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In case you missed any of the previous infield positions, let’s get you caught up:

With that out of the way, it’s time to order the shortstops. If you’ve been following along or you’re familiar with this exercise from years past, you know that these rankings function best as something like a cross between keeper preferences and dynasty rankings for those whose window of contention is open in the immediate future. It’s important to state that these rankings are mine alone. They no doubt vary from the opinions of other writers on this site and that’s okay. Good, even. This wouldn’t be much fun if we all thought the same thing about every player and couldn’t learn from each other in the cases where we diverge.

Off we go:

1. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

2. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

3. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

4. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

5. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Machado’s track record and insanely high floor nets him top billing even though and he may not steal any more than a Trump-sized handful of bases. Correa sits in second chair thanks to a combination of youth and ceiling. Youth is abundant in this group, but don’t forget that Correa played nearly all of last season at age 21. Ceiling is relative too, seeing as how all of these players have reached elite status at ages that imply continued development on the horizon. Nevertheless, Correa stands out for his massive five-category potential. Lindor is an unexpected five-category asset too, owing to realization of modest power that was dormant in the minors and a prime lineup placement in an offense that PECOTA projects as the highest scoring in baseball. If you think Seager belongs higher even though he’s not going to run, it follows that you think he can approach Machado’s level of power. That’s certainly possible, I’m just not comfortable projecting it. Like Lindor, Xander offers across-the-board production in an explosive offense. After a huge start in 2016, he faded after the All-Star break. Of greater concern is that he stopped running altogether. If he’s not going to swipe 8-12 per season, I’m not sure he has the thump to stick in this tier, even if he’s routinely challenging .300 in a rich context.

6. Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers

7. Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies

8. Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

9. Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

Villar’s ability to draw walks and create stolen base opportunities out of the leadoff position means he can earn this spot with two-category excellence regardless of whether the home run total lands in the low double digits and/or the batting average drops a ways. I’m typically not the one to endorse a player with strikeout problems as severe as Story’s. Then again, most players don’t smack 27 bombs in 97 games as a rookie. I’m also not usually fond of the kind of approach exhibited by young players like Anderson. Rare is the example of a player who develops even league-average plate discipline when the starting point is so extreme. Anderson drew 13 walks in 431 major-league plate appearances (3.0 percent), right in line with his minor league resume, yet his batting average has yet to suffer for it. I think Anderson’s potential impact on the base paths in today’s speed-starved environment is enough to warrant an aggressive ranking, acknowledging that it comes with substantial downside risk. And while we’re on the topic of free swingers, give me Baez inside the top 10 despite the fact that he doesn’t have an obvious path to 500 at-bats at present. I find it hard to believe that Baez will make it through his age-26 season without spending at least one season as an everyday player. A 20-20 season with power upside is in play when the opportunity comes.

10. Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners

11. Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers

Segura finished 2016 as fantasy’s second best shortstop and though he’s a geriatric compared to everyone ranked above, he’ll play the entire 2017 season at 27 years old. Count me among those who don’t believe in last season’s power output. HR/FB regression was coming even if he hadn’t changed home parks. While going from Chase Field to Safeco isn’t the immense downgrade it once was, it is a material change. Arcia has a similar skillset and though he had a disappointing 2016 season, he’s still a core piece of the Brewers’ future. He should get all the at-bats he can handle while running enough to paper over any growing pains at the dish.

12. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

Coming off a 3.9-WARP season at age 22, it’s pretty clear that Russell is a franchise cornerstone. For fantasy, though? How much better do you think it’s going to get than the 67/21/95/5/.238 roto-slash line he posted last year? That was good for 20th best at the position. Unless the league-wide context shifts back to a place that rewards power more than it does today, Russell’s real world impact will outstrip his fantasy value.

13. Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds

14. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

Peraza would rank a few spots higher if I had any confidence that he’ll open 2017 a regular. I believe in the hit tool and he’d be a cinch for 30 steals with everyday at-bats. Only 14 players reached that mark last season. Aside from age, he’s not altogether different than Andrus. Somehow only 28 years old, Andrus has now strung together eight consecutive fantasy-relevant campaigns, primarily because of his speed. He’s averaged 30 steals per season for his career and never finished with fewer than 21. There’s not much evidence to suggest that he can replicate 2016’s career high batting average. I don’t think he necessarily needs it as long as the wheels stay intact and he gets back to within shouting distance of double-digit homers.

15. Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals

16. Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays

17. Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics

Enjoy power and poor defense? (Yeah, yeah. I know Semien was better last year.) I’m repeating myself on this point as we make our way around the dirt, but St. Louis’ infield is deep and flexible, which raises playing time concerns for everyone involved, including Diaz.

18. Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

I have similar better-in-real-life concerns about Atlanta’s well-coiffed six-spotter as I did about Russell above and I have further concern that we’re getting ahead of ourselves based on pedigree and a short, if successful, major league trial. Swanson will be impactful in batting average eventually, but there’s no guarantee it happens immediately. And until Atlanta puts a better team on the field, I don’t see impact elsewhere. I don’t buy the argument that mundane counting stat production and safety in volume adds up to anything more than a player whose standard depth relevance comes at the mercy of the BABIP gods.

19. Eduardo Nunez, San Francisco Giants

20. Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays

21. Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets

22. Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees

23. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants

Nunez is ranked way too low if your league uses 2016 stats. The rest of this group is comprised of fairly stable options with a reasonable chance to contribute for the full three-year window these rankings contemplate.

24. Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins

25. Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals

26. Jedd Gyorko, St. Louis Cardinals

I’m intrigued by Polanco as a late flier. He has a well-rounded skill set and a chance to lock down a spot in the top third of Minnesota’s batting order. Assuming further development from the rest of the young Twins and a non-trade of Dozier, that could be a nice spot for stat accumulation. Escobar (speed) and Gyorko (power) are one-trick ponies I’m not that interested in, but one trick is better than none.

27. J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies

28. Franklin Barreto, Oakland Athletics

29. Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays

Crawford certainly didn’t press the issue by performing in Triple-A the way many, including myself, thought he would. I still don’t think he’s long for the minors and this ranking assumes he spends another few months in Lehigh Valley. If Crawford earns a big league job out of camp, move him up behind Swanson and apply the same cautions as I did to his NL East counterpart. Barreto and Adames should both open in Triple-A after spending the entirety of 2016 at Double-A. I like Adames more as a shortstop prospect because he can, you know, play shortstop. Barreto is the better bet for fantasy because his hit tool is relatively safe and he has enough speed to reasonably project 20 steals.

30. Tyler Saladino, Chicago White Sox

31. Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks

32. Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks

33. Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates

Yeah, I admit it. I have a Tyler Saladino problem. Have you checked out the White Sox depth chart recently though? Saladino could register a double-double in a utility role and there’s stolen base upside if he gets more time. Owings and Marte are two more speed-first teammates for whom role and playing time are unclear. That Owings can play an adequate outfield helps. I’ll trust that Newman displaces Jordy Mercer by early next year and that his preternatural hitting ability and acceptable speed provide a decent fantasy baseline.

34. Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angles

35. Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers

36. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

37. Luis Sardinas, San Diego Padres

38. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles

39. Danny Espinosa, Los Angeles Angels

40. Freddy Galvis, Philadephia Phillies

Galvis’ 2016 will go down as one of the great mysteries of our time. Don’t fall for it. His 90th percentile PECOTA projection doesn’t even sniff the 20 homers and 17 steals he tallied last year.

Thank you for reading

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No mention of Amed Rosario here?
Yeah, I probably should have included him because why not gamble when the alternative is, say, Luis Sardinas.

Rosario's exclusion is a function of the timeline more than what I think about his long-term future. He'll be a zero for 2017. With a strong 2017, he could be in position to open 2018 in the big leagues, but he'll have just turned 22 and the Mets have a reasonable option on Asdrubal. If you think Rosario only gets a partial 2018 (I do), it's difficult to see how he returns more net present value than a player with a clear path to 2017 at-bats, even if that player is bad. And all that says nothing about whether Rosario can earn right out of the gate, which is an open question for any prospect, even one of Rosario's stature.
The counting stats for Russell may be a top for him, but you've got to think that there is a lot more potential for a much higher batting average than .238. As you said, this all occured during his age 22 season. First of all, the K rate dropping from 28.5% to 22.6% from age 21 to 22 is very good, showing improvement. Also the batted ball profile, specifically hard hit and power should increase in his 20's.

I don't think he'll ever have a BA-BIP as low as last season's .277 again. He was .324 a year before and he increased his hard hit % and line drive % while having slightly better plate discipline accross the board.

So while he may have had about as much of an outlier in RB-I as he ever will last year, the batting average increase should increase the run total while the RB-I total may not regress as much as you'd think, and mid-20s H-Rs sounds entirely reasonable too.

I'd definitely take him over Arcia. That one's not even close given the production in both the minors and majors is way better for Russell at each relative point in their careers, plus the scouting projection on both and the future lineup for both. I'd take him over Segura's BA-BIP fueled line from last year, and even though the potential for Anderson and Baez are higher, they are way riskier profiles.
If Russell is able to increase the BA, there's no reason the RBI total couldn't increase. It may sound crazy because 95 is a monster year. But I see him continuing to hit 5th behind OBP monsters Bryant-Rizzo-Zobrist.
You might want to rethink this Rosario position. Three years is a long time to get little for a dude who already crushed double-A for a team that needs defense more than anything else.
Not sure what the Mets front office has done to give you the impression they care at all about defense. Even if they did, defense alone isn't a good enough reason to rush your best prospect to the majors. He just turned 21 and while he was awfully impressive at Double-A, it was 54 games.

To be clear, I love Rosario as a dynasty asset. I just don't think he makes a big fantasy impact in the three-year window that starts in 2017.
Fair point the Mets front office has offered me the exact opposite impression which might make me feel like Rosario is even more needed. Given the team intents to compete getting Rosario to Citi Field should be a priority but you never know with that front office.

Yet still, in a three year window where the back end of the list is so poor and the Mets infield's ability to stay healthy is so bad Rosario's exclusion threatens to look a bit short sighted. Less you think the Mets have shortstop plans for Cabrera beyond 2017 with the cheaper and probably better Rosario basically ready now. With a team option for next year and both 2B and 3B likely open the Mets have a place to put Rosario without asking for a second full season in triple A or decline a cheap option on Cabrera if he outperform his expected salary.
Wouldn't it be nice to see where Machado ranked among his peers at 3B? My three year projection is that Machado won't be a SS in three years.
As much as I love Baez, I think he is ranked too high (would slot Segura, Russell and Diaz above him). And Tim Anderson even more so. I would put him either with Swanson or in the tier below Swanson - though I would also move Semien, Andrus and Miller (to lose SS eligibility?) below both as well.
Fun! Thanks for these lists!