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January 13, 2011

Fantasy Beat

Rankings Review: Shortstop

by Marc Normandin

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This is a review of my 2010 shortstop rankings. This time around, not only will we use auction values for mixed leagues, but also the dollar value for AL- and NL-only leagues. These dollar values come from Graphical Player 2011, and I think these will do a good job illustrating how much I missed by on the players I missed, though, broken record style, the why is more important than the result when it comes to these rankings. All PECOTA projections, dollar values and statistics in the parentheses are from 2010.

Five Stars

Hanley Ramirez (.329/.417/.572 PECOTA, .300/.378/.475 2010; $26.1 mixed/$32.1 NL): Ramirez wasn't the same monster we have known him as for all but his rookie season, and while he was extremely valuable regardless, chances are good owners didn't get what they paid for with him. For two straight seasons his Isolated Power has dropped, which makes me wonder whether he's going to be pretty great or excellent in the coming year.

Troy Tulowitzki (.301/.385/.536 PECOTA, .315/.381/.568 2010; $26.3 mixed/$30.9 NL): It looks like Ramirez and Tulo were neck-and-neck, but the latter broke his wrist and missed twice as many games as Hanley. His ridiculous September (15 homers, 40 RBI) made up for time lost, and also makes it easier to keep or spend money on him for 2011, since it's a safe bet that wrist isn't bothering him.

Four Stars

Jose Reyes (.299/.367/.471 PECOTA, .282/.321/.428 2010; $14.4 mixed/$22.9 NL): The fact that Reyes' ho hum line (with a useful, somewhat expected due to leg problems, and not ridiculous 30 steals) was worth nearly $23 in NL-only leagues goes to show you just how terrible shortstop is as a position. Things were thin heading into 2010, and the performance of many shortstops who were supposed to be productive (but weren't) made things worse.

Jimmy Rollins (.286/.345/.475 PECOTA, .243/.320/.374 2010; -$2.2 mixed/$9.0 NL): This guy knows what I'm talking about. I said there was "a little too much 2007 in here for my tastes" in regards to Rollins' projected power, which is why he wasn't higher than four stars with that forecast. Injuries limited him to 88 games, and he played so poorly that one wonders how much he will be worth even if he sticks around for a full 2011.

Asdrubal Cabrera (.297/.366/.444 PECOTA, .276/.326/.346 2010; -$7.3 mixed/$5.7 AL): Cabrera is slowly becoming one of those guys I don't want to draft because I have no idea what I'm going to get out of him. He is not quite there yet though, since I took him in a mock in a late round this week. Injuries played a part in his 2010, so he gets a pass for now.

Derek Jeter (.298/.374/.433 PECOTA, .270/.340/.370 2010; $15.4 mixed/$22.6 AL): Jeter was disappointing, but less disappointing than others, meaning that he, by default, merited his four-star status. Hooray?

Jason Bartlett (.282/.351/.407 PECOTA, .254/.324/.350 2010; -$0.1 mixed/$10.7 AL): That projection seemed pretty safe, as it was kind of halfway between Bartlett's past and his outstanding-but-never-happening-again 2009 season. He failed to reach that forecast or even his less productive career rates though, and unless he was in an AL-only, owners overpaid for him. Shortstop is limited, but keeping him now that he has to deal with Petco is probably ill-advised.

Yunel Escobar (.307/.383/.448 PECOTA, .256/.337/.318 2010; -$5.3 mixed/$6.8 AL): Escobar came off of 2009 looking pretty good, but questions about his effort and work ethic got him a ticket to Canada. He hit .275/.340/.356 for Toronto, which is better than what he did in Atlanta, but definitely not four-star worthy.

J.J. Hardy (.274/.334/.460 PECOTA, .268/.320/.394 2010; -$6.0 mixed/$6.2 AL): Hardy has hit .247/.310/.374 over the past two years and 840 plate appearances, which means my love affair with him may have run its course, at least in terms of counting on him to provide this level of value.

