2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Shortstops Over/Under
Since we are half way through the process of looking at three-year player averages position-by-position, there are some things that bear repeating. The per 150 game production numbers below have one primary advantage and two primary disadvantages. The advantage is that it shows the numbers that a player has produced in the past as expressed if he were to play every day. Sabermetrics can tell us a lot, but sometimes players either fill up the stat sheet or not in spite of those numbers.
On the other hand, it bears repeating that the per 150 game numbers only show what has been done in the past. In particular, they can be skewed by one really good or one really bad season. More importantly, it assumes good health and as we know, some players never seem to achieve that. Given those caveats we will take a look at the top 24 shortstops in the game and rank them according to their aggregate per 150 numbers. From there, we will look at the over or under predictions based on the factors listed above.
Elvis Andrus— Texas Rangers
Per 150 Numbers: .274/3/79/54/29
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 8
Given the relative lack of depth at the position, I wouldn’t go too far under this ranking, but he just isn’t good enough at his good categories to make up for the categories he struggles with. In short, the speed numbers aren’t dominant enough to make up for the lack of power. If he did more of either one, he would be a good pick here.
Erick Aybar— Los Angeles Angels
Per 150 Numbers: .280/7/73/58/17
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 10
If you flip flop these two guys you would probably be much more accurate with those projected ranks. I hesitate some on Aybar because the Angels offense has taken a bit of a hit this offseason. Still, he adds a little more per category than Andrus except for the stolen base category. Even there he adds enough to be respectable.
Xander Bogearts— Boston Red Sox
Per 150 Numbers: .241/12/62/47/3
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 20
When you get guys destined for the fantasy bench you must make an important decision. Do you want a player with upside or would you rather have a player that will be a guarantee to produce decent numbers? Bogearts clearly falls in the first category and I’d definitely make a play for him late. He is destined to show some offensive development this season. The question will be how much.
Starlin Castro— Chicago Cubs
Per 150 Numbers: .272/12/64/61/12
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 9
Occasionally, you see a perfect storm approach. Sometimes it’s a positive one and sometimes it’s a negative one. For Castro, it will be a negative one. The per 150 numbers don’t show that Castro’s speed is virtually gone as a stolen base threat. Add in Addison Russell’s impending debut and you can see he will likely be squeezed out.
Zack Cozart— Cincinnati Reds
Per 150 Numbers: .241/11/67/47/4
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 18
According to the numbers, Cozart is just barely better than Xander Bogearts offensively. Heck, most people would consider him superior defensively as well. Ask all 30 general managers who they would rather have and they all would say Bogearts. That probably includes Walt Jocketty of the Reds. That’s the main reason you shouldn’t put 100 percent faith in the numbers above.
Brandon Crawford— San Francisco Giants
Per 150 Numbers: .248/8/51/53/2
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 24
Technically, I guess you could go under on Crawford, but really it wouldn’t make much sense. At one point last season, it looked like he was ready to step forward, but he reverted back to the same Crawford we saw before. He makes a decent backup if you have a good regular and just want someone to be around in case of disaster.
Ian Desmond— Washington Nationals
Per 150 Numbers: .275/23/75/83/22
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 2
One of the great debates in fantasy sports (including basketball and football) is whether you want a player that excels in two or three categories or is a solid contributor in four or five. Desmond fits the latter category. He isn’t elite at any particular category, but he adds up to an elite performer because he fills out the stat sheet. He isn’t quite this good though.
Alcides Escobar— Kansas City Royals
Per 150 Numbers: .270/4/63/49/28
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 16
The same debate applies here on the other end. Comparatively, Escobar has elite speed (considering he is a backup in most leagues) but does fall short on most other categories. Still, he is not completely inept in any specific one. So, his speed is enough to make him a borderline starter in some leagues.
Yunel Escobar— Washington Nationals
Per 150 Numbers: .256/9/52/50/3
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 22
Mind you, the over isn’t a significant over. Escobar is more likely to produce the numbers above because he has been fairly durable and he is a plus defender. Plus defender’s don’t get any extra credit in fantasy baseball, but they tend to stay on the field. That makes him a quality backup in any league. The move to Washington brings some mixed blessings, so we’ll consider him as if he stayed in Tampa.
Didi Gregorious— New York Yankees
Per 150 Numbers: .243/10/65/45/2
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 23
Replacing Derek Jeter is an unenviable task, but the Yankees picked up a solid prospect here. Gregorious would not have played every day in Arizona, so this is a good move for him and he should improve playing in Yankee Stadium with all of the guys around him. Much like Bogearts, the question will be how much he improves.
J.J. Hardy— Baltimore Orioles
Per 150 Numbers: .255/18/68/64/1
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 14
Anyone remember when it looked like Hardy was washed up? He hit .229 with “only” 11 home runs in 2009. That was back in the days when your grandmother could hit 11 home runs. Since then, he has been pretty steady offensively. Some might worry that he dropped to nine home runs a season ago, but he has done that before. I’d suspect he will rebound to around 15 home runs. That makes him a fantasy regular in most 12 man leagues.
