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Shortstops: The elite, the middle and the bargain

Three shortstop targets for three fantasy tiers.

Divisional Round - New York Yankees v Cleveland Indians - Game Five Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Gone are the days when I would sit back and wait to take a speed-first, slap-happy shortstop at the end of every fantasy draft. Now there are legitimate superstars headlining the position who can spearhead your roster. It’s no longer a position you want to punt until you’re past pick 200, either. There is plenty of value to find.

What follows are three targets, depending on how you want to tackle the position and how much you want to spend.

The Elite

Francisco Lindor (NFBC ADP: 20)

Divisional Round - New York Yankees v Cleveland Indians - Game Five Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

I don’t think there exists a league where Lindor doesn’t help you. Average league? He’s a career .293 hitter and hit .298 in the second half last year. On-base league? .366 mark in the second half and league average walk rate so he won’t drag you down. Points league? Among shortstops he had the third-lowest K% (13%) and hit the most doubles and home runs.

While the counting stats were there, Lindor had a subpar first half per his standards and finished with a .767 OPS. But like so many in the sport, he began hitting more fly balls and it did wonders for him. In the second half he hit 19 home runs and stole 11 bases with a .929 OPS. For comparison, Trout went 17/12/.981. To cap it off, in September he walked more than he struck out. It’s not a bold prediction, but I think a year from now he’s a no-doubt first rounder.

The Middle

Paul DeJong (NFBC ADP: 145)

St Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

I struggled to find a name I can fully get behind in this tier. More often than not, I’m staying away from shortstops in the 100-200 ADP range because I like other positions here. But if forced to pick one, give me the 2B/SS-eligible player who hit a combined 38 home runs between Triple-A and the majors. Yeah, you read that right, 38 home runs.

We know that DeJong didn’t fluke into his bombs. In Double-A in 2015 he hit 22 in 132 games (.200 ISO). And in the majors his approach was simple: hit the ball hard to the pull side. Of course the approach may have been too simple. He walked just five percent of the time and struck out 28 percent. With a full season of plate appearances I expect he hits 27 home runs with a .260/.315/.485 slash line. Solid production at this time of the draft, especially for a middle infielder.

The Bargain

Marcus Semien (NFBC ADP: 231)

Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Death, taxes, and me taking Marcus Semien at the end of a ton of my drafts. Semien is what he is at this point. A 20-25 home run shortstop with 10-steal speed who’ll hit .235-.245. Considering he’s someone you snag in the last five rounds, it’s a solid return. Remove about 5-6 home runs from DeJong’s line above and Semien is not that different, right?

I like that even after missing almost three months with a broken wrist he hit 10 home runs in 340 plate appearances to close out the season along with eight steals. I wish there were more for me to write about here, but part of the beauty of Semien is knowing what you’re going to get with him. The upside is minimal and it seems the downside only exists with the average. You’ll obviously want to try and stay away in OBP leagues. With Barreto breathing down his neck it’ll be interesting to see how the A’s handle playing time, but he shouldn’t have any trouble accruing 600 plate appearances.