With a spate of young stars at the top of each league, the shortstop position is better equipped for the future than at any point since the heyday of Jeter, Garciaparra, A-Rod, and Tejada. There likely has never been more striation between haves and have-nots either, as your team either has bought into a young star (or has one of the rookies who are not eligible for this list), or your team is found wanting, outside of a few durable veterans. In the American League, there is enough veteran depth to make your weaker shortstops somewhat fungible, and in the National League, much of the depth falls well below the keeper line.
As always, these ratings are based upon a standard, ten team continuing league, and players who can play multiple positions are being evaluated as a third baseman alone.
1. Carlos Correa (Overall Ranking: 1, NL Ranking: 1)
What a great time to be alive and to be a baseball fan. Correa ranks behind Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but it’s as close a battle at the top as it’s been in a long time.
2. Xander Bogaerts (2)
3. Troy Tulowitzki (3, NL: 2)
We’ll have a special Round 14 preview closer to the draft, but despite Tulo’s own decline and the incredible influx of talent to the American League this off-season, we’re still likely to recommend him as the no. 1 AL pick in most leagues. That said, with the amount of depth at the position in the AL, we would consider looking to move him for needs elsewhere, and draft one of the shortstops found later in this ranking.
4. Francisco Lindor (4)
5. Andrelton Simmons (8, NL: 4)
There’s a gap between the young superstars and Andrelton, but Simmons should be an enticing target for AL draftees. He’ll never quite accrue the defensive value in Scoresheet that he holds in real life, but his range still dwarfs every other shortstop, and best of all, it won’t slump during the season.
6. Brad Miller (11)
7. Jose Iglesias (13)
8. Eduardo Escobar (14)
We like all three of these players as targets to one degree or another, and find them somewhat underrated. Miller should show better on a team that actually values his talent, and while not without risk, is a solid keeper as a lefty shortstop. Iglesias won’t carry that batting average again, but with his defense and still-high contact rates, he doesn’t have to. Finally, Escobar has played his way into keeper status, as it’ll likely be some time before he gets pushed by Jorge Polanco.
9. Marcus Semien (15)
10. Ketel Marte (16)|
11. Starlin Castro (17, NL: 7)
12. Didi Gregorius (18)
Welcome to the land of the shaky keeper. The Semien ranking may yet be aggressive, as it’s presuming he has cured some of the yips that plagued him through the first half of last year. Marte seems to be getting some offseason sleeper hype, but there’s little chance he ever becomes a first division player on a Scoresheet team, and he seems more or less fungible in this format to us. Both of the Yankees are solid, but shouldn’t be drafted in the 14th round.
Below the Keeper Line
Elvis Andrus would be more interesting in the National League, but in an AL-only format, there are too many players with either more present value or more upside to make him a sensible protection candidate. Alcides Escobar is a destitute man’s Andrelton Simmons—ALCS aside, he isn’t enough of a feared bat to keep. J.J. Hardy is proof that Scoresheet defensive value is relatively sticky, but the bat has cratered enough to where he’s more of a sensible backup for owners of fragile shortstops (ahem, TULO).
1. Addison Russell (5, AL Ranking: 5)
2. Javier Baez (6)
Well, here’s the embarrassment of riches in play. Issues like this one have a way of working themselves out in the long run, so unless you’re all in for 2016, this temporary blockage shouldn’t be an issue. We still believe in Baez to hit well for some team at some position someday, which is a firmer recommendation than it sounds.
3. Jung-ho Kang (7)
4. Brandon Crawford (9)
5. Eugenio Suarez (10)
If you listen to the podcast, you’ll get to hear us dither in real time around this ranking. Crawford has the most 2016 value of this group (and of all National League shortstops, for that matter), but we don’t like his power surge to stick, and that leaves him as a slightly lesser version of Andrelton Simmons. Both Kang and Suarez are likely to move off the position soon, however, which limits their long-term value somewhat. It’s better to think of these players (and Simmons) in a group, depending more upon which one you own, and your position in the success cycle.
6. Jhonny Peralta (12)
Good ol’ Jhonny Peralta may be the last keeper-worthy shortstop in the NL. Depending upon how your league handles crossovers, there’s an imbalance between the two leagues in terms of depth. Just for now.
Below the Keeper Line
Zack Cozart’s fielding range never slumps, but having missed the majority of the season, and with an already anemic bat, we’d want to see a little more before feeling comfortable keeping him around. Jose Reyes’s defense is abysmal, and that’s not the defense he’ll be concerned with this offseason. Adeiny Hechavarria is weirdly beloved by Marlins brass, but you shouldn’t make the same mistake. Wilmer Flores isn’t going to hit or field well enough in the long run for you to try to carry a team’s utility infielder for a season.
This Week’s Podcast
Enjoy a double bill, as the Outcomes take on both shortstops and second basemen in a rousing, and dare-we-say, somewhat abridged manner. Find out more about who to keep, who to give up, and who should perform in your halftime ceremony.