Fantasy Baseball Shortstops 2014: Tiers, Not Fears

Don’t Be a Jav’ Not
Photo Credit: Nick Martinez


Although I think second base is more deprived of fantasy talent than short, there’s no denying that the shortstop landscape is littered with underwhelming options. After the first few names, you enter a land-mine of shitty options. If you are able to secure an advantage at the position over your league-mates, it could be a difference-maker that puts you on the championship course. Of course, reaching or investing in the wrong player can put you in a season-long search for stable production. Luckily, you have your boy Stat Bundles sorting through the mess of shortstops, organizing them into neat little piles to help you identify who to roll with (and when). You don’t need to thank me… but you should.


More after the jump:


The Sore Shottas

1. Hanley Ramirez

2. Troy Tulowitzki

They are the best at the position, but they still carry risk. That’s because both these gents can’t seem to stay healthy for a full season. Even so, their bats produce the best per-game numbers at shortstop, so they deserve to sit above the rest… After two weak seasons, Hanley became a more aggressive swinger at the plate in 2013, and the results were spectacular (.345/.402/.683 and .293 ISO). Problem is, he has played under 100 games in two of the last three years. If he can stay healthy, a 30/20 season is entirely plausible… No, Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t offer the steals Hanley provides, and his power isn’t as impressive either. Still, you can count on 25-plus HR pop, quality counting stats, and a .300-ish batting average when he plays. I actually have a good feeling about Tulowitzki staying healthy this year as this was the first offseason in years that he’s spent not rehabbing some injury. 


The Second Tier Citizens

3. Jean Segura

4. Ian Desmond

5. Jose Reyes

These guys won’t come cheap (think third or fourth round), but they are unquestionably the next best players at the position, mostly because they can contribute 40 HRs and SBs combined (or more). Like Tulo and Hanley, however, they have their drawbacks… My main concern with Segura is the fact that his numbers fell off in the second half (.255/.291/.322 after June). I can’t hate on the 40-plus SB wheels and double-digit HR pop, but I’m not sure his .294 BA from last year will hold up since he hits so many damn grounders. Overall, I think Segura will finish comfortably among the top five shortstops in fantasy… Desmond seems like an easy-to-trust fantasy target because he’s gone 20/20 in back-to-back seasons while providing solid counting stats. Beware his questionable plate patience, however (6.6 BB% and 22.1 K% in 2013). Desmond’s Swinging Strike Percentage (SwStr%) has also gone up each of the last two years and he swings at a lot of pitches outside the strike zone. I still think he’ll be a good five-cat fantasy contributor, but hitters with such a poor approach at the plate could always disappoint… Health has been the main thing holding Reyes back from being a perennial fantasy star. What’s worse, most of the injuries he sustains seem to affect his legs. For that reason, the relatively-low 15 swipes he tallied last year in 93 games is disconcerting for the 31-year-old. I still think a 15/30 season with ample runs and a BA that flirts with .300 is in reach if he can ever stay healthy, but that’s a risky bet. 


The “Fairly Worth It” Wranglers

6. Elvis Andrus

7. Ben Zobrist

A short tier, I know, but after these guys, the position starts to get dicey. At least you can set a reasonable floor for these two and feel comfortable paying the draft day price… You can forget about HR and RBI help with Elvis Andrus, but at least you know that you will get plenty of runs and steals (91 and 42 last year, respectively). You’d like to see him do a little better with the batting average (career .274), but overall, he’s still a relatively safe pick… His power and speed numbers are getting worse, but Ben Zobrist is still a do-it-all type of fantasy player thanks to his ability to put up good counting stats in Tampa Bay’s lineup and notch 10-15 HRs and SBs. Boring? Sure. Useful? You damn skippy. Especially with his 2B and SS eligibility in Yahoo!


The “On The Run” Ragamuffins

8. Andrelton Simmons

9. J.J. Hardy

10. Jimmy Rollins

11. Everth Cabrera

12. Asdrubal Cabrera

13. Xander Bogaerts

14. Starlin Castro

15. Derek Jeter

16. Jed Lowrie

17. Jurickson Profar

When a run on shortstops ensues after the Zobrists of the world are gone, this tier is what follows suit. In fact, sometimes panic sets in and owners start reaching on shortstops just to make sure they get one they like. If you don’t wind up with a shortstop from the first three tiers and decide you don’t want to wait too long, this is where you have to shop. Just make sure you don’t go blowing your wad unnecessarily… Simmons, Rollins, Cabrera (the Asdrubal version), Castro, and Profar have the talent to chip in on all five standard categories. Simmons, Castro, and Profar have the most upside thanks to their youth and untapped potential, but Simmons and Profar are hitting low in their lineups, while Castro has turned into a barely double-digit HR/SB threat. A breakout is possible for that trio, but they have just a good a chance at throwing up an underwhelming season. Rollins and Cabrera have gotten it done before, but both are coming off disappointing seasons. Cabrera is entering a walk year and manager Terry Francona indicated that injuries played a role in his poor 2013 (although to be fair, he’s been banged up more and more as his career has moved along). I expect a return to double-digit HR pop for Rollins after he posted a measly .097 ISO last year and that will pair nicely with his 20-steal wheels. Yet at age 35, it’s fair to wonder if the end of his fantasy relevance is nigh… Owners looking for pop from their shortstop can consider Hardy and Bogaerts. Hardy is more established, averaging over 25 HRs in each of the last three seasons. Yet when you consider the fact that he owns a career 16.8 LD%, 44.4 GB%, 13.0 Infield Fly Ball Percentage (IFFB%), 11.4 Home Run to Fly Ball Ratio (HR/FB), and .168 ISO, it’s almost baffling to think that he’s been an effective fantasy option for a few years now. That batted ball profile scares me, and when Hardy finally falls off, he will fall hard. Bogaerts is only 21 years old and in all likelihood, he will be just a high-teens HR bat this season. Yet because he’s a highly-touted prospect filled with upside, he cannot be taken lightly… Everth Cabrera is the speed freak on this tier. Hopefully, he brings some runs to the table as San Diego’s leadoff hitter. More likely, he becomes a one-trick pony (although 40-50 steals is a pretty sweet trick)… Jed Lowrie and Derek Jeter are injury risks entering the season. Sure Lowrie finally stayed healthy last year and posted nice counting stats hitting near the top of Oakland’s lineup, but 2013’s production is really his ceiling. Jeter cannot be counted out thanks to his ability to historically rack up runs and a good batting average. Yet at age 39 (40 in June), he could turn out to be a total bust (even at the profitable draft day price).


The “Interesting Enough” Enablers

18. Alexei Ramirez

19. Alcides Escobar

20. Brad Miller

21. Jhonny Peralta

22. Dee Gordon

23. Jonathan Villar

24. Javier Baez

You can talk yourself into a useful fantasy season for any of the guys in this tier. They are long-shots, but ones to keep an eye on even if they go undrafted in your league… Alexei Ramirez, Alcides Escobar, Dee Gordon, and Jonathan Villar are affordable speed sources. Gordon has the most SB upside, but the least job security (he has to hold off Alex Guerrero at second base). Ramirez, Escobar, and Villar are more of the 20-30 swipe type, but that might end up being all they are good for… Brad Miller stands a legit chance of being Seattle’s primary leadoff hitter, but a 15/15 season is as good as it gets (and that’s only if he holds off Nick Franklin all year and plays to his maximum level)… The fact that St. Louis believes in Jhonny Peralta was enough to get him in this tier. He became a line-drive machine last year, and obviously the Cardinals think that it wasn’t all because of the PEDs. He doesn’t have much upside, but a quality BA and solid counting stats are in play… Javier Baez hasn’t even played a game above AA yet. But he deserves your attention and a roster spot in most leagues. He owned a Ruthian .344 ISO in AA last year and has the kind of bat speed that makes scouts froth in their thongs. The Cubs need his bat, which is why they are working him out at second and third base this spring. Fortunately, he is already eligible at SS in Yahoo! leagues. Make no mistake, he will be up at some point in 2014 (probably to replace Darwin Barney), and when he arrives, you will want him in your lineup.


The Pity Party

25. Zack Cozart

26. Stephen Drew

27. Erick Aybar

28. Pedro Florimon

29. Chris Owings

30. Adeiny Hechavarria

31. Yunel Escobar

32. Ruben Tejada

33. Eric Sogard

34. Brandon Crawford

35. Rafael Furcal

36. Jordy Mercer

37. Josh Rutledge

38. Didi Gregorius

39. Addison Russell

40. Jose Iglesias

41. Francisco Lindor

Oops. Hopefully you are searching for bench depth in a very deep league if you are settling for these folks (or playing in one of those awful mono-leagues), because if you are down here because you took too long to take a SS or MI, then you are fucked my friend. Sure there are some starting shortstops and a couple of interesting young players sitting here, but the truth is, most of these guys won’t make much of an impact in fantasy this season.


*Last updated 3/15/14.


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.