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February 6, 2014

Dynasty League Positional Rankings

Top 50 Shortstops

by Bret Sayre

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To read the previous installments in this series, click the links below:

The Primer:

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.

Shortstop is similar in some ways to its middle infield brethren, but it differentiates itself in one very important manner. At the major league level, shortstop is the weakest non-catcher position, but underneath the surface is a burgeoning group of studs just waiting to explode onto the scene. And it’s easy to tell that when skimming the list because four of the top ten players on here have their prospect eligibility. This is part of the reason why more middling options are pushed down on this list—with the likely influx of high-impact new talent, those players are just going to be less and less valuable. It’s an exciting time for the position, and things are going to start looking up in 2014.

And now, your top 50 shortstops in dynasty formats:

Tulo usually gets the nod as the player who is awesome enough when he plays to make up for the weeks when he doesn’t suit up. However, Hanley went full Tulo (and then some) in 2013—finishing as a top-five shortstop despite having only 304 at-bats. If that wasn’t enough to convince you he’s the best shortstop going today, you weren’t going to be convinced anyway. Tulowitzki continues to be great, and certainly playing in Coors doesn’t hurt, but he’s stolen three bases in the past two years, and that hinders his value slightly. Both are studs.

I had a really hard time with this grouping. Desmond is terribly underrated right now, but Bogaerts has the potential to be the class of the position from a fantasy standpoint for the next decade or so. In the end, the current production won out—though Bogaerts will start 2014 in the majors. Don’t be surprised if he’s a top-three shortstop as soon as 2015.

Another tough call here, but don’t let this ranking fool you—my belief in Segura is still very strong. He did have a tough second half of 2013, but I like him to settle in as a 10-homer, 30-plus-steal shortstop who can hit for a good average (about .280). On the other hand, Baez could be the no. 1 pick in fantasy leagues one day. The insane upside (along with close enough proximity to the majors—he has success at Double-A) pushes him into the top-five.

This is the last bunch of the higher-end shortstops, both present and future. Correa and Russell both carry great potential for batting average and power (with some contribution in steals as well, while they are spry). You know what you’re getting with Andrus and Reyes, as long as you don’t expect Reyes to steal 50 bases again. He’s more of a 20-30 steal guy now. Then there’s Starlin Castro: I could put him anywhere on this list and I’d find some people to agree with me. However, I still believe in his bat despite the brutal 2013 season that saw so many jump off the tire fire he once called a bandwagon. And for all the ups and downs he’s had at the major league level, he’s still only 23 years old.

These guys can all help you in different ways. Cabrera has the speed. Miller has across-the-board value. Hardy has the power. And Simmons surprisingly has the power as well, though he’s a better bet to help you in batting average going forward (he’s unlikely to have an average that low again with a contact rate of about 90 percent). These four players aren’t going to be the studs that carry you to a championship, but they’ll be a big help.

This next group demonstrates two big things: 1) I think Owings takes and runs with the Diamondbacks’ shortstop gig, and 2) as much as I’d love to, I don’t believe in Jed Lowrie’s health. There’s no doubt that he was great in 2013, but banking on another 600-plus plate appearance season when he took only 1,167 trips to the plate in his four prior seasons combined (both in the majors and minors), is something that feels particularly out of reach.

My latest fantasy man crush, Anderson has all the tools you want in a prospect. Unfortunately, he also comes with a big risk factor, which is why he’s barely outside the top 20 instead of cracking the top 15. This is aggressive, but Anderson’s potential makes it worth the risk.

These nine players are a healthy combination of major leaguers whom you’re likely looking to improve upon long term and some of the players whom you may look at as long-term solutions for 2016 and beyond. Hanson has defensive questions, but his bat still projects to be above average for fantasy purposes. Crawford and Mondesi are better known for their defensive abilities at this point, but the bats carry a good deal of upside. As you can tell, I’m not a huge believer in Cabrera or Ramirez being much more than middling options at the position. I don’t think we’ll see Alexei steal 30 bases or Asdrubal hit 20 bombs again.

You could do worse than this tier, I guess. Mercer could be good with a full-time job if he builds off his 2013 campaign—though he’s probably still not looking at a ton of playing time in Pittsburgh. Semien might get the playing time in Chicago, but he also may just not do anything with it. Herrera is a guy who some may have thought to be higher on this list given his 2013, but he repeated the level and left-handed hitters have a better time in Asheville than Fiona Gallagher at an orgy.

The bottom of this list is not a pretty sight. If you’re looking for some sleepers for your league, I still believe in the bat of Dorssys Paulino; unfortunately, his glove (or lack thereof), may end up taking him somewhere else on the diamond). You could also do worse than taking chances on Gleyber Torres or Jose Peraza; then again, when the player worse than those guys is Dee Gordon, everything is relative.

Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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