2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2014 Fantasy Baseball: Real Offensive Value – Shortstops Part I

The history of the shortstop position has been littered with light hitting mighty mice with quick feet and slick gloves. We could certainly point to certain players in history that have broken the mold, but it is a testament to the rarity of offensive prowess that got Derek Jeter his many ovations during the all-star game. After all, is he really any better a hitter than Tony Gwynn (who inexplicably was snubbed in lieu of just one more Jeter curtain call)?

The answer lies not only in the geography (New York vs. San Diego) but also in the position. Their legacies as hitters are proportional to the position they played. Jeter will go down as one of the best five or ten offensive shortstops (overall might be different story) in history while Gwynn’s legacy won’t be anywhere near the top ten despite his lofty batting averages. Of course, the overemphasis on batting average brings us right back to the topic at hand. Real offensive value aims to temper batting average with all of the other ways in which a player can contribute offensively.

Like any other metric, ROV has its limitations. That being said, ROV demonstrates the alarming lack of depth at shortstop. It also reveals one angle to the MVP debate that is bound to come up in September when the votes are ready to be cast. Can the best player in the league play for one of its worst teams? The answer is pretty easy. Of course he can and that is demonstrated through the numbers so far.

ROV

RP

RC

DIFF%

wRC+

Troy Tulowitzki

.384

102

78

131

175

Hanley Ramirez

.318

82

50

164

140

Jimmy Rollins

.278

74

47

157

103

Jhonny Peralta

.278

66

45

147

120

Jose Reyes

.269

72

47

153

103

Chris Owings

.269

41

34

121

110

Brandon Crawford

.266

66

39

169

107

Ian Desmond

.259

77

43

179

102

Starlin Castro

.255

84

50

168

110

Alcides Escobar

.246

69

42

164

96

When you consider that one of the top ten shortstops could be labeled as a below average offensive player, you realize how thin the position really is. Those of you that have been following the series will notice that we’ve added another statistical category. We’ve calculated the percentage differential between runs produced and runs created. That tells us how much of a benefit a player gets from those that surround them.

Troy Tulowitzki– Colorado Rockies

Here we notice the difference between perception and reality. Runs and RBI are perception statistics. We see players with the highest marks and assume they are the most valuable. He has the second lowest percentage difference between runs produced and runs created. There have been rumblings about a potential trade, but that seems unlikely. All numbers point to him being the best offensive player in the league and when you add in the difference between him and the typical shortstop you have to consider him the MVP favorite.

Jimmy Rollins– Philadelphia Phillies

Rumor has a number of teams being in on Jimmy Rollins and he seems reluctant to allow a trade. I suppose a part of that is a perception about his legacy as a career Phillie. However, I can’t imagine that he would be a top five shortstop for much longer. It’s too bad that nearly all of the top trade targets on the Phillies have the ability to block trades. You’d hope he would see the light and try to win again somewhere else.

Jose Reyes– Toronto Blue Jays

Alex Anthopolous took it in the teeth last year when all of his acquisitions seemed to fall on their face at the same time. Reyes spent most of 2013 on the shelf and he’s spent some of this year there as well. However, he has been mostly healthy and that has been enough to help the Blue Jays become contenders again. Of course, having Mark Buehrle pitch out of his mind hasn’t hurt either.

Brandon Crawford– San Francisco Giants

We could easily divide every position into three categories. We have positive impact players (usually the top ten guys), we have place holders (neither good nor bad), and we have what we might call trailers (or negative impact players). Crawford began as a negative impact player, but has evolved into a top flight guy. Whether that is due all to him or to the rest of the position faltering is open to interpretation. He likely is on most fantasy players bench, but everyone should look again.

Starlin Castro– Chicago Cubs

Fear has always been the best motivator. The Cubs have Javier Baez and now Addison Russell waiting in the wings. Suddenly, Castro went from just another guy to a top ten shortstop again. I wonder if the possibility of losing his job had something to do with that. He has displayed more power this year and now Baez is trying his hand at second base. People do what they need to do out of self-preservation.

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