As you stroll up and down the grocery store aisles, you come to THAT row. You know that row – the one with the candy in the heart shaped box. Year heart starts racing and your palms get a little sweaty. Heck, you may even get that a tingle run through your body.

You know what that box of candy in a heart shaped box means and you cannot stand the excitement. A picture of the love of your life pops into your mind, and you smile at that image – there on a glorious field of green grass and manicured dirt are pitchers and catchers working out after reporting to spring training.

Then that picture turns into a list of top spring training visits you’ve had, then a list of top songs you listened to on your drive to Florida with a group of your best friends. Soon, you are discussing the top 10 girlfriends of Derek Jeter (Minka Kelly! Jessica Biel! Vanessa Minnillo and Jordana Brewster! Now married to Hannah Davis – that is just not fair!) Derek Jeter – a true Hall of Famer on and off the field!

Speaking of shortstops and baseball, no ranking would be complete without a ranking of the top players at each position. And that is why you are here. Everyone has their own belief of who is the best at each position and how they would rank players. But you just want to make sure that you are not crazy for ranking Adalberto Mondesi ahead of Xander Bogaerts (you’re not) or for ranking Willi Castro ahead of Corey Seager (you are).

How you rank players depends on many things, and hopefully not because they have cute eyes or because you know a friend who is the cousin of the trainer of David Fletcher who says he is going to have a career year this season. My rankings are based all on science and a hefty amount of gut. I’ll be updating these rankings biweekly for the duration of the season.

If there is a tipping point between one player and another, I’m going to go with the younger player more often than not. Give me the upside, especially in a dynasty league. And you if are not playing in a dynasty league, you should!

Tier 1 – The best of the best
*Note: Age as of Opening Day

Rank Name Team Age
1 Fernando Tatis Jr. SD 22
2 Trevor Story COL 28
3 Trea Turner WSH 27
4 Francisco Lindor CLE 27
5 Bo Bichette TOR 23

This is pretty straight forward. You can quibble with the exact order of those players, except for Tatis. If you have the chance to take Tatis and you pass on him, you should be shamed out of your league and never call yourself a fantasy baseball player. Now, you may be wondering how Bo Bichette gets into the top five. First, he has great hair. Second, the name just makes him sound like a ball player. But Bichette also has more talent than daddy Dante ever had. No one cares about defense, so throw that tool out of the toolbox.  What about the other tools, like average and on-base percentage? Bichette has that with a career .307 average and a .347 OBP. Looking for power? He’s got that as well with a .549 slugging percentage. How about some steals to round out your fantasy lineup? Well, would you be happy with 20-plus steals a season, because that is what he will give you.

Tier 2 – Knocking on the door

Rank Name Team Age
6 Corey Seager LAD 26
7 Adalberto Mondesi KC 25
8 Xander Bogaerts BOS 28
9 Tim Anderson CHW 27
10 Gleyber Torres NYY 24

Adlaberto Mondesi at number seven? Yes. If you are surprised, you may not have really dug into what he delivers. His ability to swipe 50 bags alone and help you win steals every week is reason enough to have him as a top 10 shortstop. Over a 162-game average, he delivers 17 homers and 72 RBI. Combine that with his steals, and that makes him worthy of his rank.

Gleyber Torres could be listed a lot lower due to the season he had in 2020, if you can call that a season. Torres will shoot up this list if he is the player who showed up in 2019. At the age of 24, I’m not ready to write him off.

Tier 3 – Just who are these guys?

Rank Name Team Age
11 Carlos Correa HOU 26
12 Javier Baez CHC 28
13 Dansby Swanson ATL 26
14 Tommy Edman STL 25
15 Willi Castro DET 23

Carlos Correa is entering his seventh season with the Astros. He has all the tools to be a top 5 shortstop, but he has never quite had a complete season. Oh, how he teased everyone in his first full season, slugging 20 homers, driving in 96 and ending with a slash line of .274-.361-.451. But he has not topped 110 games played since and last year his power numbers nosedived to the tune of a .383 slugging percentage. At only 26-years-old and in his walk year, I’m betting he is closer to 2016 than 2020. I also believe Javier Baez rebounds from his 2020 nightmare, but I want Dansby Swanson to prove what we saw last year was the player that made him the top pick in the 2015 draft.

