Last week, FanGraphs’ fearless leader Dave Cameron tweeted out Steamer’s projections for top shortstop WAR (per 600 plate appearances). The top five? Troy Tulowitzki, Andrelton Simmons, Brad Miller, Hanley Ramirez, and Chris Taylor.
The two most interesting names on that list are former top prospect Brad Miller and 2012 fifth round draft pick Chris Taylor. Having owned Taylor in dynasty for a while now, seeing him that high on the projected WAR rankings is a huge positive. The issue with this is that both players are going to be directly competing with each other for playing time. A trade of one is certainly not out of question while a move to a different infield spot most certainly is with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager manning second and third base respectively.
Even though neither is guaranteed a starting job out of the gate, I am still a fan of holding onto Taylor in dynasty – and eventually expecting big things out of him. Being a quality defender is extremely important and should land him regular playing time very soon, whether it be in Seattle or elsewhere. While he did not show any power at the major league level, I expect him to improve his plate discipline with more plate appearances with the big club and be on base frequently to be a solid regular in terms of overall offensive production.
The question going forward is where will Taylor help fantasy clubs. As we all know, stolen bases and home runs are what makes a fantasy player valuable more than anything else. Taylor hit just five home runs in almost 500 plate appearances between triple-A and the majors this year while he hit just eight in over 600 plate appearances in the minors the year before. While he lacks in power and will likely not be much of an asset there, he does have speed and projects as one of the better shortstops in terms of stolen bases.
Of the shortstops on the first page of the Steamer WAR (600) projections, only Jean Segura, Alcides Escobar, Jose Ramirez, and Elvis Andrus project to steal more bases than Taylor. Even among that group, the highest projected total is Ramirez’s 28 stolen bases compared to Taylor’s 21. He has a chance, if given the paying time, to be a top-12 fantasy shortstop as early as this season.
Taylor does certainly lack upside given his home park and his lack of power, but after recording a 103 wRC+ in his short 151 plate appearance stint, things are certainly looking up for Taylor. He showed a lot of consistency in the minors so I do think his performance is that of a relatively low ceiling and high floor player in the real life game on offense. But if he hits .265 with a .328 on base percentage with a solid number of steals and other counting stats, he could be a surprise value for owners willing to hold onto him in long term formats.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.