The second golden era of shortstops has started in baseball. It might have a few gems that are just as good as Jeter, Garciaparra and A-Rod. Only time will tell. Neither middle infield slot is something you’ll have to scramble to fill now though. They don’t have quite as much power as the second baseman but there’s lots of talent at this position. The only guy older than 30 in the rankings is Troy Tulowitzki and the only guys who have been starters in majors since 2013 are Jean Segura, Elvis Andrus and Tulo. There’s lots of youth and options depending on where you plan on drafting and what you need. You really can’t go wrong inside the top five and even after there’s some really solid options. The scary thing is that most of these guys might get better.
- Trea Turner– He’s the next Hanley Ramirez at this position, luckily for the Nats he’s a solid defender so he has staying power. He has the ability to change a game with his ability and he can certainly change your fantasy team. He was the Gary Sanchez of the NL last year, having such an impact in such a short time. Obviously he won’t hit .342, and he didn’t have a ton of power but he hits the ball hard and gaining power once you reach the majors isn’t uncommon. He’s a candidate for 20-20 and soon he might be the guy going right after Mike Trout in drafts much like Hanley went after Pujols. Basically Turner steals bases at an elite rate, he hits well and was one of the best bats in his draft class and has been major league ready for a while, and he’s mixing in hard hits and power while hitting at the top of a pretty solid line-up. You can nab him in the first round and be comfortable. I’d baseline him at .290 with 20 homers and 50 steals.
- Corey Seager-Seager is probably not reading this, but if he was, he’s likely wondering what he has to do to be number one. He was the top hitter on a team that gave the Cubs a run for their money in the NLCS. He has power, is a good hitter and is extremely young. He and Turner are the future of the position. The reason Turner got the nod over him was speed, but Seager holds the power advantage and he will likely hit 30 next year. He’s a very solid hitter with a great swing and approach that will likely make him a consistent .300 hitter. Also, I can’t see a world where he doesn’t get more RBIs in 2017 than he did last year. RBI is a mostly a luck stat and Seager didn’t get that last year. Seager will make adjustments and likely become an even better player in 2017 and will be a first rounder for many years to come. He can help hold down your offense. Baseline would be .300 with 30 homers, 100 runs and 80 RBI.
- Carlos Correa-Correa didn’t really disappoint in 2017, he just didn’t live up to really big expectations. He’s still younger than guys like Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, and almost any hitter in the majors. His power will go up next year as he had a hard rate approaching 40% last year. He had a few stats that just pointed out he faced a little bit of bad luck last season. He probably won’t be quite a .300 hitter, but .275-.280 at shortstop is pretty good and his power ceiling is the highest of anyone at the position I’d say, even Story. Correa hasn’t seen his best days yet and he’s still a safe bet for second round production in a fantasy bat. He’s a pick with a high ceiling and a floor you know. He’s a great overall player on offense and he hits in the middle of a good line-up, which is always something else to target in fantasy. His slugging percentage at that age is really impressive and his wOBA is right there with guys Khris Davis who hit 40 homers last year and I’m willing to give him a 90% chance of improving from 2016. A good second round grab who will hit 30 homers, hit .275 and have plenty of counting stats.
- Xander Bogaerts– He’s likely more of a .285 hitter, but he’s another guy who has put up two great seasons and now he’s flashing some power and he’s probably going to him between Pedroia and Betts. He hit less grounders last year which was the key for him becoming a complete fantasy player. The batting average with him has always been a bit of a risk still as he hits a high amount of grounders, his low hard hit rate and has had high BABIPs. Playing in Fenway will help a guy with a great set of skills though and I don’t think he will fall off any cliffs, he just is more of a risk than the top three, and he seems like a BABIP beater though. He’s a second to third rounder with a baseline of 20 homers, 80 RBI, 95 runs and 10 steals with a .285 average.
- Francisco Lindor– Lindor has pretty much outplayed Carlos Correa in his two major league seasons, but Correa just has a higher fantasy ceiling and Lindor has a higher defensive ceiling. That being said Lindor is still a fantasy all-star who can get you above average rates for most stats. He’s a 20-20 candidate and he has some power and will likely break 20 steals for the first time this year. He’s a really good hitter too and might be one of the best bets to hit at or near .300 in the majors right now and he improved his walk rate last year leading to even more consumer confidence in his hitting ceiling. He scored 100 runs last year and figures to be a catalyst for the Indians offense again in 2017, so his counting stats could look really good. He’s a third rounder to fourth rounder with a baseline of .300, 15 homers, 25 steals, 100 runs and 70 RBI.