Tier 4 – The final 10

Rank Name Team Age
16 Chris Taylor LAD 30
17 Marcus Semien TOR 30
18 Paul DeJong StL 27
19 Didi Gregorius FA 31
20 Jake Cronenworth SD 27
21 Jorge Polanco MIN 27
22 David Fletcher LAA 26
23 Willy Adames TB 25
24 J.P. Crawford SEA 26
25 Andres Gimenez CLE 22

As you can see from this, there are aging players mixed with some up-and-comers. Taylor gets bonus points for being able to play all over the field, but at 30-years old, his best days are behind him. The same with Marcus Semien and Didi Gregorius. But Semien could fly up the charts now that he is hitting in a loaded Toronto Blue Jays lineup. RBI chances will not be rare for him this season. Willy Adames could be out of a job in Tampa Bay thanks to Wander Franco knocking on the door.

The one player to really watch in this group is Andres Gimenez. Now in Cleveland, he pushed Ahmed Rosario to the bench with the Mets last year and found his footing in September/October by posting an .818 OPS, showing why he was once a top 100 prospect and top 5 prospect with the New York.

Now let’s get back to talking about the top 10 girlfriends of Derek Jeter!

 
  1. Barry Bonds says:
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    Interesting you have Willi Castro so high—i personally like him and have him in my AL only league—what strikes you about him that you list him this high??

    • Jakkers

      Jakkers says:
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      Castro had basically the same amount of at-bats in 2019 and 2020. What he did in 2020 blew 2019 out of the water. The batting average, OBP and slugging percentages made huge jumps. He made adjustments that carried through the entire season.

      Will he duplicate those numbers again in 2021? Probably not, but I see 15-18 homers and 60-70 RBI, which is solid production from a shortstop who is likely going in the late rounds of drafts. I often look at the value of a player from a dynasty perspective and given that he is 23, I like his future over those of older shortstops I list in Tier 4.

  2. everywhereblair

    everywhereblair says:
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    It’s Jakkers’ first article! Congrats on breaking through.

    I got a feeling most of my teams are just gonna be 19 shortstops and Nelson Cruz.

    • Jakkers

      Jakkers says:
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      Thanks, buddy. And you could do a lot worse than fielding 19 shortstops and Cruz!

  3. packers2018 says:
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    Welcome Jakkers.

    I’m currently drafting my first ever dynasty draft, Tatis was my number one pick at 1.3.

    What general strategy should I be aware of? I’m torn from just going for it this year and don’t worry about prospects, mixing it up some, bats over pitchers, …..

    I would like to think I have a plan vs just grabbing players.
    Thanks for any feedback.
    12 teams 5×5 roto with OBP vs BA. Draft 40 lose 10 at the end of the year.

    • Jakkers

      Jakkers says:
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      Thanks, Packers – and sorry about last week.

      Everyone has their own plan when it comes to dynasty, but my first general rule is this – if two players are basically equal in your rankings, go with the younger player. Thus my Willi Castro ranking. I prefer the years of upside and growth over the one-or two-year window. Heck, if you could draft the entire Blue Jays offense, you’d be off to a great start in a dynasty league. That team has the players you can build around at nearly every position. But I do prefer youth, it is helpful to sprinkle in some veterans who you know will give you certain stats. You can’t expect to hit a home run with every young player/prospect.

      Starting with Tatis is a great start – I’m guessing Soto was the top choice. Aside from younger over older players, I prefer hitters over pitchers, who general have a greater risk of injury and more often than not more surprise pitchers crop up during a season than bats. Did anyone see Framber Valdez being a stud last year? No.

      I could write a dissertation a about this subject, so I hope this was somewhat helpful.

      • packers2018 says:
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        It was, I had the same thoughts but now I have the confidence to move forward.
        Thanks,

        • Jakkers

          Jakkers says:
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          Good luck.

  4. Krunchyfrogg says:
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    I thought Francisco Lindor would’ve made it onto this list.

    • Jakkers

      Jakkers says:
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      He is ranked fourth in my pre-season rankings.

  5. Big Joey says:
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    Are you guys buying into the new MVP-Seager? Obviously he won’t give you any SBs but in leagues that count OBP and SLG, is he gold?

    • Jakkers

      Jakkers says:
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      I think what we saw from Seager in the NLCS and World Series is not an aberration. He’s surrounded by hitters on the Dodgers and is now two full years away from his injury. I don’t think he matches the pace of his 2020 season, but there is no reason to shy away from him as I think he easily matches his ROY season of 2016 when he had an .877 OPS.

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