So this is weird, but the top 20 shortstops for 2013 fantasy baseball are deeper than the top 20 2nd basemen for 2013 fantasy baseball. Here, my new favorite BFF, Josh Rutledge, is ranked 10th. On the 2nd basemen post he was ranked 8th. The middle tiers for the shortstops goes on forever, then it falls off a cliff, ending with a Cliff. (Symmetry points!) For those in leagues with a middle infidel, you have the answer to where you are drafting that slot from. Up until last year, I usually gave shortstops the short end of the stick with my drafting. I’d grab one late and that was that. I still don’t see any way I’m drafting a top shortstop. I honestly can’t remember the last time I drafted a 1st or 2nd round shortstop, and I play in about ten leagues per year. I could see grabbing one or even two from the 4th ranked guy here until the 19th ranked guy, where I’ll probably only have one 2nd baseman. Last year it was the opposite. As with the other top 20 rankings, I point out where I think tiers start and stop and my projections. All the 2013 fantasy baseball rankings can be found under that thing that says 2013 fantasy baseball rankings. Unsuccinct! Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2013 fantasy baseball:
1. Troy Tulowitzki – This is the first tier. This tier ends at Hanley. I call this tier, “These guys could be a’ight, but I won’t own them because I’m drafting corner men or outfielders early.” If you draft Tulowitzki, you’ll probably lose your league whether he stays healthy and produces or not. The absolute best year I can expect from him is 30 homers, 12 steals and a .300 average. Before you say he could do much better, he could, and aliens could land on Earth and make me ruler of the planet because they appreciate a good mustache. I don’t expect that to happen, just as I don’t expect Tulo to match the best season of his career. But let’s assume as the new ruler of the planet I can make Tulo have a good season because with my new position as ruler, I have telekinetic power and they call me The Rainmaker and when I use my TK the only thing I’m interested in is Tulo hitting well and not the implications of time travel. But as ruler of the planet, I also technically own every fantasy team so the victory is all mine. Now, if I’m not ruler of the planet and Tulo has to go it alone, he will miss at least twenty games and disappoint yet again. 2013 Projections: 83/25/98/.288/7
2. Jose Reyes – I already went over my Jose Reyes 2013 fantasy. I wrote it in while dusting inside my bubble. 2013 Projections: 110/12/60/.285/40
3. Starlin Castro – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Rutledge. I call this tier, “Shortstops that better not come up short. Hey, that came up short of clever!” Starlin’s on the precipice (Word of the Day!) of being a top 20 overall player. He could also take the smallest of steps backwards and be nothing but a top ten shortstop (which isn’t terrific). That’s the problem with shortstops, in general, and what I meant by the tier name. There’s very little room for error, which still doesn’t help the value of defensive wiz, Brendan Ryan. Castro’s undeniably a middle of the order hitter, which will mean counting stats. On the flip side, it’s the Cubs order. He’s young. On the flip side, as we saw last year with Justin Upton, young doesn’t always mean a step forward. He has 20-homer power and 30-steal speed. On the flip side, he can’t steal with speed alone. His caught stealing rate is egregious, with 13 times caught last year in 38 attempts. His power will peak at 20, but that also means he could hit 12 homers. A 12-homer, 20-steal guy isn’t great. A 20-homer, 30-steal guy is. As it reads on the door of a prudish brothel, therein lies the rub. 2013 Projections: 92/16/83/.310/25