- Jonathan Villar– A lot of people are a lot higher on Villar and he has the virtue of speed meaning he will always have some value in a 5×5 league but he doesn’t have a track record and he’s a late bloomer so I feel like there may be some regression. I think he has the talent and skills to continue to hit well to get on and steal but I’m not sure if he has the power to continue to hit close to 20 bombs a season. He looks like he’s not a complete one year wonder though and if you miss out on the top tier, the stolen bases Villar provides along with his versatility give him some really good value. I just wouldn’t expect a total repeat of the 2016 season he had. He’s more believable than a guy like Jean Segura and is a guy who adds a lot to your roster.
- Trevor Story– He had an unbelievable start to his career and started to come back to Earth after his April, but after he started to come back to Earth he looked pretty normal as far as hitters go and he still hit for a sizable amount of power. He’s got just as much power, if not more, than Nolan Arenado so there’s no reason that Story can’t author some big power seasons. He won’t be a terrible hitter either, he will probably hit .260-ish and has the upside for 40 plus homers. He has the most power of any shortstop and he might be one of those guys that has his stock start to rise a lot and you get a discount on him this year. He has his troubles, like with swinging and missing, but it doesn’t stop guys like Chris Davis and he could just be the right handed version of him. He’s a good value after the first few rounds and his baseline should be about .260, 35 homers with 90 RBI and 10 steals.
- Troy Tulowitzki- He used to be the cream of the crop but his injury troubles and the fact he’s starting to age have pummeled down his stock. He still has power and moving from Coors Field to Rogers Centre wasn’t the worst downgrade ever. The thing with Tulo is that you always have to plan that he will be injured at some point. If he stayed healthy all year he has 30 plus homer potential still. He’s going to get more opportunities now too with Edwin gone and Bautista starting to decline. He’s an established all-start and he stands out as a veteran in the young playing field. I think he could have his best season in a few years hitting wise as his average should go up to go along with his power and he’s a great middle of the draft selection, just make sure you draft a back-up. He should be expected to do .275, 25 homers, 90 RBIs, 75 runs.
- Dansby Swanson– It’s hard to rank him high without big league experience, but you can just tell by watching that he’s going to be good and all the data so far in his career backs up that he will be a game changing player. He could end up way higher on this list but it’s hard to project exactly how much damage he will do next year from here. I think he can put up a good first full season though as he came out a college bat with experience and lately we’ve seen some guys like that fly through and become instant stars. You’re drafting him as a bit of a risk unless you get him late though because there’s a chance it won’t all be there at first. He has the potential to be a five category player with above average power and hitting ability and the fact he’s going to get the chance to hit in a desired line-up spot right away. He’s a guy I’d target.
- Jean Segura- He made adjustments and unleashed the tools scouts always saw, but that BABIP is just too high and I don’t buy that he’s fast enough to Dee Gordon his average to a ton of ground ball hits. He has a bit of power though and he’s still a threat to steal 25-30 bases. He’s a good player and it might just be that he found his niche. Moving to Seattle won’t help him either, but overall he’s a solid hitter. I wouldn’t count on him winning any batting championships but it certainly seems as if he could hit above average while being a guy who can steal you bases, like I alluded above, I think he’s a guy that is good if you miss out on Villar because he’s still a solid player. I’d expect a .285 average, 12 homers and 30 steals.
- Addison Russell– Russell didn’t all out breakout in 2016 and some of his value to the Cubs is in his defense. The biggest tool Russell has right now is his power and the fact he’s going to hit right after Bryant, Schwarber and Rizzo in the line-up leading to counting stats galore. There’s reason to believe he’s making positive strides in his overall hitting too. He hit very well in the minors but has only hit around .240 in the majors. He’s walking more, becoming more patient and swinging and missing less. He actually hit better for most of the season but had a bad finish. He hit .187 after August 23rd. He’s likely going to see a bigger leap in his hitting ability in his age 23 season. Not even Bryce Harper had an MVP season right off the bat, so Russell’s youth means that he’s more likely to creep towards that .300 he so often hit in the minors. The power is already there though, whatever he hits is just a bonus and he’s worth a mid-draft pick. I’d expect .260 with 25 homers with 95 RBI, 90 runs and 5 steals.
