Shortstop has been a pretty rough fantasy position for quite a while now. We’ve had better days when Jeter was younger, A-Rod played there, Hanley was a top pick, and even back to the days of Nomar. Now even the top guys have injury concerns, and then after that it is a mish mosh of old bastards, guys with one good season under their belt, and frankly guys I think get too much hype. And those are the ones that will be starters out there. There are a couple of decent sleepers on this list, but this is going to be a position on your team that you will likely pick a guy that will not live up to his draft position, but you really don’t want to be playing from the bottom of the scrap heap here. You gotta at least get someone decent to good, or else this will be a black hole all season. Now, with all of that happy news, let’s get to the shortstops!
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1. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
.287 average, 8 homers, 27 RBI, 2 SBs, 33 runs (47 games)
A wicked groin injury cost Tulowitzki the lion’s share of the 2012 season but he is ready to go, and although health concerns are always there with him, there’s no doubting his talent or how he performs when he is in there. When he plays he is among the best in baseball, and the fact he plays shortstop only makes his stock that much higher. He should be a mid to late first round pick or early second at the absolute latest.
2. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
.257 average, 24 homers, 92 RBI, 21 SBs, 79 runs
After going to third base for a bit, Hanley will be heading back to shortstop this season for the Dodgers as fantasy players delight at the thought. There is certainly a dearth of quality fantasy options at this position as compared to third base. Hanley does a little bit of everything. His batting average has been subpar over the past two seasons, but he has also hit .342 in the majors just four years ago and was consistently over .300 before the changing teams and moving positions happened. I love Hanley as a bit of a bargain this year because I think he’s going to drop a round or two more than he should, and I can see him getting back over the 30 homer plateau again.
3. Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
.283, 14 homers, 78 RBI, 25 steals, 78 runs
Outside of his batting average, Castro’s numbers have continued to increase across the board since his rookie season, and he has now turned into a pretty solid fantasy player. He is capable of hitting over .300 and I don’t think he is going to hit many more than the 14 homers he hit last season. He isn’t going to be the leader at the position in any one category, but he is going to help you in pretty much every category and has moved to among the best at the position. Castro has gone from purely a base stealer to a well rounded hitter. He’s going to go in the first five rounds.
4. Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays
.287 average, 11 homers, 57 RBI, 40 steals, 86 runs
It has been a very interesting career for Reyes. When he has been in the lineup he has been a very productive player. Unfortunately for him, Reyes hasn’t had the best of luck with leg injuries, and they have cost him parts of five seasons of his career. I’m very surprised that he is in Toronto, but the Blue Jays have put together a pretty good roster so I think he will be motivated. Look for Reyes to steal 40-50 bags and possibly hit .300. He will go in the first three rounds.
5. Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
.292 average, 25 homers, 73 RBI, 21 steals, 72 runs
Desmond broke out in a big way in 2012 as he had never hit more than 10 homers in a season before the 25 long balls that he connected on last season. He has always brought speed to the table though, and now he is excelling as a dual threat at a really hard position to fill. 25 homers is probably his ceiling, and I actually expect him to hit closer to 20 in 2013. He is a legitimate fantasy star at shortstop though and shouldn’t be looked at as a fluke. The batting average might dip some too, but even if he goes .275/20/75/20, would you complain? I didn’t think so. Desmond is a for real starting fantasy shortstop.
6. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
.270 average, 16 homers, 68 RBI, 9 steals, 70 runs
Raise your hand if you were surprised that Cabrera didn’t put up similar numbers to those of his breakout 2011 campaign! Put your hand down stupid, everyone knew he couldn’t duplicate that magical run. I was a little sad to see his numbers fall as far as they did though. So, what’s in store for 2013? I think you will see the home run numbers stay pretty close to where they were in 2012. I don’t think he is a 25 homer guy, more of a ceiling of 20. I do believe that you could see his stolen bases more than double this season though. With the recent additions to their offense, Cabrera could drive in 80 runs though, even if he still only hits 15-18 out of the park. He’s going to be a solid player this year. Not an All-Star, but someone that I feel fairly confident having as my number one guy at the position.
7. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
.250 average, 23 homers, 68 RBI, 30 steals, 102 runs
Old Man River had seemed to start to catch up to Rollins the past few seasons, as he had just 56 homers in the past four seasons. Jimmy Got His Groove back in 2012 though as he again topped 30 steals, but this time pounded out 23 homers and scored 102 runs as well. He is 34 years old however, and almost no one can beat Father Time. Rollins could have another solid year or two left in him, but at this point he is more of a lower level starting shortstop and there are newer, better models for you to choose from. If it is in the middle rounds of your draft and you haven’t filled the position, you can do worse than Rollins, but he isn’t someone that I would go into drafts targeting.
8. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
.316 average, 15 homers, 58 RBI, 9 steals, 99 runs
OLDER Man River is heading towards New York as the 38 year old Jeter enters another season for the Bombers. The last time we saw him he was in a heap in the ALCS after breaking his ankle and putting the final nail in the Yankees playoff coffin. However, in true Jeter fashion he is healing fine and is supposed to be ready will no restrictions in time for Spring. However, he is going to turn 39 years old in June, and I’m sorry this just can’t go on forever. He had a very good season in 2012 and if you could get that out of him again this year and you waited to take your shortstop, I think you sign up for that right now. But I just wonder if he can hit .300 again. If he can even hit 15 homers again. If he won’t get hurt again. I know he’s not a power hitting masher, but he is getting to the end of the road. He might have one more quality season in him, but I also am not ready to bet on him this season.
9. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
.286 average, 2 homers, 62 RBI, 21 steals, 85 runs
Ever since he came into the league, I’ve never known what to think of Elvis Andrus. He seems to get a pretty decent amount of attention, but at the end of the season I look at the numbers. OK batting average (.286 was a career high), no power, decent but not overwhelming speed, pretty good runs scored. Yet he gets a lot of attention. I’ve never really come around on this guy, I just don’t get it. Lots of guys steal 30 bases. But most of them bring something else to the table. Some power, they hit .300, they score 100 runs. But this guy continues to be drafted higher than I think he should. There’s something there to like, I just can’t put my finger on it. I’ll let someone else take him in 2013. Watch, after all of that he will have a career season. Andrus to break out in 2013 people!
10. Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers
.239 average, 13 homers, 63 RBI, 1 steal, 58 runs
If you read my first base rankings you will see that Adam LaRoche has long been a guy that I have had on my roster all of the time to various degrees of scrutiny from my leaguemates. Peralta is another one of those guys. I don’t know what it is about this guy, but I always seem to have him. Some years I win, some years (like 2012), I lose. Most years though I am usually pretty happy with the guy whose parents are obviously dyslexic……or there was a typo at the hospital, either way. Before 2012, he had driven in at least 80 runs in four straight seasons. Sure his batting average fluctuates in a 50 point swing, but 80 RBI aren’t easy to come by in a shortstop, not to mention he’s hit over 20 homers four times in his career as well. You might get made fun of, people might snicker behind your back, but I don’t see nothing wrong with a little Peralta on your side. More as a last resort as a starter or a great middle infield option.
11. Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
.265 average, 9 homers, 73 RBI, 20 steals, 59 runs
Let me know when you can figure this guy out. The Cuban Missile, as he is called, has had quite the roller coaster career since coming to the US six years ago, but has always found his way to fantasy rosters. He had a career low in homers last season, but a career high in stolen bases. He surpassed 70 RBI for the fourth time in his five year career, but had career lows in walks, batting average, and runs scored. So what in the world should we expect from this guy in 2013? I actually like him. I always have. He’s a low level starter or awesome middle infield option. My guess is the nine home runs will have him available later than he should be. He’s a .280-.285 hitter, 16-18 homers, 20 steals, 75 RBI. He’s a starting fantasy shortstop, even if his numbers from last season suggest otherwise. I like a bounceback year from him, even if he’s past age 30.
12. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
.238 average, 22 homers, 68 RBI, 85 runs
After pretty much falling off the fantasy map his last season in Milwaukee and his first in Minnesota, Hardy has absolutely blossomed again as a member of the Orioles. He has smacked 52 homers the past two years, and although his batting average and RBI are disappointing for someone hitting so many out of the park, again this is a tough position to fill. Hardy has traditionally hit in the .260s and .270s so I think the .238 from last season will prove to be an aberration. Even with all of the power he is overlooked for a guy like Andrus or Jeter. He brings no speed to the table, but I just think he is capable of hitting too many homers to be ignored. You can get him in the mid to late rounds, but if you need some pop, Hardy could be your guy.
13. Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox
.223 average, 7 homers, 28 RBI, 1 steal, 38 runs (79 games)
It had been a pretty rough couple of years for Drew in 2011 and 2012 as injuries and inconsistency really did a number on him. Something happened though when he was traded to Oakland that seemed to reawaken that kid with the sweet swing that I started watching in 2006. He might have only hit .250, but some of the power came back, the gap hitting came back, and the most important of it all, the enthusiasm returned. It was obvious that Drew was having fun. Now he goes to Boston where every game is scrutinized, and I think he is going to have a field day at Fenway Park. I think he can hit 20 homers, I think he can drive in 85 runs, and I think he can hit .285. I think. If he can stay healthy. I am going to be targeting Drew in as many leagues as I can this year. Will you?
14. Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres
.246 average, 2 homers, 24 RBI, 44 steals, 49 runs (115 games)
He led the NL in steals despite only playing 115 games and hitting .246, showing further what Cabrera could be capable of if he could actually ever get on base consistently, and stay healthy. He remains a Padre for 2013, which only helps his value as they are not very good and he should have the green light whenever he wants to run. If he maintains the starting job (San Diego has a couple impressive prospects), there’s no reason why this guy can’t steal 50 or even 60 bases. There’s still enough risk that he isn’t worth taking until at least after the 15th round or so, but he could be a major difference maker if things fall his way.
15. Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
.293 average, 5 homers, 52 RBI, 35 steals, 68 runs
It was quite the year for Mr. Escobar last season as he had career highs across the board. In fact his batting average was WELL higher than it was his first two season in the Bigs. His stolen base numbers have increased every year he has been in the Majors, but I think that streak comes to an end in 2013. He needs to find ways to get on base more consistently. Moreover, he needs to stop swinging at every freakin pitch they throw at him! Along with his stolen bases, his strikeouts have increased every season he’s been around too, up to a whopping 100 in 2012. That’s far too many for a light hitting base stealer. Not to mention 27 walks in over 600 at bats is just a laughable number. He might get some attention this season because he grabbed 35 bags last season, but I’m not ready to give in and trust him. I have a feeling he’s going to be drafted sooner than he should. If you can get him late he’s worth the gamble, but not sooner than the last three or four rounds.
16. Yunel Escobar, Tampa Bay Rays
.253 average, 9 homers, 51 RBI, 5 steals, 58 runs
For a couple of years with the Braves you could get Yunel at the end of the draft or even in free agency and he hit near .300, had 10-13 homers, and drove in 65-75 runs. Since he left Atlanta he has found some injury problems, and he just hasn’t been the same guy. He had a bit of a resurgence in 2011, but he went right back to the regression in 2012. He now ends up in Tampa Bay, and I have to admit while I’m intrigued, I’m just not ready to jump in that boat again. I’ll keep an eye on Escobar when the season starts as I like a lot of Tampa players and the way they play ball, but I just can’t trust him, unless your league plays with a middle infielder. Then he is worth having on your roster.
17. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
.246 average, 15 homers, 35 RBI, 4 steals, 72 runs (138 games)
His first full season in the major leagues was a pretty successful one. Of course, you’d love to see him hit for a better average, drive in more runs, and steal more bases, but the fact that Cozart hit 15 bombs and scored 72 runs is enough for me to call it a success. His minor league numbers suggest that he will run much more in the future, he stole 30 bags in 2010. He is never going to win a batting title either, but I have to believe that he can at least get up to .260. The Reds have a powerful lineup in one of the great hitter’s parks of all time. All of this only means more opportunity for Cozart to succeed. Look for him to be even better in 2013. Hey, that kind of rhymed. Succeed and thirteen. Yeah, a little. Forget it, shut up and go to the next player!
18. Jed Lowrie, Oakland Athletics
.244 average, 16 homers, 42 RBI, 2 steals, 43 runs (97 games)
Staying healthy has always been a concern with Lowrie. Staying healthy and playing time. It seems like he’s always been trapped behind someone in Boston, and then he goes to Houston and misses 65 games due to injury. But wait, he hit 16 homers in less than 100 games? Is that right? Yeah Champ, it’s right, but hold on. He did play his home games in one of the best hitters parks in baseball, although just over half of his long balls were hit there. He now goes to one of the most cavernous ballparks in baseball to a team that likes to run and manufacture runs rather than wait for the long ball. He also doesn’t have a spot guaranteed for him, although I’m sure he will pretty much play everywhere. Lowrie’s value took a hit with the trade, but if there’s an injury or a situation change, he could be a long term fill in if your team catches some injuries.
19. Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
.258 average, 0 homers, 14 RBI, 7 steals, 19 runs (45 games)
He wasn’t able to show it too much in his limited time in the majors last season, but Segura can burn down the basepaths! Between 2011-2012 (146 games) in the minors, Segura stole 55 bases, and the Brewers are hoping that he can bring that to their lineup as soon as right now. He has struggled to hit major league pitching, and his average dipped below .300 in the high minors too, so I am a little worried about his ability to get on base to be able to steal these bases, but he is one of the better middle infield prospects right now and if you are looking for some late steals cheap, this is your guy.
20. Hiroyuki Nakajima, Oakland Athletics
.311 average, 13 homers, 74 RBI, 7 SBs, 69 runs
Japan’s latest import and the latest Oakland Athletic showed an ability to hit for some power as well as steal some bases for the Seibu Lions of the Japanese League. We usually have seen a player’s stats dip when they come to the United States, especially the power numbers. However, I think you will see him steal more than the seven bags he did last season, as he traditionally was in the 20s earlier in his career. He is going to be the A’s starting shortstop and should see everyday playing time. There is always a lot of mystery and intrigue surrounding Japanese players, and I think unless I get caught with my pants down at shortstop or middle infield, I’m going to let this guy pass and watch what he does in games over here, and then react from there.
21. Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
.289 average, 3 homers, 19 RBI, 1 steal, 17 runs (49 games)
He was given the chance to be the starting shortstop in Atlanta for part of last season before a broken finger caused him to miss a significant amount of time. He did show an ability to get on base at the big league level though, which was fairly encouraging. He actually was able to draw more walks and strikeout less for the Braves. He didn’t show his base stealing ability at the majors, but he was an accomplished swiper in the minors, and if he is put in the leadoff position as expected, he could be a sweet sleeper for steals and runs scored. He isn’t going to bring you power, but you shouldn’t be drafting him for that anyway. Simmons likely won’t come off the board during your draft, but maybe he should, watch him this Spring.
22. Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.290 average, 8 homers, 45 RBI, 20 steals, 67 runs
Here’s another guy that I just don’t understand why he gets any sort of fantasy love. I know you will look and see that he stole 20 bases and hit for a pretty decent average, but are our levels that low that he is worth having? Plus he stole seven bases in the last month of the season, so he had thirteen for the first five months of the season. Can he run with the momentum he finished the year with and have a productive 2013? I suppose that is possible, but I’m not counting on it. Come Draft Day, I wouldn’t give Aybar a second look.
23. Rafael Furcal, St. Louis Cardinals
.264 average, 5 homers, 49 RBI, 12 steals, 69 runs (121 games)
A torn ligament ended his season early, a recurring theme as Furcal has only managed 125 games once in the last five seasons. Injury after injury has befallen this guy, and at age 35 that’s what’s called a trend. He doesn’t help you in any one category enough to be worth the risk. He once hit for average, he once stole 30-40 bases, he once had double digit homer power. That was all a long time ago. Furcal is a decent baseball player, but his days of fantasy relevance are clearly behind him. Don’t bother.
24. Pedro Florimon, Minnesota Twins
.219 average, 1 homer, 10 RBI, 3 steals, 16 runs (43 games)
A light hitting, strikeout machine, Florimon doesn’t have a ton of fantasy fanfare to go with his starting job in Minnesota. He isn’t going to get to double digits in homers, he isn’t going to even hit .265, and he likely won’t drive in more than 30 runs in a year. He could, stress could, steal 25 bags, but with the rest of the numbers I don’t really see him as anymore than an emergency fill in if your starter (and backup) both end up on the DL for a couple of weeks. Not much to see here folks, keep moving!
25. Clint Barmes, Pittsburgh Pirates
.229 average, 8 homers, 45 RBI, 34 runs
I don’t know if deer meat has ever had a more profound effect on a major league career than it did with Clint Barmes. Those of you who remember during his rookie year he was the talk of the town for the first month or so before he broke his wrist carrying deer meat up the stairs. His season was derailed and it has never recovered. Sure, he hit 23 jacks in 2009, but he also hit .245 that season. His batting average has never recovered, his power has rarely been there, and he is just a shell of what he once was. I liked the guy for a long time and held out hope that he would return to his former glory. Those days have passed. He is now a low level, injury-prone, sucky shortstop. There are few situations that I can see having him in my lineup, or even on my roster anymore. Oh venison, how you ruined my man Clint! I might go vegan in his honor. Naaaaaah!