2017 Keeper Values: Shortstop Rankings - Tier One

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What's up RotoBallers. Welcome back to my series on keeper leagues. Today I'll be taking a look at shortstop keeper values for fantasy baseball (tier one)  for those of you deciding what players to keep for your teams.

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft round in order to keep a player into the up-coming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as: the extent to which a good or service (player) is perceived by its customer (fantasy owner) to meet his/her needs or wants.

For these specific rankings, 12 team, 5x5 scoring, 23 man roster, Rotisserie league settings were used. If you play in a custom league with non-standard configurations, are thinking of keeping a player not on this list, or want to compare players on your team, follow me on Twitter @RowdyRotoJB or contact me via the RotoBaller Chat Rooms.

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.

 

How My Keeper Valuation Formula Works

The Keeper Values are derived from my 15 step Keeper Valuation Formula. The product is a quanitative depiction of a players ability to meet/exceed fantasy owners needs based on the cost they payed for the player in the previous season (2016 ADP). The higher the score, the higher the return the fantasy owner will receive from the player, keeping him at his associated cost. Approaching Keeper selections with this "value" based attitude, will greatly increase the effectiveness of a fantasy owner's draft in a Keeper League.

TIER SCORE EXPLANATION
1 >75 Finders Keepers! These are the Elite Keeper Values. MUST BE KEPT.
2 50-75 Great Keeper values. Unless you have a full load of Tier 1 players, these guys need to be kept.
3 25-49 You are gaining value with these players, but not as much as your opponents are, potentially. Consider if your options are limited.
4 0-24 Break even point. Minimal value. Only consider if you have a large quantity of Keeper selections.
5 -99-0 Keeping these players will hurt your overall draft, as you are not adding any value. Dont waste a Keeper selection here.
6 <-100 The associated costs make it impossible to return any value, these
players will ruin your draft. Stay far away.

 

2017 Top Shortstop Keeper Values: #1-4

4. Xander Bogaerts, BOS (Fifth Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 75.48

First in the chute for this star-studded list, we have Xander Bogaerts. In his third full season in the bigs, Bogaerts brought out the big stick. His 21 HR were more than his previous two seasons combined. He added 115 R and 89 RBI in the explosive Red Sox offense, and also stole more bases than his other two seasons combined with 13. All were career highs. His gaudy .372 BABIP from 2015 came back down to earth last year, which saw his average dip down to .294. But despite the dip in the average, Bogaerts greatly improved his plate discipline (at least in the first half), and almost doubled his previous BB%. It continued a promising trend, as his contact percentage has increased and his swinging strike percentage has decreased every season since he was called up.

After two straight seasons of hitting a 10 HR/FB%, Bogaerts jumped up to 17.8 percent in 2016. It is certainly not an unrealistic jump, especially considering the kid is still only 24 years old. But the new found power stroke seemed to be his downfall in a disappointing second half. He lost the discipline at the plate, seemingly trying to jump all over every slider thrown at him. The slider has been his weakness through the first three years, as he has posted a career -17.3 wSL according to Pitchf/x. This led to his strikeout percentage jumping to 20 percent, and dropped his BA down to .253 for the rest of the way. As you can see from these two BA/P heat maps from the first half of the season, and then the second half, he completely lost control of the bottom half of the strike zone.   

There is no doubt that the youngster can make the adjustments needed to avoid the pitfall of a second half he experienced last season. A 15/15 season with a .300 BA is completely reasonable for Bogaerts in 2017, but the R and RBI is where he will return most his value. The Sox have a lineup filled with guys that can get on base, and Bogaerts is right in the heart of it.

I'm sure Chris Sale is happy he doesn't have to see Bogaerts again, at least outside of BP:

 

3. Corey Seager, LAD (Sixth Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 86.32

What a way to enter the league. The former 2012 first round pick earned the starting shortstop gig for the Dodgers out of Spring Training in 2016, and did nothing except have the greatest rookie season at the position since the dawn of time. Don't believe me?

According to FanGraphs, Seager's 7.5 WAR was the highest from any rookie shortstop, ever. In conjunction, he earned his first All-Star appearance, Silver Slugger award, won Rookie of the Year and placed third in MVP votes. Little Seager finished the magical year with 105 R, 26 HR, 72 RBI, and a .308/.365/.512 slash, leading all rookies in both R and RBI. It helps when you get to play a full season, I reckon.

This kid is a hitting machine. On top of his 26 HR, Seager added 40 doubles and five triples, joining Mookie Betts and Daniel Murphy as the only players to do so and hit at least 25 HR in 2016. He hits the ball extremely hard, 39.7 Hard% ranks in between Kris Bryant and Mark Trumbo, and rarely misses the juicy part of the bat. This resulted in a minuscule 2.1 IFFB%, and is one of the reasons why his .355 BABIP has actually been a fairly standard occurrence for him throughout his time in the minor leagues. There is no downside here, folks. In my opinion, Seager is the top option at shortstop for 2017, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, which is why a sixth round cost is such a steal.