- Aledmys Diaz– He was once DFA’d and pretty much anyone could’ve had him and the same goes for you in your fantasy league. Diaz is now a pretty good middle infielder with some doubt about his abilities, but there is also reason to believe in him. The Cardinals do a pretty good job of developing good players and Diaz is one of those. The power seems pretty legit and it may even get better. He hits the ball hard and is good at getting it in the air. He might not hit .300 ever again but he won’t be a .240 hitter either. He makes good contact and all of his secondary stats support the fact that offensively he’s an above average shortstop. He was an all-star last year and figures to compete to be one again. He’s a good pick after all of the elite and all-star fantasy picks are off the board at short and he’ll give you a solid season. I’d expect around 20 homers, .275 average and 75 runs and RBIs
- Elvis Andrus- He’s been a solid fantasy source for stolen bases for years and back in the Rangers heyday he was worth more because of all the extra runs he scored, but he also played better back then. He then started to decline but last year he found his stroke again. He walked slightly more and he started hitting for more extra bases. He’ll never be elite, but he now looks like an option in deep leagues and even just normal ones. The Rangers offense looks good again and if Andrus is the catalyst like he was for the 2010-12 teams then he will get the counting stat benefit as well. It is possible he will decline a bit, but if he can stay more patient and get the ball in play then good things could come his way. I’d expect .270 with 25 steals and 85 runs.
- Jose Peraza– Peraza is going to get playing time with Brandon Phillips now gone home to Atlanta. That’s all Peraza ever needed where he didn’t get playing time in Atlanta, was blocked by the contending Dodgers and blocked by veterans on the rebuilding Reds last year. He could easily be the Jonathan Villar of the 2017 season, though it’s not fair to expect that. He doesn’t have much power but his speed is top of the charts. He hit very well in his first extended big league look and his secondary numbers backed it up. He could soon be a guy that people look to for average and steals every season. He’s worth a pick at the end of the draft to use as a middle infielder. His baseline is .285, 5 homers and 45-50 steals.
- Tim Anderson-He gets overshadowed since most of the shortstops coming up are the likes of Russell, Story, Swanson, Lindor, Seager, Bogaerts and Correa. He’s the steady performer of the bunch. The guy who does a little bit of everything and looks like he’ll have a nice, long and solid career at shortstop being a consistently good performer. He’s got the upside of going 20-20 and his power will play in the Cell (or whatever company bought it out). The thing that’ll hold him back for now is his impatience. If he can get that under control he will become a lot better and more trustworthy of a player. Right now you’re buying a good power-speed combo that should hit right before Melky, Abreu and Frazier. The average isn’t a guarantee. He’s a solid late draft pick and I’d expect around .265-.270 with 15 homers, 25 steals and a decent amount of runs.
- Orlando Arcia-His hit tool was praised as he was coming up along with the fact he’s an outstanding fielder. Arcia doesn’t have much power but he could be a good lead-off hitter. He had a really tough start but he rebounded and started to hit well. One day Arcia should be one of the better lead-off guys in the game. He should start to hit more in 2017, but he’s a bit of a risk because he’s still young. When you add the speed he has to the big equation though it seems like he’s worth taking that chance on if you time it well. He actually did show a bit of power when he came up too and has an upside of 10-12 in a season. For now I’d expect a .275 average, 25 steals, 8 homers and 70 runs.
- Brandon Crawford– His defense has always been appreciated and he’s been very valuable for the Giants. He’s now a bench option in normal leagues and in deep league you might even want him as your starter. He actually looks like he has the pop to stay in the mid to upper teens in homers and he’s become a sort extra base machine. He should be rewarded with a higher position in the batting order. Offensively, I’d say if you put his 2015 and 2016 seasons in a blender that you’d be happy and get his 2017 season. He will hit for an average batting average and he doesn’t have speed, but he has good power for a shortstop and a decent amount of counting stats. He’s worth a later pick and I’d expect 15 homers, 85 RBI, 65 runs, .265 average and about 5 steals.
- Asdrubal Cabrera-He’s not quite the all-star he used to be but Cabrera has a good gig in New York and gets a decent amount of counting stats. He’s worth a late look in normal leagues and a kind of late look in deep leagues. He might not quite be the .280 hitter he was last season but he’s definitely close and his power is still real. Unfortunately for Asdrubal the middle infield has become more powerful and his hitting has declined so his value went way down from at the beginning of the decade when he was one of the top shortstops. He’s still a solid performer that shouldn’t disappoint. I’d expect 22-23 homers, a .270 average, 60 RBI and 65 runs.
