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Listen guys, Javier Baez doesn’t rank here. He played in more games at…

Wait. Baez… Baez is ranked here! You do not have to ask me where Baez would rank on this list, because he is indeed ranked on this list! YOU CAN’T TOUCH ME THIS TIME, COMMENTERS!*

The disclaimer for this whole series holds true: these are personal rankings, not based on a BP Fantasy Staff consensus. If you don’t like what you see here, Matt Collins made me do it. Also, one more disclaimer:

Three-year rankings disclaimer: Most of the weight is placed upon projected 2015 performance, with a substantial drop in weighting potential 2016 performance and then another drop in how 2017 output is valued. Finally, remember these are themed around positions, so losing eligibility is a big deal within the confines of this particular exercise.

1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL
2. Ian Desmond, WAS

The top two choices here are pretty obvious. Tulowitzki could challenge for a fantasy MVP trophy (disclaimer: not a real trophy) if he stayed on the field, but he hasn’t played in 130 games since 2011 and he suited up for just 91 last year. If he does accumulate 500-plus PA, 30-plus homers, 100-plus runs, and 100-plus RBI are well within his reach. Desmond has been consistently excellent for three years, and while his average dipped as his strikeout rate rose in 2014, there’s little reason to think that regression is real as Desmond enters his age-29 season. He’s safe, reasonably young, and still comes with upside.

3. Jose Reyes, TOR
4. Starlin Castro, CHC

Reyes finished as fantasy’s third-most productive shortstop last year, stealing 30 bases, hitting nine homers and batting .287/.328/.398. He’s in a great park for contextual factors, has largely stayed healthy for the last two years and could score 100 runs next year. Castro hit .292/.339/.438 with 14 homers and is entering his age-25 season. It’s disappointing that he doesn’t look to be a big stolen base threat moving forward, but he’s got youth and a plus-plus hit tool on his side. He ranks behind the older Reyes because there is a chance he moves off shortstop to accommodate one of the Cubs’ other talented infielders.

5. Xander Bogaerts, BOS
6. Jean Segura, MIL
7. Hanley Ramirez, BOS
8. Javier Baez, CHC

Here’s where the tiers really start to get interesting. In some ways, I had a tough time ranking Bogaerts this low. In other ways, it’s scary to have him this high. You can read my full thoughts about him here (or if you just Google my name at this point), but basically, I think he’ll be good-not-great in 2015 and then start to dominate in 2016. Segura battled through enough on and off the field last year for me to mostly write off his lackluster 2014 season. While he’s probably not as good as his 2013 line suggests, he can still hit 12-plus homers, steal 30-plus bases, and bat .270 or better with regularity.

Ramirez would probably rank third on this list, but this is his last year of SS eligibility and he’s moving to the outfield instead of a fantasy-friendly position like 2B or 3B. Still, if Tulo misses time, he could easy finish as the best shortstop in the game in 2015. Baez is the fantasy world’s preeminent boom-or-bust proposition, and if he ever quits his part-time job as a human windmill, he could turn into a fantasy monster. He’s also unlikely to stay at shortstop, but he could be a top-three second or third baseman by 2017.

9. Alexei Ramirez, CHW
10. Ben Zobrist, OAK
11. Elvis Andrus, TEX
12. Jhonny Peralta, STL
13. Jimmy Rollins, LAD
14. J.J. Hardy, BAL

I had an awful, awful time with this tier, even speaking to Craig Goldstein on purpose in order to try to get some help. Ramirez and Zobrist are fairly old, but they’re still quite useful and look primed to have solid 2015 seasons. Ramirez’s speed may start to leave him as he reaches his mid-30s and Zobrist is already declining, but they’ll get the job done in the short term.

Andrus is young and seems like he should be higher, but he’s pretty much a two-trick fantasy pony at this point, only offering meaningful contributions in R and SB. Peralta turns 33 this year and sees a lot of season-to-season fluctuation in terms of AVG, but he can routinely challenge for 20 homers and a good RBI total; all that can also be said for Hardy, I just don’t like his odds of producing quite as much.

Rollins’ age knocks him down here, but I like him to have the best 2015 of anyone in this tier. He could easily perform as a four-category fantasy threat atop a potent Dodgers lineup.

15. Chris Owings, ARI
16. Francisco Lindor, CLE
17. Addison Russell, CHC

Here are some of the more exciting young names you’ve been waiting for. Owings has the potential to contribute modestly in all five fantasy categories, as evidenced by his decent showing in 332 PA last season. Lindor has similar potential and a higher floor, but probably won’t see regular playing time until the second half of 2015. Russell has the most upside here by a longshot but has the least certain path to regular plate appearances in this time period. Still, if you’re not planning on competing in 2015, you’d be wiser to invest in this tier than anyone in the tier above.

18. Alcides Escobar, KC
19. Erick Aybar, LAA
20. Wilmer Flores, NYM
21. Andrelton Simmons, ATL
22. Jed Lowrie, HOU
23. Brandon Crawford, SF

This group is… not exciting. Escobar is only 28 but tremendously volatile, equally likely to be a borderline top-10 fantasy shortstop or essentially useless any given year. Aybar is steady, but he’s older than you think (unless you think he’s 31) and doesn’t run much anymore. Flores has been largely forgotten since he’s not yet blossomed into a star, but he’s only 23, has been terrific in over 700 Triple-A PA and should have SS eligibility at least through 2016. I like him more than most if he gets the playing time he needs.

