Sunday, February 10, 2013

Early Fantasy Baseball Rankings - SS

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The top 25 fantasy baseball shortstops are presented here for standard 5×5 Rotisserie leagues (R/HR/RBI/AVG/SB and W/ERA/WHIP/K/SV). To better understand the difference between the SS options, the players are divided into tiers. For example, while Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro and Ben Zobrist are ranked 3 through 5, the drop off between Reyes and Castro is much less than between Castro and Zobrist. 1B and 2B rankings are also available for your viewing pleasure.

Shortstop is the shallowest position in fantasy baseball. Even the top players at the position come with a lot of warts. The two best players at shortstop are clearly Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki. While both can make legitimate cases for being the top shortstop off the board. However, while both have battled injuries in their careers, Tulo has missed an average of 46 games per season for his career, and it's hard to justify spending such a high pick on a player with such an extensive injury history.

Despite being 34 years old, Jimmy Rollins has good power for a SS, and hasn't stolen fewer than 30 bases in a full season since 2003. He is often being selected after Elvis Andrus, who is essentially the same player just 10 years younger and with almost no power. Do yourself a favor and wait on Rollins.

As discussed in the recent article "Oldies But Goodies," despite his age, Derek Jeter is still an extremely valuable fantasy option. He finished 2012 as the 3rd best fantasy shortstop and as long as he's batting at the top of the Yankees lineup, he should continue to be a fixture in fantasy lineups.
Alexei Ramirez is always undervalued, but he produces every year. Even in a down year in 2012, he finished as the 14th best SS. Before last season's 9 HR, resulting from his unlucky HR/FB rate, he had never hit fewer than 15 in a season. He doesn't offer much upside, but you can count on a solid power/speed combo with decent average and good counting stats.

As discussed in the NL West Sleepers article, Everth Cabrera led the NL in steals with 44 in only 115 games in 2012, and with little competition at SS, if he can stay healthy he should rack up the stolen bases again in 2013. He has a career .240 average in the majors which limits his value, but he batted .292 over seven seasons in the minors (.308 in AAA) so there is upside if he is able to adjust to major league pitching.

Jean Segura, the centerpiece of the Zack Greinke trade, has only 45 games of major league experience, but profiles to be a high average hitter with good speed. If he can hold off Alex Gonzalez as the Brewers starter, as most expect, a season with 30 steals and an average in the .280 range isn't out of the question. Segura could easily work his way into lineups in standard leagues as a middle infielder option. However, keep in mind that he has missed significant time throughout the minors, so he will need to stay healthy to reach his potential.

Tier 1:
1. Hanley Ramirez, LAD
2. Troy Tulowitzki, COL

Tier 2:
3. Jose Reyes, TOR
4. Starlin Castro, CHC

Tier 3:
5. Ben Zobrist, TB
6. Jimmy Rollins, PHI
7. Ian Desmond, WSH
8. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
9. Elvis Andrus, TEX
10. Derek Jeter, NYY

Tier 4:
11. Danny Espinosa, WSH
12. Alcides Escobar, KC
13. Erick Aybar, LAA
14. JJ Hardy, BAL
15. Alexei Ramirez, CHW
16. Marco Scutaro, SF
17. Josh Rutledge, COL

Tier 5:
18. Everth Cabrera, SD
19. Andrelton Simmons, ATL
20. Zack Cozart, CIN
21. Jhonny Peralta, DET
22. Jean Segura, MIL
23. Dee Gordon, LAD
24. Jed Lowrie, OAK
25. Stephen Drew, BOS

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