4. Ben Zobrist – His projections are at the top 20 2nd basemen for 2013 fantasy baseball.
5. Jimmy Rollins – I don’t want to rank based on gut, but (nut, strut, putt, what?) if I were I would’ve dropped Rollins a few spots lower. I’m worried the oldie-once-was-goodie viral infection that has recently spread to Ryan Howard and Utley is due to catch up to Rollins. Call me cray-cray, but a 34-year-old that I’m relying on for 25-ish steals to get his value worries me. Also, if Rollins’s strikeout rate nudges up a tad, he might be lucky to break .300 OBP. When he was 29, that shizz was cute. Now, not so much. 2013 Projections: 88/19/61/.248/24
6. Ian Desmond – In 2009, Ian Desmond hit the second longest homer for the Nationals behind only Adam Dunn. That trivia has stuck with me because it means Desmond isn’t a 12-homer guy masquerading as a 20-homer hitter. Besides that being one of the worst costumes ever — are you at a masquerade ball dressed as J.J. Hardy? — it gives a baseline for power. Of course, I’m not ignoring his 2011 and 2010, but his power in 2012 is actually closer to what we should expect. I do fully expect everything else in his stat line to come down. “Kick it down a notch!” says Opposite Emeril. 2013 Projections: 68/20/77/.264/18
7. Elvis Andrus – In the past, if Josh Hamilton had a bad season, it meant a solid steal season from Andrus. Well, we don’t have to worry about that Hamilton guy anymore adding so much offense that it was encroaching on others. The nerve! Or noive, if you’re reading this in a Curly Howard voice. Andrus has been consistent across the five fantasy categories, except steals, which makes him exceedingly frustrating because that’s what we rely on from him. Tell me something I don’t know! Sorry, Random Italicized Voice, how about only Reyes and Jeter have scored more runs than Andrus in the last three years? Oh, my last comment was a figure of speech, I didn’t need to know anything else. 2013 Projections: 91/5/60/.285/35
8. Danny Espinosa – His projections are at the top 20 2nd basemen for 2013 fantasy baseball.
9. Josh Rutledge – His projections are at the top 20 2nd basemen for 2013 fantasy baseball.
10. Asdrubal Cabrera – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Jeter. I call this tier, “I’ll take one of these guys, but by design they’re lower than others have them.” Asdrubal’s a hair better than Prado. I can’t make heads or tails on whether that’s a compliment. If Asdrubal sticks as the three hole hitter as he did last year, he’ll be the next-to-worst three hole hitter after whoever the Astros pin the tail on. To rephrase all of that in a more confusing manner, the hair on Asdrubal is trying to pin the tail onto a compliment. 2013 Projections: 77/17/86/.272/14
11. Martin Prado – His projections are at the top 20 2nd basemen for 2013 fantasy baseball.
12. Erick Aybar – All systems are a go for Aybar to have his career year. In the Angels lineup, he’s sitting in the two hole, which is coincidentally in front of Pujols. That’s right behind Trout. Also in front of Hamilton. That’s sitting between beauty and fantasy beasts. That’s as of right now. That’s a big “as of right now.” That “as of right now” needs to buy two tickets to fly on a domestic airline. The Sciosciapath could move Aybar to the eight hole on April 20th, win a game and decide to leave Aybar in the eight hole for the rest of the year. 2013 Projections: 92/9/62/.292/24
13. Derek Jeter – He was in a walking boot as of a few weeks ago. No report on whether that was because he was locked in a cabin with A-Rod, who was unhappy with Jeter’s memoirs, and screaming “Dirty birdy!” Everyone seems to think Jeter will be ready for Opening Day. I think it’s a strike against him already that we’re in January talking about whether or not Jeter will be ready for Opening Day. Then, Girardi said there’s some concern over whether or not Jeter will be ready. He said it with a long face, but that’s more because he didn’t want anyone making fun of his braces. I expect we’ll get 130 games from Jeter. 2013 Projections: 81/11/55/.288/10
