As a baseball fan, shortstop has always been one of my favorite positions. I respect the defensive importance these players have and admire their overall athleticism. If I’m ever reincarnated as a major league baseball player, I hope it’s as a shortstop.
From a fantasy perspective, I have also been a huge fan of building my team around superstars at the position. I was regularly spending 1st round picks on Hanley Ramirez during his glory days, and gladly paid an arm and a leg for Troy Tulowitzki in all my leagues this year and in the past (I play in four leagues and own him in all four).
Unfortunately, by 2018 Tulowitzki probably won’t be a top shortstop, since 34 year old players with his level of injury history usually don’t hang on to the elite skills from their youth. That makes this piece just as much about me finding a new love as it is about helping you win your dynasty leagues!
On that note, if you missed my previous 2018 posts you can catch up here:
As usual, here is the typical boiler plate crystal ball language for the series. A ton can change in five years. How many players are truly good enough to be can’t miss top of the heap talents, or for players already tearing up the league today to do it another five years down the road? Barring some crazy elites, it just doesn’t happen.
OK, I’m done trying to manage your expectations — it’s time to own it! Here we go with the future of shortstops.
Current Player to Bet On
Shortstops in fantasy baseball, especially at the present time, usually earn a good deal of value on the base paths — these guys love to run (see: Jose Reyes, Jean Segura, Elvis Andrus, Everth Cabrera). However, unless someone tapes a cheetah to their back and steals 60 or more bases, I don’t think speed alone will be enough to warrant the top spot at the position.
What I am looking for in an elite shortstop is power, not speed. I want to garner 25 home runs, 75 or more runs and RBI with a good average. With enough power I wouldn’t even mind sacrificing most of the speed you normally get from this position because I think the rest will provide a huge competitive advantage, and I have faith I will find speed with my outfielders.
Scanning the current make-up at the position there are only three players I believe can hit those marks in 2014: Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez and, still, Ian Desmond. However, by 2018 all of these guys will be in their mid-30s and in the back end of their illustrious fantasy careers.
That’s why I have my eye on Xander Bogaerts as the only current shortstop who will be able to check the boxes off my criteria stat sheet in the next few years.
I don’t think he will ever reach the heights of Hanley or Tulo, but he will be a very good player. In the minor leagues as just a 20 year old, he used his ultra-quick bat speed to hit mid-teens home runs, and despite what we have seen from he so far in 2014 the power is only going to go up from there as he fills in his athletic 6′,1, 210 pound frame. He’s going to learn to recognize all the pitches major leaguers have to offer this year and that experience will be invaluable to his maturation process. He is still only 21 years old which means even if he doesn’t break out this year like some people expect, by the time 2018 comes around he will have worked out the kinks and be in the prime of his career.
The Next Big Thing
Scouts rave about the overall “hit tool” of Carlos Correa, the 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft. He’s still only 19 years old and lacks polish, but if scouts are right this is going to be a big time player and a name you need to know. Despite some scouts claiming Correa’s massive upside is comparable to Alex Rodriguez, I’m skill a bit skeptical he will blossom into that type of power hitter. Do these scouts forget just how incredible A-Rod was?
Here comes a provocative statement and one that could come back to haunt me — I think the better fantasy prospect at this point in time is actually Addison Russell.
He is a bit banged up at the moment, but it shouldn’t set his development back much since he already has a lot of the polish Correa lacks. While I will never win an argument regarding Russell’s ceiling compared to Correa’s, I can take solace in having a very high confidence that he will be a five-category fantasy contributor with a projectable floor. In his prime I’m talking 2o home runs, 20 steals and a .280 batting average. In other words, if Desmond-type stats are pretty close to your floor, the future is incredibly bright.
The Dark Horse
Tim Anderson (White Sox) is the definition of a dark horse because there is extreme risk attached to his ability to ever even reach the major league level. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2013 amateur draft, so the pedigree is there, and he enjoyed a pretty successful single-A season from a fantasy perspective, stealing 24 bases in just 68 games. There was no power on the field to speak of, but scouts mostly agree he does have above average raw power compared to other middle infielders. He has a lot of work to do in the plate discipline department before we can consider him a real threat to be a top fantasy shortstop, but his athleticism is All-Star caliber and he will be an exciting player to own if he reaches his full potential.