When putting together a composite rankings list such as the one below, it is easy at times to see certain statistical trends.
For example, looking at overall composite scores, the top overall shortstop is a no-brainer. There is a similar drop between the No. 5 shortstop and the rest of the list.
Check it out yourself. The following composite shortstop rankings incorporates rankings from Sports Illustrated, Fanball, Sporting News, ESPN and Yahoo (which is a composite of their four fantasy writers).
With each player is his current team, his overall composite score and my advice, for what it’s worth.
1. Hanley Ramirez, Florida (5 pts). Is there any doubt in this position? Forget considering him the best overall shortstop … I’ll gladly take him first overall in any fantasy baseball draft. He is uber-consistent both at home and on the road and vs. both righties and southpaws. There are few sure things in life at this point. Death, taxes and Hanley Ramirez.
2. Troy Tulowitski, Colorado (14). After a backslide in 2008, Troy came out swinging last season and compiled career-highs in home runs, stolen bases, batting average and on-base percentage. His stats reached new levels after the All-Star break, signaling even better things to come in 2010 and beyond.
3. Jose Reyes, New York Mets (15). Second on many rankings, Reyes has first-round talent, but after injuries decimated his 2009 campaign, some are nervous to invest a high pick on the 27-year old. Overall, Reyes has looked good from an injury standpoint, but there is growing controversy over a possible thyroid issue. Watch the situation closely heading into your respective drafts.
4 (tie). Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia (22). Perhaps one of the hardest players in baseball to predict, Rollins can produce incredibly solid numbers across the board, especially in a stacked Phillies lineup. While his stolen bases slipped last season along with his batting average, he did see an uptick in home runs. There are few players, especially at this position, that have matched or improved upon the overall numbers across the board that Rollins can provide.
4 (tie). Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (22). After his numbers dipped significantly in 2008, many considered Jeter as a player on the downside of his career. However, he silenced the critics in 2009 with large jumps in most every category, especially steals, which was his highest (30) since 2006. Jeter’s on-base percentage tied to the explosive lineup he hits on top of make him a statistical threat every time he walks to the plate. Watch, however, how high he goes in your respective fantasy drafts, however, because Jeter comes with significant name-recognition and could be fairly expensive on draft day.
6. Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay (34). Few shortstops outside of Derek Jeter are as revered in their respective clubhouses as much as Bartlett is in Tampa Bay. He is coming off a breakout season in 2009 where he found a sudden power surge to go with significantly higher steals, batting average, runs scored and RBI. He did slow down somewhat after the All-Star break, and may have trouble replicating the levels he showed in 2009, but in a young, potent lineup, Bartlett can still be a solid shortstop option in all fantasy formats.
7. Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox (39). In 62 more at-bats in 2009 over 2008, Ramirez hit six fewer home runs, saw a small dropoff in RBI and batting average and struggled at times against right handed pitchers. However, as the talent starts to decline at the position, Ramirez, even at 29 years of age, is still a threat to post a 20-20 season.
8. Yunel Escobar, Atlanta (50). Escobar isn’t a guy you will be taking much higher than at this spot, but offers a decent upgrade over others on this list. He proved in 2009 that his 2008 breakout wasn’t a fluke. He has hovered right around .300 over the past three seasons and while he doesn’t offer a ton of speed, he is a decent power option with upside potential. While he is currently projected to bat sixth in the lineup, he should be able to move up as the season progresses.
9. Elvis Andrus, Texas (53). While Escobar is a power hitter with little speed contributions, Andrus is a speedy option with little power … although that could come with more experience at the big league level. Want to know what Andrus is capable of? Check out his .280 batting average and 17 steals after the All-Star break.
10. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland (56). Perhaps the best advocacy of what Asdrubal can do came from his own teammate … Grady Sizemore, who graciously has decided to bat from the No. 2 hole in the Indians lineup to allow Cabrera leadoff at-bats. The talented short stop flashed plenty of potential last year, although his campaign was marred by a shoulder injury in the middle of the regular season. He still was able to fight his way back into the lineup, and hit .370 in August and will rake in steals and runs scored categories atop the Cleveland lineup.
11. Miguel Tejada, Baltimore (57). The second 36-year-old on the list (with Jeter), Tejada has weathered the steroids storm and fared well in a comeback sort of season with 199 hits and a marked improvement in batting average. Still, it is hard to get excited about Tejada’s long-term statistical prospects and expectations should be tempered.
12. Stephen Drew, Arizona (59). Drew proved last season that he is more inconsistent than anything else. After an encouraging 2008 campaign, Drew struggled with plate discipline and a bad hamstring in 2009. His minor league numbers suggest that he has enough potential to produce nice fantasy stats, but you never really know what you are going to get from him.
13. Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers (66). After an injury-plagued 2008, many were expecting/hoping for a bounceback season from Furcal last year. However, he proceeded to turn in the lowest batting average of his career and only 12 steals. While he did make some amends with a decent final month of play, it is hard to expect anything substantial out of the aging Furcal.
14. Johnny Peralta, Cleveland (70). It is amazing how quickly the shortstop pool dries up. Peralta is coming off five-year lows in both batting average and home runs and didn’t steal a single base in 2009 to boot. He does have ample talent, but doesn’t provide enough consistency for fantasy owners to comfortably start him on a day-to-day or even week-to-week basis.
15. Ryan Theriot, Chicago Cubs (72). Bouyed by a strong ranking at Fanball, Theriot does produce on the basepaths. He saw a small uptick in home runs last year, but a surge in May and June helped pad those numbers. Theriot is a player you can snag in the late, late rounds of your respective draft as a speed additive who won’t hurt (and may actually help) your batting average. Don’t expect a whole lot more out of him, and you’ll be happy.
Others just missing the cut include Marco Scutaro, Orlando Cabrera, Everth Cabrera, Alcides Escobar.
Check out my value shortstop options here.
Who are your shortstops of choice in fantasy baseball circles this year? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.