Please see our player page for J.P. Crawford to see projections for today, the next 7 days and rest of season as well as stats and gamelogs designed with the fantasy baseball player in mind.

Last year is officially behind us!

Months after the Dodgers defeated the Rays in the World Series to cap the most unique season Major League Baseball has ever seen, followed by countless offseason moves and meaningless exhibition games, the baseball season has thankfully begun.

Of course, it is impossible to completely put the past behind us. For the Mets and Nationals, they must think that they are still stuck in 2020 as their season-opening series was wiped out due to the COVID virus affecting a host of Washington players. But for everyone else, every hit, home run and strikeout now count. That means we are all checking how our fantasy teams five or six time a not to see how our players are doing on the field.

Gone are the endless updates of our preseason rankings as we prepared for drafts. Now the fun part starts – tracking the players and their performance as the season unfolds. Will the top players perform as expected, or will one of them pull a Christian Yelich or Jose Altuve on us and stink it up all season. With only a handful of games in the books, the Top 25 Shortstop Rankings are basically the same as they were a month ago, but there has been some player movement.

So without further adieu, lets get to the rankings.

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You’re traveling through another dimension — a dimension not only of coaching decisions and slow catchers but of plate appearances. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of your lineup slots. That’s a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the stolen base zone! 

Not too long ago on this very site, I wrote an article about which catchers had the slowest pop times and worst caught stealing percentages

Even less long ago I wrote about which team managers allowed their players to attempt the most stolen bases

Now comes my honors thesis at the Grey Albright School for Fools: which players each week are on a team run by a manager who likes to steal bases AND are facing a catcher who isn’t great at throwing out runners! 

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With your NCAA tournament bracket now busted due to the rash of upsets this weekend, you can turn your attention back to baseball. In fact, why was your attention even turned away from baseball? With less than two weeks until the start of the regular season, spring training starts to take on a little bit of importance. OK, who am I kidding? We don’t need spring training to know who the top shortstops are, especially in 12-team mixed leagues.

However, there are plenty of 16-, 18- and 20-team leagues and thus a much larger player pool you need to dip into. Additionally, many deep leagues still require a middle infielder in addition to needing a starting shortstop. Depth is critical in deep leagues, and finding that gem late in the draft can be the difference between winning and losing a league.

With players locked into battles for a starting job, the spring training stats we overlook could help determine if Nico Hoerner earns the starting job with the Chicago Cubs or starts the season in the minor leagues. Or maybe a player you are tracking as a sleeper is having a horrible spring and doesn’t deserve to be on your watch list right now.
However, there are plenty of 16-, 18- and 20-team leagues. The player pool you need to dip into is greatly expanded when you have that many teams. Additionally, many deep leagues like these still require a middle infielder in addition to needing a starting shortstop. Depth is critical in deep leagues, and finding that gem late in the draft can be the difference between winning and losing a league. 

With players locked into battles for a starting job, the spring training stats we overlook could help determine if Nico Hoerner earns the starting job with the Chicago Cubs or starts the season in the minor leagues. Or maybe a player you are tracking as a sleeper is having a horrible spring and doesn’t deserve to be on your watch list right now.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

March is here, and that means one thing: filling out a bracket or two for March Madness. Oh, wait, wrong sport.

In the world that really matters, it is fantasy baseball drafting season. For many, that means after hours and months of going over every player and compiling your own rankings and checking them twice, it is time to match wits against others and quickly learn that the perfect mock draft you created for yourself needs to be thrown out of the window after the second round.

When it comes to fantasy baseball, there are seeming a gazillion types of leagues you can join, from the stats that are going to be used, whether it a head-to-head or points league to the number of teams in the league. Also, is the league a redraft league or are you starting a new dynasty league. That is an important factor, because if it is a dynasty league, how you build your team is very different from a redraft league – or at least it should be.

We all want to win right away, but in dynasty leagues the goal is to win not just this season, but for multiple seasons. If you draft a team that is reliant on older players, you may do well this year, even next. But you don’t want to win just now. You want to win every year. So with the goal of building a team that wins today, tomorrow and three years from now, below is my list of Top 25 Shortstops for dynasty leagues.

