It was once hard to find power at the shortstop position, but now there are a dozen options who could hit 20+ homers this season. You have all the usual suspects (Hanley Ramirez & Troy Tulowitzki) and a few emerging stars (Andrelton Simmons & Jean Segura).
This will be Derek Jeter’s farewell season. Does he go out with a relevant fantasy season?
My shortstop fantasy baseball rankings are based on a standard 5×5 league. If you have any specific questions about a different league, email me BobbyMcrib@gmail.com.
1. Hanley Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers – Before the injury bug hit Ramirez, he was once the #1 overall fantasy player. He has missed an average of 50 games each of the last three seasons. He only appeared in 86 games, but he hit .345 and smacked 20 homers. If he can stay healthy, I expect some big numbers from Ramirez.
2. Troy Tulowitzki – Colorado Rockies – Tulo had a few injuries that kept him from playing, but they were random injuries. His injuries weren’t any associated with someone breaking down. He came back from core muscle surgery last season and put up decent numbers in only 446 at-bats. If he gets near 550 at-bats, he should have another 30/100/.305 season. That is worth #1 or #2 on this list.
3. Ian Desmond – Washington Nationals – I’ve managed to steal Desmond last season. I don’t know why I’m always able to get him a round later than where he should be drafted, but I love it. He’s a 20/20 guy who also scores 80 runs and drives in about the same total. I am once again targeting him in every draft this season.
4. Jose Reyes – Toronto Blue Jays – A broken ankle derailed his debut season in Toronto. Depending on your draft, he’s another player who could slip a little because he missed so much time last season. I expect a bounce back year with 30+ steals.
5. Elvis Andrus – Texas Rangers – I’ve never targeted Andrus in any fantasy draft. I know steals are hard to get, but I usually get double-digit steals from multiple positions than just rely on one player to provide them all. Runs is the only other category he excels in. He doesn’t hurt you across the board, but I ranked him this high due to his 40+ steals.
6. Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays – I almost ranked Zobrist ahead of Andrus due to his 2B/SS/OF eligibility. He’ll be near a 15/15 guy who bats near .285 and scores at a high rate. He’s a top 10 fantasy shortstop and second baseman.
7. Jean Segura – Milwaukee Brewers – Did Segura overachieve last season? His numbers last season put him as a top 20 overall fantasy player. He is a regression candidate, but his numbers could be a tick higher than Andrus. I ranked him a few spots lower because I need to see him do it again.
8. Starlin Castro – Chicago Cubs – Castro is already banged up. An injury he suffered in early March is now causing fluid to build up in his leg. He says that as long as he plays a couple games this Spring, he’ll be good. It’s definitely a red flag, but I think we saw his basement last season. I never expected him to play so poor. I heard he didn’t like playing for former manager Dale Sveum. Rick Renteria is a ‘player’s coach’ and I expect Castro to bounce back (once he’s healthy).
9. Everth Cabrera – San Diego Padres – Cabrera had a segmented season. He was out with an injury early in the season and then once he came back, he was hit with a 50-game suspension for being linked to the Biogenesis scandal. You won’t get much from him except steals. He has the tools to steal 50+ bases, but he’s a risk elsewhere.
10. J.J. Hardy – Baltimore Orioles – Hardy is a streaky player. If you’ve owned him before, you know what I’m talking about. You don’t notice how well he has played until you see his stats at the end of the season. He’s great in roto formats, but can annoying in head-to-head leagues. He’ll end the season very close to last season’s stats. I don’t expect a regression at all.
11. Andrelton Simmons – Atlanta Braves – I like Simmons more than most. He never put up power numbers in the minors, but once hit 35 doubles. Doubles eventually turn into homers. 11 of his 17 homers came after July 1st. He has the tools to hit 20+ homers and still bat around .275. I might be in the minority, but Simmons could finish the season as a top 6 shortstop by the end of the year.
12. Asdrubal Cabrera – Cleveland Indians – The Indians had a great year, but Cabrera didn’t have much part in their success. He had the worst season of his career. He’s much better than a .242 hitter and will improve on that number.
13. Alexei Ramirez – Chicago White Sox – I almost dropped Ramirez out of the top 15. He’s a slow starter and his low RBI total can kill you. The White Sox aren’t very good and I don’t see much of an improvement from last season. Ramirez is just a infield flex option for me.
14. Jed Lowrie – Oakland A’s – Lowrie is a solid player, but his power numbers took a dip last year. I expect about the same production as this year.
15. Jonathan Villar – Houston Astros – In 210 at-bats, Villar stole 18 bases (including stealing home once). If he gets near 500 plate appearances, he could get close to 50 stolen bases. The Astros are horrible and I assume he will have the green light all season. His batting average may not be pretty, but he’s a nice backup shortstop.