14. Alcides Escobar – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Andrelton. I call this tier, “Piqued or peaked?” Which also sounds like a Japanese game show. Five Japanese businessmen sit in a circle and contestants have to guess which one of the businessmen has terrible indigestion and which one is just curious how he ended up on a game show. This tier has guys that have my interest, but we might have seen the best already from some of them. Last year, Alcides gave 5 homers, 35 steals and a .293 average. Everything there looks to be the peak, except the steals. In 2011, Alcides had a .285 BABIP and hit .254. A high BABIP shouldn’t be ruled out with Alcides’s speed, but his .344 BABIP from last year looks to be on the high side. 2013 Projections: 81/4/55/.278/33
15. Hanley Ramirez – I’m done with Hanley until we see a return to his previous glory. As my saying goes, Hanley is coasting on good vibes and bad farts. He looked like a surefire Hall of Famer his first five years in the league, but now he’s passing off a Skor bar in a photoshopped Heath Bar wrapper. Who even goes through the trouble of photoshopping a Heath Bar wrapper? Hanley does, that’s who! He’s devious trying to appeal to you. The Straight Dope Message Boards are saying Hanley retired two years ago and he’s been putting a uniform and glove on top of a Roomba. I think that’s stretching the truth. A Roomba would play better defense. Anecdotal evidence aside, last year Hanley’s K-rate shot up to his career high, his walk rate dropped. He went from a .400 OBP guy to a .330 OBP guy. He is no longer a .320 average hitter. The biggest difference in his peripherals is he hit 30.5% of pitches outside the strike zone last year. That’s a huge difference from his career 24.4%. That tells me A) He’s not waiting for his pitches because he doesn’t care. B) The contact he’s making isn’t as good as the contact he used to make, so he’s hitting dribblers to 2nd base and lazy fly balls. C) There’s no C. He’s a 20/20, .260 hitter. There’s a place for that but it’s not where he’s probably being drafted. The Dodgers have epic collapse written all over them before they even take the field. Kershaw, Billingsley, Crawford and Kemp’s injuries, then Hanley, A-Gon, Ethier and Beckett… It’s all too convenient. And don’t tell me the lineup is going to be great, and Hanley will be a benefactor of that. I tell you to look at the 2012 Marlins. UPDATE: Since first ranking him, the news hasn’t gotten better. Worse, I say. And I say like Yoda. Here’s a Hanley injury post. 2013 Projections: 69/17/79/.253/14
16. Jean Segura – I already went over my Jean Segura 2013 fantasy. I wrote it while on a Subway train trying to not make eye contact with anyone. 2013 Projections: 75/5/50/.282/32
17. Everth Cabrera – There’s a fantasy movement currently sweeping through the ‘pert halls of the College of Fantasy Baseball at Charleston. It doesn’t have the same backing as “don’t pay for saves” or my personal favorite “Josh Rutledge as fantasy sleeper” but it’s picking up steam. It’s far from pithy (as you can already see), but it goes something like this: platoon Everth and Forsythe and make Gyorko the 2nd baseman. ‘Perts are still trying to come up with a catchy rallying cry — Blahtoon for Jerko? I wouldn’t be too concerned yet about Everth’s playing time, but keep your ear to the ground. Not literally. Your ear is now filthy. You kiss your mother with that ear? 2013 Projections: 45/1/22/.240/35
18. Zack Cozart – If I didn’t write, like, six sleeper posts about Cozart last year, I might’ve wrote one about him this year. You didn’t know I wrote all of those sleeper posts about him last year? Were you living under a rock? When someone throws a rock onto your street, does it confuse the mailman which rock to deliver your mail to? Do you ever get mail addressed to The Rock? Do you ever come home and there’s a family of bunnies living under your home? Well, I still might still write another sleeper post for Cozart this year. Not just for those living under a rock. 2013 Projections: 72/17/81/.255/10
