Shortstop Market Trends
March 2, 2015 | Matt Merlen
This week’s Market Trends will focus on the shortstop position. Just like the position itself, this article will be thinner than usual. To be brutally honest, the shortstop is a total gamble. There are no risk-free baseball players, but this position is more dangerous than most.
Top options like Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez, and Jose Reyes have major injury concerns. Lower priced options like Alexei Ramirez or Jimmy Rollins are both on the wrong side of 30 and then some. The sleepers like Javier Baez and Xander Bogaerts are both young and unproven. No matter how you slice it, there is a high chance that your shortstop will bust. That being said, if you play the market right, you can still get a good bang for your buck.
The case can be made for Troy Tulowitzki (15.7 ADP) to be in this spot. However, in Roto leagues, half a season of Tulowitzki and half a season of a replacement level shortstop still gives you elite production from the shortstop position. Any type of H2H format that has playoffs, I’d be much more likely to avoid drafting Tulo at his current price tag.
(ADP – Fantasy Pros: 28.7)
If Hanley Ramirez can play 130+ games in 2015, he will be worth his current price tag and more. However, Ramirez hasn’t been able to break 130 games in three of the past four seasons, including two seasons of fewer than 100 games. Considering his age, it’s hard to imagine Ramirez will start to play more often.
Ramirez can still easily pile up 15/15 HR/SB and good counting stats. However, when you have to draft Ramirez over Jacoby Ellsbury or Ryan Braun, who are admittedly injury risks of their own, it’s advisable to pass on him for the elite statistics Ellsbury and Braun can provide.
(ADP – Fantasy Pros: 106.5)
Alexei Ramirez has been the standard in shortstop durability, as he has played nearly 95% of his team’s games since coming up to the majors in 2008. The issue with Ramirez is age, as he will turn 34 at the end of the 2015 season. Eventually, the wheels will literally have to come off, as I can’t see how a 33 year old shortstop with 1,000+ career games will continue to steal 20+ bases.
A modest statistical regression puts Ramirez somewhere in the 10/15 HR/SB range with decent counting stats. Decent numbers, especially at shortstop, but when those numbers are coming from a 33 year old, I will take my chances on a shortstop later in the draft. I’ll take someone like Kole Calhoun, Jorge Soler or JD Martinez in the same ADP range as Alexei.
(ADP – Fantasy Pros: 185.8)
After an outstanding 2013 breakout season, Jean Segura predictably plummeted back to Earth in 2014. Segura battled injuries and bad luck, so there’s plenty of reason to believe the 25 year old will bounce back in 2015.
Even in a lost season, Segura made some strides in BB% and K%, so he didn’t totally lose himself at the plate. A modest improvement in BABIP can bring Segura back up to respectable levels, so project a season somewhere between his unsustainable 74/12/49/44/.294 2013 season and his also unsustainable 61/5/31/20/.246 2014 season. Segura is my main target if I choose to wait on shortstops in 2015.
(ADP – Fantasy Pros: 186.8)
Another one of my favorite strategies with late round shortstops is pairing up Alcides Escobar and JJ Hardy as a speed-power combo. Escobar is a total zero in home runs and RBIs, but he can safely deliver 25+ steals and an above average batting average (.267 over the past 4 seasons). It’s nothing sexy, but when you’re entering round 15 without a shortstop, Escobar will be a safe play.
(ADP – Fantasy Pros: 267.2)
The case for Hardy is simple. He costs you nothing to draft, so there is very little risk associated with adding him to your team. Despite a down year in 2014, the upside is still great here. Hardy averaged 21.5 home runs over the last 4 seasons, so we know the power can be fantastic. Even after only hitting 9 homers last season, it’s fair to expect Hardy to bounce back. It may not bounce back to 20 home runs, but 15 home runs are definitely reasonable.
Combine that with decent counting stats and you have yourself an above average fantasy shortstop. If you choose to combine Alcides Escobar and JJ Hardy in daily leagues, you could manage a 15/20 season with plus counting stats. Not bad for two late round picks, right?