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Steals might ain’t got no face, but team stolen base attempts definitely do got yes face. (Totally crushed this lede!)

Today we’re going to get into something that normally makes fantasy baseball FAR superior to fantasy football in my opinion: coaching decisions. You could have the best wide receiver in the game, but whoopsie daisy — Mike McCarthy decides he wants to run the ball a lot today. Now you’re out $500. At least with fantasy baseball, the manager will always put his best lineup on the field and it is completely up to the hitter to do his job. The coach isn’t telling him “Hey you, I don’t even want you to swing up there.” 

Today’s article deals with managerial decisions on the basepath — specifically the stealing of second base. I’m going to let you in on some secrets on which managers have itchy trigger fingers when they have a runner on first with an empty base 90 feet away and those who are a bit gun shy when it comes to sending their runners. (Wow with all the violent imagery. What is this, CPAC?) 

First, some alarming data — here are the average manager second base stolen base attempt percentages from the past 10 years. (Analytic nerds will soon refer to this stat as MASBSBAP.) 

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As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that, gloriously, it’s not all that early any more (hence my last-minute title change).  Players have not only reported to camp, spring training games are being played and Opening Day will suddenly be here within a month.  Those of us who are already drafting are no longer in the bubble of being able to avoid “best shape of his life” comments from players and remarks from managers about bullpen or starting position battles where a few words may lead to a huge ADP rise or fall for certain players.  After looking at second base last week, we’ll begin March by shifting over one spot on the diamond and concentrating on shortstops outside the top 150 players being drafted according to current NFBC ADP.  Since the position is stacked once again this season, I suspect most of us, even in very deep leagues, will have splurged on an expensive or early round stud and will have short covered by the time we get this late in a draft or auction.  But it’s always nice to know what our fallback/back-up/bench depth/lottery ticket options might be, which leads us to the following list of names.

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When doing bi-monthly rankings, I asked myself while freezing in the dark with no electricity because I live in a state that can’t handle the cold, “Jakkers, how do I do bi-monthly rankings when there are no games going on, not even fake games? Heck, spring training just started!” Now, because I was right there in the room when I asked this question, I immediately responded to this outstanding query. I told myself, “Well, let’s take a closer look at some of the players ranked two weeks ago.” I have to say, that is a brilliant answer. How do I know it’s brilliant? Because I asked it and I answered it, and I am brilliant. OK, in my world I am brilliant. Those around me probably have some other adjectives they’d likely use to describe me. Brilliant may not be one of them.

However, before we delve more into a few players, let me get my bias out in the open. Shocking, I know, but my rankings have a bias. I run two dynasty fantasy leagues. The leagues in which I participate but don’t run are, for the most part, dynasty leagues. Because of my preference for dynasty leagues, I prefer younger players with upside over players who have plateaued or are on the downside of their careers. Did this bias affect the rankings first posted two weeks ago? Yes. I ranked Willi Castro higher than Chris Taylor or Marcus Semien. I rank Bo Bichette fifth because he is only 23 as of Opening Day and has huge amounts of upside and he has three years on Corey Seager.

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Could I see owning two of the top 20 shortstops for 2021 fantasy baseball? More like: Can I draft four of them? This post is going to envelope you with so much love you’re going to remember when it was that you were first stung by the Fantasy Baseball Bug. By the way, the Fantasy Baseball Bug is mostly found in North America, struggles to reproduce and inhabits dark basements. Here’s Steamer’s 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Hitters and 2021 Fantasy Baseball Projections for Pitchers. All projections included here are mine, and where I see tiers starting and stopping are included. Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2021 fantasy baseball:

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As terrible as the 2nd basemen were, the top 20 shortstops for 2020 fantasy baseball were that good. Just absolute nails, and not like the Nails interview Donkey Teeth and I did with Lenny Dykstra on our Patreon podcast (it’s $5/month; the price of one fancy coffee if you’re in a non-fancy coffee shop) where Nails is having sex while talking to us, but nails like nails nails. These guys could make a difference for your fantasy team. From the top, until, well, they fall off at a certain point. We’ll get there. To recap my recap before the recap, this final ranking is from our Fantasy Baseball Player Rater with my comments. This is not for next year. Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2020 fantasy baseball and how they compared to where I originally ranked them:

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