Jed Lowrie— Houston Astros
Per 150 Numbers: .265/14/71/65/1
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 11
Looking at Jed Lowrie’s per 150 game numbers is a nice theoretical exercise, but he’s only done that once in his career. Of course, moving to the Astros makes it more likely he would do that if he remains healthy. The problem is that it has happened only once. He has played in more games over the past two seasons than the previous four combined, so maybe his injury plagued days are over.
Jordy Mercer— Pittsburgh Pirates
Per 150 Numbers: .263/11/49/44/4
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 21
The combination of Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison on the left side of the infield gave the Pirates a shot in the arm last year. Who knows if either will continue the level of play they brought a year ago. This is one of the main differences between a perennial playoff contender and a Cinderella. I’ll bet on him being a little better than what we see above.
Brad Miller— Seattle Mariners
Per 150 Numbers: .241/14/66/54/7
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 15
I haven’t pushed yet, but I was tempted to do that here. Miller flashes some starting shortstop qualities (like his power), but he just doesn’t do enough to make the grade. Of course, like other young shortstops, he could develop. There are more offensive threats in Seattle as well, so I’m betting the over with some trepidation.
Chris Owings— Arizona Diamondbacks
Per 150 Numbers: .266/8/53/42/14
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 19
Dave Stewart has already done pretty well for himself. He’s jettisoned some bad contracts, but he’s also used some areas of surplus to fill some other holes. Trading Gregorious enables them to focus on Owings for the shortstop job. Cliff Pennington is still available in case things don’t go well, but it’s his job to lose now.
Jhonny Peralta— St. Louis Cardinals
Per 150 Numbers: .265/16/61/70/3
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 12
Peralta has died professionally twice already and has resurrected his career each time. The Cleveland Indians gave up on him as a shortstop and then traded him to the Detroit Tigers. He came back to life there, but then was busted for PEDs. Last year he came back with a vengeance in St. Louis. I wouldn’t bet against this guy.
Alexei Ramirez— Chicago White Sox
Per 150 Numbers: .274/9/66/62/22
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 7
The White Sox are a funny bunch. Every time you think they should start retooling they seem to make some big moves and go for it yet again. Ramirez represented their most marketable player, but they’ve refused to get rid of him. He had a bit of a renaissance last season, but signs of decay are there. His OBP reached an alarmingly low .305 last season (still beating the .287 clip he produced in 2012). That’s not an official stat in most leagues, but alarming just the same.
Hanley Ramirez— Boston Red Sox
Per 150 Numbers: .285/23/83/89/18
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 1
How is he better than Troy Tulowitzki exactly? The added speed element overcomes some of the other numbers, but I would claim shenanigans too if I took these rankings too seriously. Moving him to left field brings forth an interesting quandary for those seeking his best baseball destiny. It removes some of the positional value in terms of comparison value to other players at the same position, but he was always a bad defensive shortstop. So, maybe a move to left field will suit him defensively.
Jose Reyes— Toronto Blue Jays
Per 150 Numbers: .289/11/90/55/32
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 5
This is another case where I would push if I could. Reyes is a risk/reward player if there ever was one. He produces at an exciting level when healthy, but that has been an issue in the past. So, I’m just going to come out and say I’m betting he will be healthy and I’m betting the Blue Jays offense will be slightly better next season.
Jimmy Rollins— Los Angeles Dodgers
Per 150 Numbers: .249/15/81/54/26
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 6
Backing Rollins is a scary proposition. I happen to support the Dodgers decision not to bring Ramirez back. He was unsustainable as a shortstop and they didn’t have room for him elsewhere. Rollins is going to fall off the table any day now. The Dodgers are hoping it isn’t in 2015 and so will a lot of fantasy owners.
Danny Santana— Minnesota Twins
Per 150 Numbers: .319/10/104/59/30
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 4
Santana helped yours truly go from a bad fantasy season to a mediocre one. So, I have a soft spot for this guy and loved the production last season. I just can’t see him doing that the second time through the league. Still, he has shown enough to show that he should be a fantasy regular in 2015.
Jean Segura— Milwaukee Brewers
Per 150 Numbers: .270/8/69/42/32
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 13
Will the real Jean Segura please stand up? Is he the fantasy force we saw for most of the 2013 season or is he the also-ran that played most of last season? Even if he does what he did last season, he would still be a stolen base threat. With his speed, he should easily outproduce the .275 BABIP he had last season. Give him thirty points and he becomes a viable fantasy regular.
Andrelton Simmons— Atlanta Braves
Per 150 Numbers: .252/12/58/53/5
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 17
I love Andrelton Simmons the player. According to DER, he saved 28 runs a season ago for the Braves. That pales in comparison to the 41 runs he saved in 2013. Suffice it to say, he is the best defensive shortstop in the game. That and three bucks will get you a cup of coffee in fantasy baseball. He’s a decent fantasy backup, but nothing more on that front.
Troy Tulowitzki— Colorado Rockies
Per 150 Numbers: .316/31/100/91/2
Per 150 Shortstop Rank: 3
I know, I want to suppress the urge to chortle for a solid minute as well. The lack of stolen bases dropped him out of the top spot, but most people recognize that as pure balderdash. So, let’s move to the more burning question: can Tulowitzki ever turn in a healthy campaign? 2009 is the last time he played in 150 or more games. He’s only done it twice. That obviously tempers the over slightly.