Who is Chris Owings?
With the news that Chris Owings has the starting shortstop gig in Arizona, the time has come for fantasy owners to start grading him against other shortstops in the league.
Owings has not had a fantastic spring, but that should not worry anyone keeping an eye on him. Spring Training statistics almost never predict regular season performance (Mike Moustakas will not hit .450 this year, I promise) - and some owners overreact to bad springs and drop players on their draft boards.
Owings was not going to cost anyone a high draft pick anyway, but his uninspiring spring may drive even more people away, which is good news for owners who appreciate value.
Strategy for Fantasy Shortstops
Shortstop is a tough position to fill in fantasy baseball. And unless you have one of the top five at the position (Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Ian Desmond or Elvis Andrus), chances are you’ll be shuffling players around at that position as your needs dictate. Why? Because there are a good number of shortstops who are interchangeable. In other words, owners can duplicate their production by simply plugging someone else in. For this reason, Owings becomes very valuable.
Outside of the elite shortstops, there are only a handful of others I would use one of my first 10 draft picks on. Again, we're talking about how much value you can get for your picks. Ben Zobrist, Starlin Castro, and J.J. Hardy come to mind. However, Owings should be able to at least duplicate the power numbers of any other shortstop in the league if not outperform them. And owners can get Owings at a much lower cost to them than, say, Asdrubal Cabrera, who will probably cost a 10th - 11th round draft pick.
Where To Draft Him
Essentially, if you do not grab one of the top six or seven shortstops in the early rounds, use those mid-round picks to fill other positional needs. Owners can likely wait and grab Owings very late in the draft or even off of waiver wires. In leagues that use on-base percentage instead of batting average, Owings may be slightly less effective, but still a good value. While he did hit for a .330 average in the Pacific Coast League in 2013, his OBP was only .359. That is not a very significant delta, due mostly to the fact that his strikeout rate was 17.2 percent while his walk rate was only 3.8 percent in that time.
As far as standard statistics, however, Owings could potentially give owners a .275 batting average with 65 RBI and 13 - 15 HR for a very low price. He could even provide 12 - 15 stolen bases. Again, it's all about what you're getting and how much you're paying for it in the draft. Owings could duplicate the production of a shortstop like Asdrubal Cabrera and he will not cost you nearly as much.