Fantasy BaseballFront OfficeTotal Run Index

Total Run Index: Shortstops

Shortstop is the weakest position on the diamond in terms of fantasy baseball. Only about half of the 25 top shortstops are regularly above average offensively. In a 12 team league that might not be that much of a concern, but a lot of leagues carry a middle infielder in the starting lineup and with the state of affairs among shortstops, you might have to look at second base for that middle infielder.

The alternative is to roll the dice on someone that is normally below average. In any given season (as the 2012 data will suggest) someone might be above average that is not normally so. The players selected here were selected based on their normal performance over time. So, some surprising performers from 2012 may have been left out.

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Elvis Andrus




Erick Aybar




Asdrubal Cabrera




Everth Cabrera




Starlin Castro




Brandon Crawford




Ian Desmond




Stephen Drew




Alcides Escobar




Yunel Escobar




Rafael Furcal




J.J. Hardy




Derek Jeter




Jed Lowrie




Hiroyuki Nakajima




Cliff Pennington




Jhonny Peralta




Alexei Ramirez




Hanley Ramirez




Jose Reyes




Jimmy Rollins




Jean Segura




Andrelton Simmons




Ruben Tejada




Troy Tulowitzki




Troy Tulowitzki– Colorado Rockies

Where you rank Tulowitzki depends on your tolerance for risk. If he is able to play 150 games he is clearly the best offensive shortstop in the game. Unfortunately, he has only done that twice since 2007. In between, he has managed only one additional season with more than 140 games played. That has to alarm any fantasy player.

When healthy, he has produced at least 24 home runs four times. He’s driven in more than 90 runs four times, and scored more than 80 runs four times. However, coming off of a season where he played in only 47 games has to be alarming and may knock him out of the first couple of rounds.

Jose Reyes– Toronto Blue Jays

Reyes might be the best shortstop to take if you want to manage risk. He will easily surpass 30 stolen bases and should also surpass 100 runs after moving north of the border. While he will likely hit at least ten home runs, he is not near the power threat that Tulowitzki is. If both are healthy he is clearly the second choice.

Hanley Ramirez– Los Angeles Dodgers

In terms of the sabermetrics, Ramirez has been in pretty sharp decline the past few seasons. Still, we are talking about a guy that hit 24 home runs last season and stole 21 bases. While the OPS is not what it used to be, it’s hard to ignore a 20/20 season and it particularly is hard when you consider that he will be hitting in an improved lineup all season.

Ian Desmond– Washington Nationals

I’m honestly not sure how good Ian Desmond is. Coming into 2012 he was clearly below average, but 2012 saw him finish first among shortstops in total run index (including fielding). I just can’t imagine him finishing that high, but you are also talking about a team on the rise. It brings to mind the saying about all boats and the tide.

Derek Jeter– New York Yankees

How close is he to being healthy? Last season he produced 200+ hits when most people thought he should be put out to pasture. Defensively, he should be put out to pasture, but that shouldn’t concern you yet. What should concern you is whether there will be any lingering affects from the ankle injury.

Asdrubal Cabrera– Cleveland Indians

I just wrote an article on Michael Bourn’s affect on the Indians. While the overall team might not be good enough to compete, their offense is much improved. They’ve added a couple of run producers and a table setter. That makes life easier for the returning hitters. He could easily hit 20 home runs and drive in 80.

Erick Aybar– Los Angeles Angels

Aybar quietly produces some good numbers and with the addition of Josh Hamilton he should have more run scoring opportunities. He has hovered around 70 runs scored a season and that could increase to 80 very easily. More importantly, he has stolen at least 20 bases in three consecutive seasons. If you get 20 steals out of your shortstop you won’t have to look desperately for steals elsewhere.

Jimmy Rollins– Philadelphia Phillies

When your game is built on speed, there comes a time when you lose too many steps. I don’t know when that is going to happen for Jimmy Rollins, but the problem is that you are gambling more and more with each passing year. Rollins is worth a mid round pick based on the fact that he will at least give you some strong power numbers.

Starlin Castro– Chicago Cubs

Don’t overvalue him too much. We are still talking about a player that strikes out nearly three times as often as he walks. He saw his batting average and on base percentage drop last season as compared to his first two seasons. He played in every game last year and with that kind of durability comes some impressive counting statistics. The problem is that trend can do nothing but go down.

Jed Lowrie– Oakland Athletics

After one season as the primary shortstop in Houston, he returns to his role as a utility infielder in Oakland. I suspect he will end up having the same 400 t0 450 plate appearances he had last season in Houston. The fact that he will be eligible at third and second will make him somewhat more valuable. In what respect, he will be more valuable because he won’t torpedo your team’s percentage statistics.

Elvis Andrus– Texas Rangers

Here we see the difference between sabermetric baseball and fantasy baseball. Andrus is a neutral offensive player overall in sabermetric baseball, but when you consider the fact that he plays in an extreme hitter’s park and the fact that he plays in a very good offense he will look better. Add in the fact that he is an impressive base runner and he could be thrown up the list a little.

Hiroyuki Nakajima– Oakland Athletics

Some players that come over from Asia become like Hideki Matsui while others become Kaz Matsui. Obviously, there is a lot of room in between those two extremes. We have to assume neutral performance until we know otherwise, but Nakajima comes over with an impressive resume. He might end up sliding over to third with Lowrie playing short. Stay tuned.

Andrelton Simmons– Atlanta Braves

Simmons is a very gifted defender, but he is very green offensively. He was called up from AA last year and got hurt before he was forced to go through the league for a second and third time. It will be interesting to see what happens to him offensively when the rest of the league gets a decent scouting report on him.

Everth Cabrera– San Diego Padres

Who led the NL in steals last year? If you answered Cabrera then you got it right. He is a .240 career hitter, so that value is strained when you get beyond the steals. Yet, most leagues don’t have more than 12 players, so we are now officially into the backups. If you desperately need steals late in your draft and he is still on the board he is worth a pick.

Yunel Escobar– Tampa Bay Rays\

If you look at the numbers then Escobar wouldn’t come anywhere near the top 15, but I’m willing to assume that 2012 was just one of those forgettable seasons for Escobar. He spent most of the last month suspended by the Blue Jays. He’s hit above .290 in four of his six seasons in the big leagues and Joe Maddon might be the guy to get the most out of him.H


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