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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: 5×5 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.

This list is a good one. We’ve got elite current major leaguers, a nice plateau of depth, and top-100 overall fantasy prospects throughout. Even beyond that, the players towards the end are usable and the prospects are exciting. It’s like a dream, really. The catch here is that some of these players won’t stay at the position, which is why it looks deeper in this context than it might when these same players are revisited in three years. But because we can’t pretend to know with extreme confidence which ones are going move off the position, we assume they all will. We’re optimists!

Let’s not waste any more time on an intro:

1) Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

2) Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

This is by far the toughest decision I’ve had to make at the top of any of these lists, and considering the next two lists will be led by Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw (shocking, I know), it’s the toughest of the ones to come as well. This decision would have been a little easier one year ago with Machado coming off a 20-steal season and looking like a five-category stud. Of course, we all know that number shot down to zero last year and while Correa was a relative disappointment compared to his gangbusters 2015, he still hit 20 homers and stole double-digit bases while still helping in batting average. I guess this is my way of saying that I think Correa has a better chance to repeat his 2015 power outburst than Machado has of repeating his 2015 theft outburst. That said, if you have either of these guys, you’re set at the position (or possibly another one) for a decade.

3) Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

4) Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

5) Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

Speaking of being set at a position for a decade, the elite young talent doesn’t end there. Seager is the lone player in this tier whose steals will stall out in the single digits, but he more than makes up for it with the average and power. The ability to hit .300 consistently is real, and when it’s paired with 25-homer power, the results can be a consistent top-25 player in fantasy. Given his age, that makes him an easy top-10 player in dynasty formats. Meanwhile, Bogaerts may one day have more power than Seager, though he hasn’t fully tapped into it yet. Instead, he’s hit for more average and stayed at shortstop longer than most expected when he was a prospect. He’s even added 23 steals over the last two seasons. It’s the hint of something more that leaves him above Lindor, who is excellent in his own right but more or less tapped out from a fantasy standpoint. He’s not going to be a big power guy and he’s not going to get faster as he ages (though he may be able to hold those steals for a while due to extremely high baserunning acumen). In all seriousness, we haven’t seen a tier like this at shortstop since the Jeter, A-Rod, Garciaparra, Tejada days—and these guys could eclipse them as a group.

6) Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers

What to do with the breakout Brewer? There’s just too much current value to drop him below the still-very-exciting young shortstops behind him, but not enough underlying skill to rank near the tier above. He doesn’t have the contact rate to maintain the .285 batting average he put up last year, and his stolen base rate wouldn’t be satisfactory on a contender. However, he’s not on a contender and Miller Park will continue to help his middling power play up.

7) Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

8) Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

Another very difficult decision. You wouldn’t know it by how long you’ve known them, but Russell is less than a month older than Swanson. So when you’re getting excited about that shiny new toy, just remember that while the former Commodore was getting adoring praise during draft season and in his rise through the minors, the 2012 first round pick was slogging through two developmental seasons in the majors and winning a World Series. In the long-run, Swanson’s game will be built off his average and Russell’s will be built off his power, but the slight edge in safety and secondary skills lean towards the Cub.

9) Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies

The top prospect on this list that hasn’t showed up in the majors yet, Rodgers hasn’t even reached High A. The aggressiveness stems from a few places. First, he played just about the entire season in Low A as a teenager and gave a glimpse of the average and power tools he could have at peak. Second, reports of his defense (while not glowing) painted the picture of a player who could stay at shortstop during his 20s. Finally, well, Coors. That makes everything better.

10) Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs

11) Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies

12) Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

There’s a LOT of upside in this tier, and probably more so than in the Russell/Swanson tier. We all know what Baez could have been when he was a prospect, and while he certainly hasn’t been all that, he’s kept his strikeout rate low enough to get some of the fantasy goodness to play. The rest? Well, that’s a story that’s yet to play out. Story took the league by storm in the first half and didn’t finish the season due to injury, so our data points are still sparse here. The power is real, especially in that park, but the strikeouts will have a dampening effect on his average and he didn’t translate his minor league stolen base success to the majors. If he can do that, he’ll deserve a bump up this list. Finally, Anderson shouldn’t be forgotten as a recent high-impact prospect who was far better in fantasy than in real life during his debut. The average/speed combo is great even if the player in question can’t get on base—and Anderson can even add 15-homer pop to that. If he can get the plate discipline just to fringy, he could be a fantasy superstar, but don’t bank on that happening.

13) Amed Rosario, New York Mets

14) Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays

15) J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies

16) Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners

17) Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

The two NL East prospects are cut from different cloths—Crawford more of the steady, safer variety and Rosario more of the upside-in-a-box variety. The former is more likely to see noticeable time in the majors in 2017, but they should both be mainstays in their respective East Coast cities in 2018. In Tulowitzki, we’ve finally gotten to our first player above the age of 25. Yes, you read that correctly—that’s how stacked this position is for the next half-decade. The pull of his superstar days still exists, but he needs to bump up that batting average if he wants to be taken more seriously among the high-end names here in the short-term—especially in this new age of power. Andrus and Segura remain really strong steals plays, and the new Mariner shortstop will have to prove that he can have star-level seasons back-to-back for the first time.