Three Stars

Stephen Drew (.271/.336/.444 PECOTA, .278/.352/.458 2010; $10.6 mixed/$18.4 NL): My first inclination was to put Drew in four stars after his season, but looking at these dollar values makes me realize that he is still a three-star shortstop, and the four-star variety is going to be a real short list in 2011.

Erick Aybar (.287/.334/.410 PECOTA, .253/.306/.330 2010; -$0.5 mixed/$11.4 AL): Erick Aybar with a bat is a lot like a mule with a spinning wheel. Neither of them can hit baseballs with it.

Marco Scutaro (.278/.367/.399 PECOTA, .275/.333/.388 2010; $8.2 mixed/$16.8 AL): Scutaro had a pretty good year for someone who dealt with a pinched nerve in his neck and a shoulder that wanted to detach itself from his arm, forcing him to second where his throws could actually make it to first thanks to a working wrist.

Ryan Theriot (.291/.360/.378 PECOTA, .270/.321/.312 2010; $0.6 mixed/$11.6 NL): Theriot didn't bring value in mixed leagues, but if you got stuck with him in an NL-only, his uninspiring line still held some value thanks to 20 steals. If TOOTBLAN was a fantasy category, The Riot would be a five-star shortstop.

Jhonny Peralta (.268/.337/.425 PECOTA, .249/.312/.392 2010; $2.7 mixed/$12.6 AL): As long as he has shortstop eligibility, Peralta will be useful in fantasy. It's amazing that someone who doesn't steal bases, doesn't hit for average, for power, or get on base often enough to score a lot of runs can be valuable, but that's shortstop for you. That being said, guys like Peralta and Theriot are making me think I need to cut down on four/three star players and add more two star candidates for the upcoming year.

Miguel Tejada (.301/.340/.451 PECOTA, .269/.312/.381 2010; $6.1 mixed/$14.4 NL): Copy and paste Peralta's comment here, except at least Tejada might hit for some power.

Alexei Ramirez (.283/.335/.461 PECOTA, .282/.313/.431 2010; $14.5 mixed/$22.6 AL): Unless you were in an OBP league, you probably got your money's worth on Ramirez, who produced one of the better shortstop seasons of 2010. I didn't like this projection, coming off of a poor year, but he reversed his slowly-emerging patience and got his power back. Counterintuitive, sure, but it works for some players.

Rafael Furcal (.282/.347/.398 PECOTA, .300/.366/.460 2010; $8.4 mixed/$18.1 NL): It seems like Furcal cannot be both very productive and healthy at the same time. He appeared in 97 games in 2010 and hit for the above line. He played 36 games in 2008, and had a .357/.439/.573 showing. A full year in 2009 equaled a line of .269/.335/.375. Even while missing over 60 games, Furcal was one of the better buys in fantasy at the position. He probably should have been higher within the three-star tier.

Two Stars

Elvis Andrus (.269/.329/.400 PECOTA, .265/.342/.301 2010; $6.3 mixed/$16.8 AL): It's a good thing he steals bases, because Andrus is just not hitting for power, despite playing half his games in Arlington.

Everth Cabrera (.249/.337/.364 PECOTA, .208/.279/.278 2010; -$14.6 mixed/-$0.8 NL): Cabrera dealt with injuries, and also played poorly when he was on the field. He didn't spend enough time on the field to make up for his poor start, and now the Padres have revamped their middle infield, meaning he won't get a chance to fix things at the major league level for awhile.

Alcides Escobar (.286/.327/.387 PECOTA, .235/.288/.326 2010; -$6.7 mixed/$4.5 NL): Escobar was projected to nab 20 bases, but with a manager who never runs, he ended up with half of that. With another 10 steals, he would have been worth more than the above, even with the poor line.

Maicer Izturis (.286/.355/.427 PECOTA, .250/.321/.363 2010; -$10.6 mixed/$3.2 AL): This is the third time in a week he's been a disappointment to me, so we'll leave it at that.

Cliff Pennington (.245/.329/.345 PECOTA, .250/.319/.368 2010; $3.3 mixed/$14.7 AL): If you're going to be stuck with a poor-hitting shortstop—and all but three of the owners in your league qualify for this—it's good to get one who will do one thing really well, like steal bases, as Pennington did 29 times. Definitely worth the two-star rank and price tag.

