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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Shortstop Primer

February 8, 2011

When it comes to drafting shortstops you can go a lot of different ways. If you land a top pick in your draft you can take a Hanley Ramirez and not have to worry about your shortstop slot for the rest of the year. Get a late pick in the first round and you can take Troy Tulowitzki and be certain that you’ll get production – when he’s healthy. Tulo has missed 112 games the last three years, but when he’s playing he’s golden. If you land either guy you’ll be fine.

If you don’t want to take a shortstop in the first round there are some good options in the later rounds, but don’t be suckered into the ‘name’ guys – guys whose name is far greater than their output. Who am I talking about? Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins and Elvis Andrus.

Let’s play a little game here: I’ll give you 2010 stats from two players, you tell me who you want, and then I’ll tell you who the players actually are.

Player A: 111 runs – 10 homers – 67 RBIs – 18 SB – .270

Player B: 59 runs – 10 homers – 65 RBIs – 17 SB – .269

Player A is going 49th in MockDraftCentral drafts this past week. Player B is being selected 184th. Now how is Derek Jeter 135 picks better than Ian Desmond? The only stat Jeter is superior in is runs, and don’t you want Dan Uggla at pick 49 over Gordon Beckham at pick 184? I thought so. So instead of taking Jeter in the fourth round just because of his name, select Uggla and his 30 homers, 100 runs and 100 RBIs and then take Ian Desmond in the 18th round and get the same production at shortstop but much better production at second base.

That was fun! Let’s do it again!

Player A: 48 runs – 8 homers – 41 RBIs – 17 SB – .243

Player B: 66 runs – 8 homers -43 RBIs – 22 SB – .300

Neither player played over 100 games last year. Both are going to bat at the top of above-average lineups. Both are in their thirties. Player A is Jimmy Rollins, who is being selected 41st overall, and Player B is Rafael Furcal, who is going 135th overall. Now I’m not saying draft Furcal, because he’s injury-prone and getting older. But don’t you want Adam Dunn’s 40 homers and 100 RBIs instead of Rollins’ declining numbers? Or the Rollins-like Andrew McCutchen? I know I do, especially when I can get stats similar to Rollins’ 100 picks later.

One more time!

Player A: 88 – 0 – 35 – 32 – .265

Player B: 64 – 6 – 46 – 29 – .250

For a guy who bats at the top of the Texas lineup, you’d think Elvis Andrus would score more than 88 runs. But that’s not the case. And can you really afford to have a guy in your lineup hit ZERO home runs? Andrus had 10 RBIs in the second half last year. TEN! Cliff Pennington isn’t anything special, but if you want cheap steals – and I mean cheap, like you don’t even have to draft him – and a little bit more pop in your lineup you can take Pennington and get almost the same production as you would’ve gotten from Andrus.

If you’re a risk taker feel free to take Jose Reyes, but you’ll have to spend a third-round pick on someone whose best days might be behind him. But he’s only 27, and if fully healthy can be a steal in the third round. See how he does early in spring training and feel free to take him if he’s doing well.

A few young guys I like include Stephen Drew, Alexei Ramirez and Starlin Castro. Drew and Ramirez aren’t sexy and won’t get any ‘oohs’ or ‘aahs’ in the draft room, but they consistently produce mid-to-high teens in homers, 70-80 runs, 70 RBIs and double-digit steals. And they won’t kill you in batting average.

Castro is only 20 years old and had a phenomenal rookie season. Castro batted .300 last year, but his numbers are dumbed-down because he had over a third of his plate appearances come in the bottom half of the order. In 296 at bats in the second spot in the lineup Castro scored 37 runs, had 20 RBIs and stole nine bases. Castro ranked third in OBP among Cubs’ players last year, so he should be slotted near the top of the order this year. If he’s there, 80+ runs and 20+ stolen bases should be achievable for him. None of these guys are going to cost you a high draft pick but they’ll provide good value for where they are drafted.

Tier 1

Hanley Ramirez

Tulowitzki

Tier 2

Reyes

Drew

Alexei Ramirez

Rollins

Tier 3

Desmond

Jeter

Andrus

Furcal

Tier 4

Castro

Asdrubal Cabrera

Peralta

Uribe

Tier 5

Scutaro

Alex Gonzalez

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