19. Andrelton Simmons – His name sounds like a Star Wars nerd won a bet and got to impregnate a woman and name the child after his favorite sci-fi planet. “I want to name our child, Andrelton, and touch your boobies. Not in that order.” Bill James’s 2013 projections for Andrelton are 70/10/62/.289/18. That’s the kind of projections that are gonna make Chris Davis jealous. “Bill, you said it would be me and you. Forever.” Since Andrelton hasn’t hit ten homers total in his three years of professional baseball combined, I think that power might be a tad optimistic. Even though he only stole one base in 49 games last year, there’s a chance for more speed. He’s nowhere near proficient in stealing, though. In his best steals season in the minors, he stole 26 and was caught 18 times. Not great, over-the-internet friend. 2013 Projections: 56/5/67/.272/15
20. Jed Lowrie – This is a new tier. This tier goes from here until Pennington. I call this tier, “Here’s hoping you have your shortstop and middle infield slots filled by this point.” Jed’ll be 29 years old in April and his career to this point looks like that of a journeyman. Piecemeal seasons over the last four years. Only he hasn’t been a utility fielder, scrapping for playing time. He gets an everyday job looks like money, then gets a boo boo and misses the rest of the season. From now on, Jed, you’re Money…Boo Boo. Sky also wrote a Jed Lowrie sleeper post. Nothing changes with his trade to Oakland. He’ll now be a super-utility man with Nakajima being the A’s shortstop. I’m unexcited (you failed me thesaurus!). 2013 Projections: 52/17/62/.254/2
21. Dee Gordon – Looking for a guy that won’t be drafted in most mixed leagues that could have top ten value for shortstops by the end of the season? Here ya go! Looking for a guy that really needs a trade to find the necessary at-bats to get any fantasy value? Here ya go again, to walk along the lonely street of dreams of Dee Gordon’s steals. UPDATE: Hanley’s out, giddy up! 2013 Projections: 47/1/25/.245/33
22. J.J. Hardy – The biggest mystery was how the Orioles succeeded last year with the bulk of the two-hole at-bats going to Jimmy Juniper Hardy. Hardy even tried to solve that mystery by putting up a .282 OBP. I have to believe someone in the Orioles organization will come to their senses and move Hardy down in the batting order. Jimmy Juniper is a six to seven hole hitter, and not a great one at that. 2013 Projections: 68/20/79/.244
23. Marco Scutaro – His projections are at the top 20 2nd basemen for 2013 fantasy baseball.
24. Alexei Ramirez – If you take his best power year (21 homers in 2008) and his best steals year (20 last year) and put them together, you have a guy that was good five years ago and degrees of yawnstipating since. Last year, he had the worst walk rate (2.6%) for any player who qualified for the batting title since 2009, or more like “who qualified for the batting title, but obviously came nowhere close to winning it.” That was the worst walk rate with 620+ plate appearances since Luis Guzman’s brother, Cristian in 2002. Any time you’re being compared to Cristian Guzman –> Good times! 2013 Projections: 66/12/70/.259/12
25. Stephen Drew – When he signed with the Sawx, here’s what I said, “In 2009, Drew was coming off a season of 21 homers and a .291 average and looked primed for a breakout. In 2010, he was coming off a disappointing season of 12 homers. In 2011, he was coming off his 2nd consecutive season disappointing season. In 2012, he was coming — what his third straight terrible season? I don’t know; I lost track. In 2013, where are we with Drew? Fourth terrible season in a row? Fifth? I can’t count any higher. Can we just get the Sawx to start Ciriaco so we don’t have to count so high?” And that’s me quoting me! 2013 Projections: 42/15/55/.262/2
26. Yunel Escobar – When he was traded to the Rays, I said, “He’s a 10-homer, very little speed MI. Like RuPaul, Yunel’s more known for his antics and makeup choices.” And that’s me quoting me again! 2013 Projections: 78/8/57/.261/5
27. Jhonny Peralta – One day we’ll look back at his 21-homer, .299 average 2011 season and see how it was far and away his best season. That’s assuming the apocalypse hits and leaves just you, me and Jhonny Peralta, and we have nothing to do with ourselves except reminiscing on Jhonny’s best year. 2013 Projections: 56/15/70/.245/1
