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?
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It’s time for our semi-regular look at which shortstops have been up an upward, and downward, trend over the past two weeks.
The past fortnight hasn’t been so kind to a few of the more famous shortstops. Namely Derek Jeter and Starlin Castro.
After a blazing April that saw him hit .389/.433/.579 Jeter looked to be on his way to another good season, quieting his detractors once more. Since then, however, he has hit just .249/.285/.333. Over the past two weeks he’s been the 916th best player according to Yahoo! What’s been his problem? In May his ground ball percentage was over 70%. Unless you’re Billy Hamilton or Willie Mayes Hayes that’s not a good thing. He’s always hit a lot of balls on the ground, but when the number is that high, and you’re 38-years-old, you’re not beating many of them out. He also has a .575 OPS on balls hit to left field, by far the lowest of his career. And lastly, he’s swinging at more pitches out of the strikezone than ever before – 32%. He’s not worth a starting spot at the moment.
The love of getting things on the cheap is built into all of us. Garage sales. Half-off department store blowouts. Clipping coupons. We love it. It makes us feel like we got away with something. It’s almost a badge of honor. Oh, you like these jeans? They were $100.00 but I got them on sale for $49.99. BOOM. The same feeling exists in the world of fantasy sports as well. You’re happy with the production of Edwin Encarnacion, but you’re really happy that you got him in the 10th round, and tell your friends as much.
On that note, there are deals out there. Today we’re focusing on speed, where several players can provide stolen bases for the bargain hunting consumer.
A lot has happened since the May consensus shortstop rankings were published. Those will be updated around the All-Star break, but until then here are my tiered rankings for June.
Castro was a pretty valuable player last year when he hit 10 home runs, stole 22 bases and hit .307. We’re through 60 games this season and he already has five homers and 16 steals and is hitting .308. Our ZiPS updated season projections have him swiping 32 bags with 11 homers. He’s being far more aggressive than last season, swinging at 41.6 percent of balls outside the zone, but it’s possible he goes 15/30/.300 with 80 RBI and 80 runs. Not many players, let alone shortstops, are going to have those totals. The biggest surprise in this group is Jed Lowrie. We’ve all been teased by his potential before. He’s getting regular playing time now, and has avoided injury thus far, and the results are speaking for themselves. His 12 homers lead the position, though he’s driven in himself nearly half the time. He’s become more selective this season, swinging less and walking more. I’ve always been a Lowrie believer and it’s paying off right now.
The updated shortstop rankings will be available on Tuesday. Until then lets take a look at some shortstops that have risen and fallen over the past fortnight.
The-Riot is a second basemen for the Giants, qualifies as a shortstop for our purposes. Owned in just five percent of leagues he’s hit .403 over his last 46 at bats. His three steals is tied for tops at his position over the past two weeks. He’ll never hit for power – 17 career HR in 827 games – but is capable enough to go on a hot streak. His four hit game last night was the fifth time in the past eight games he’s had multiple hits. There isn’t much depth at the position so if he can keep a starting job, and Bruce Bochy loves veterans, there’s a good chance he’ll be able to maintain a .275-.290 average with double digit steals. That has real value in deeper mixed and N.L. only leagues.
Baseball has a history of strange injuries. Sammy Sosa hurt his back while sneezing. John Smoltz was injured while ironing a shirt…that he was wearing. In the past calendar year Giants’ reliever Jeremy Affeldt has been injured while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties with a knife and sprained his knee while hugging his 4’6(!) 4-year-old son. The latest strange injury comes courtesy of Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The third year veteran will miss 4-6 weeks after breaking his hand in an accident involving his wife, a hotel bed, a sock, and a suitcase. Lucroy was having a huge season, hitting .345/.387/.583 in 43 games and ranking fourth among all catchers according to Yahoo!. Luckily for the fantasy owner, i.e. you, there are suitable replacements to fill the void.
To say Dee Gordon was overhyped this preseason would be an understatement. Everywhere you looked someone was predicting him to steal 40+ bases. Our man Eno Sarris even made a bold prediction that he would steal 60 bases without hitting a single home run. He looks to be wrong on both accounts. Gordon had an average positional draft position of 10th on Mock Draft Central. The Rotographs consensus rankings had him 7th. What has he done to repay those brave enough to make such predictions? Become one of the worst everyday players in the game.
It seems like every other day a member of the Tampa Bay Rays is being put on the disabled list. Kyle Farnsworth, Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings are the main players sidelined by injury, but they’re joined by the likes of Sam Fuld and backup catchers Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos. The latest to catch the injury bug is big right-handed starter Jeff Niemann.
This week we’re going to take a look at two National League shortstop eligible players who have increased their value dramatically over the past two weeks. One is far less of a surprise than the other.
He’s always had the potential to be a productive fantasy shortstop but hasn’t been given a full time opportunity. His time in Boston was checkered with injuries and up and down performance. Here are his OPS and games played numbers each of the past four season
As night turned to day and the sun slowly rose in west we were graced with a new top rated shortstop, breaking Derek Jeter’s stronghold. It was bound to happen eventually, unless Jeter had another 1999 type season, and will certainly happen again, but I don’t think anyone could foresee who would take over a month into the season.