A Messy Atlanta Shortstop Situation

The Braves, tied for the wild card lead and four games back in their division, were dealt a big blow yesterday when it was announced that starting shortstop Andrelton Simmons will miss at least a month with a broken pinky finger on his right hand. Known mostly for his excellent glove work, the 23-year-old was having a great season with the bat as well. He’s hit .296/.336/.452 with three homers and 15 RBI in 33 games since being called up to replace the struggling Tyler Pastornicky. The only shortstop on the Braves active roster is Jack Wilson, and nobody wants Jack Wilson. What are the Braves, and more importantly you, going to do?

Simmons may have only been owned in seven percent of Yahoo! leagues, but over the past 30 days (and remember he’s played just 33 games) he’s ranked as the 15th best shortstop, ahead of Starlin Castro, Jose Reyes, Jhonny Peralta and Zack Cozart. He certainly had his value and now that production that 93% of you won’t miss will be gone. The Braves haven’t announced what their plan is, but I doubt it involves recalling Pastornicky. He won the job out of spring training but did nothing to hold onto it, putting up a .605 OPS and playing less than stellar defense in 45 games. His .656 OPS at Triple-A isn’t much better. He’s going to have to hit a whole lot better, and likely learn a new position, if he’s going to stick with the Braves any time soon.

Jack Wilson isn’t a better option offensively but does provide solid defense. He’s hitting a robust .174/.194/.217 in 75 plate appearances thus far and hasn’t come close to being effective with the bat since 2007. He can physically fill the gap for a month, in the sense that he can run around between second and third base, but its more than likely that Atlanta will be giving up major value if it decides to go that route. You, the fantasy owner, shouldn’t look to internal candidates to fill the void. Let’s look at some shortstops likely to be free agents in your leagues.

Elliot Johnson: 10%

With Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce on the shelf Johnson has gained more playing time than anyone expected. He has little power (.111 ISO) but has stolen 15 bases and has a respectable average (.275) and OBP (.339). Thanks to Desmond Jennings’ struggles Johnson has even begun to lead off for the Rays. Owned in just 10% of leagues he’d make a good replacement in a pinch.

Yuniesky Betancourt: 5%

Yes, Yuni. Overall he’s not a very good player but is capable of going on streaks. Before last week he had been on a heater with 20 RBI in his past 17 games. He’s been hitting in the five hole at times for KC, which is ridiculous on the part of manager Ned Yost but has paid off in the small sample.

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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

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Red Sox should be sellers by now. Go get Mike Aviles and have him be your utility guy when Simmons returns.