Clint Barmes (.263/.314/.432 PECOTA, .235/.305/.351 2010; -$6.8 mixed/$4.3 NL): His greatest contribution was 43 R and 50 RBI, but his line was a heavy price to pay to get that out of him.

Jerry Hairston (.259/.329/.386 PECOTA, .244/.299/.353 2010; -$2.2 mixed/$8.3 NL): More playing time than expected helped earned Hairston 53 R, 50 RBI, 10 HR and nine steals, making him a solid shortstop option in deep NL leagues.

Luis Valbuena (.260/.329/.400 PECOTA, .193/.273/.258 2010; -$18.8 mixed/-$3.7 AL): It takes a certain level of execrable play to count for negative dollars in an AL-only format at shortstop, so let's take a moment to marvel at this occurrence. He's probably got a better future ahead of him than 2010 indicated, but he may not get the chance to show you that right away.

Orlando Cabrera (.276/.328/.385 PECOTA, .263/.303/.354 2010; -$1.1 mixed/$9.4 NL): For the same reason the Reds put up with Cabrera, he was tolerable in NL-only leagues. As long as you weren't in an OBP-league, Cabrera was a decent low-priced option.

Jeff Keppinger (.301/.364/.430 PECOTA, .288/.351/.393 2010; $3.3 mixed/$12.8 NL): Shortstop was the best place to use Keppinger for fantasy, because third and second, while not exactly deep, at least have more than a handful of players worth plugging in at the position. His extra playing time helped him get more value than he probably picked up at auction.

Cristian Guzman (.296/.326/.418 PECOTA, .266/.311/.337 2010; -$8.0 mixed/$4.7 AL): Guzman didn't play a full season, appearing in just 104 games, but his line wasn't good enough to make that an upsetting development either. Without batting average, he just doesn't carry much worth.

One Star

Juan Uribe ($7.3 mixed/$14.7 NL) was the most "appealing" of this group, but it was thought he wouldn't get any playing time with Freddy Sanchez on board in San Francisco. As you know, things shuffled a bit in there between Opening Day and a World Series victory, and Uribe was a significant benefactor of that. Brendan Ryan (-$9.7 mixed/$2.2 NL) was rated just where his bat puts him. Ditto for Cesar Izturis (-$12.3 mixed/$1.8 AL) Edgar Renteria (-$11.2 mixed/$2 NL), Ramon Santiago (-$10.7 mixed/$2.8 AL), Willie Bloomquist (-$10.0 mixed/$3.0 NL) and Julio Lugo (-$13.7 mixed/$0.6 AL). Ronny Cedeno (-$4.7 mixed/$7.2 NL) was useful in NL formats, but as with almost all of these guys, you don't want them unless you have to. Yuniesky Betancourt ($4.4 mixed/$14.2 AL) wasn't as bad as you think he would be, which says a lot about this position. Jack Wilson (-$16.9 mixed/-$1.9 AL), Adam Everett (-$20.4 mixed/-$4.4 AL), Bobby Crosby (-$19.5 mixed/-$4.8 NL) and Tommy Manzella (-$18.1 mixed/-$4.0 NL) were though. Omar Infante ($7.7 mixed/$17.1 NL) benefit from lots more playing time than expected. He was easily one of the best options here even before he was graced with those plate appearances. I underrated Ian Desmond ($5.8 mixed/$15.4 NL), who hit pretty well at two levels in 2009. He's not a great option, but he's better than many of the guys who were ranked ahead of him. Alex Gonzalez ($8.9 mixed/$15.8 NL) benefited from playing in Toronto, but a trade to Atlanta put a stop to that insanity. I said Mike Aviles ($4.6 mixed/$15.3 AL) had the best chance of surprising from this group of players, and he hit .305/.335/.413 with 14 steals. 

Related Content:  Shortstop,  PECOTA,  The Who,  Everth Cabrera,  Al,  Nl

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