Happy February, Razzball friends, as we are now happily just eight weeks away from Opening Day. We’ve covered catchers and third basemen over the last couple of weeks, so today we continue our clockwise tour around the diamond and take a look at the current state of the shortstop position. As I will continue to repeat each week, I feel that an overall familiarity with each position as draft season ramps up is crucially important to one’s preparation. The more familiar you are with the player pool and how it’s being perceived by the fantasy community, the better. The more you know about the overall landscape, the easier it will be to home in on individual players you want to target, and to develop any position-related draft strategies that make sense for your individual league — whether it’s a 10-team mixed redraft points league, a 15-team draft & hold, or a 12-team AL-only dynasty.
Checking in at shortstop immediately after the top-heavy third base position, it likely won’t surprise anyone to find a world of difference in terms of depth. To make sure I wasn’t imagining things, I came up with this simple piece of concrete research to illustrate the point: while there are a grand total of eight players who qualify at third base being drafted in the top 140 (according to current NFBC ADP), that number more than doubles, to seventeen, when it comes to shortstop-eligible players. The 16th and 17th ranked shortstops are Amed Rosario (overall ADP #125) and Nico Hoerner (#139), both of whom I love at this price in the right league.
After that, we get a bevy of guys, some of whom I’m more interested in others, but most of whom I think have either a decent floor or some true upside: Javier Baez (I’ve faded him so far but maybe the new Detroit dimensions give him a tiny bump up?), Thairo Estrada, Jorge Mateo, Bryson Stott, CJ Abrams, Luis Urias, Adalberto Mondesi, Ezequiel Tovar, and Ha-Seong Kim. I have Estrada on a couple teams; even though I worry he may regress this year compared to his breakout 2022, I like the potential value here. Mateo could fall off the map this year, but the steals potential alone makes this a decent place to draft him for my money (and, while it’s unlikely I’ll have any shares, one could make the same argument for Mondesi). Stott and Urias could provide decent counting stats this late even without much improvement from last year, and both Tovar and Abrams could break out and rocket up ADP lists with solid springs. Kim I’ve also drafted in multiple leagues already (love the SS/3B eligibility); I think he’ll find his way to at bats even in a crowded Padres infield, and could improve on last year’s offensive numbers as he grows more comfortable in the MLB environment. (Personally, I’m drafting him over Cronenworth, who is being drafted 70-75 spots higher but who I think is more likely to completely fall off a cliff and lose playing time, and has a less desirable 1B/2B dual eligibility as far as I’m concerned).
Okay, so that takes us just outside the top 250 for shortstop choices (Kim’s ADP is 263), but what about after that? This is a deep league column, after all, and I normally like to check in on some players outside the top 300, 400, 500, and even 600 to find a handful of guys that could be ultra-late targets. Turns out there’s a mini cliff here… the next shortstop being drafted after Kim goes about 100 picks later. (It’s the Nationals’ Luis Garcia, by the way… an uninspired fantasy option indeed, at a point where I’d much rather be taking a flier on an undervalued starter, saves dart throw, etc.) Yes, that’s where this position gets weird, as I see it: once you get to the bottom of the fantasy barrel, I’m actually finding fewer options I like at short than I did at third, and even catcher for that matter. I will highlight a few here anyway, but with them comes the caveat that these are true escape hatches for me – regardless of what my league looks like, I hopefully will have grabbed a couple of shortstop options from the bountiful tiers above before getting to this point in any draft or auction.
Oswald Peraza. Okay, it’s even weirder than I realized: there is not a single shortstop-eligible player being drafted between Garcia at #361 and #434 overall, at which point we get to Peraza. Peraza could certainly shoot up draft boards with a solid spring and/or if it continues to look more likely that he’ll open the season as the Yankees everyday shortstop. He had a very impressive if tiny cup of coffee at the end of the year, and would look to provide a moderate power/speed combo of counting stats. I grabbed him in one draft and hold league, and can absolutely see making a small investment in an AL-only or similarly deep league… but it’s hard to imagine there’s much to see here in shallower leagues given all of the other solid options at the position.
