Let’s take a look at some early season surprises and disappointments at the shortstop position:
Anyone that had Jeter hitting .411 through 16 games raise your hand. Now put your hand down because you’re a liar. After two “down” seasons he’s hitting like its 1999 again. He has nine multi-hit games He already has four home runs. He hit six all of last year. It’s not likely he’ll be able to keep up this good of a pace considering his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is currently over .400. He’s swinging at more pitches inside and outside of the zone but making the same amount of contact he always has. According to Mock Draft Central he was the eighth shortstop taken on average. If he can maintain anything close to this line, say .310/.360/.400 with 15 homers and 15 steals for the season he’ll easily eclipse that pre-season ranking.
Bonifacio’s good production isn’t really a surprise. He showed last year that he was capable of having a productive season, but the acquisition of Jose Reyes lead to uncertainty about the amount of playing time he’d receive. With shortstop, third and second base filled he was pushed to the outfield where he’s won the starting centerfield position, at least for now. He already has nine steals in 16 games, but no extra base hits. He’ll never have much of a slugging percentage, but to see his Isolated Slugging (ISO) at .000 is amusing to look at. Like last season he’s been able to maintain a good average thanks to a high (.386) BABIP. He’s been keeping the ball out of the air again (21.1% FB rate), allowing him to maximize his speed. With consistent playing time he should be able to steal 35+ bases again unless his bat completely disappears.
Having a career high strikeout rate and career low walk rate are great things for a pitcher. They’re far less great when you’re a hitter. That’s what Ramirez has done so far this season. He’s normally a lock for ~15 home runs, ~70 runs batted in and ~75 runs scored, and still may very well reach those totals. So far, though, he’s been awful. His one home run and four RBI seem out of place for someone that plays his games in hitter friendly US Cellular Field. That’s not out of the ordinary for him, though. His career wOBA for March/April is .254. The lowest it is in any other month is .315. His issues look to stem from a lack of patience. He’s swinging at more pitches outside the zone (39.0%) and more pitches period (53.2) than at any point since his rookie season. That’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
Coming off a 21 home run season, a bit more was expected of the pudgy shortstop. Through 15 games he has zero home runs and five runs batted in, though he does have seven doubles. His BABIP is .326 but his OBP is .298 thanks to a 5.3% walk rate. He’s a better hitter than that. Even in his worst year his walk rate was above seven percent. He’ll need his power to return, though, if he’s going to have much fantasy value. He doesn’t steal bases so he relies heavily on extra base hits to keep his head afloat. A 15 homer, 75 RBI campaign may be more realistic than the 21/86 he put up last season. If he struggles a little while longer he could turn into a nice buy-low candidate if a frustrated owner makes a rash decision.
Today’s Waiver Wire features one player trying to reestablish his fantasy worth and one hoping to take hold of some of his own.
Luke Scott: 7% Yahoo!, 3.2% ESPN
Before injuring his shoulder last season, Scott was one of the more consistent players in fantasy. After being traded to Baltimore in the Miguel Tejada deal he averaged 25 home runs and 71 runs batted in from 2008-2010. In fact, his home runs, average, and on base percentage increased in each of those years. Unfortunately he couldn’t do it for a fourth year as a torn labrum in his shoulder ended his season in late July. Always willing to bounce on a buy low candidate, the Rays signed Scott over this offseason. A minor hamstring issue has kept him out of a few games but that seems to be behind him now. In the seven games (out of 10) he’s played he’s hit quite well, with two home runs, two doubles and eight runs knocked in to go with a .368 average. Will he be able to maintain a .421 ISO? No. A .333 BABIP? Likely not. However, if his shoulder is healthy, and it’s certainly looked like it is, there’s no reason he shouldn’t come close to replicating his ’08-’10 numbers.
