The Super Bowl has come and gone, which means it's officially baseball season for the initiated. The 2017 fantasy baseball draft board is beginning to come into focus. Now it's time to delve into player rankings. We'll continue with our 2017 shortstop fantasy baseball rankings for February.
This round of rankings features picks from Kyle Bishop, Nick Mariano, Bill Dubiel, Brad Johnson, Harris Yudin and Jeff Kahntroff. Today Nick will examine the shortstop position, which boasts a ridiculous amount of talent at the top before some deep intriguing names pop up.
Editor's note: Be sure to also check out our 2017 fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. It's already loaded up with tons of great rankings articles and draft analysis. Aside from our tiered staff rankings for every position, we also go deep on MLB prospect rankings, impact rookies for 2017, and dynasty/keeper rankings as well. Bookmark the page, and win your drafts.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Shortstop (February)
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Shortstop Rankings Analysis: The Tiers
No one position should have all that power. All that youth. All that pizazz. And yet, here we are. Even with Manny Machado’s goose egg in the steals department last season, his bat alone is worth the first-round pick. Have you ever just come home absolutely exhausted, and been incredibly grateful to just have that floor to lay on a minute? That’s what you get with Machado, who has delivered back-to-back seasons with 100+ runs, 35+ homers, 85+ RBIs and an average over .285 despite just being 24 years old. Even if the steals don’t return at all, you’re good.
Everyone loves Corey Seager, so let’s chat about Carlos Correa a bit. The 22-year-old (yes, please remember he’s only 22!) wasn’t able to sustain his ridiculous paces from 2015, but the five-category contributor still had a solid sophomore showing. Houston’s youngster rode a sustained 22.4% line-drive rate with a 4.3% bump in hard-hit rate to raise his BABIP by 32 points, yet his average fell from .279 to .274. I can see his average going into the .280s as he continues to fill out his 6’4” frame and grow even stronger.
Francisco Lindor dazzled all throughout his first full season for Cleveland before he hit a wall on Sept. 10, going 6-for-58 with an atrocious .100 BABIP across his final 19 regular season games. As a result, they started finding times to rest him before their playoff run. Arbitrary end points are tricky, but he had a .322/.368/.460 slash line in his prior 605 plate appearances before posting a .310/.355/.466 line in the postseason. He should be ready to rumble all season long in 2017.
Unlike Lindor, Xander Bogaerts’ late-season struggles were more drawn out. His final two months yielded a brutal .230/.303/.372 line with seven homers and zero steals. While that gives me pause, it should also speak volumes about what he’s capable of considering what the 24-year-old’s overall line still looked like at the end of the season. David Ortiz may be gone, but hitting in Fenway Park surrounded by a strong lineup is still a huge plus.
Lost in youth movement was another bat who came out of nowhere to challenge the regression gods. Aledmys Diaz appeared out of thin air to save the Cardinals after Jhonny Peralta got hurt, hitting a hilarious .423 in 71 April ABs. While his .413 BABIP from that month obviously subsided, he still hit above .275 in each following month outside of his injury-shortened September.
Oh look, a veteran! Don’t worry Tulo, we haven’t forgotten about you. Troy Tulowitzki is still right there on the edge of 12-team relevance as a starter, as he’s still a strong candidate to hit 20-plus homers alongside decent counting stats and an average that won’t hurt you. It’s worth noting that his 131 games played in ’16 were his highest mark since 2011 (143). You’ll still want a decent insurance plan, but Tulo may be a good value with all of the exciting youth surrounding him.
Do you really want Elvis Andrus here? His .302 average alongside the improved pop and usual ~25 steals were quite nice, but there’s little suggesting this is sustainable growth. His BABIP was due to rebound from 2015’s career-low mark of .283, but there’s little backing up the 50-point jump that occurred. Steamer has him hitting .277, just don’t expect 2016 to be the new Andrus.
Another fella with some wind in his sails is Bronx Bomber Didi Gregorius. He set career highs in all five standard fantasy categories, with the most noticeable jump being his 20 homers. While he does indeed play at Yankee Stadium with the short right porch (all of his homers were hit in the right-most 25 degrees of the playing field), ESPN’s Home Run Tracker gave him only two “no-doubters” against seven “just-enoughs” and 11 “pretty-lucky” ones.
Tim Anderson didn’t light the world on fire with his debut, but he still turned his 410 Major League ABs into a 57/9/30/10/.283 line. Those in OBP leagues will want to note his low walk rates, even in the Minors, but outside of that he’s quite intriguing. He has the ability to grow into modest pop, and he’s always picked good spots to run when on base. Don’t expect a 15/25 season, but 12/20 with a .275 average is reasonable.
Orlando Arcia wasn’t seen as a guy who was coming up to the Majors to save fantasy souls, but we still expected more than a .219 average in his first 55 games. At least, I did. What was encouraging was his going a perfect 8-for-8 on the base paths, which would pace him out for roughly 25 steals in a full season of play. Look for the 22-year-old to improve on the average if he keeps his grounder-heavy swing intact, but it’d be nice to see him trim down that 24% soft-contact rate. He’s not a bad late-round speed flier.