Ben Zobrist

Fantasy Baseball 2013: Tiers, Not Fears (Shortstop)

Zo’ Nuff!
Photo Credit: Keith Allison


Like the second base position, the shortstop ranks are rather unimpressive. And by “rather unimpressive” I mean “fucking awful.” Even the top three options have some risk attached, and the lower down the list you travel, the more treacherous the road becomes. 


More after the jump:


The “Least Likely To Suck” Syndicate

That’s right, even the top two dudes at the position aren’t THAT great. They are the “safest” options, but really, they are just the least likely of all the shortstops to blow donkey dick. Tulo carries 30 HR pop and the ability to tally 100 Rs and RBIs, but health is a major hurdle. Castro is a five-category contributor, but doesn’t carry you in one particular area and only holds so much value because of the position he plays. These two deserve to sit above the rest, but it’s not like you are talking about a Robinson Cano-like presence at a weak position.


1. Troy Tulowitzki

Potential is great, actually fulfilling it is even better. Stay healthy you fragile fuck.


2. Starlin Castro

He doesn’t walk enough and his power upside is limited (probably will fall below 15 HRs). He’s the Dustin Pedroia of the SS position: overvalued a bit, but can help in all areas.


The “Gonna Cost Ya” Goons

If the players in this tier starred in a Keenan Ivory Wayans movie, it would be “I’m Gonna Cost You Sucka!” Even though the names on this list aren’t what I consider “elite” by any stretch, their price tags are inflated thanks to the dearth of talent at the SS position. Zobrist and Rollins offer the potential to contribute across the board in 5×5 leagues, while Reyes brings a high-end, three-category skill-set to the table.


3. Jose Reyes

History of hamstring injuries? Yeah, he probably won’t wind up on any of my teams. 


4. Ben Zobrist

Zo’ good at filling in the 5×5 stats. Wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up as the second overall player at SS by season’s end.


5. Jimmy Rollins

34 years old, striking out more, not as fast as he once was… you can have him.


The “Hard To Predict” Posse

This trio is kind of hard to figure out. On the one hand, these players could fall on their face. Hanley will be out two months with a thumb injury and has been maddeningly inconsistent in the last couple of years. Desmond owned a weak batted ball profile in 2012 (17.9 LD% and 47.6 GB%) and needs to improve his plate patience. Asdrubal Cabrera has a middling career .137 ISO and saw his stolen base total drop to nine last year (17 in 2011). On the other hand, these players are talented enough to put up Zobrist-like numbers. If the price is right I can roll with any of these players, but the coin it will cost to land them might be too steep.

6. Ian Desmond

Owners have 20/20 vision with Desmond after he put up quality power/speed numbers, but keep in mind that he’s more of a high-teens HR hitter.


7. Hanley Ramirez

The strikeouts and grounders have been an issue the last couple years, helping contribute to weaker BAs. With the power being inconsistent lately as well, Ramirez is looking more like the rich man’s Alexei Ramirez

8. Asdrubal Cabrera

Indians offense has been upgraded, but if Cabrera is done stealing double-digit bases, he’ll likely perform below his draft day value.


The Leadoff Lieutenants

This tier is filled with leadoff hitters on good teams. Aybar and Andrus are more of the classic leadoff-types, offering three-category contributions and not much else. Old man Jeter, on the other hand, earns this spot based on years of consistency and reliability. They are all starter-worthy options at the SS position, but the fact that they lack punch in multiple categories just illustrates (again) how wack the position is for fantasy purposes.


9. Erick Aybar

Aybar finishes ahead of Andrus because the Angels offense is more dynamic. Otherwise, they will produce very similar batting averages and steals.


10. Elvis Andrus

Overrated time and time again. His SB proficiency dipped last year and at some point, you have to figure all those ground balls will catch up to him (career 57.4 GB%).


11. Derek Jeter

What he lacks in power/speed production he more than makes up for in quality counting stats and a high batting average. I’m not worried about his coming back from a broken ankle. The big concern is him not being able to reach double-digit HRs or steals for the first time in his career.

The “All-Around, Yet Average” Agitators

These dudes won’t make a serious dent in any fantasy categories, but their ability to not kill you in any 5×5 areas gives them some value. Espinosa would’ve ranked higher on these ranks, but he’s playing through a torn rotator cuff and there’s been rumblings that he could end up platooning with Steve Lombardozzi at second. Ramirez has the most “upside” of this trio, but will probably just be a mediocre option again. Prado? He’s terribly adequate.


12. Alexei Ramirez

Ramirez posted a 2.6 BB% last year. 2.6! This guy walks less than Stephen Hawk. He also has never reached the 90 run or 80 RBI plateaus. 


13. Martin Prado

17 steals from last year seem like an outlier (never had more than five before 2012). Prado can hit .300, but you’re not getting too excited about his overall contributions.


14. Danny Espinosa

Despite the obvious injury-risk and his propensity for striking out, Espinosa is STILL a top 15 shortstop (again, this position sucks).


The “I Guess You Could Start ‘Em” Hooligans

I wouldn’t be too thrilled about rolling with any of these dudes in my SS spot, but in theory, you can play them there and not dry heave (in theory). This tier features a couple of veterans with track records of fantasy relevance (Hardy and Scutaro), a potential power/speed contributor (Rutledge), and a pair of SB options (Escobar and Simmons). 


15. J.J. Hardy

I hate him, but can’t rank rank him any lower because of his middle-infield pop (career .168 ISO).


16. Alcides Escobar

Can steal a lot of bases, but his place towards the bottom of the lineup means his counting stats will blow once again.


17. Andrelton Simmons

Candidate to hit leadoff for Atlanta, but speed upside limited (20 bags at most).


18. Josh Rutledge

Outside shot at 20/20, but batting average could be terrible enough to move him to the Rockies bench.


19. Marco Scutaro

Two-hole hitter could put up solid counting stats, but his power/speed numbers will be laughable.


The “Hope And A Prayer” Playas

I guess in some weird alternate universe where unicorns roam the Earth and gays dictate the marriage rights of straight people, the players in this tier could be worthy starting options in fantasy. Segura and Cabrera have intriguing stolen base potential, but will be useless elsewhere. Too many fantasy owners have hung off the jock of Yunel Escobar, but he’ll probably do jack shit yet again. Cozart might hit a few homers, but the upside is capped. Peralta’s dip in power means you are banking on respectable counting stats, which will be hard since he’ll hit closer to the bottom of Detroit’s batting order.


20. Jean Segura

21. Yunel Escobar

22. Zack Cozart

23. Everth Cabrera

24. Jhonny Peralta


The “Shit On Your Shoe” Soldiers

There’s a couple of deep sleepers who might (if everything falls in place) make an impact in fantasy in 2013 (Profar, Hamilton, Elmore, Villar, Nakajima), but the rest of this bunch is made up of warm bodies who have starting jobs in major league baseball. 


25. Maicer Izturis

26. Jed Lowrie
27. Hiroyuki Nakajima

28. Luis Cruz

29. Ruben Tejada

30. Cliff Pennington

31. Billy Hamilton 

32. Stephen Drew
33. Brandon Crawford

34. Clint Barmes

35. Adeiny Hechavarria

36. Rafael Furcal

37. Brendan Ryan

38. Pedro Florimon

39. Jurickson Profar

40. Pedro Ciriaco

41. Jacob Elmore

42. Jonathan Villar

43. Chase D'Arnaud

*Last updated 3/26/13.


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.