This seems low for Simmons, and while he’s assured of playing time and has some power, that’s really it. Lowrie isn’t assured of playing time thanks to his health, but he’s got the most upside of anyone in this group save Escobar. Crawford is as boring offensively as he is dazzling defensively, but he’s got guaranteed playing time. When you’re talking about shortstops, that’s all it takes to avoid the bottom grouping.

24. Carlos Correa, HOU
25. Corey Seager, LAD

Let’s hear it for upside! Correa might be a bit higher up on this list were it not for a leg fracture that ended his 2014 season prematurely: now he looks like a safer bet to debut in 2016. Seager’s on a similar timeline, and while his hit tool may be better than Correa’s he’s a worse bet to stick at short and lacks Correa’s power upside. Still, these are two of the best prospects in the game and could both be top-10 shortstops (or third basemen) by 2017.

26. Brad Miller, SEA
27. Didi Gregorius, NYY
28. Asdrubal Cabrera, TB
29. Danny Santana, MIN
30. Zack Cozart, CIN

Blergh. Miller still has some upside thanks to his ability to post double-digit homers and steals, but he’s hit .241 in 763 career PA and could lose his job to Chris Taylor. Gregorius figures to get plenty of playing time in a solid lineup in 2015, but lacks any semblance of a carrying fantasy tool. Cabrera is moving to second base, now bats in a crappy lineup in a bad park and hit .241 last year. He’s only 29, but his career is not headed in a good direction.

Santana was really good last year, but that .405 BABIP looms large, as does his time in center field. Cozart has power sort of but was god-awful last year and is an NL-only guy even in his peak seasons. I usually like ending these with puns but good luck finding something that goes with Cozart.

Notable Omissions: Alen Hanson, Pirates; Jose Ramirez, Indians; Chris Taylor, Mariners; Jordy Mercer, Pirates; Luis Sardinas, Brewers; Jose Iglesias, Tigers; Yunel Escobar, Nationals; Stephen Drew, Yankees; Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins; Freddy Galvis, Phillies; Cliff Pennington, Diamondbacks

*Yoan Moncada would rank 27th on this list.

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carlbrownson
2/04
Boy, you guys get really excited when someone asks about someone not on the list.
BenC22
2/04
Just a running gag. Happy to answer any and all questions.
MikeGianella
2/04
You are so earnest sometimes, Ben.
ErikBFlom
2/04
You believe both Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts are shortstops for three years? I have a bridge near Manhattan I want to sell you.
tylersnotes
2/04
I don't want to put words in Ben's mouth, but I assume most of the weight is placed upon projected 2015 performance, with a substantial drop in weighting potential 2016 performance and then another drop in how 2017 output is valued. Furthermore, I bet losing eligibility is a big deal within the confines of this particular exercise.

So all that said, I would be willing to wager that if Ben thought Ramirez was a lock for SS eligibility over 3 years, he might rank higher.
BenC22
2/04
Super not what I said.

"Ramirez would probably rank third on this list, but this is his last year of SS eligibility and he’s moving to the outfield instead of a fantasy-friendly position like 2B or 3B. Still, if Tulo misses time, he could easy finish as the best shortstop in the game in 2015."

If Ramirez was going to have SS eligibility for all three years, he'd be second or third on the list.
sungods7n
2/04
So while Xander is a SS now, he's somehow going to be unable to play there at the age of 25? There is no place to move him to so I guess he's going to be a utility infielder?
sungods7n
2/04
Never mind, I get your point ChicagoOriole.
tylersnotes
2/04
so let's say you spend big on Tulo. For the next 3 years, who do you take as your insurance policy from the bottom 15 if your goal is to get the production out of SS that you'd expect when you spend that much on Tulo?

For me, I'd buy a high-upside prospect like Correa or Seager in the later rounds, knowing there is very little chance they play in 2015, and when Tulo inevitably goes down pick up a Mercer or Escobar or Sardinas off waivers. The line between those notable omissions and the last 10 names is pretty thin in my humble opinion

BenC22
2/04
Not being difficult, but I'd take the highest-ranked player from the 15-30 group who remained :).

You're right about notable omissions. The last group is pretty sad.
modofacid
2/04
Where would profar rank if he was a ss moving forward?
BenC22
2/04
In the Owings/Lindor/Russell group
jfranco77
2/04
Wait you forgot Baez... I mean Moncanda... I mean Kang! Where does Kang fit?

*Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos
bobbygrace
2/04
We hardly knew ye, Everth Cabrera.
elitekurl
2/04
Minor typo: "Owens has the potential to contribute" should be "Owings has the potential to contribute"
BenC22
2/04
Fixed, thank you
BarryR
2/04
This is a list of 42 SS with one thing in common: none of them will be playing for the Houston Astros in 2015.
BenC22
2/04
Hmmm
BarryR
2/05
My bad. Marwin Gonzalez will just have to wait. Jonathan Villar will just have to wait even harder.
davinhbrown
2/05
Thoughts on Christian Arroyo?

Figure he is 3yrs away. I am hesitant to give up on or deal former 1rd picks til I know more about them.
jfranco77
2/05
Assuming the pattern holds... he will play a key role at 2B in the Giants 2018 title, and also in their miserable 2019 season.