2014 Fantasy Baseball SS Preview

Today we rank one of the most intriguing positions in all of baseball: Shortstop.  Ok, so maybe you’re pining for the glory days of power hitting shortstops like NomarJeter and A-Rod, but ladies and gentlemen we are due for a renaissance!  Granted, the value of these players drops off quickly, there is significant value to be had in this group, especially for keeper and dynasty owners. Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar are due to be everyday regulars in 2014, with Addisson RussellJavier BaezCarlos Correaand Francisco Lindor right behind them (Are you paying attention dynasty owners?!).  In the meantime, let’s dive into the shortstop ranks and see how these guys stack up against one another.  As always, Ryan’s individual ranks can be found here and Steven’s can be found here.

1 Troy Tulowitzki Rockies
2 Hanley Ramirez Dodgers
3 Jose Reyes Blue Jays
4 Jean Segura Brewers
5 Ian Desmond Nationals
6 Everth Cabrera Padres
7 Elvis Andrus Rangers
8 Ben Zobrist Rays
9 J.J. Hardy Orioles
10 Andrelton Simmons Braves
11 Starlin Castro Cubs
12 Brad Miller Mariners
13 Xander Boegarts Red Sox
14 Alexei Ramirez White Sox
15 Jed Lowrie Athletics
16 Asdrubal Cabrera Indians
17 Erick Aybar Angels
18 Jhonny Peralta Cardinals
19 Jurickson Profar Rangers
20 Jimmy Rollins Phillies
21 Derek Jeter Yankees
22 Zack Cozart Reds
23 Jonathan Villar Astros
24 Yunel Escobar Rays
25 Alcides Escobar Royals
26 Brandon Crawford Giants
27 Stephen Drew FA
28 Ruben Tejada Mets
29 Josh Rutledge Rockies
30 Jordy Mercer Pirates
31 Adeiny Hechavarria Marlins
32 Didi Gregorius Diamondbacks
33 Jose Iglesias Tigers
34 Maicer Izturis  Blue Jays
Tier 1
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies
Hanley Ramirez Dodgers
Jose Reyes Blue Jays
There is no denying that Troy TulowitzkiHanley Ramirez and Jose Reyesare extremely talented players, but each of these guys comes with significant health risk.  As I mentioned in my 3B preview, past injury history is usually the best indicator for someone landing on the DL in the future.  Any of these guys would be a risky first round pick, but picking any of these top three in the early 2nd / 3rd round has incredibly upside.  Tulo is a 30 HR potential bat, but he’d have to play more than 120 games.  He was healthy in 2011, and in 2013 played in 126 games.  When Hanley was on the field, he played like a legitimate MVP candidate.  In 86 games, HanRam belted 20 HRs, 57 RBIs and 62 Runs.  If he can stay healthy in 2014, he can put up some monster numbers, I think he will.  Jose Reyes played in only 93 games last year, as the injury bug got the best of Toronto.  In that short time however, he hit 15 HRs and stole 10 bases, I like him as a 20/15 guy this upcoming season, with quality counting stats as Toronto’s lineup maintains their health — they were incredibly unlucky last season.
Tier 2
Jean Segura Brewers
Ian Desmond Nationals
Everth Cabrera Padres

Jean Segura is just 23 years old, and is really coming into his own as a major league hitter.  He’s a contact hitter with plus speed, who is likely to steal 35-40 bases. One thing that concerns me about Segura is his low walk rate of 4% in 2013.  He’s an above average defender, so isn’t in danger of losing his job, but he has to be more patient at the plate to earn his stripes in the top tier of SS.  Ian Desmond may strike out a million times per year, but he’s hit 20 and 25 HRs each of the last two seasons, and can help in total bases since he’s mashed 27 doubles each year since 2010.  Strikeouts are always concerning in fantasy becasuse they yield nothing, but if Desmond is available in the 3rd or 4th round, he’s a clear pickup, prior to that I’d pass.  Everth Cabrera ‘went to a farm upstate’ for 50 games last year after failing a drug test.  He could be a decent sleeper pick if he’s available in the 4th or 5th round, but I wouldn’t draft him too early.

