We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about the six for a while now (three days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5x5 roto) dynasty format, in which 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 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats.
PECOTA helps pick the best player in baseball for every age, from Julio Urias to Bartolo Colon and all the superstars in between.
I have a vivid memory from my little league days of sitting in the dugout after practice and listening intently as a teammate read Baseball America’s rankings of the best players in the country by age. The best player on our team, who later went on to play Division I ball, was annoyed by the notion of a 13-year-old somewhere else getting so much attention for what couldn’t possibly be (he figured) superior talent. The sixth-best player on our team, who later went on to write this article, found it fascinating that there was a 13-year-old so good at baseball that they were being written about in magazines.
Just short of 20 shortstops landed on the BP Top 101. Did we put them in the right order?
There are 19 shortstops in this year’s BP 101. I know that not just because I contributed to the making of said list, but because I hit CTRL+F and searched for “, SS” and it came up 19 times. Obviously the position is a premium one, but nearly 20 percent of the list coming from one position seemed a notable number.
And so, this got me to thinking. With so much of the list coming from one place, how does the industry view the position? A few months ago we ran our “Ask The Industry" series, but this is a much larger spectrum to work with, and I was curious to see whether the industry agreed or disagreed on how we viewed the shortstop prospects of today.
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Just what is it that makes Houston's young shortstop so special?
It has been a banner year for rookie hitters. Pitching and defense rule the game these days, but this new crop of hitters looks to turn the tide. There's thunder in these bats. Guys like Joc Pederson, Kris Bryant, Miguel Sano, Francisco Lindor, etc. have shown flashes of brilliance with even brighter futures ahead, but one rookie in particular jumped out. He stood out to the Astros in 2012 when they took him first overall and he's already made a splash at the highest level. Carlos Correa, come on down! When the Astros selected Correa it was seen by some as a value pick as Houston saved some money on his pick compared to their other options. At this time (2012) I had just dipped my toes in the water for player evaluation and while I didn't think Correa was bad, I never saw such an insanely bright future. I like guys with good swings, and frankly Correa's was a bit rough around the edges coming out of high school. I love guys who work at their swings and find that next level and Correa certainly did that. To show how far he's come, here's his swing from the Perfect Game National Showcase compared to his current big league swing.
Here you will find an exploration of the best, worst, and weirdest career ROY pairs
The only facts worth knowing are fun facts. I was recently struck that 2015 Rookies of the Year Carlos Correa and Kris Bryant are both very good baseball players, the one a no. 1 overall pick (Correa, 2012), the other no. 2 (Bryant, 2013), one topping out as our no. 3 overall prospect (Correa, 2015), the other as our no. 5 (Bryant, 2015). These aren't flashes in their respective pans, like Pat Listach or Ron Kittle. You don't expect 50-WARP careers out of anybody, but if you're going to put those expectations on any rookies currently playing, it's Correa and Bryant.
So here's the question I will answer using a spreadsheet built for me by the wizard Rob McQuown:1 What are the best and worst Rookie of the Year classes in terms of career value, and how does the Correa-Bryant pair look to fit in? (To be completely clear: Everything discussed in this piece is about careerWARP. The goal isn't to talk about whether Rookie of the Year votes were "bad" or "good." Sometimes the legitimate best rookie in a season just BABIP'd his way into a career year; sometimes it's a precursor to greatness. These are their stories.)
Why the Astros shortstop might already warrant consideration to be the first-overall pick in 2016 drafts.
Prospect-savvy fantasy owners knew that Carlos Correa had the potential to blossom into a superstar eventually, but nobody could have anticipated that he would burst onto the scene the way he has over the past two months, slashing .288/.349/.557 with 14 home runs, 31 runs scored, 37 RBI, and nine stolen bases in his first 54 games (235 plate appearances). An intoxicating blend of age, elite five-category production, and shortstop eligibility has Correa poised to rank among the top-10 most valuable commodities in re-draft leagues next season. However, it’s time to start seriously considering whether or not he deserves to be in the conversation with Mike Trout and Bryce Harper for the top-overall selection in keeper and dynasty formats going forward.
Setting aside the small sample size caveat (which certainly applies here), let’s acknowledge that Correa has already established himself as the top shortstop in fantasy baseball at just 20 years old. His .312 TAv ranks second (trailing only Brandon Crawford’s .315 TAv) among shortstops with at least 200 plate appearances this season. Only Crawford, Troy Tulowitzki, and the perennially underrated Jhonny Peralta, all of whom have nearly twice as many plate appearances, have hit more home runs this year. It’s not even much of a debate when you take a closer look at the current valuations, which matter more from a fantasy perspective than anything else.
The Astros' shortstop vacancy is now full. Thank you for your service, Jed.
The situation: The Astros have been the best team in the American League but have lost four straight, scoring just 12 runs in those four games. To help with the offensive “woes,” Houston has called on arguably the best offensive prospect in baseball, in the form of Carlos Correa.
Background: Correa was a somewhat surprising first overall selection of the 2012 MLB Draft out of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy in, you guessed it, Puerto Rico—though most believed he was a lock to go in the first four or five picks—and all he has done since becoming a member of the Astros organization is put up sensational numbers and impress the heck out of scouts and fans alike. The 20-year-old right-handed hitting shortstop has posted a career .882 OPS, and after a slow start, he was hitting a very respectable .266/.336/.447 in 107 plate appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma.
Rather than re-printing the BP Prospect Staff Midseason Top 50 debates—much of which involves discussion of multiple players at the same time—we thought it would be interesting to call out some of the more interesting pairings of players who have been in consideration for the #BPTop50 and allow an advocate for each to make his case as to why that player should be ranked ahead of the other.
Notes on prospects who stood out this weekend, plus an obligatory Gregory Polanco update.
Friday, May 16
Miles Head, 1B, A’s (Midland, AA): 3-4, R, HR. Head is struggling once again, now in his third go-round in Double-A. It was already a tough profile as a right-handed-hitting first baseman, but Head’s power outage is enough to diminish his status as a prospect. For what it’s worth, Head also homered again on Sunday.
Notes on prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Nationals righty Lucas Giolito and Astros outfielder Delino DeShields Jr.
Friday, May 9
Delino DeShields, OF, Astros (Corpus Christi, AA): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, K. By now, you’ve probably seen the photo of DeShields after he got hit in the jaw with a pitch. He returned to action on Friday in tremendous fashion with a pair of home runs, something he doesn’t normally contribute.
Notes on the prospects who stood out over the weekend, including Reds right-hander Robert Stephenson and four top shortstops.
Friday, April 4
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles (Norfolk, AAA): 4 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. Gausman was on a strict pitch count, leaving the game after 71 pitches, and it’s likely that the Orioles are going to build his endurance up early in the minor-league season so that he has something left in the tank for when he’s in the majors down the stretch, hopefully in meaningful games.