Good day, Fellow Razzballers,
I’m Scar – the newest Razzball writer. I’m glad baseball is back and Spring Training is upon us! I figured I’d start things off by ranking shortstops. Next week I’ll do a preseason ranking of second basemen, and we’ll take things from there.
Fantasy baseball is kind of like chess strategy. There are 400 distinct positions after the first two moves in the game, 400 different ways you could go about constructing a winning fantasy roster, and a seemingly endless supply of quality middle infielders available to draft this season.
Let’s get to the ranking methodology since there are many different types of leagues out there: I am basing my rankings off of a Yahoo 6×6 roto league (Runs, Home Runs, RBI, Batting Average, OBP, and Stolen Bases), leaning towards re-draft style over dynasty/keeper leagues (for those who wonder why Bobby Witt Jr. isn’t higher on the list). Yahoo has the most generous position eligibility out there and I believe OBP is important when assessing players. Sabermetrics with a dose of anecdotal evidence have some influence on my rankings formula.
As with every list, there will be the elite players and at a certain point, there will inevitably be a group of players that don’t contribute to every category, so depending on roster construction and the natural progression of your draft/auction, you will have to assess what particular statistics you need to chase.
For example, if you have Fernando Tatis Jr. or Trea Turner, a player such as Adalberto Mondesi Jr. isn’t as helpful to you as it is for the manager that’s auto-drafted seven corner infielders already. I personally try to draft middle infielders who can steal some bases, so you’ll notice I’m slightly lower on players like Carlos Correa and Corey Seager compared to the industry consensus.
Now that’s out of the way let’s get to the rankings:
Tier 1 – The Elites:
2. Trea Turner
3. Bo Bichette
These guys are all going in the first round of drafts. They are assets in every roto category and my only regret is that I can’t draft them all. Fernando Tatis Jr. is my #1 overall player. A full slate of games could see FTJ break fantasy baseball with a 50/30 season. I’m not a doctor, but I’m confident an offseason of rest will help FTJ’s shoulder issues. If his shoulder issues continue to be problematic, you could do worse than 130 games of FTJ + a replacement level player. If you are a more conservative manager, Trea Turner is my next pick for #1 overall. A 30/30 season while leading the league in runs and batting average is attainable.
Tier 2 – The Almost-Elites:
5. Trevor Story
I believe we’ll see Franco follow in the footsteps of Tatis Jr., Soto, and Acuña and avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. Some are worried the Rays may limit his stolen base opportunities (85th sprint speed percentile); however, the Rays let Randy Arozarena run with a relatively poor caught stealing rate (20 SB’s, 10 caught stealing). I look for Franco to have a permanent spot around the top of the Rays lineup. A batting line of 100/25/85/.290/20 should be considered a safe baseline considering his skills and elite plate discipline.
Tier 3 – The Next-Best Things:
7. Tim Anderson
While it may be accurate to say Marcus Semien had a career year last year, I don’t believe the bottom is totally going to drop out for him this season. Sure, his supporting cast is a bit weaker, but perhaps the Rangers make more moves to add to their lineup. Below is a snip of Semien’s home runs from his Baseball Savant page for Globe Life Field and the rest of the AL West ballparks:
Tier 4 – The Last of the Mixed-League Starters (12 Teams):
10. Adalberto Mondesi Jr.
11. Francisco Lindor
12. Javier Baez
13. Bobby Witt Jr.
The pick that could win or lose you your league, is of course Adalberto Mondesi Jr. With Mondesi, you are either getting 30+ stolen bases or what seems like 3o trips to the IL. How lucky are you feeling?
With the amount of money the Mets are paying Lindor, he has to do better than his 2021 73/20/63/.230/10 line. Usually, players moving from smaller markets to New York take a year to settle in but unfortunately, it seems like CitiField is where player’s careers go to die. However, I believe Lindor is talented enough and will adjust to New York like many before him, bouncing back slightly to a 80/25/85/.265/15 line.
Baez is ranked a little lower because of his OBP drain but I believe he’s still a useful player and may be asked to manufacture more runs in an up-and-coming Tigers lineup.
Tier 5 – The Middle Infielders:
14. Jake Cronenworth
15. Dansby Swanson
16. Willy Adames
17. Jazz Chisholm Jr.
18. Corey Seager
19. Chris Taylor
20. Luis Urias
By now, assuming you play in a 12 team league, you should already have your starting shortstop. This tier of players is for the most part good all-around players with the potential to move up the ranks later this year. Jake Cronenworth is batting 3rd as of now in a loaded Padres lineup. Sign me up for a 100/25/90/.270/5 line with a .340 OBP as well as added 1B and 2B eligibility.
Jazz Chisholm Jr. may one day be a top 50 asset and possesses the 20/20 skills we fantasy players love but I believe Jazz is in for some regression and some growing pains this year. Chisholm Jr.’s Baseball Savant page is ice cold but he is only 24 and should eventually improve his plate discipline. I’m sure there will be a 2024 Jazz Chisholm Jr. sleeper post out there in the future.
If you’ve blocked out everything fantasy baseball related during the lockout and you’re looking for a shortstop that can drastically outperform ADP, check out Grey’s “Willy Adames Sleeper” post in which great points are made.
Tier 6 – The Leftovers:
21. Carlos Correa
22. Brendan Rodgers
23. Brandon Crawford
24. Gleyber Torres
25. Gavin Lux
I’m not high on Correa due to the fact that you can find many players with his skill set. His lengthy injury history, him being off a contract year, and him being a non-factor in stolen bases (only 33 in 3000+ career plate appearances) has Correa easily on my “do not draft list.”
A player to watch in this tier is Brendan Rodgers. If shortstop wasn’t so deep and if Bud Black wasn’t the Rockies manager, I would rank Rodgers higher. However, Rodgers should play every day. An interesting takeaway on Rodgers: He had an .873 road OPS last season with 15 homers and 51 RBI in 102 games. Mr. Prorater loves Brendan Rodgers!
How deep is shortstop that Brandon Crawford is ranked #23 on this list? Crawford’s 2021 season is backed up by solid barrel rates and plate discipline numbers but he is 35 and it’s likely we’ve seen the best of him already.
Well, that about wraps up this week’s shortstop rankings. Thanks for reading!