16. Jimmy Rollins – Philadelphia Phillies – Rollins and manager Ryne Sandberg are already butting heads. I never like drafting a player who’s already having managerial issues in Spring Training. His numbers in 2013 were bad for his standards and this may all be head games to get Rollins motivated. Even if that is the case, I’d rather not draft Rollins where he’s being drafted.
17. Erick Aybar – Los Angeles Angels – This is where there is a drop off in talent. Aybar is a decent player that won’t hurt or help you in many categories. He’ll steal 15+ bases and hit .270-ish.
18. Zack Cozart – Cincinnati Reds – Cozart is another streaky player. I actually streamed him in and out of a few leagues last season. If you pick him up at the right time, he’s a solid infield flex option. It’s just hard to keep him in your roster everyday.
19. Derek Jeter – New York Yankees – Jeter always reels us back in when you think he’s finished. This is his farewell tour and should play nearly everyday. People are buying tickets to see him play, even if he’s replaced early in the game. He should get around 450 at-bats and hit .270-ish. He is an injury risk, but if he falls in your draft, take a shot on him.
20. Stephen Drew – Free Agent – If Drew were on a team, I’d have a better idea of where to rank him. A draft pick is attached to him, so the team that signs him, will need him enough to forfeit a pick to the Red Sox. Teams covet draft picks and he should be an everyday player wherever he signs. He’s a nice stash candidate.
21. Jhonny Peralta – St. Louis Cardinals – Peralta is another player implicated in the Biogenesis scandal. He lost his spot on the Tigers when he was suspended. They traded for Jose Iglesias Jr. and his days in Detroit were over. St. Louis is a good place to land, but how will he perform without PEDs? Drafting him is a risk, but sometime you have to gamble to win your league.
22. Alcides Escobar – Kansas City Royals – If you need cheap steals, Escobar would be a nice player to get late in the draft. His batting average is a tad low, but if you’re only playing him a few times a week, it shouldn’t be an issue.
23. Brad Miller – Seattle Mariners – I like Miller’s upside, but with Nick Franklin still on the team, I had to push him down the list. Seattle is actively shopping Franklin, but they may not find a suitor right away. The best way to spark up interest in a player is to play him. Miller may lose some at-bats until he’s traded.
24. Dee Gordon – Los Angeles Dodgers – I’ve owned Gordon a few times and he’s burned me every time. You can’t ignore his speed, but he can’t hit Major League pitching. If he could raise his OBP, he should steal 40+ bases. It’s unlikely that happens, but Gordon could end up being a sleeper.
25. Yunel Escobar – Tampa Bay Rays – You know what you get when you have Escobar on your team. He’s over 30, so he’s about as good as he’ll ever be. He won’t hurt you in AL-only leagues, but he’s just a streaming candidate in standard mixed leagues.
26. Rafael Furcal – Miami Marlins – Furcal is coming off Tommy John surgery. He was once a top fantasy shortstop, but that was many years ago. His speed and power has declined. He may have one more good fantasy season left in him, but I fear he’s barely replacement level this year.
27. Brandon Crawford – San Francisco Giants – If there was a defense fantasy league, Crawford would be ranked much higher. His ceiling is low double-digit power with a batting average above .250. I think he’ll end the season with numbers below those.
28. Jordy Mercer – Pittsburgh Pirates – Mercer is the starting shortstop in Pittsburgh by default. Clint Barmes is still on the team, but Mercer should get more at-bats. If he got 500 plate appearances, he could hit double-digit home runs, but 400 at-bats would be high in his situation.
29. Adeiny Hechavarria – Miami Marlins – If you can handle a sub-.230 batting average with the hopes of getting double-digit steals, he could be a decent backup shortstop in NL-only leagues.
29. Eduardo Nunez – New York Yankees – Derek Jeter will need to take some breaks this season. He’ll probably appear in nearly ever game, but Nunez will take his place in the lineup once he’s replaced. He has some pop and could be a decent matchup play to stream in and out of the lineup.
31. Steve Lombardozzi – Detroit Tigers
32. Mike Aviles – Cleveland Indians
33. Didi Gregorius – Arizona Diamondbacks
34. Ruben Tejada – New York Mets
35. Addison Russell – Oakland A’s
36. Maicer Izturis – Toronto Blue Jays
37. Pedro Florimon – Minnesota Twins
38. Javier Baez – Chicago Cubs
39. Chris Owings – Arizona Diamondbacks
40. Arismendy Alcantara – Chicago Cubs
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.