Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings
When we look at the positions one must be sure to have an elite player at to win a fantasy league short stop does not come to mind immediately. However, if you look at the current value spectrum perhaps it should. There is a shocking lack of depth at short stop. The argument can be made that of the top ten short stops only three are truly elite as we enter 2009. I would not be surprised to see a few guys jump into the elite, mainly Alexei Ramirez (White Sox) and Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies). Either way short is a very limited position in fantasy terms. When you consider short or second versus the depth at other spots it puts more of a premium on the top guys at these spots. If you cannot get one of the elite guys early you are better off waiting and picking up somebody late. The difference from 12-25 is pretty marginal at best, and if Yunel Escobar (Braves) and Mike Aviles (Royals) do not take steps forward then short stop is even worse. Either way, just make sure you consider the value of the position whenever you make your picks in a fantasy draft.
Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) could unarguably be the best fantasy option out there. Last year, at just 24, he led the league in runs with 125, led short stops with 33 homers, drove in 67, stole 35 bags, and hit .301...while suffering from a shoulder injury. This year, he may even bat 3 rd in the line-up, leading to more RBIs, which is probably his weakest category. Expect a 40/40 season from Han Ram in '09. Jose Reyes (Mets) obviously comes with speed and runs, but he can also bring power and average. He's a .287 career hitter, while averaging 15 home runs, 68 RBIs, and 118 runs in his past three seasons. Don't forget about his 60 stolen bases he'll give you, too. MVP in 2007, Jimmy Rollins' (Phillies) biggest threat is his speed, for sure. Last year, he only played in 137 games, limiting most of his numbers (only 76 runs, 11 home runs, 59 RBIs). If he stays healthy, he's a guaranteed 40+ stolen bases, along with numbers resembling: .280/20/75, and at least 100 runs.
Short stop seems to be a bit weak for fantasy players in 2009. Rafael Furcal (Dodgers) is a great top-10 pick, as long as he's healthy. Last year, he was held to just 36 games, limiting his numbers horrendously. Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks), J.J. Hardy (Brewers), and Jhonny Peralta (Indians) are three of the biggest power threats for the SS position. They come with 20-25 homers, around 75 RBIs, and 85 or so runs. Just not much speed with these three. Mike Aviles (Royals) has an average draft position at 162.9. Last year was his rookie year, and he played in 102 games and did this: .325, 10 HR, 51 RBIs, 8 SB, 68 runs. Remember, he was a rookie and only played in 102 games. Don't forget, he's usually drafted 16 th or 17 th round. Michael Young (Rangers) was a top-5 short stop a few years back, but in the past few seasons, the power and average has subsided a bit. Young is still an acceptable choice, as he comes with runs and RBIs. More than likely, he will be available for 3 rd base, as well.
Hanley Ramirez (Marlins), Alexei Ramirez (White Sox), Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies), Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks)
Take a look at Hanley Ramirez's (Marlins) career averages in his first three seasons as a big-leaguer: .308, 123 runs, 26 home runs, 69 RBIs, 45 stolen bases. These numbers alone show his talent. His HR's went from 17 to 29 to 33. His speed and RBIs did drop from 2007 to 2008, but that was because he was dealing with a sore shoulder. And he still went up in homers...the man is amazing.
Short stop and second baseman Alexei Ramirez (White Sox) is a definite top-5 pick at either position, if he's available for both in your league. In his rookie campaign, at the age of 26, Ramirez only played in 136 games and posted these stats: .290/21/77, 65 runs and 13 steals. Getting rid of the rookie butterflies and playing the whole season will lead to at least 25 homers and 85 RBIs, along with 75 runs and 20 steals. We can see he hits for average, too, so he will be sufficient in all five fantasy categories in 2009.
Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) had an amazing season in 2007, when he put up 24 bombs, 99 RBIs, and 100+ runs, keeping his average at .291. Unfortunately, last year he was held to just 101 games (377 at bats). If he can stay healthy and confident, he can easily rebound to his numbers he had when the Rockies went to the World Series. He's really young, has amazing potential, and should bounce back from his short, substandard season he had in 2008. Knowing what he's already proved in 2007, he should knock out about 30 and drive in over 100, making him a top-5 short stop...if he plays all season long.
Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks), the stand-out short stop out of Florida State University, has already shown his ability to play just like his big brother. Check this out...Stephen Drew is the first player since Robin Yount to hit 40 doubles, 10 triples, and 20 homers in a season, and he was only 24! After the All-Star break, he hit .326 and and posted a .556 slugging percentage. If he can do that during both halves of the season, which he's definitely capable of coming close, we could see his numbers jump from .291/21/67 to something like .315/25/80. 2009 should bring much upside for the younger Drew brother.
Derek Jeter (Yankees), Edgar Renteria (Giants), Miguel Tejada (Astros)
First things first, Derek Jeter (Yankees) is not the offensive threat he once was. He is definitely one of the best short stops to have ever played the game, but he's had declining numbers in his past three seasons. His average went from .343. to .300, his runs from 118 to 88, 97 to 69 RBIs, 14 homers to 11 homers, and 34 steals to just 11. Every imperative category has dropped staggeringly from 2006 to 2008, except home runs just slightly dropped. Don't forget, with A-Rod out, his runs will probably plummet even more. Hey...at least he's still in double digits in homers, right? I wouldn't be surprised to see his homers and steals drop to single digits this year.
Editors Note: Also, keep in mind that Jeter is being drafted at a level higher than his value based on his past and being a Yankee. Neither thing will help you win a fantasy league.
Edgar Renteria (Giants) has seen a fair decline in numbers since 2006, a bit like Jeter. He is 33 years old, so we had to see it coming. Since his '06 season with Atlanta, Renteria went from an imaginable top-5 short stop to a barely hanging on top-15. Although he hit .332 in 2007, his power dropped from 2006 to 2007: 14 to 12 home runs and 70 to 57 RBIs. His numbers didn't drop much from '07 to '08, fortunately. However, over the three-year span, Edgar's runs went from 100 to 69, and he stole just 7 bases in 2008 as opposed to 17 in 2006. His average also plunged from .332 (2007) to .270 (2008). Renteria’s peak days seem to be over.
Just like the other two, Miguel Tejada (Astros) has dropped his numbers since 2006. Here are his 2006 numbers: .330/24/100. Here are his 2008 numbers: .283/13/66. His runs dropped in 2007, but inclined back to his normalcy in 2008. I have to say, I think Tejada is suffering from the same as the other two fallers...old age. He's 34 years old. His days of .300/20+/100+ are done for. He's still a mediocre pick in a deep league, but don't expect to see anything out of sight.
Jed Lowrie (Red Sox) is an excellent prospect. He will have to beat out Julio Lugo at short, but I don't think that should be a problem for him. Jed is a great RBI man and a bit of a power threat, as well. He had 46 RBIs in only 260 at-bats. If he wins the job and gets about 500 at-bats, he's due for at least 75 RBIs and about 15 homers. He doesn't come with speed or much average, but don't be surprised if Jed ends up with double-digit homers, 75+ RBIs, and around 65 runs.
Elvis Andrus (Rangers) is set to be the starting short stop in Texas. Rumors say Michael Young will move to the hot corner, leaving Andrus the start at short. And this kid is F-A-S-T! In double-A, he missed three weeks and still stole 54 bases. He's known for posting a good average in the minors, but the MLB will probably bring out the worst of his average in his rookie season. If he starts and stays healthy, he steals at least 30 bags and hit at least 10 homers, and that's being stingy. If you need some speed and decent middle-infield power, Andrus is a great sleeper.
By: Tony Falcioni
MLBcenter.com Fantasy Correspondent
Brian Chmielewski, Director of Fantasy Content, contributed to this article.
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