Tier 3
Elvis Andrus Rangers
Ben Zobrist Rays
J.J. Hardy Orioles
Andrelton Simmons Braves

Once you get to this tier, drafting a SS should no longer be a priority if there are other solid bats from the OF or 1B available.  These guys are most likely late 4th or early 5th round picks, but could complement a team nicely in a MI spot. With Elvis Andrus you know what we’re going to get: 30+ SBs, .270 BA and limited power.  If your team is filled with mashers who can’t steal bases, he’s a good complement.  The best part about Ben Zobrist is his ability to fill in at multiple positions, the negative is his age – Zorilla is entering into his age 33 season.  He’s likely good for double digit HRs and SBs.  Both JJ Hardyand Andrelton Simmons have shown they have more raw power than the average SS but both have just about league average BAs. If you draft high batting average guys at the front of your draft, Hardy and Simmons are decent options for HRs from a position that isn’t known for power.

Tier 4
Starlin Castro Cubs
Brad Miller Mariners
Xander Boegarts Red Sox
Alexei Ramirez White Sox
Jed Lowrie Athletics
Starlin Castro was one of the biggest disappointments in 2013, but he should be able to hit double digit HRs and increase his BA.  Last year, he suffered some pretty bad luck with a .290 batting average on balls in play (which is league average, but down about 25-50 points from his norm).  Expect a BA above league average, somewhere in the .260-.270 range.  Brad Miller played half a season with Seattle last year, hitting .265 with 8 dingers in 76 games.  Going into 2014, I could see Miller with double digit HRs and SBs hitting around the .260-.270 mark.  If you miss out on the top SS on this list, it might be worth waiting a few extra rounds and grabbing him. We saw the rapid maturity of Xander Bogaerts in the playoffs last year, but there is still some risk, as the Red Sox could still resign Stephen Drew, which will likely take time away from Bogaerts.  If he gets 500+ plate appearances, I would pencil him in for around 15 HRs and a league average BA (.250-.260).  Alexei Ramirez is an interesting pick to help out lineups lacking speed; though he won’t hit for power, his .270-.285 batting average makes him a decent BA / speed guy at SS.  Jed Lowrie has a past riddled with injury and he is entering into his age 30 season.  He has the potential for 10-15 HRs, but 2013 was the first year he played over 100 games: buyer beware.
Tier 5
Asdrubal Cabrera Indians
Erick Aybar Angels
Jhonny Peralta Tigers
Jurickson Profar Rangers
You really want to have one of the guys mentioned prior before drafting this group as these guys come with significant risk.  Asdrubal Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta are good for 10+ HRs, but he won’t help much in average or speed, and Peralta is coming off a PED suspension.  Jurickson Profar could be an interesting late draft flier, but I would be apprehensive expecting him to be an immediately productive starting SS.
The Senior Circuit
Jimmy Rollins Phillies
Derek Jeter Yankees
I don’t know what else to say other than: these dudes are old.  Let someone who hasn’t read a fantasy article in 3 years pick Rollins or Jeter.  Rollins showed a major power outage last year and Jeter is coming off a nasty ankle injury and is entering into his age 40 season.
The Fielding Shortstops
Zack Cozart Reds
Jonathan Villar Astros
Yunel Escobar Rays
Alcides Escobar Royals
Brandon Crawford Giants
Stephen Drew FA
Ruben Tejada Mets
Josh Rutledge Rockies
Jordy Mercer Pirates
Adeiny Hechavarria Marlins
Didi Gregorius Diamondbacks
Jose Iglesias Tigers
Maicer Izturis  Blue Jays
Most of the guys in this group are good defenders who hold down jobs because they can field.  Jonathan Villar is a great speed threat, so if you are lacking in SB, he could be an interesting MI player.  Josh Rutledge has an above average hit tool, and could help a lineup floundering for BA.