 

2. Jonathan Villar, MIL (23rd Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 99.49

Villar was hands down the biggest surprise of the 2016 fantasy season. During his three years with Houston, he never could find consistent playing time, and honestly wasn't hitting well enough to earn it. But with Milwaukee being much less stacked in the infield, Villar got his chance last season, and he transformed from this:

into a top-10 fantasy baseball hitter. Seriously, how did he miserably fail at a thrown-bat bunt attempt on separate occasions? He led the league with 62 SB, which was 15 higher than the runner up. He was so far ahead of the rest of the league on the basepaths last year that his 44 net stolen bases (SB-CS) alone barely drops him behind Starling Marte at second in the stolen base rankings. As you would imagine, Villar posted career highs across the board, and finished with 92 R, 63 RBI, and a .285/.369/.457 line. But the most surprising stat he provided for fantasy owners, was the 19 HR. A speedster with a 2.31 GB/FB ratio and only 24.1 fly ball percentage doesn't typically flirt with 20 dingers.

Don't let the speed fool you, Villar can put the ball over the fence. But whether or not he can continue to do so at the same rate as 2016 is one of the main reasons for disparity in his 2017 preseason rankings. RotoBaller experts Brad Johnson and Bill Dubiel actually recently had a debate on their rankings of Villar. As Brad explains, the power Villar showed from the right side of the plate last season is legit. He pulls the ball at a 44.5 percent rate, and hits fly balls at a much higher percentage when facing lefties, and it resulted in a .236 ISO. What is encouraging about the HR potential for the 2017 season, is that in the second half of last year, Villar began to transition into a more powerful hitter on both sides of the plate. As you can see from the heat maps of his ISO/P against right handed pitching for the first half of the season, and then the second half.

After the All-Star break, he hit 13 HR, and lowered his GB/FB to 1.78, after hitting six HR and a 3.00 GB/FB for the first half. He increased his Hard% to 38.4, and even more impressively, cut his infield fly ball rate by over 13 percent. The 19.6 HR/FB% does suggest he got quite lucky with his fly balls, but Villar is certainly doing his part by putting himself in more situations to see that luck.

The BA is much easier to project to fall in 2017, as his .373 BABIP is higher than he has posted in any previous season in the minors or major league. Plus he will continue to strikeout in one of every four at bats. But even despite these uncertainties of being able to sustain the full amount of greatness we saw last season, Villar has proved that he can provide a ton of fantasy value spread out across every category. He is also eligible at both shortstop and third base, and is slated to be the Brewers everyday second baseman. That kind of position versatility only increases the sexiness. Whether you believe he can fully repeat 2016's success or not, there is no denying Villar is a bonafide Tier One Keeper Value after going undrafted in last years fantasy drafts.

 

1. Trevor Story, COL (20th Round ADP) Keeper Valuation Formula Score: 99.94

Trevor Story is my favorite keeper heading into 2017. Most of the love stems from the lack of belief and trust experts gave him last season. They continued to doubt and projected a steep tank, even after he was hitting continuous bombs. Story kept them waiting for a crash, and he held his own honorably, until he tore a ligament in his thumb. In his 415 PA, the rookie smacked 27 HR, stole eight bases, and slashed .272/.341/.567. He was also well on his way to a 90 R/90 RBI campaign, after accruing 67 and 72, respectively. Yes, the 31.3 strikeout percentage is an absolute eye-sore, and he's even topped that in previous seasons in the minor leagues. But across Double- and Triple-A ball in 2015 he maintained a 24 K%, so one can reasonably expect the whiffs to simmer down as he gains experience at the plate. You can also cry about the .343 BABIP all you want, but he's been hitting absurd BABIPs his whole professional career, plus the dude destroys the baseball. Which segways nicely to the next topic, the POWER.

Among rookies with at least 400 PA, Trevor Story's .296 ISO ranked third since World War II. Among all players (min 400 PA) in 2016, it ranked second. He hits very few balls on the ground (top five in fly ball percentage), pulls the ball over 40 percent, and also owned the second highest hard hit percentage in the league (44.9 Hard%). The dude was raking. Yes, Coors Field is largely responsible for these power numbers, but I won't be holding it against Story if he keeps taking full advantage of it like he did last season. At home he hit a redonkulous .381 ISO and 52.1 Hard%.

Even at the time of the thumb injury in August, Story was still not slowing down as we all predicted he would during the All-Star break. In his 16 post-All-Star games, he had hit six HR with a 1.115 OPS and .358 ISO. Who knows what kind of records would have been broken had he not slid head first into that bag. Most projection systems are severely pessimistic on the power continuing for Story in 2017, but not RotoChamp. They peg him for 36 HR, 11 SB, and a .269 BA. That's basically having a fast 2016 Evan Longoria in a top offense, filling your shortstop position. But even those lofty projections could end up being low (see my 50 HR prediction picks), which is why RotoBaller ranks Story at 23rd overall heading into the 2017 fantasy season.

 

Keeper Value Articles: 

Catcher Rankings: Tier 1

Catcher Rankings: Tier 2

Catcher Rankings: Tier 3

First Base Rankings: Tier 1

First Base Rankings: Tier 2

First Base Rankings: Tiers 3-4

Second Base Rankings: Tier 1

Second Base Rankings: Tier 2

Second Base Rankings: Tier 3

Third Base Rankings: Tier 1

Third Base Rankings: Tier 2

Third Base Rankings: Tier 3

Shortstop Rankings: Tier 2



2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings