Fantasy SS: The Rise and Fall of MLB’s Slimmest Position
Historically, the shortstop position has been slim pickins. There has never been a consistent ebb and flow of solidified shortstops. Current veterans like Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter are being replaced by faster-younger shortstops such as Jean Segura and Everth Cabrera. Troy Tulowitzski is the only position player who will give you power with average. With others shortstops you have to choose one or the other and that can be tough to find with it being the only position to not have a player with double-digit home runs. It has been more about speed, recently, as the top two stolen base leaders in the majors are Segura and Cabrera. So what do you do when your early Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez pick blew up in your face? Don’t feel bad because at least half your league is feeling your pain with the lack of depth at the position.
Under the Radar- Buy Low
White Sox SS Alexei Ramirez has found his comfort zone in the No.2 slot hitting .339 and scoring 11 of his 18 runs in about half the ABs (56/109). As long as the Cuban player hits above his career line (.276), the runs should come in hitting in front of Rios, Konerko, Dunn and Viciedo, who are all power hitters. I would #BUYLOW on the sixth-year veteran with nobody to challenge his spot in the line-up. It was only two years ago when he put back-to-back stat lines that looked as such: 80+ Runs, 15+ HR, 70+ RBI’s. The power has not been there, but he is on pace for a career year in stolen bases after stealing 20 last year.
There are only four shortstops that have over 20 runs and RBI’s and Starlin Castro is the only one out of the four (Tulowitzski, Zobrist, Crawford) to be outside the top 10. That will not last by All-Star break as the career .300 hitter is on pace to have double-digit homers and 20 plus stolen bases as he did the past two seasons. The No.2 hitter is one of the only shortstops to hit for average, speed and give you 75 plus runs and RBi’s.
Brandon Crawford is only in his second full season and is the only bottom of the lineup hitter to put up numbers he has at the SS position. Along with the runs and RBI’s mentioned above, Crawford provides power but no speed keeping him at the bottom of the order. We have yet to see the full potential of the fourth-round pick, but in the last month Crawford is among the positions best in runs and RBI’s without hitting a home run.
The 2011 Silver Slugger, Asdrubal Cabrera, is on pace for lows in average and home runs when comparing the past two years. Playing in his sixth full season as an Indian, Cabrera hits in the three hole providing a lot of opportunities to drive in runs and score. The slow start for the Venezuelan shortstop is mystifying as he is normally a hot starter. But when you put into context that he is hitting .250 with runners on and only .208 with RISP when he is historically a .300 hitter in both those categories, there is room for improvement. It’s about as good of a bet as any for the fortunes turning with a batter who hits in the heart of the lineup for a team that leads the league in slugging percentage.
On the Rise- Keepers
Rookie Jean Segura has been sensational to begin his career as the No.1 rated SS through the first quarter of the season. Sitting only behind 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera as the top rated player, the Brew-Crew middle infielder has put on display his five-tool ability as the only shortstop to be top five in runs (2nd), home runs(3rd), RBI’s (t-5th), stolen bases (2nd), and batting average (1st). There has to be a fall off point at some time through the season, but batting in the 2 spot has Segura seeing quality pitches with sluggers Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez sitting behind him. He will remain a top 5 SS throughout the season #REALDEAL #ROOKIEOFTHEYEAR
Fourth-year player Everth Cabrera has found himself currently among the elite stolen baseman leading the majors with 18. That won’t change much as Bud Black loves to put players in motion to create offense leading the majors with 39 stolen bases as a team. Last year in 115 games, Cabrera was third in the league with 44 stolen bases. Cabrera has fallen a bit from his .270 April average, now at .260, but is hitting .325 with RISP accounting for 11 RBI’s and 10 runs this month. This is with the Padres best hitters, Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin, struggling to begin the season. WIth Jose Reyes not due back till post All-Star break, Cabrera’s value should be held at a premium (top 5 SS) just with his ability to steal bags.
Texas SS Elvis Andrus was over paid this offseason (8-year, $120 million), but he does lead his position in runs, 28, and is third in stolen bases with 12. As long as Andrus is hitting for average, the runs will come hitting at the top in one of baseball’s best offenses. He is about as sure of a bet for runs and stolen bases but with no pop and just hitting .217 with RISP, you could almost #SELLHIGH and get similar run production with more pop from guys like Brandon Crawford and Josh Rutledge. It all depends on what you need, but Andrus could be good trade bait with low average and pop.
Now in his 14th season as the Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins has digressed significantly hitting sub .270 in his last four seasons. The Phillies offense has struggled to find their groove and Rollins is one of the reasons why striking out at a higher rate than normal and not stealing bases like usual. During the past three seasons, Rollins has performed worst post All-Star break so let him find a streak and know his 34-year-old body won’t be able to sustain it. The overall numbers have not been there in 2013 but the appeal comes with the name, J-Rol. If you can get good value for him, go for it!
Jhonny Peralta is the fifth-rated shortstop and only has the .318 average to show for it. Hitting near the bottom of the lineup the runs and RBI’s haven’t been there. Peralta is a career .266 hitter and has displayed some pop over the last three years hitting more than 10 home runs, but he tends to fall off post All-Star break and if the average falls so will the Dominican’s value.
Marco Scutaro is going bizerks in May hitting .472 with 14 of his 25 runs coming in the month. As a career .278 hitter, the 12th year player is sure to find a dipping point. With little RBI opportunities in the NL No.2 slot and the odds of hitting plus .400 every month not in his favor, Scutaro who is third in runs and fourth in average among 2B is a perfect candidate for #SellHigh