The position of shortstop in fantasy baseball is traditionally a relatively shallow spot in terms of position scarcity. Over the past few seasons, though, there has been an influx of talented young middle infielders with a wide array of skills. Some bring pop. Some have an innate ability to get on base. Others pick up your team’s slack with their speed by swiping bags and scoring runs. The trick is finding the balance between these traits and not overpaying for one category. Here are three fantasy shortstops being ranked too high by experts.
Andrelton Simmons – Atlanta Braves
Andrelton Simmons is widely considered the best young defensive shortstop in the major leagues. While his defensive metrics are a great thing for Braves pitchers and teammates, it’s a worthless fact in the world of fantasy baseball.
Simmons had a power surge in 2013 with 17 long balls, coupled with 59 RBI. You might ask where that kind of pop came from, and I would reply with, “I don’t know.” Nothing in his peripherals suggests that home run total is repeatable, or that it is sustainable over his career. While Simmons has shown a less-than-adequate ability to get on base in his short major league stint (.248 BA, .296 OBP in 2013), expect that to move to a much more respectable level-- just not quite this season. That still-developing ability to reach base, mirage of power and virtually zero speed (6 SB) at a position that is traditionally rich with it leaves me looking elsewhere at shortstop. Experts, according to Fantasypros.com consensus rankings, have Simmons ranked as the 11th-best shortstop overall and 150th overall player. If you’re waiting that long in your draft to grab your shortstop, wait a bit longer.
Everth Cabrera – San Diego Padres
Everth Cabrera took a big step in BA and OBP in 2013. But his real asset is speed. After a career high of 44 swipes in 2012, Cabrera followed in 2013 with 37 stolen bags. While that puts him in the elite category of base stealers, somehow he only crossed the plate a mere 66 times. Sure, the stolen bags are nice, but if you’re drafting Cabrera where he’s currently ranked at 100th overall, and seventh among shortstops, you’re buying a tremendous anchor for your power production categories (2 HR, 24 RBI in 2012, 4 HR, 31 RBI in 2013). If you are willing to spread your speed throughout your team, my advice would be to look deeper at shortstop to the likes of Ben Zobrist, (104 overall, eighth among SS), or Starlin Castro (113 overall, ninth among SS). Both will provide serviceable speed, without sacrificing power, run production, or average.
Alexei Ramirez – Chicago White Sox
I’ve been a big fan of Alexei Ramirez over most of his White Sox career. He has been a guy that has provided good power from the shortstop position, has driven in runs, has hit for serviceable average (albeit without walking much, dragging down OBP)– all for a relative value in comparison to other hyped shortstops. On top of that, he’s shown the type of speed that makes a fantasy owner feel a little bit better about pulling the trigger on him when it feels like you may be settling in those other categories for less-than-elite production. So what’s the problem? Well, Ramirez is now 33, and has shown a steady decline in his power numbers (18 HR in 2010, followed by seasons of 15, 9 and 6). Between 2008 and 2012, Ramirez averaged over 71 RBI per season. In 2013 he only drove in 48 – with a career high in at bats and plate appearances. You can chalk some of that up to manager Robin Ventura moving Ramirez down in the order, leaving him with fewer opportunities to drive in runs. Whether it is a decline in skills, opportunity, or a combination of both (which is likely), Ramirez is ranked too high for my liking, and you’d be wise to look elsewhere for your shortstop in 2013. While Ramirez is a deep-league starter (164th overall player, 13th among SS), some players with much higher upside that can be had later include Jed Lowrie (186th overall, 14th among SS) and Jurickson Profar (188th overall, 18th among SS).