As we continue our journey through this VORP series, we get to maybe the most difficult position to pick on the diamond. Shortstop might be shallowest of all the positions on draft day, but that makes for good opportunities if you know more than your opponents. There are some players that won’t be among the top 20 that might actually be superior to those in the top twenty. As always, we will take the Yahoo top 20 and look at them specifically.

That doesn’t mean that your research should stop there. Take a gander at all of the players destined to play regularly at shortstop (or who will be eligible at shortstop) and you might find some bargains late in the draft. For now, we will focus on the Yahoo top 20 and see how they compare when we apply our special formula for VORP.

Yahoo 2014 2013 2012 AVG ADJ Rank DIFF
Hanley Ramirez 1 41.4 44.0 39.3 41.6 41.9 1 0
Ian Desmond 2 36.4 29.6 32.1 32.7 33.4 4 -2
Troy Tulowitzki 3 34.2 40.3 11.2 28.6 32.4 5 -2
Jose Reyes 4 36.4 28.8 54.1 39.8 36.8 2 +2
Alexei Ramirez 5 21.0 25.1 7.7 17.9 20.2 14 -9
Elvis Andrus 6 21.0 27.1 31.2 26.4 24.7 11 -5
Jimmy Rollins 7 29.5 15.2 40.1 28.3 26.5 9 -2
Starlin Castro 8 27.7 4.0 37.8 23.2 21.5 12 -4
Ben Zobrist 9 33.5 29.8 46.3 36.5 34.4 3 +6
Xander Bogaerts 10 14.6 4.3 —- 9.5 10.3 19 -9
Erick Aybar 11 32.6 20.6 31.9 28.4 28.5 7 +4
Jhonny Peralta 12 37.3 28.5 11.8 25.9 30.1 6 +6
Alcides Escobar 13 22.4 -5.7 24.8 13.8 13.4 18 -5
Danny Santana 14 25.0 —- —- 25.0 25.0 10 +4
Jean Segura 15 11.1 27.7 3.6 14.1 15.4 17 -2
Javier Baez 16 -5.4 —- —- -5.4 -5.4 20 -4
J.J. Hardy 17 20.0 26.2 8.6 18.3 20.2 13 +4
Asdrubal Cabrera 18 17.0 17.9 25.1 20.0 18.7 15 +3
Brad Miller 19 16.6 19.2 —- 17.9 17.7 16 +3
Jed Lowrie 20 17.2 43.8 26.1 29.0 27.6 8 +12

When I look at the shortstop list, it is isn’t as barren as immediately thought, but you do have to do some digging to find some diamonds in the rough. According to the VORP multiplier, we find that a few guys stand out in addition to the ones shown above. Jordy Mercer, Brandon Crawford, Yunel Ecobar, and Justin Turner all had 17 or better in adjusted VORP. They did not register in the top 20as shortstops. Escobar and Turner are also eligible at multiple positions, which adds some value.

Most Underrated Players

Jed Lowrie— Houston Astros (+12)

You see this from time to time. Lowrie is probably similar to Chase Headley of the Yankees in terms of career arcs. How do you handle it when a player has a career season? Lowrie has been up since 2008 and has surpassed 400 plate appearances twice. Those have been the last two seasons, so perhaps he has finally gotten over the injury bug. Not coincidentally, he has surpassed 20 VORP only twice. If you combined his other seasons into a healthy version, he probably still wouldn’t come close to producing those 2013 numbers. Let’s assume he produces somewhere in between 20 and 25 in lieu of the 27.6 above. That would put him in Starlin Castro and Elvis Andrus country. That’s still starter quality in most 12 player leagues.

Jhonny Peralta— St. Louis Cardinals (+6)

Peralta is one of the more intriguing players in the game today. He’s died a few professional deaths and managed to rise like the phoenix in the ashes. The Indians tried moving him to third and eventually thought he had flamed out. He resurrected himself in Detroit and then tested positive for PEDs. The Cardinals gave him another chance and he capitalized on it. Bet against him at your own peril.

Ben Zobrist— Oakland Athletics (+6)

No, this isn’t a repeat of the second base article. Zobrist is underrated everywhere he is eligible. I covered a lot of ground there, so I’ll focus on durability. He has played in 146 or more games every season since 2009. That kind of durability alone is worth the extra spots at shortstop, but when you combine the power, speed, and patience you get one of the most underrated players from the last decade.

The Most Overrated Players

Alexei Ramirez— Chicago White Sox (-9)

The White Sox are one of the more puzzling organizations in baseball. It’s difficult to determine from one year to the next whether they are rebuilding or going for it all. Ramirez seemed like a perfect candidate to be dealt for prospects, but they never pulled the trigger. Most pundits have given them a hard time for not choosing to embrace a rebuild. Funny, but he has bounced back and seems to be as valuable as he always was. I like Ramirez just fine, but he is overvalued because of his speed. As he gets older, that advantage will be negated.

Elvis Andrus— Texas Rangers (-5)

We continue the theme here with Andrus. It is easy to get into the habit of overpaying for single categories. Andrus is a nice player, but he is not a top ten overall shortstop. He contributes steals, but he struggles to bring much more to the table. He is a starting quality shortstop, but he should not be among the top half of that list.

Alcides Escobar— Kansas City Royals (-5)

Why not make it a trifecta? Escobar is overrated for two reasons. First, he has the speed element in his game that others have overvalued. Second, he is probably a part of the bump that most Royals are getting this season. We must remember that they were barely in the playoffs at the end of the day. Many of them got hot at the right time and it is dangerous to put too much stock in October performance.

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