2016 MVP’s @ SS

In 2015 Manny Machado finished the season as the #1 overall shortstop with 1,040 points, and it wasn’t really close, as Xander Bogaerts finished a distant 2nd with 787 points. But raw points aren’t everything, and since all Ottoneu leagues are auction leagues, true player value has to be measured as the result of production and cost (salary).  So which players were the most valuable to their owners in 2016?

In an attempt to identify the most valuable shortstop of 2016, I’ve used year-ending FanGraph Points as a proxy for production and compared those points against the average salary for shortstops across all Ottoneu leagues.  I then extrapolated Points per Game (PTS/G) over a full season (to create a more comparable baseline for all players), and divided by the average salaries. In short, I’m looking for the players with the highest production (points) per dollar spent (average salary).  While every league is different, this simple calculation should give us an indication of which players were the most valuable when both production and cost are accounted for.

To save time I’ve done most of the calculations behind the scenes and have listed the Top 12 candidates for the most valuable shortstop of 2016.  I’ll dive into more detail on the Top 3, designate an MVP winner, and then provide a brief outlook by player for next season.

2016 MVP’s @ SS – Top 12
Jonathan Villar $5 968 156 6.21 194 1,005 201 679 1.43
Jean Segura $6 1,034 153 6.76 172 1,095 182 694 1.49
Aledmys Diaz $6 672 111 6.05 112 981 163 460 1.46
Trea Turner $8 580 73 7.95 73 1,287 161 324 1.79
Jose Reyes $6 342 60 5.70 57 923 154 279 1.23
Alex Bregman $6 275 49 5.61 46 909 152 217 1.27
Trevor Story $8 652 97 6.72 82 1,089 136 415 1.57
Corey Seager $15 1,014 157 6.46 68 1,046 70 687 1.48
Francisco Lindor $13 868 158 5.49 67 890 68 684 1.27
Xander Bogaerts $20 930 157 5.92 47 960 48 719 1.29
Carlos Correa $29 874 153 5.71 30 925 32 660 1.32
Manny Machado $35 1,027 157 6.54 29 1,060 30 696 1.48
2016 scoring data: Ottoneu FGPTS

And here are your top 3 shortstop MVP finalists of 2016:

2016 MVP’s @ SS – Roto Comparison
Jean Segura $6 1,034 153 20 102 64 33 5.60% 14.60%
Jonathan Villar $5 968 156 19 92 63 62 11.60% 25.60%
Aledmys Diaz $6 672 111 17 71 65 4 8.90% 13.00%
2016 MVP’s @ SS – Advanced Comparison
Jean Segura $6 1,034 0.181 0.353 0.319 0.368 0.499 0.371 126
Jonathan Villar $5 968 0.171 0.373 0.285 0.369 0.457 0.356 118
Aledmys Diaz $6 672 0.210 0.312 0.300 0.369 0.510 0.370 132

Jonathan Villar ($5):

The numbers show Villar to be not only the most valuable shortstop of 2016, but one of the most valuable players of the season, period.  That value was especially evident in Roto leagues, as the 25 year old’s .285 AVG, 19 HR, and 62 SB’s single-handedly set the foundation for many fantasy championships.  By all accounts, the perfect storm of playing time (career high 153 games played), cost effectiveness (Villar was either drafted very late or scooped up cheaply off waivers in April), and true skills breakout helped Villar become a fantasy force in 2016.

Jean Segura ($6):

If Villar was the true breakout hero of 2016, Segura is in the running for rebound candidate of the year…a rebound in the making since his impressive 2013 campaign (.329 wOBA).  Overcoming ineffectiveness in the midst of personal tragedy over the past two seasons, a change of scenery may have also helped Segura start strong in April (.333/.362/.523), and early signals suggested it wasn’t about to slow down.  Just one year older than Villar, Segura finished 2016 with the 2nd highest P/G (6.72, behind only Trea Turner), beat out superstars Corey Seager and Manny Machado for the most overall points among SS’s, and also chipped in his fair share of Roto stats with 20 HR and 33 SB’s.