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Adam LaRoche: 16% Yahoo!, 11.8% ESPN
There are those types of players in fantasy that everyone has owned at one point or another. I’m not talking about the Albert Pujolses of the world. The player I’m talking about is good, but not great. He won’t win you a league but he’ll contribute in enough places to be a valuable asset. One such player is Adam LaRoche. In his ninth season, the 32-year-old has carved out a nice career. While he’s been overshadowed by the bigger, better, slugging first basemen in the National League (Howard,Votto, Pujols, Fielder, etc) he’s managed to put up solid numbers year in and year out. From 2005-2010 he averaged 24 home runs and 87 runs batted in, including a 100 RBI season two years ago. With Pujols and Fielder in the American League and Howard on the disabled list, first base has been weakened significantly, especially in the NL, upping LaRoche’s value.
The shortstop position has held pretty steady over the past year. There’s been no impact rookies that have hit the scene and sky rocketed up the rankings. We break them down into tiers below which we will update periodically throughout the season.
Barring any type of injury, Tulowitzki is going to hold the crown as the top fantasy shortstop for some time. His combination of power and average is unrivaled at the position. He’s a top five overall pick regardless of league format. Reyes came on extremely strong last season after a rough two years, hitting .337 with 16 triples and 39 steals in just 126 games. His hamstrings will always be a concern, and are a major reason why Tulowitzki is going to keep his shortstop crown for years to come. Even though he’s sliding over to third to accommodate Reyes, Ramirez retains his shortstop eligibility for at least one more season and picks up another. He’s included in this first tier thanks to a stellar track record and hope he can come back healthy after injuries nagged him last year. If healthy there’s no reason he can’t put up a 20HR/30SB season at minimum.
After a particularly boring stretch, we actually have some shortstop news to report. Let’s start with what’s happening out in Arizona.
After coming off a very good 2010 season which saw him hit 15 home runs and steal 10 bases, Stephen Drew suffered a broken ankle in July, ending his 2011 campaign early. The 29-year-old had been hopeful for opening day but it’s now being reported that he’ll miss that target date, and no timetable has been set on his return. That leaves Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald in the backup roles.
Yestrday, Skip Schumaker suffered a torn right oblique muscle that will keep him out of action for the foreseeable future. An oblique injury caused Evan Longoria to miss a month last season, so we know these injuries are nothing to take lightly. The news won’t affect a large swath of the fantasy population as Shumaker and his 2010-2011 OPS of .676 are usually found in the free agent scrap heap. However, the Cardinals can’t go without a second baseman, so we’re presented with our latest, and perhaps least interesting, spring training position battle.
Position battles are always a hot topic this time of year. It’s highly unlikely that all 30 teams are set at a particular position this early in spring training. Rookies and veterans alike are always snatching each other’s jobs as they vie for a coveted spot on the major league roster. Today we’ll be looking at shortstop battles, where there are surprisingly few thus far.
Last week the San Diego Padres locked up Cameron Maybin, signing the 24-year-old to a five year contract extension. In less notable news, I traded for him in the staff Ottoneu league last week in exchange for Martin Prado. There was some debate as to who got the better end of the deal, which is why we’re bringing it to you, the reader. In the coming paragraphs, both myself and my trade partner, Ben Duronio, will explain our side of the trade. Feel free to openly ridicule both of us.
Yesterday we looked at the current average draft position of shortstops*, according to MockDraftCentral. Today, since you all were kind enough to provide us with a mock draft of your own, we can discuss your selections.
*When I say average draft positions I mean that solely in the context of the position, not overall
I only looked at the top 10 yesterday because, lets be honest, shortstop is one of the more boring positions. Today we’ll go a bit deeper, looking at the top 16 from the reader mock draft.
It’s that time of year again; College basketball is revving up, teams are preparing for spring training and fantasy leagues are gearing up for their drafts. In preparation we’re going to be looking at some average draft positions and the trends that occur, according to mockdraftcentral.com. Today we’ll focus on shortstops. There aren’t many surprises, but there is one pick that intrigues me (more on that later). Here’s the top 10 based on a standard five by five mixed league.