Elvis Andrus. The only other shortstop with and ADP in the 400s (#456) is Andrus, who remains unsigned as I write this. As with Peraza, I have exactly one share of Andrus as a back-up, back-up SS in a draft and hold league… but even if he ends up with a relatively favorable landing spot and somehow continues the career resurgence he had with the White Sox late in 2022, I think we all know there’s no high ceiling here. Steamer predicts 10 HR/11 SBs and a .241 average/.301 OBP, which is right in line with what Andrus is at this point: a deep league fallback option.
I’m quickly going to acknowledge that at this point in a draft, we hit upon a group of prospect options – Anthony Volpe #503, Elly De La Cruz #548, the injured Royce Lewis #553, Bryce Turang #561, and (much) later Livan Soto #734 and Maikel Garcia #740 (both of whom I have one ultra-late draft and hold share of). I’m not usually one to stock up on rookie lottery tickets at this point in re-draft leagues, especially at a stacked position, but do check out what our prospect expert Itch has to say about these guys if you do want to throw a dart or two and need to familiarize yourself with what’s out there.
I’m going to hold my breath and come up with two more very deep league options, starting with Joey Wendle (ADP #513, also qualifies at 2B and 3B). I’m not exactly sure what’s going on in the Marlins infield at this point, and I’m not entirely sure they do either. A few weeks ago I actually giggled a bit watching old friend Krispie Young discussing the situation on MLB network, trying to temper his obvious disgust at how many guys would basically be playing out of position if things stack up the way it looks like they might. At any rate, it looks like Wendle will likely be on the strong side of a platoon, and play regularly against righties. With his multiple eligibility, a little pop, decent speed, and likely a not-hurtful average, I can think of worse things to do with a pick this late.
Dylan Moore (#576, also qualifies at OF) will have the honor of closing this post, and I actually kind of like him at the end of a deep draft, especially of course if you’re chasing a little late speed. (Note: the Mariners also signed him to a 3-year deal about an hour after I wrote this blurb, so at least we know he’s a legitimate part of their plans going forward). He had core muscle surgery when the season ended, so we’ll see how that plays into things, but I’d give him a definite bump in daily transaction or deep-roster best ball leagues, and feel there could be some value this late (he had 21 steals in just 205 at bats in 2022). Let’s not forget he also manages to knock one out of the park from time to time; Steamer projects 9 homers and 18 steals in 315 plate appearances. I agree that a 10/20 season isn’t out of the question, and if he can do it largely against lefties in 300 – 250 at bats, even better, as the fewer at bats might actually help mitigate what will no doubt be a ghastly average (.208 for his MLB career).
Hi Laura, your article is very timely in my keep 10, no contracts, twelve teamer league. Tatis is my SS. And then only at Week 4. I don’t want to totally punt the SS position, knowing Tatis will be my set and forget ( hopefully this time around SS). All of the top SS’s and even an handful of the Volpe/ Elly DLC prospects are obviously being kept. I’m peeking at a Nico who probably won’t cost me the early pick. Unfortunately Nico has no other position eligibility which for me, is kinda useless, come Week 4. Any late rounders, who might offer some positional flexibility off the bench, and can be my starting SS weeks 1-3 you can think of? Thanks.
Hi Chucky! If you’re looking kind of somewhere halfway in between Nico and the really late multi-position guys I mentioned (Wendle, Moore), I’d probably look at Kim (who qualifies at SS and 3B going into the season based on 20 games played last year and should gain 2B eligibility as it looks like he’ll play there regularly for the Padres) or Luis Urias (2B/SS/3B) over in Milwaukee. Thairo Estrada might be available very late in a 12-teamer (his ADP is about 40 spots behind Nico right now) but he’s only 2B/SS eligible in most leagues so not quite as versatile. Hopefully it won’t be too tough a hole to fill with only 3 weeks or whatever’s left on Tatis’s suspension now!
Another great post with some strategy thoughts which I love.