Aledmys Diaz ($6):

If you weren’t fortunate enough to draft Villar or Segura (or scoop them off waivers) in 2016, Aledmys Diaz provided you with yet another early opportunity to find middle infield gold for cheap last season.  The improbable All-Star hit 17 HR in 111 games filling in for the oft-injured Jhonny Peralta, and caught fire immediately in April (1.186 OPS) to the benefit of many quick-triggered fantasy owners.  Ironically, the same injury (fractured thumb) that gave Diaz his opportunity to start for St. Louis derailed the 26 year old’s nearly 1,000 point pace late in the season, but his surprising blend of power (.210 ISO), on-base skills (8.9% BB%, .369 OBP), and high contact (13% K%) were enough to overcome a lack of wheels (just 4 SB’s) and make him a finalist for most valuable 2016 shortstop.

This interactive graph also tells the story (special thanks to RJ Weise):

2016 MVP @ SS: Jonathan Villar (201 PTS/$)

Villar’s bargain breakout season places him clearly at the top of the final list here, though with Segura’s slightly higher production per game, a case could be made for handing him the title as well.  But what can we expect next season?

2017 Outlook

All three shortstops are clearly keepers for next season, especially considering their low entry prices that will carry over in dynasty leagues, but each offers his own special blend of skills that need to be compared.  With the slowest wheels of the three and the smallest MLB sample size to judge, Aledmys Diaz is probably in the best position to disappoint heading into 2017.  By default Diaz will be less relevant in Roto leagues due to his lack of speed, and he might have the cloudiest path to full playing time if the Cardinals return a healthy infield, too.  More importantly, it’s harder to get a read on what is real when his overall numbers are so clearly buoyed by an insane April (.413 BABIP, .310 ISO).  The right-handed hitting SS also had a reverse platoon split (.312 wOBA vs. LHP, .393 vs. RHP), so keep an eye on whether this trend continues.  While “fluky” isn’t the right word because there is at least enough in Diaz’s limited profile to suggest above average production if healthy, I’d be skeptical of making Diaz your opening day starting shortstop and wouldn’t expect much growth at all.  I can’t help but think of another young, diminutive infielder when I watch Diaz, so despite some skepticism, Diaz is still likely to come cheap enough next year to give you a terrific, affordable backup, if not more.

Deciding on the best future value between Villar and Segura is a much more difficult task.  As mentioned, both showed significant, sustainable skills growth, and the impressive improvements in batted ball profiles suggests both shortstops should be able to keep many of their gains.  Segura increased his hard hit rate by more than 50% over 2015 (from 19.7% to 29.7%), and the fact that he finished so strong (.345 wOBA, .130 ISO in the 1st half, .403 wOBA, .244 ISO in the 2nd) bodes well for another solid campaign in 2017.  In fact, Segura was a fairly high profile prospect not that long ago, and because he always scouted as a middle infielder with at least average power, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Segura as the most likely SS of the three to build off the most from his strong 2016 foundation, finding himself back in the fantasy MVP discussion next year.

Villar also capitalized on batted ball gains (hard hit rate increase to 35.1% from 24.7% in 2015), with his ability to go the opposite way (25.9%) the most impressive development that helped him maintain a sky high BABIP (landing at .373).  Most surprising, however, are the 19 HR’s that appear to have literally come from nowhere (just 10 career HR prior), though a career-high 19.6 HR/FB% was a big help, and should offer at least some level of healthy skepticism about his power profile next season.  Still, Villar’s improvements don’t appear to be a mirage, as 13 of his HR’s came in the 2nd half, and his increased K% supports a theory that he may have intentionally been swinging for the fences more than ever before.  While it would be very difficult for Villar to duplicate a fantasy MVP season in 2017, there’s no reason to think that he will regress so significantly that he would drop out of starting 12 SS status next year, so keep with confidence and continue riding one of the better values at the position.

2017 Early Ranking:

Jean Segura

Jonathan Villar

Aledmys Diaz

Poll: Which SS do you want most in 2017?

Trey is a 20+ year fantasy veteran and an early adopter of Ottoneu fantasy sports. He currently administers the Ottoneu community, a network of ~1,200 fantasy baseball and football fans talking sports daily. More resources here: http://community.ottoneu.com

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5 years ago

Very good stuff. Thanks! I was surprised that Nunez didn’t make the cut – thought he was pretty much waiver wire fodder at the beginning of the year. If you don’t mind, out of curiosity, where does Nunez rank?

5 years ago
Reply to  Trey Baughn

Nice – thanks!