortstops they would target in drafts this season, including Marcus Semien, Francisco Lindor, and others.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

When preparing for your fantasy baseball drafts, it is a must to have a strategy before going into your draft. To assist you in your strategy, we have provided you with our Consensus Top 30 shortstop rankings for 2015, tiered rankings, and NL-only and AL-only rankings as well.

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 and avoid, which we provide you today.

We asked each of the fantasy baseball writers to provide you with the shortstop they would target in fantasy drafts this season, and you can find them along with their reasoning below.

Shortstops to Target in 2016

Marcus Semien, Athletics (Ray Guilfoyle)

Semien had a pretty solid first full season as the A's starting shortstop last season, hitting .257 with 15 home runs, 65 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. He also made a ton of errors, and I bring this up for a reason. Thanks to Owen Watson from FanGraphs and an Athletics Nation writer, Joseph DeClercq, we have the following data on Semien, before, during and after he worked with Ron Washington to improve his fielding at shortstop:

There's another layer to this story, of course, and it was what else happened during the timeframe when Washington and Semien were focusing on his defense. I first stumbled across this interesting factoid during my perusal of a certain popular social media platform, when Joseph DeClercq — a contributor to Athletics Nation - pointed out Semien's offensive production before, during, and after directly working with Washington. Take a look:

Pre 5/22 6.1% 21.0% .183 .360 .358 130
5/22-8/24* 6.2% 22.5% .100 .277 .260 63
Post 8/24 9.9% 22.1% .205 .325 .359 131

SOURCE: FanGraphs*Period when Semien was intensively working on defense with Ron Washington

Semien was a pretty impressive hitter when he wasn't focusing on his fielding shortcomings, huh? To put his 130 wRC+ in perspective, only 26 qualified hitters had a better wRC+ last season, and the list of names that fell short of that level of production includes Jose Abreu, Adrian Gonzalez, Mookie Betts, and Nolan Arenado, just to name a few. We don't know if he could have continued to produce at that level all season, but I think he can improve upon his 2015 season stats this season.

Semien is being drafted in the 17th round of NFBC drafts right now, and I think he is a steal as the 13th shortstop off draft boards this season.

Jonathan Villar, Brewers (Daniel Kelley)

In 658 career plate appearances, Villar has 42 steals. He's 25 in a few weeks, entering what should be his prime, and now a member of the Brewers. Milwaukee, if you haven't heard, is garbage. Villar will start the season as the Brewers' shortstop. If Orlando Arcia gets the call-up (I have my doubts this early, but okay), Villar will get time at second or third (he's certainly better than ol' Middlin'brooks). He's in line to get close to full-time play in 2016, and while he's not going to give you power or many RBI, he'll keep you competitive in steals, and someone that fast should keep his batting average high as well. You don't really want Villar starting for you, but as a late-rounder for your MI slot, he has the potential to be crazy valuable.

Francisco LindorIndians (Michael Schwarz)

Earlier this week I asked whether Lindor actually might be a better fantasy shortstop than Carlos Correa.  Of course I did not answer my own question in the affirmative and never intended to do so.  The comparison, nonetheless, clarified my thinking and persuaded me that Lindor, far from being overrated, is now the most underrated shortstop in 2016 drafts, and that there is no compelling reason to believe his .348 BABIP will decline in any meaningful way.  Then, our own Jason Hunt argued that Phillies' prospect J.P. Crawford looks like the "next great fantasy shortstop" (I agree), with stat projections I think will fall short of Lindor's, which further convinced me of the wisdom in targeting Lindor sometime after the first four rounds.

Troy Tulowitzki (Tim Finnegan)

I just wrote earlier in the week that there are warning signs that point towards a steep decline for Tulo, including a spike in strikeouts, and a drop in walks, power and overall production last year. Well, that kind of needs to be put on hold for now, because Tulo has completely changed his swing mechanics. It looks similar to teammates Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson's swings; a big load off a high leg kick, and a ferocious use of momentum into the oncoming baseball. The swing looks designed to bring more power in a more efficient manner. I don't know if Tulo will be better off going forward, but this is a tangible change in process at the plate, and might be something that could be a driving force behind a rebound season for him in 2016.

Brad Miller, Rays (Domenic Lanza)

Full disclosure: part of my love for Miller is due to his throwback look, with high stirrups and no batting gloves at the plate. And some of it is due to his positional flexibility, which will see him qualify at 2B, SS, and OF in most leagues, and 3B in those with a low baseline. Now, that being said, I do not intend to sell Miller short - he may be one of the ten most valuable shortstops in fantasy baseball. The new Rays shortstop has a selective approach at the plate, and makes hard contact to all fields. In less than 500 PA last season, Miller had 44 R, 11 HR, 46 RBI, and 13 SB while getting most of his PA in the 7-8-9 slots in a mediocre lineup. This year, he's s slated to get more consistent playing time while hitting near the top of a slightly better lineup, for a team that is more aggressive on the basepaths. It isn't difficult to see him hitting around .260, with 60+ runs and RBI, and 12 to 15 HR and SB - this, from a guy that we just ranked 23rd among SS.

Ketel Marte, Seattle Mariners (Jack Cecil)

This is a more specific target, as he's only relevant if your league is at least 12 teams, but Marte could be a really great bargain.  If the other 11 teams draft a SS and you're looking around at everyone else, just let Marte sit while you stock up on everything else, and snatch Marte up around pick 200.  He has the speed to steal more than 20 bases, he'll bat over .260 simply because he has a good approach, he makes contact, and he runs well.  Lastly, he's set to be the leadoff hitter in Seattle as of today, so he should score at least 75 runs.  it isn't an incredibly sexy recommendation, but if you can stack up on other things and have a solid option later just waiting for you, why wouldn't you want him to be a part of your 2016 plan?

Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals (Rob Parker)

He's not young and he's not sexy. He doesn't have upside anymore. So, why is he a target? Because everyone else in your league will look at those reasons and let him fall in your draft. He's boring and no one likes boring players. However, he's criminally underrated as a fantasy shortstop. He has been a top 10 option at the position for years now, including last season. He's been mostly healthy of late and very consistent season-to-season. For more on why I continue to like Peralta as a steady fantasy option, you can check out my profile of him here.

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