2014 Fantasy Baseball: Disappointments– Shortstops
As we continue the disappointment train, we find ourselves with the exact opposite problem as we had with the third basemen. It isn’t that we didn’t have shortstops that sucked. It’s that a majority of them were expected to suck, so it is hard to pinpoint the ones that disappointed. In point of fact, at least one of them won’t necessarily look all that disappointing at the outset. Sometimes we just have to shift our collective expectations. This is obviously true at shortstop where there are only a few true legitimate all-star performers. Welcome to the era of the pitcher.
If there is any general theme for 2015 it is that we have to finally shift our perceptions on the balance between pitching and hitting. There are some positions where there are only a handful of dominant performers. After that it is catch as catch can. After players like Troy Tulowitzki and Hanley Ramirez, most of the guys on the board are going to have some sort of flaw, so you have to pick and choose which flaws you can live with.
Jean Segura— Milwaukee Brewers
(.246 AVG, 5 HR, 61 Runs, 31 RBI, 20 SB)
The proverbial Cinderella turned back into a pumpkin. In reality, this transformation actually occurred in the second half of the 2013 season, but some fantasy owners didn’t notice. In the minors, Segura was good, but never dominant on a full season basis. He never hit more than 10 home runs in a season and he never hit higher than .313 over a full campaign. To expect him to hit like he did in 2013 was probably wishful thinking. When you see power numbers dip and when you see BABIP numbers dip 50 points, then you pretty much have your explanation of what happened.
What to expect in 2015?
I hate to hedge my bets, but I would split the difference between 2013 and 2014. I don’t think we will see a dozen home runs again, but I also don’t think we’ll see him hit below .250 again either. If you have a shortstop that hits around .260 and steals between 20 and 30 bases then you adjust accordingly. With the shortstop market as depressed as it has been, that might be enough to be a fringe starter in some leagues. If you are looking at a league that starts an extra middle infielder, he should definitely still be considered as a regular.
Asdrubal Cabrera— Washington Nationals
(.241 AVG, 14 HR, 74 Runs, 61 RBI, 10 SB)
Honestly, these numbers were a lot better than many thought they would be. This falls under one of those categories where you have to wonder how truly disappointing it is. His numbers were very similar in 2013, so maybe we just have a player that is settling in where he will be. There will still be plenty of offers for Cabrera to play shortstop or second base, and when you consider that he is now eligible at both positions you have to given him some extra points for flexibility. 2014 was the second consecutive season where his BABIP dipped well below .300, so I’m sure many fantasy players thought he would bounce back. Thirty points would have given him a .271 average and therefore a more customary performance.
What to expect in 2015
Since Cabrera is a free agent this is going to be very open ended. Is he going to return as a shortstop or will he shift to second base on a full-time basis? Obviously, the lineup he will join and the home ballpark will contribute a lot to whether he returns to his customary value or continues to fall into obscurity. I could see him fitting well in a place like Colorado because they desperately need help at second base, and yet Tulowitzki seems to spend a lot of time on the shelf. He could return to Washington as well. It’s anyone’s guess right now.
Elvis Andrus— Texas Rangers
(.263, 2 HR, 72 Runs, 41 RBI, 27 SB)
There are mountains of data that show that a hitter’s performance is not dependent on his teammates. Specific numbers like AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS are individual numbers. That may be true, but occasionally there are seasons like 2014 and the Rangers had one of those seasons. Prince Fielder went on the shelf early on, Shin-Soo Choo suffered through one of the worse seasons of his career, and Jurickson Profar missed most of the season with injury. Heck, their catching situation was a revolving door that had them turning to J.P. Arencibia at one point. In only makes sense that the other hitters would suffer in that kind of environment. Andrus was healthy, but just didn’t seem to be quite himself. He wasn’t terrible, but you get the idea he would have been better with all of those other guys in tow.
What to expect in 2015
We saw what happened in Boston in 2013. The 2012 Boston Red Sox were the worst team in the AL East and then they came back with a new manager and a new attitude. They won it all and they won on the backs of several players turning their performances around. It is easy to envision the Rangers doing the same next year. I don’t think Andrus will ever be an elite shortstop, but if you have a few more guys to drive him in and if you add a few points here and a few steals there, then you will really have something.