- Marcus Semien– He’s the best of three guys that we are going to look at mostly for their power. He has good power and I really buy into his power surge. He can hit around 27-28 homers every season. He’s worked with Ron Washington to improve defense so he won’t be losing playing time either. His big issue is he swings and misses a lot and he isn’t a great hitter. He kind of reminds of Brandon Inge, just a bit different. Inge was a great fielder and worse hitter but he had many seasons with good power. Semien could really do for becoming more patient and he could see a bit more of a power spike up to the mid-30s in homers, until then he’s a 25-30 guy. He will get some counting stats as well and has speed enough to contribute a stolen base every other week. He’s young and I think he has the best upside of these three. Worth a late look. I’d expect .240, 25 homers, 75 RBI and runs and 10 steals.
- Brad Miller-On this episode of “He hit 30 homers last year!?” we visit with Brad Miller who will likely just play a new position called “somewhere between where the shortstop and first baseman but not second base.” Miller isn’t a great fielder which will likely cause him to lose some playing time and it does seem like 2001 all over again with guys like him hitting a bunch of homers. Homers are becoming less scarce but you can’t lie and say there’s no value in 30 bombs. How much though? I’d say enough to draft him super late if you missed out on some homers, but I wouldn’t bet on a repeat of 30, more like 22-25. He also doesn’t hit very well in a pretty bad offense, so his value starts to get limited. He’s a one-trick pony, but a good enough one to get draft consideration.
- Didi Gregorius– You know how they say the camera adds five pounds? Well Yankee Stadium adds five homers. Gregoruis power surge was supported by a high percentage of his flies leaving Yankee Stadium. That data is on FanGraphs. So yeah he’s solid and yeah he will likely have an inflated rate of fly balls being homers but I’d still expect regression and it’ll be hard for him to beat his 2016 and people often weigh the most recent season as the most important thing when drafting guys, so you sneaking him in at a good spot is just pretty unlikely. If you can get him in a fair spot he provides some power, average and even a little bit of speed. He’s also about to get better teammates coming up from the minors which help counting stats. I’d expect .270 with 15 homers, 60 RBI, 65 runs and 10 steals.
- Jose Reyes– He’s older and he’s had on and off the field troubles at certain points of the last few seasons. He has 3B eligibility too but if you’re going for him it’s for stolen bases. He doesn’t have quite the speed or hit ability he once did but over the season and now he’s likely more of 20 steals guy. He’s shown he can stay productive though and I’d expect .260, 10-12 homers, 60 runs and 20-25 steals. Fringy guy to draft but he’s close.
- Matt Duffy– Duffy had no power at any point in his career until he came up last year. He fought injuries and a trade last year. It’ll be nice to see what he really is this upcoming season but last year didn’t show him completely regressing. He might not have great power but if he can elevate the ball a little more, he can be a really decent hitter. I’d call him a super sleeper.
- Jorge Polanco– He’s a guy to watch who hasn’t had a ton of major league success yet. He’s a solid prospect and looks like a solid hitter. This is his chance to shine. He’s some power, a good bat, and a little speed, so there’s definitely upside and potential
- Zack Cozart– He had a great start to 2015 and then got hurt so we will never know if that was going to be a career year. He’s had a pretty mediocre career otherwise, just flashing some power and getting hot every once and a while.
- Freddy Galvis– He almost had a 20-20 season last year, I think it’s a fluke but he did show he does have some value. Mostly I’d expect the power to go away. He will get some steals and might hit ok, but he may be traded, benched or moved when J.P. arrives.
- Alcides Escobar-As a Tiger fan the Royals success always kind of baffled me and Escobar is the epitome of this. He never hit really well and he’s a defensive whiz but he was just another guy in their line-up that struggled to get on base, which diminishes his fantasy value. The offense got kind of beefed up, and if Ned Yost decides to put Escobar back at the top he will score some runs and he has speed, but I wouldn’t expect much else.
- Chris Owings-Finally start to hit and he’s fast, but I’m not sure I buy into the .277 average, but nonetheless he offers speed.
- Jordy Mercer-He’s very average when it comes to hitting, but when it comes to fantasy there’s not a ton he offers.
- Andrelton Simmons– A glove guy and probably the best defender at short in baseball, but he will hit higher in a weaker Angels line-up. Pop he once showed is now a distant memory, so really not much there.
- Jose Iglesias– He’s an awesome defender and had some speed but he doesn’t really need to steal in the Tigers line-up and his hitting ability could leave him at .240 or .300. He’s a good guy for the Tigers to plug at shortstop but the only fantasy value he might have is the 10 steals and possible average he might have.
- Nick Ahmed– Another glove guy
- Adeiny Hechavarria-Another glove guy
*J.P. Crawford–Carl Crawford may end up being the second best player in his family. This guy shows the same upside to have the prime his cousin did and he should get his first reps at some point in 2017.
Niklas’s SGP Projections: