MLB Real Talk: Replacement Shortstops

Man down! Stephen Drew’s ankle is no more. His season is done. You might as well have Stephen Baldwin on your team. The younger Drew brother wasn’t carrying any fantasy baseball teams on his back, but losing your starting Shortstop hurts no matter how you slice it. Today’s edition of MLB For Reals Talk explores our replacement shorties. Thirteen hand-selected individuals for your choosing after the jump.

Owned in Less Than 50% of Y! Leagues

Zack Cozart CIN (4%) Cozart has gone 11 for 35 since his June 7th promotion, he’s hit safely in 7 of 8 starts. He’s hit the ground running after putting up good numbers in 77 games at AAA-Louisville (.310/.357/.467). Cozart hit 24 HR at AAA (213 games) and will be playing at a much friendlier ballpark in Cincinnati. Louisville scores a 92 in HR for Right-Handed Batters while Great American Ballpark scores a scrumptious 133 [StatCorner]. Cozart also chipped in 39 Stolen Bases during this 213-game stretch. He has some power, some speed, is slotted ahead of Votto, Phillips and Bruce in the lineup and plays at a very hitter-friendly field. It’s quite possible that Zack Cozart makes you forget about Stephen Drew.

Willie Bloomquist ARI (9%) Drew’s own replacement (possibly, the team is expected to call up Cody Ransom), Slick Willie does things well for a player of his ilk. He keeps the Strikeouts down and hits plenty of Line Drives (26% LD% this year!) and Ground Balls. His BABIP (.299) should be much higher (career .312 BABIP), but we can’t expect him to maintain the 26% LD% (career 21% LD%). Through 50 games (166 AB) Willie Bloom has 10 SB. This is why you’d target him, for the speed. MLBDepthCharts has Willie batting leadoff so he could be a source of Runs too. We’ll have to keep an eye on Cody Ransom  though. While the K% isn’t pretty (21% per PA) he does have 25 HR and 9 SB to his name this season.

Alcides Escobar KC (28%) The young Royal is proving his .235 Batting Average from ’10 was a fluke… by hitting .251. Well at least he’s stealing more bases this year (14 SB so far). The hot streak that started in June has cooled, but I still believe the high contact percentage, slap hitting, speedy infielder has the ability to hit .280 and steal 25 to 30 bases. I still believe in Alcides.

Alexi Casilla MIN (16%) Since May 24th Alexi is hitting .297 (57 for 192) with 2 HR and 10 SB. During his past ten games he has five multi-hit efforts. Alexi is performing well and hitting second in the Twins lineup, in front of Mauer, Cuddyer and Thome. No one gets overly excited when they hear Alexi Casilla’s name, but he’s putting up numbers right now.

Rafael Furcal LAD (32%) To put it mildly, Furball is struggling. He’s hitting .171 that includes a 5 for 45 (.111) stretch since his return from the Disabled List (oblique). The reason why he is an option is because his troubles are BABIP-related. Furcal’s 21.8% LD% is pretty damn good, he doesn’t deserve a .191 BABIP. I’ll concede that injuries have likely slowed him down (3 for 5 on the base paths), but still, a .191 BABIP is cruel and unusual punishment for someone who is lacing Line Drives like this. If we sub in a more suitable number (.315, his career norm), Furcal’s AVG would be .269. Still nothing to brag about, but he is hitting in front of Ethier and Kemp and has a little speed to him. Reaching even further for excuses to add Furcal, he’s riding a two-game hit streak. Like Stephen Drew’s injury, this isn’t pretty.

Ryan Theriot STL (35%) Theriot quietly sits atop the Cardinals batting order. He’s hitting .278 with a single Home Run and four Stolen Bases. At 31-years of age Theriot seems to have lost a step. He’s 4 of 8 in SB attempts (8 of 15 since leaving the north side of Chicago). He did suffer from tightness in his knee and back in June and an oblique injury in May so these ailments may have factored into the lack of Stolen Bases. Well this pretty much sums up Ryan Theriot, there is not a lot to say. The only thing he has going for him is his place in the batting order.

Darwin Barney CHC (34%) Darwin is starting out with three strikes: he has no power, little speed, he has a terrible name and he hits in the bottom third of a NL lineup. Okay, that’s four strikes, but he’s not out. What Darwin does well is make plenty of contact and when he hits the ball, he hits it well (22.2% LD%). His low Strikeout percentage and high BABIP (.332) are keeping his Batting Average afloat (.299). As long as he keeps hitting Line Drives, like he has in every month of the season, he should be a contributor to your team Batting Average.

Marco Scutaro BOS (11%) Marco is back from the DL and doing his thing, his thing is playing mediocre baseball. He’s a high contact percentage hitter with low power out and even less speed. While he hits at the bottom of the order, technically he hits in front of Ellsbury, Pedroia, Adrian, Youkilis and Big Papi. So he’s got that going for him.

Omar Infante FLA (30%) Omar from Wild and Crazy Kids is not enjoying his follow up season from 2010, when his .355 BABIP pushed his AVG up to a career high .321. Instead it’s below average (.275), as is his HR/FB% (0.8%). Omar is hitting .253 with 1 HR and 3 SB. Don’t ask me why, but he is slotted as the No. 2 hitter in the Marlins lineup despite his .298 OBP (while Mike Stanton hits 6th!!!!). Maybe Donnie Jeffcoat is filling out the lineup card. Omar’s Batting Average should pick up a bit, but we’re talking about a career .272 hitter.

Eduardo Nunez NYY (7%) Nunez is a short-term option as he fills in for the injured Alex Rodriguez. He’s done a great job of limiting Strikeouts while hitting Line Drives (21% LD%) and stealing bases (13). And of course he plays for the Yankees so while he bats behind two Catchers (Posada and Martin) it isn’t the worst place to be. Eduardo’s .260 AVG could be higher, his .269 BABIP is pretty low for such a nice LD%. Something along the lines of a .280-.285 AVG would be more appropriate. Of course it may be difficult for him to maintain the 8% K% so these two factors (low BABIP, low K%) could cancel each other out and his AVG could remain at .260.

Mike Aviles KC (17%) Aviles was recalled after the team traded Wilson Betemit to Detroit. Since he doesn’t have a direct path to playing time Aviles is more of a watch list Shortstop. He was a popular sleeper coming into the season, my preseason projection (.298-13-75-62-15) certainly placed me in that camp. While in AAA-Omaha (PCL) Aviles was killing the ball to the tune of a .307/.329/.586 triple slash line. He hit 9 HR and stole six bases in only 35 games. He isn’t making contact like he has in the past, the K% is up a percentage point or two and the Line Drive percentage is poor, but he’s one of our few replacement Shortstops who has the ability to hit for AVG and contribute to both the HR and SB categories. If Aviles was guaranteed everyday At Bats he’d push Cozart for the top spot on this list.

and just for good measure…

Clint Barmes HOU (2%) Hitting in the bottom third of the Astros lineup is a death sentence, but Barmes is hitting .321 during the past 30 days. Just wanted to point that out. If your league tracks deer hunting stats Barmes gets an extra boost.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka MIN (13%) The Dice-K of Shortstop, Nishi is an overpaid, overrated, injury prone import from the Far East. He is a warm body though, I assume. If you have a Japanese fetish he could be your Shortstop.

That’s all the replacement options I have for you tonight, any questions or Ransom notes can be left in the comment section – peace out – @andrewakamds