I’m currently in round 31 in a D&H league 12 team. I had the 2nd pick. It’s nice to be at either end in these formats IMO. My infield is TT, Alonzo, Riley and Giminez all taken in the 1st 6 picks. Gausman is my ace and have 10SP’s at this point with 4 closers led by Iglesias. OF is Garcia, McCarthy, Happ, Gonzales,Pederson and Olivares. Catcher is MJ, Hasse.
My strategy changed mid-course when I realized I shouldn’t chase saves and just try to to get a 6 or so after missing out on a run after drafting Iglesias. (Bad part of either end) Have Lecleric, Hudson and Ginkel.
For my last 20 players hopefully I don’t have to use them much but we all do in this format. I have 3 catchers and plan on 5. Only 6 outfielders so far need 10 or so, 14 pitchers usually have 21-22.
What roughly is your breakdown on number of players at each position? I like the high K-9 pitchers now. Might only need to start them for a week or two now and then and maybe luck into some saves or wins. Good luck with your drafts.
Hi packers, thanks for reading! Loving the team… you’ve got a lot of my favorites and that OF looks pretty solid given your top-notch infield. Saves are always tricky in a D&H, especially now with more and more closer-by-committee situations. The team last year where I thought I’d have the least saves, I had more than I knew what to do with b/c of Clay Holmes+Felix B, you just never know. BTW I thought I’d have several shares of Ginkel by now but have zero… he keeps getting taken earlier than expected. Could be a steal, and not really anything to lose that late even if he doesn’t end up with saves. I’ve drafted 14th and 15th in two of my 15-team D&Hs, so I hear you about drafting on the end… kind of a blessing and a curse. Overall I have kind of liked it, but damn if you miss a run it can get frustrating (and tough not to panic). I’m looking now at my (50 round) 3 D&H already drafted… 21 pitchers (10 SP+11 relievers), 25 pitchers (! – not quite sure what I was thinking there ha ha, 13 SP + 12 relievers), and 21 pitchers (12+9). Catchers: 4, 3, 4 (I had 4 or 5 on my teams last year but had a couple teams where both my starters got hurt and my back ups were hurting me more than helping so I ended up leaving the hurt guys in — so we’ll see how that goes this year). Like to have 10-12 guys who qualify at OF, and at least 2-3 back ups for each infield position, many of whom are multi position eligible – love to have a couple guys like Rengifo, Segura assuming he gets 3B eligibility quickly, Ramon Urias etc. who can fill in at MI or CI.
Appreciate your info and would really like your opinion on a 10 keepers AL only with mucho inflation (11 teams)
Witt$2, Pasquantino $2, Vaughn$2, Miranda$2… all from farm team
J Ramirez $57!?!? (See the inflation) Kwan$1(evidently no one else read Razzball)
Clase$12, Sandoval $2. The discussion revolves around the 2 from the next 3: Giolito $16 (requires a $64 buyout!!! what value will he earn during the season ?), Polanco $21 (I think he will cost $3 to $7 more at auction might earn $20 of value during the season ) & Eovaldi $10 (may be slightly undervalued and produce more value than $10)
So if all where the same price, which two would you prefer
And given the cost/risk involved would it change your mind
That’s a long note, but I am sitting here, shivering in Texas in the dark so I have a little else to do
Hey Richard! Totally get it re. the inflation… in my AL-only league, a few years ago Trout became the 1st $60 player since I joined. Really hard to explain to folks who haven’t experienced a similar league! But, at least as it would be in my league, keeping J-Ram at basically any price is worth it — if your league is like mine, there are so many top players kept that there is relatively little of value out there on our auction day, and the few great players available will be insanely expensive, so even if you have money there’s no where to spend it! Anyhow, I think I’d keep the 2 pitchers and throw Polanco back. I was high on Polanco last year and obviously that didn’t work out, but I just don’t know what we’ll get this year and even if he returns to something close to form, that doesn’t feel like a good enough discount to keep him even in an inflated market. I like but don’t love Eovaldi, already have drafted him once or twice, so he feels like a relatively solid value. Giolito, I didn’t touch last year and haven’t touched this year, but I might at the right price… but without knowing exactly how your buyout works I think I’d just roll with him and grit my teeth and hope for the best. I saw an interview with him on MLB Network recently where he discussed some of the things that he thinks went wrong last year… doesn’t necessarily mean much more than the “best shape of his life” spring training comments do, but at least he has his head in the game and is aware that he needs make some adjustments.