18) Jorge Mateo, New York Yankees

19) Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees

With two Yankee shortstops in the top-20 of this list, you’d think they were organizationally set at the position for a while. However, it’s not difficult to imagine a scenario where both Mateo and Torres need to move off the position. Fortunately, they both can have fantasy impact if they move. Mateo has blinding speed and has 60-steal potential whether he’s an outfielder or second baseman. Torres is more of an all-around player, but a strong batting average should lead the way. That said, this offseason might not be a bad time to get feelers for Torres, as his value seems to be through the roof in dynasty leagues at the moment.

20) Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds

21) Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays

22) Franklin Barreto, Oakland Athletics

23) Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks

24) Aledyms Diaz, St Louis Cardinals

25) Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays

26) Isan Diaz, Milwaukee Brewers

There is just a ton of positional question marks in this tier, but a lot of fun bats nonetheless. Peraza and Marte offer the potential for 30-40 steals, but neither is guaranteed much by way of playing time this year if things don’t go well off the bat. Miller predominantly first base during the last seven weeks of the season and hit 30 homers. Those are two things I did not expect to write about him, but that eligibility could stick for longer than you think as the Rays did move him around down the stretch. Barreto is the best natural hitter in this group, and the bat alone is worthy of a higher spot, but his positional question marks push him down slightly.

27) Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets

28) Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics

29) Eduardo Nunez, San Francisco Giants

30) Kevin Maitan, Atlanta Braves

31) Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants

32) Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees

33) Jedd Gyorko, St Louis Cardinals

This part of the list is where the depth really feels astounding. Could Cabrera be the Mets’ next reclamation project? After returning from a knee injury in mid-August, he hit .345/.406/.635 with 10 homers in his last 41 games. Semien and Gregorius are both 26 years old and coming off breakout seasons, yet they linger here because of the newfound depth and star power at the position. Also because neither are particularly likely to hold the unexpected power gains they made in 2016. Nunez and Maitan are two of the biggest wildcards on this list, but for two different reasons. The former finally displayed the offensive potential he hinted at with the Yankees and added 40 steals for good measure. If he can hold even 80 percent of these gains, he’s probably a top-10 shortstop again. If not, he probably won’t have a starting job in August. Meanwhile, the 16-year-old J2 signee is the most overhyped fantasy prospect I’ve seen in dynasty leagues in at least a few years. Sure, he’s got a lot of potential, but he’s forever away and unlike many owners think, he’s also no lock to be Miguel Cabrera. Friends don’t let friends take Maitan with a top-five pick in dynasty drafts. Oh, and Gyorko hit 30 homers. That’s a thing that happened. He also might not have a full-time job in 2016.

34) Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins

35) Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates

36) Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks

37) Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers

38) Anderson Tejeda, Texas Rangers

39) Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals

40) Fernando Tatis Jr, San Diego Padres

It’s like a clown car of top-101 prospects. Gordon and Newman aren’t the most exciting of dynasty farmhands, but they should be able to hit and hold down a starting position for most teams of medium depth in the near future. Arcia was supposed to do that and hasn’t, but still can—though even if he can’t hit for a decent average in the majors, he’ll always have that speed to fall back on. Tejeda and Tatis are the two most exciting names in this tier, but both have long lead times to pair with their power potential. Trying to predict what the Diamondbacks will do with their middle infield seems fruitless this early, but Owings should be able to sustain his 2016 performance if he’s installed at second base (or anywhere else, for that matter).

41) Danny Espinosa, Los Angeles Angels

42) Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

43) Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins

44) Derian Cruz, Atlanta Braves

45) Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies

46) Andres Gimenez, New York Mets

47) J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles

48) Miguelangel Sierra, Houston Astros

49) Luis Almanzar, San Diego Padres

50) Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels

The major league names down here are eminently playable in deeper leagues. Espinosa is getting overlooked because of his low batting average, but if he can just hit .240 (which he did in 2015), he’ll be a solid middle infielder—and better in OBP leagues. Cozart and Hardy both have enough pop to avoid a waiver wire fate. Polanco can hit for average, but probably not much else. Galvis might not play once Crawford gets called up, but we can’t just ignore what he did in 2016. Then we’ve got the prospects, and even more lead time. Cruz has big-time speed and held his own as a 17-year-old in his stateside debut. Gimenez hasn’t made it to the states yet, but dominated the Dominican Summer League and has a strong hit-tool-based profile.

Thank you for reading

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The low ranking of Aledmys Diaz confuses me and I'm not even a Cardinals fan.
I'm not necessarily confused but I am surprised and would love to see some commentary on his value.
Well, if I were to guess, since Brett decided to not comment, he's skeptical that Diaz will hold the position because Diaz wasn't great defensively. However, most of the errors came in his first few games in the big leagues and he was adequate in the latter half of the season. And he's been working on his defense with a personal coach at the Cards' FL facility. His bat tailed off toward the end of the season but he was playing with a broken thumb. Still, I think only 1 SS in MLB had a higher OPS.

Brett, why did you rank him so low?
To be honest, I don't think he's ranked low. It's an unusually dense group in the first half of this list and he's ranked ahead of other top-50 prospects (Adames, Diaz), other surprising 2016 performers (Cabrera, Semien). His fantasy upside is limited and he's not all that young either (he'll be 27 this summer). There's nothing wrong with being a potential .270-.280 hitter with 15 homers and a handful of steals, but in this environment at this position, that doesn't make you a top-10 option and it doesn't give you much long-term ceiling. He's also not guaranteed that playing time if the defense doesn't turn around (though I think those concerns are a little overblown by some).
Isn't what Diaz did last year sort of what everyone hopes Swanson will do? Or Russell or Baez, for that matter? Baez in particular has been one of the worst hitters, period, since his debut.
Swanson also has speed, which Diaz doesn't have. Russell has power than Diaz doesn't have. Baez has more upside in every category other than batting average and he only earned $3 less than Baez last year. Also, Baez had a .275 TAv last year and a .268 mark the year before, so he has most certainly not been one of the worst hitters since his debut. Period.
I think this might just be where league context comes into play. If you play by Ottoneu's FGpts, which is based off linear weights, Baez has been one of the worst hitters and things like stolen bases aren't particularly relevant. I see now that you specified otherwise (sorry, who actually reads intros to rankings?). Still, of 299 hitters with a minimum 750 plate appearances since the start of 2014, Baez's .295 wOBA ranks 252nd just behind Juan Lagares. For just shortstops, he's 39th-of-48, a spot behind Marwin Gonzalez.

I guess my underlying point is just: when does MLB production usurp scouting reports and perceived "upside"? Aledmys in particular just went .300/.369/.510 with 17 homers in only 460 plate appearances. Is Baez's "upside" really better than that?
Of course that makes a big difference, but you're also still cherry picking by including his 2014 season when he has more than twice the number of at bats since then as an above-average hitter regardless of what metric you want to use. And yes, Baez's ceiling is definitely higher than that from a pure fantasy standpoint. If you want to make the argument that from a LW perspective, they have similar upsides, that's reasonable since Baez has the advantage in SB and disadvantage in OBP, but that's not what the rankings are based off of.
Where would you slot Trea Turner on this list?

And my god there are so many good young SS.
I'd slot him between Lindor and Villar.
When did the Twins reacquire Nunez?
While we all weren't looking. (Fixed.)
Yes Andres Gimenez. Let's start a small bandwagon
Isn't that awfully low on O. Arcia? He was a top 10-ish prospect just last year and made it to the ML level at age 21. No, he didn't rip it up with the bat in his first 200 major league at bats, but that's hardly an indictment. I know this is a fantasy list so more about certain stats than overall baseball goodness, but...Peraza? Maitan? Gordon? I could go down the list of guys who are much, much, much less accomplished/promising than Arcia but ahead of him on this list.
I just don't see the fantasy appeal. I ranked him 26th last year and 2016 was clearly a disappointment considering how out of control the hype on him was heading into the season. The speed isn't high-impact and the batting average probably won't be either—leaving him as a perpetual back-of-the-pack starter if things progress well.
peraza has pretty lit basestealing upside and maitan has long-term sex appeal, but agree about gordon - he actually seems like a really similar player to arcia who just hasn't hit the hype wall from being challenged in the majors yet

i mean, gordon is one year younger than arcia and had a lower ISO last year in high-A than arcia did in his disappointing showing in the majors. and got owned a lot on the basepaths
Arcia has always been a better real life prospect. He's only hit over .300 one year, and doesn't have the pop, or basestealing acumen (yet) to get a pass if he can't have a high average. And that OBP is a little concerning.
No Delvin Perez? I might want to bet on Cardinals' devil magic over the last 10 names on the list.
He was one of the last couple of names cut from the list. If he can prove that the power he showed leading up to draft can continue after getting popped for PEDs, he'll make a nice jump up in the 2018 version. Until then, he's just a guy without a ton of fantasy upside and a really long lead time.
Anderson Tejeda
I'm very fortunate to have both Machado and Seager in a 16 team, 25 man MLB roster, league.
I'm super confused why all this week it's been mostly ignored that Machado is a SS for this year only. I'd love that he's a SS for at least the next three years, but do you guys have some kind of info that's the case?
Rankings are just a snapshot in time. He has it this year so you have to rank him with the shortstops. With an injury, he'll be back there again. In Yahoo, you only need to start 5 games or play in 10 to get/retain eligibility. In ESPN, it's like 20 games I think.

It's definitely something you have to consider in dynasty. Every game that goes by this year where he's not playing shortstop diminishes his future fantasy value slightly.