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Staff Post: Shortstops to Target in 2019

The Fake Teams writers tell you which shortstops to draft in 2019.

Getty Images/Peter Rogers Illustrations

Shortstop week was stacked, much like the position itself. We offered:

We’ve got our favorite targets this morning and our guys to avoid at noon. And then yours truly is going to take a long look at the state of the position this evening or Saturday. Depends on how the day goes. For now, let’s just say the outlook is good...

MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox (Zack Waxman)

NFBC ADP: 49.17

I feel there are certain points in the draft to target or fade certain positions. If you fade the top seven shortstops relative to ADP (which includes Baez) and end up with a potential Top 30 player in the fourth round, that is direct value in Bogaerts and indirect value in being able to spend on other positions (i.e. SP) with your early picks. One of the most deadly things you can do is bust on your Round 3 or 4 picks. Rounds 1 and 2 players are Round 1 and 2 players for a reason: they are great and they are safe. Rounds 3 and 4 players are not both. Xander has as much upside as his peers Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, perhaps not to the same degree. However, the others’ floors scare me. Both don’t steal. Both have shown a propensity to demonstrate batting average risk if not healthy. Both are dealing with multiple injuries at young ages. Bogaerts is going into his sixth season at age 26. Last year he had a career high in home runs (23) and RBIs (103) in only 136 games. In his other four seasons he’s proven durable with a minimum of 144 games. In fact, he’s been a premium run scorer and premium average guy in most of those years. With an amazing lineup, I can see him at 90-100 runs and RBIs. At age 26 the home run total “should” go up, plus he steals a decent amount. The more I think about it, the more I realize he’s got unheralded upside. He is one of my top auction draft targets too, because of his relative cost compared to other shortstops. He’s got the best chance to be this year’s Bregman.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels
Profar is now a member of the Oakland Athletics.
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Jurickson Profar, Athletics (Punk is Dead)

NFBC ADP: 121.51

You want to talk about an unlucky hitter in 2018, look no further than Jurickson Profar. The former No. 1 prospect had an abysmal BABIP of .269 last season. Despite this, Profar still managed 20 home runs, 10 steals, 77 RBIs, and 82 runs. His batting average should improve in 2019 which will only help the counting stats. He also enters 2019 as the Athletics’ everyday second baseman. This will give him eligibility at every infield position! Profar looks like a great buy in fantasy baseball this season.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Amed Rosario, Mets (Mark Abell)

NFBC ADP: 135.67

Look at how Rosario’s average increased over the course of the second half last year. Additionally, he began stealing more, his strikeout rate went down 1.5%, his OBP went up, his slugging went up, and his ground ball/fly ball rate went up (which is good for him, he’s not a power hitter). Long story short, he made the right adjustments to cater to his style of play at the professional level.

MLB: New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Jorge Polanco, Twins (Heath Capps)

NFBC ADP: 199.58

I nearly called my target “any shortstop around pick 200.” There’s a cluster of Garrett Hampson, Paul DeJong, Polanco, Willy Adames, and Marcus Semien that I really like for a MI type. Hampson gets the Coors boost if he gets the opportunity, and DeJong has the current enticement of potentially hitting atop the order around Matt Carpenter, Paul Goldschmidt, and Marcell Ozuna. Adames represents more upside than Semien, but Semien is again a solid bet for double-digit homers and steals. This area is ripe with solid options.

It’s Polanco I like the most, though. A career .272 hitter, Polanco came a little more into his own in 2018 with a .288/.345/.427 slash line. He chipped in six home runs and seven steals in only 77 games. Currently projected to bat leadoff for Minnesota, Polanco has good plate discipline and is a contact hitter. His 25.2% chase rate was far better than last year’s MLB average of 30.9%, and his 85.3% contact rate was well above last year’s 77.0% MLB average. With a career 6.2% swinging strike rate and a blazing 28.4 ft/sec sprint speed, Polanco is in for a career year in Minnesota.