February 5, 2015
Dynasty League Positional Rankings
Top 50 Shortstops
Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league-dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever and owners have minor league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.
Unlike some of the ones before it, this is a fun list to do because of the prospect depth. So while the major league players on here thin out pretty quickly, the nearly twenty prospects that qualify here bulk it up as we get to the back half. Unfortunately, in the long run, many of these players will end up losing shortstop eligibility—we just don’t know who those players will be yet.
The position remains squarely in transition due to the aging of the current high-level performers and the quality of the upper tier of prospects about to break through at the highest level. In addition, there are plenty of young major league shortstops who could take steps forward and achieve their own prospect destiny, including some high-profile options in Boston and the north side of Chicago. In fact, it seems like half of this list comes from Chicago.
And now, your top 50 shortstops in dynasty league formats:
There’s no questioning how good Tulowitzki is when he’s healthy, but he has to share the top tier because there’s also no questioning his ability to find himself on the disabled list. Whether you prefer the oft-injured Rockie or the strong and steady National likely just comes down to risk tolerance and league depth. In shallow leagues, it’s not particularly close and in deep leagues, there is a real argument to have Desmond at the top spot. Either way, both easily remain top-25 dynasty league assets.
Speaking of those pesky young shortstops in Boston and the north side of Chicago. Bogaerts was disappointing to those who used his strong September 2013 performance and very advanced approach in the playoffs to predict immediate superstardom; however, at just 22 years old, superstardom still awaits. It’s still incredible to think that Castro is still just 24 years old, despite registering nearly 3,200 plate appearances in his career. The power and batting average returned to the proper trajectory in 2014, and he will look to build that into the .300 season with 20 homers that his owners have been waiting for. Then, at the back end of this tier, is the player with the most 2015 value: Reyes. His speed isn’t what it once was, but with sneaky power, a strong batting average, and what should be a ton of runs atop an increasingly strong Jays lineup, he should remain a high-end fantasy shortstop for the next few seasons.
6) Hanley Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
Unfortunately, the good that the ballpark switch did to Ramirez’s potential value is more than offset by the likelihood that he will lose all semblance of infield eligibility for the 2016 season. He’d be a top-three option if he was set to stay at the position for a few more seasons, but he should remain a strong outfielder during the life of his contract with Boston.
This is what we like to call the Tier of Dreams. Correa could turn into Tulowitzki without the health problems. Baez could turn into the best fantasy shortstop we’ve seen since early career Hanley Ramirez. Russell and Seager could turn into high-end options that could carry significant impact in the average and power categories. Of course, we know that all of those things won’t happen, but the specter of even one of those things happening is why this group remains highly coveted on the trade market in all dynasty leagues.
11) Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
The top name in this grouping had a down season in 2014, but has a good chance to rebound to the 10-homer, 30-steal plateau is still just 24 years old. Segura may be undervalued currently on the trade market—making him a nice target if you have a middle infield need. Lindor and Anderson couldn’t be more different prospects, as the former is a lock to stay at the position and contribute steady fantasy value, while the latter is unlikely to stay there long-term and has the potential to be a five-category stud. Ramirez and Rollins remain steady options, despite their advancing ages—and both are strong value plays for a contending team. Finally, don’t sleep on the five-category upside in Owings. He could be a .270/15/15 option in 2015 and should have the position all to himself with Didi Gregorius given a one-way ticket to New York.
17) J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies
And here is where the speed guys settle. Andrus has hit .274 over the last three years, while averaging three homers and 30 steals. Escobar has hit .270 over the last three years, while averaging four homers and 29 steals. It’s good enough to make them both top-10 options for this year, but it’s not the type of profile that ages gracefully. Crawford is an exciting prospect, but for fantasy purposes, he’s more in the mold of a Lindor than an Anderson. Solid, steady and ticks up in deeper leagues. The three veterans who round out this list are all on the wrong side of thirty, but can provide enough value in the short-term to outrank those to come.
24) Brad Miller, Seattle Mariners
There’s plenty of youth in this tier, but the ceiling is relatively limited. Miller is more talented than he showed in 2014, yet he may never hold the fantasy value that he held at this time last year. Robertson and Hanson are both nearing major league ready status, and both exhibit steadiness over sexiness. Barreto and Mondesi could develop into higher-upside options at the position, but they both have a ways to go in order to be fantasy usable. Then there’s Flores—the oft-punchlined Mets “shortstop.” Just because he may very well be painful to watch on defense doesn’t mean that he can’t hit .275 with 15-20 homers.
31) Jung-Ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates
Ready. Set. Fight. Mercer is the stronger real-life player when defense is factored in, and Kang garners excitement based on offensive stats in the KBO that would make fantasy owners cry (in the good way). However, the combination of the league-wide KBO explosion dampening the excitement with Kang’s bat and the difficulty he may have staying at shortstop in the major leagues, they remain neck-and-neck.
33) Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
I guess this is my way of saying that I don’t believe in Simmons’ power. If you sold high on him last year, you’re certainly happy about it. I know I am. Gregorius isn’t anything special at the plate, but a left-handed batter headed to Yankee Stadium at least has a shot. Don’t be the owner in your league who is relying on Danny Santana. He won’t maintain the performance or the eligibility.
If we saw the Tier of Dreams before, this one should be called the Tier of Screams. Adames became the new hot thing when he was included in the David Price trade, and subsequently sat atop a very weak Rays system, but fantasy owners are getting carried away here. It’s not a big time offensive profile and he’s certainly no lock to stay at the position. Baldoquin is a big unknown, but there’s going to be someone in your league who thinks they’re grabbing the next great Cuban guy. If that happens, say thank you and move on. Finally, we don’t need to get into my feelings on Rutledge. I advocated against him in Colorado and a move to a far worse park in the tougher league isn’t going to help his cause.
44) Amed Rosario, New York Mets
The interesting names continue even at this portion of the list, but the two that dynasty leaguers should start getting familiar with are Mateo and Albies. Mateo has the more dynamic fantasy profile, as he has 80-grade speed with some power to boot, while Albies is more of a standard average and non-elite speed package. Crawford and Ramirez will start for their respective teams, and make for sneaky good options in deep leagues. Cabrera may resurface one day, and his speed should keep him attractive to fantasy owners if he does.
It’s names you might actually care about in the Just Missed section. What is this world coming to? Tucker gets overlooked because everyone talked about him as an overdraft, but he has potential in his bat—it just may come at third base. Also, two more starters and two guys with pretty great names.