Undervalued Shortstops for Fantasy Baseball Drafts
We’ve already taken a look at shortstops overvalued by fantasy experts. There was Alexei Ramirez, who I contend, is aging with declining skills and less opportunities due being moved down in the White Sox order. Andrelton Simmons’ power seems unsustainable, and isn’t made up for it in other relevant statistical categories to justify his ranking. And finally, Everth Cabrera’s elite speed doesn’t make up for a complete lack of power and run production in my estimation. With these guys dropping down, there has to be room made for valuable shortstops not being considered by experts. Here are three undervalued shortstops to look for on draft day.
Jed Lowrie – Oakland Athletics
Jed Lowrie’s lack of production over the early part of his career was mostly due to opportunity, or lack thereof. While in Boston he always bounced back and forth between the minors and the big club. He finally showed what he was capable of in Houston in 2012, with 16 HR and 42 RBI in only 340 AB. It wasn’t until getting traded to the A’s in 2013 that Lowrie finally had a full season of major league at bats. He didn’t waste them, hitting .290, with 15 HR, and 75 RBI. Now that he is comfortable knowing he has a starting spot in Oakland, look for the 29 year old Lowrie to not only repeat his numbers from 2013, but also improve on them– particularly in the HR department. He’s young enough to still be in the prime of his career, and should be looked at before his current composite ranking of 184th overall, and 14th among shortstops.
Jurickson Profar – Texas Rangers
Jurickson Profar’s status as a shortstop may be dependent on your particular league’s settings. While he will be manning up the middle infield in Texas, it will be on the opposite side of starting SS Elvis Andrus, at second base, after three-time All-Star Ian Kinsler was shipped to Detroit. In most leagues, however, Profar is shortstop eligible, and that’s all we care about in fantasy. Profar, before his quick call up in 2012, and eventual permanent stay last season, was the number one prospect in baseball, and the Rangers were desperately trying to find playing time for their future star. While Profar’s .234, 6 HR, and 26 RBI line with the Rangers last season was certainly underwhelming, know that those numbers were laid out in spotty playing time, with no starting gig in sight. Now that he has some Major League time under his belt, and is assured a starting gig in what appears to be a potent offense in an always hitter friendly park, look for Profar to end up closer to his minor league peripherals of 2011’s (.286 BA, .390 OBP, 12 HR, 65 RBI, 23 SB); and 2012’s (.281 BA, .368 OBP, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 16 SB). What’s beautiful about those peripherals is balance. You’re getting batting average, the ability to get on base in OBP leagues, good pop from a middle infield spot, and speed to boot. He’s being taken far too low according to consensus rankings of 18th among shortstops and 185th overall, and should be looked for as a high upside play before the likes of Alexei Ramirez or Jimmy Rollins – both ranked higher.
Brad Miller – Seattle Mariners
The only thing standing in Brad Miller’s way in Seattle last season was organization’s idea that Nick Franklin was the heir apparent at SS for the offensively challenged M’s. Franklin had his chance, and struggled mightily at the plate. The Mariners felt if they weren’t getting production from their shortstop position anyhow, that Brad Miller should get his opportunity due to his superior defense. Miller took over in late June, and while most were surprised with the offensive spark he provided (8 HR, 36 RBI, and 5 SB in only 306 AB), his peripherals suggest that we should have not only seen this coming, but also that we should expect more in 2014. The Mariners are openly shopping Franklin, making it certain that Miller will man the M’s middle infield opposite Robinson Cano the entire season, and that can do a ton for a young players confidence. Couple that with an improved lineup, and minor league numbers in 2012 that include a .334 BA, .410 OBP, 68 RBI, and 23 SB; and 2013 with a .319 BA, .399 OBP, and 56 RBI (in only 410 AB, before his call up to the big club); and it would seem Miller has much better days, and seasons, ahead. Not too many will be looking for Brad Miller. You should be, well before his ranked value of 19th among shortstops, and 218th overall.