28. Rafael Furcal – UPDATE: Out for the season.
I saw an article at Fangraphs titled, “Is this the end for Furcal?” I didn’t read the article beyond the title and sometimes they’re talking real baseball-wise with WAR, fielding and other things that don’t pertain to us, but, with all due respect, Furcal’s been done since May of 2008. Right now, Furcal is questionable for Opening Day. It’ll depend on whether or not The Liberation Army of Pete Kozma successfully plots out its take-over mission. My guess is that like many armies fueled by small sample sizes they will be unsuccessful. 2013 Projections: 60/6/42/.259/10
29. Ruben Tejada – Last year in 464 ABs and 338 leadoff ABs, he had a line of 53/1/25/.289/4. I’m still waiting to hear someone found another player that had fewer runs with that many leadoff ABs and a .285-plus average. C’mon, guys and four girls, there’s gotta be some insane record that no one would want that Tejada now owns. 2013 Projections: 73/2/34/.282/6
30. Brandon Crawford – He sounds like what Tim McCarver would accidentally call Carl Crawford, and that would be the highlight of his career. 2013 Projections: 49/5/54/.245/5
31. Cliff Pennington – His projections are at the top 20 2nd basemen for 2013 fantasy baseball.
After the top 30 there’s a lot of names, but here’s a few that stand out:
Jurickson Profar – I already went over my Jurickson Profar 2013 fantasy. I wrote the entire post without any verbs. 2013 Projections: 30/5/20/.290/10 in 200 ABs
Pedro Ciriaco – One of the worst moves of the offseason was the Red Sox going out and getting Stephen Drew. That is such a new Red Sox management move. John Lackey, Dempster and Jonny Gomes are all nodding somewhere. I wonder if when Gomes was signed by the Red Sox even he was like, “Wow, about five years ago the Red Sox would never sign someone like me. Bummer. On so many levels.” Does Gomes have that kind of self-reflection? Is his inner monologue such a downer for him? Why are we talking about Jonny Effin’ Gomes? Ciriaco could’ve had an Elvis Andrus-type year with an everyday job. Now he has to wait for an injury… Oh, wait, he’s behind Stephen Drew. 2013 Projections: 41/3/23/.275/20
Adeiny Hechavarria – I almost wrote an Adeiny fantasy rookie outlook post, but I decided against it because I was challenged to find 400 words to say about him. I mean, I could’ve BS’d for the first 200 words like I’m wont to do, then focused on him for the final 200 words, but 200 words seemed a lot for him. Shoot, right now 61 words seems tough. Adeiny could hit .220 with ten steals and twelve caught stealings. Unless your league has a category for Web Gems, I wouldn’t expect much. 2013 Projections: 59/4/42/.242/7
Hiroyuki Nakajima – Here’s what I said when he signed with the A’s, “Signed with the A’s to be their shortstop. I have one name for you: Tsuyoshi Nishioka. I’ll give you another name: Abu Nazir. What the eff happened to Homeland? I’m by no means an expert on cable dramas. Shoot, I just watched Breaking Bad, about four years after everyone else, but has any show taken a quicker nose dive than Homeland? SPOILER ALERT (Though I’m saving you from watching it): Nazir’s big plan is to come to the states, secretly kill the VP then get killed so hopefully Brody will go to the VP’s funeral? Convoluted Plot, “Hello, have you missed me?” And what if Brody didn’t go to the funeral because, I don’t know, he was in the room when the VP died and basically killed him? Maybe someone might have detained him about this since he was considered, I don’t know, a terrorist. Then Carrie tells him to go to Canada? I understand Canadians may get news a day later due to carrier pigeons struggling to fly north, but this is where you send someone who is probably the most infamous person in the world? Maybe he can grow a beard and wear a lumberjack flannel. No one will ever find him then, he’ll blend right in with all Canadian women! Ugh, what a mess they made of a solid show. Hiroyuki looks like he has some light power and speed, which translates to barely usable in Oaktownco. I’d let someone else give him a whirl.” And that’s me quoting me! 2013 Projections: 65/7/72/.272/12