Thanks you truly grasped the issues
Awesome, glad you checked in! It’s always good to have a sounding board with deep leagues especially I think — sometimes even if you don’t agree with/don’t take advice it’s still actually helps you b/c it makes you realize that you may have stronger feelings about players’ values than you realized and can help point you to the right decisions one way or another.
Having just finished my Bestball leagues I’m wondering how to rank positions for my D&H leagues for those with multi position eligibility. There seems to be little value at 2B and even less at SS at the bottom of the player pool. Platoons are killing value at OF.
Are we back to the traditional C SS 2B 3B OF 1B in these leagues. A 12 team league would possibly be C 2B 3B OF 1B SS but this seems way off the mark for D&H leagues. Would certainly value your opinion on this.
Hey David! Well, I’ve kind of been all over the place with my D&H leagues… I’ve drafted three teams so far, and I’ve basically ended up taking a different approach with each draft. I really, really didn’t expect OF to dry up so quickly (due in large part to the platoon issue as you mentioned!) I have kind of ended up punting one infield position in each league — In my first draft I have Jung at 3B and my second I have Eugenio, with sketchy 3B depth in both leagues so that could get ugly. I also have a not great OF4 and OF5 in both of those leagues, and anyway by the time I got to my third draft I just decided to lock up 3B + go OF-happy with my first 6 picks, and figure everything else out later. I have Devers and my OF is Judge, Arozarena, Schwarber, Adolis, Springer, Schwarber. Now for the bad news, Arraez is my starting 1B and I am really going to have to hope I drafted the right pitchers. I’ve already drafted Realmuto, and I have Andres Gimenez, who I thought would be going way too high for my taste, on two of those teams… (I’ll be talking about the 2B and how it too is shallower than I expected next week!) In one league I have Bichette at SS, in the other two I waited and have Thairo Estrada and Hoerner.
(Part 2/2): I guess at this point I’d say I’m just trying to draft the best player available, but while acknowledging that I’ve given some players a bigger positional-scarcity bump than I normally do. Anyway I’ve become a big fan of the D&H format and obviously I could blab about this forever; if you have additional specific questions or thoughts feel free to throw them out here!
Thanks as always for the feedback Laura. I actually like the Devers team with the strong OF. Arraez has boring value and will help with average.
I always get slaughtered on here for valuing middle relievers over SPs. I’m not sure what quality of SP people think is available late in the draft. I ran a few tests using the end of season player rater (a perfect set of projections) where every other team was limited to 6 RPs and I continued to take the best pitcher. I finished 3rd in wins 10th in Ks 3rd in ERA 7th in WHIP and overkill in saves. I obviously wouldn’t draft 11 or 12 RPs but the fact that I did better in wins and Ks and worse in ERA and WHIP than expected points to a value in RPs with a high K/9 with good ratios.
I generally agree with you about the middle relievers over SPs late… I try to take a couple shots with SPs (got lucky last year with Nestor while most of my other darts were useless), but otherwise I like to grab several middle relievers in the last rounds of the draft. Got extra lucky with Clay Holmes last year who I had in a couple D&H leagues, but even if you don’t stumble on an extra closer the relievers can really help. Depends on the format, of course — someday I’d like to find a daily change D&H, where I think middle relievers would be crazy useful! Anyway like you said if you find guys with good K/9 and if you can get lucky and vulture some wins, that seems way better than having a bad starter on your team (especially given how it’s getting less and less likely those #4 and #5s will go 6 innings in a game, let alone get a win or enough Ks to matter).