Actual Shortstop Decisions

Each weekend I take the ZiPS rest-of-season projections and run them through the Zach Sanders z-score method and then see how players I have rostered compare to players available on the waiver wire. Being that I’m tasked with discussing shortstops here on Mondays, I thought I’d analyze two decisions I had to make this week involving shortstops.

Xander Bogaerts or Chris Owings?

This is a standard 5×5 league with 12 teams. I own Bogaerts, Owings is on the wire.

According to the ZiPS projections, Owings grades out as the better play from here on out by the slightest of margins, though ZiPS has Owings projected for about 60 plate appearances fewer than Bogaerts the rest of the way. To date Bogaerts has just three more plate apperances. If you think the playing time will be more similar going forward, the projections would then like Owings by a wider margin.

I could spend quite a few words breaking down the similarities and differences of the two both in the past and in their projections, but choosing which one to roll with going forward all depends on how you feel about Owings’ spike in strikeout rate. It’s up at 28.3 percent so far this year, but ZiPS has it rebounding to right around 20 percent, which is basically where it was last year. If that happens, Owings’ batting average should be around .260 going forward as opposed to the .210 mark he has at the moment.

Assuming the two were to be even in batting average from here on out, Owings is likely the better play because he’s got more speed than Bogaerts. Bogaerts might hit a homer or two more and might have a slight edge in runs and RBI, but a 9-10 egde in steals makes Owings the more valuable player in a vacuum (aka ZiPS).

But obviously the league isn’t played in a vacuum and the context of the league and my position in it matter. Through five weeks of the season, I lead the league in batting average and have a sizable lead in the category on everyone but the teams in second and third in average. As for steals, I’m right in the middle of the pack, so I think Owings’ speed is more valuable to my team at the moment. I’m not so sure his strikeout rate will fully correct itself, but the bump I’m getting in speed could at least make continued batting average woes for Owings a wash. And if the average turns around, I might gain myself a point or two in the standings come season’s end unless Bogaerts suddenly turns into the stud people thought he would be.

Zack Cozart or Jose Ramirez

This is a 15-team league with OBP instead of average and net steals instead of steals. I own Cozart and Ramirez is on the wire. I’m currently without Jose Reyes and Ben Zobrist, so hopefully Cozart and/or Ramirez are not long for my team.

Per the ZiPS projections, Ramirez grades out as a slightly above average contributor in this format the rest of the way while Cozart is projected to be a bit below average. However, Cozart’s wRC+ is currently 140 while Ramirez’s is 24. I’ll go ahead and tell you I didn’t make this move. Ramirez’s BABIP cost him a few starts this week, and Francisco Lindor could be coming at some point. The immediate at-bats are much more certain with Cozart.

But if Ramirez’s spot in the lineup were more secure, the decision here would be similar to that of Owings and Bogaerts. Cozart’s and Ramirez’s projected OBPs are almost identical as are their counting numbers with the exception of Cozart being projected for a few more home runs and Ramirez being projected for 10 or so more net steals. In this particular league I rank third in net steals, so there’s no big need for Ramirez’s speed at the moment. For now, I just need someone who I’m sure will get to the plate and occasionally rack up a counting stat. Assuming Cozart’s wrist is good to go now, he should be in the lineup almost every night.

If you have any questions about whether you should drop a shortstop for another option, feel free to ask and I’ll tell you who ZiPS likes better. I only have numbers for standard 5×5 and 5×5 with OBP instead of average.

You can find more of Brett's work on or follow him on Twitter @TheRealTAL.

newest oldest most voted

I try to do this excercise often as well but with steamer. Thank god for macros because now I can run it everyday in 2 seconds