2017 Fantasy Baseball, Knocking on the Door: Shortstops
The knocking on the door series was meant to be a catch all for the players that slip through the cracks. Some of them are young players that don’t have enough experience to make it as a part of the top 24. Others are guys that simply don’t fit well for one reason or another. Sure enough, we got some “fan” mail challenging us on one of those players. I honestly expected that at some point in the process. It’s the reason why this series came up.
Aledyms Diaz— St. Louis Cardinals (.300, 17 HR, 71 Runs, 65 RBI, 4 SB, 41 BB)
It’s hard not to understand why I was taken to task for leaving him off of the top 24 for shortstops. These numbers would easily make him a fantasy regular in any normal situation. He isn’t in a normal situation. Jhonny Peralta was the incumbent coming into the season and Diaz only played because Peralta got hurt. So, how much playing time will either player get next season? This is an impossible question to answer in December.
There could be a trade involving either Peralta or Diaz or one of them could move to third base or second base as well. Roster resource.com is a terrific site for fantasy fans of all sports. Granted it doesn’t get things right 100 percent of the time, but it is a good gauge for where teams are on their depth charts. They have Diaz listed as the everyday shortstop and Peralta listed on the bench. Still, I didn’t want to oversell or undersell Diaz in the rankings.
Barriers to launch: In addition to Peralta, the Cardinals also have Jedd Gyorko who can play shortstop. The aforementioned site has Gyorko listed as the third baseman, but I imagine there will be tons of mixing and matching at all four infield slots next season. Diaz will get his fair share of reps, but he may not get the same 600 plate appearances as the other stud shortstops.
Dansby Swanson— Atlanta Braves (.302, 3 HR, 20 Runs, 17 RBI, 3 SB, 13 BB)
The former number one overall pick rocketed up the charts last season all the way to the big leagues. The ultimate ceiling for Swanson is a bit of an argument amongst scouts. Some praised his selection because he was a so-called “high floor” guy. That’s usually damning a player with faint praise. The high floor moniker is given to guys that don’t appear to have star potential. In 559 minor league plate appearances, Swanson only hit ten home runs with 13 stolen bases. Obviously, that’s not what has people so excited.
What makes people so excited is that he does everything well. He may not have the high end talent that the other young shortstops have, but he is a sure handed shortstop with a decent enough bat. He had an .803 OPS in his limited exposure in Atlanta (145 plate appearances) and that probably represents a pretty good ceiling for him. Respond accordingly.
Barriers to launch: He will play regularly, but how good will he be? Some people will look at his status as a number one overall selection and overbid for him. He isn’t a star the same way that Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, or Xander Bogaerts are stars, but he should evolve into a starting quality fantasy player. He may not be there in 2017.
Trea Turner— Washington Nationals (.342, 13 HR, 53 Runs, 40 RBI, 33 SB, 14 BB)
Back in 2011 there was a third baseman that played for the Blue Jays. He put up a .953 OPS in 171 plate appearances and flashed a Gold Glove to match. He was supposed to take the world by storm. I’m talking about Josh Donaldson of course. Oh wait, that isn’t Donaldson. That’s Brett Lawrie. I’m not saying that Turner is the next Lawrie, but these numbers make him look like the next Honus Wagner. We will have to wait and see if he does anything resembling this ever again.
There is a proverbial Grand Canyon between Lawrie and Wagner. Turner will likely exist somewhere in between, but that continuum is vast and we can’t really make any intelligent predictions at this point. The Nationals just added Adam Eaton to an already dangerous lineup. Turner will have plenty of support, so it is possible that he could be a starting quality fantasy shortstop after all.
Barriers to launch: Turner was a highly rated prospect, but there is simply little chance he will produce anything close to this. He is probably most closely compared to Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. Both players are highly regarded, but their numbers have to be treated with heavy skepticism. Someone in your league is likely to make him a top five shortstop. Go ahead and let them.