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State of the Position: Shortstop

A look at how fantasy baseball GMs should attack the shortstop position.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Already in the books are catcher, first base and second base. This week, shortstop.

What you can expect to find at this position is speed, and lots of it. Aside from outfield, the two speediest positions are middle infield. Last year, 12 second basemen managed 10 or more steals. 12 shortstops also accomplished that feat, though speed was more top-heavy at second base with Dee Gordon amassing 60 and Whit Merrifield and Jose Altuve each cresting 30. No shortstop swiped more than 25, but there were four guys who had over 20: Elvis Andrus, Jose Reyes, Jose Peraza and Jean Segura. Note: Peraza and Javier Baez each made both middle infield lists.

The Superstar: Trea Turner

Turner’s ADP is 5.0, or squarely in the middle of the first round. Steamer projects 17/50 with a .298/.348/.466 triple slash. Turner is projected for 96 runs and 66 RBIs, marks that are very attainable hitting behind Adam Eaton and in front of Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy.

The Core Four: Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager

If you don’t catch one of these hotshot youngsters, chances are you’ll be waiting for awhile to settle your shortstop position. None of these gents are over 25 years of age, and each has proven himself at the big league level already. Each plays for a team with championship aspirations. Turner is slated to hit second for Washington, Correa cleanup for Houston, Lindor leadoff for Cleveland and Seager second for Los Angeles. So there aren’t concerns about batting order.

One thing I will say about ADP: Correa and Seager don’t look too different to me, but Correa is going at 14.1 and Seager is being drafted at a more palatable 38.8. Steamer projects a three-homer edge to Correa, Seager for one more run, 16 more RBIs for Correa, three more bags for Correa, and nearly identical .290/.370/.500 slash lines. So yeah, according to Steamer you are giving up 16 RBIs. But at what cost? I’m tempted to roll with Max Scherzer instead of Correa at that juncture. Which pairing would you prefer: Scherzer/Seager or Correa/Verlander? That’s a basic exercise but the ADPs for Scherzer/Correa and Seager/Verlander are all super close. I think I lean towards Scherzer and Seager.

No one believes in me, but I am a baller: Elvis Andrus

I mean, some people believe, since Andrus is the fifth shortstop off the board according to Fangraphs ADP data. But I have seen the fantasy community dogging my boy recently. Listen up, y’all. Andrus made a conscious decision to be more aggressive early in counts last year. That resulted in the first 20-homer year of his career. In fact, the 20-homer mark from last year was only one home run shy of Andrus’ total from the previous four years combined (4, 2, 7, 8). Steamer projects a precipitous drop to 12 HRs, but with over 20 steals, healthy counting stats and a solid triple slash of .280/.335/.411. I personally think a 12/23 projection is pretty safe for Andrus. I’m a big believer in the mental side of any contest. Here’s one beat writer who said it was no coincidence that Andrus’ best season came at a time when he was more settled and at peace personally than ever before. Fade at your own risk.

The Avoid: Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts is the DJ LeMahieu of shortstop. Sure, he hits for average, but the power and speed numbers aren’t what we want them to be. Playing in Boston has buoyed his value for too long. I’d honestly rather wait 45 picks and take his teammate, Eduardo Nunez, and just figure it out from there.

Put me in, coach: Javier Baez

We know Baez is a stat-grabbing machine. We also know the Cubs are swimming with depth, and that isn’t great news for fake purposes. If Chicago starts Addison Russell and Javier Baez up the middle as projected, that leaves Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist on the bench. There are a lot of mouths to feed here, and Baez doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle as the eighth shortstop off the board. Steamer projects 507 PA, which is 55 less than Didi Gregorius, who is projected to have the ninth-worst amount of PA of the Top 10 shortstops being drafted. Put differently, Baez is being drafted alongside clear-cut starters as if playing time were zero concern. Me, I’d probably wait a round for the safety of Gregorius. Baez is slated to bat ninth for the Cubs, while Gregorius should hit sixth for the Yankees (right behind Gary Sanchez). I think I favor Gregorius’ certainty over Baez’s uncertainty.

The Sleeper: Jorge Polanco

Polanco is only 24 years old, coming off of a 13/13 season in which he slashed .256/.313/.410. He also managed 60 runs and 74 RBIs, and he did all this despite a .278 BABIP and only playing in 133 games. According to Roster Resource (a great, umm, resource) he is slated to bat fifth for Minnesota to begin the season. But with Miguel Sano questionable to begin the year due to leg surgery (not to mention the off-the-field stuff) we could even see Polanco hitting third for the Twins, as he did when Sano missed time last year. If his batted ball luck improves, his average should rebound to the .270 level, at least. Sign me up for some 15/15 potential at pick 202.1. Why is this guy so cheap?

Poll

Which side do you prefer?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Max Scherzer/Corey Seager
    (101 votes)
  • 22%
    Carlos Correa/Justin Verlander
    (30 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now