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Early 2017 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings

What Appears In This Article? hide

Welcome back to the series that further proves that the itch of fantasy baseball never goes away. We're gathered here to look at my thoughts on the top players at each position. Assume a standard 5x5 redraft league with the rankings.

We led off with catchers before hitting first, second and third base, and now we check in with the quarterbacks of the infield -- the shortstops.

Please note that 2016 was a wild year for homers all around, with its 5,610 homers being the second-most all time (2000: 5,692), so my soft advisory is to take the gains with a grain of salt.

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.


Early 2017 Rankings: Shortstops

1. Manny Machado, BAL - Elephant in the room: Machado stole zero bases in 2016 after swiping 20 bags in 2015. But he took modest steps forward in each of the other four standard fantasy categories, and has now hit 35+ homers in his last two seasons. His dual eligibility as a SS/3B player adds to his value, but boy would it be nice if he stole a few bags in 2017.

2. Trevor Story, COL – If you go to the stats leaderboard for shortstops and sort by homers, you’ll see Story tied for second with 27. Normally that’d be impressive on its own, but then you look at his at-bat totals compared to those around him and the jaw drops. He had 372 ABs, and everyone else who hit at least 20 dingers from the shortstop slot did so with at least 492 ABs. He was the only SS with an OPS over .900. His .296 ISO was second in the entire Major Leagues to only David Ortiz out of hitters with at least 400 PAs. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but he improved on it as the season wore on. He calls Coors Field home and has speed to back the power, having stolen more than 20 bases in each Minor-League season from 2013-2015. Buy, buy, buy.

3. Corey Seager, LAD – The heavy favorite for NL Rookie of the Year followed up his impressive cup of coffee in the 2015 season (.337/.425/.561 in 113 PAs) with a robust .308/.365/.512 triple slash through 687 PAs in 2016. His 105 runs were second-best among all shortstops and his 26 homers were fifth-most among all SS-eligible players. His 24.4% line-drive rate was #1 out of all shortstops. His 39.7% hard-hit rate was second only to Story’s 44.9%. He’ll turn 23 on April 27 next year, so he’s not done growing either. Hype it up.

4. Carlos Correa, HOU – Correa didn’t have the fringe first-round value in 2016 that many projected for him, as he hit two fewer homers (20) in his sophomore season than his rookie campaign despite logging 228 more PAs. That’s disconcerting, but also speaks to the dangers of pegging your hopes to a small sample size (out of a 20-year-old, no less). His 96 RBIs were still tied for the lead out of all shortstops, and it is well within reason to project further growth for a guy who has 252 games of Major-League experience under his belt already as he heads toward his age-22 season.

5. Francisco Lindor, CLE – Another youngster that really fell off as the season progressed, as he hit a wall at the end of his first full season (.233 Sept./Oct. average, next-lowest monthly split was .293 in April). From April through August, the 22-year-old hit .313 with 14 homers and 16 steals and assuming he gets a nice offseason strengthening regimen in to deal with the rigors of a full season, he should be a great pick in 2017.

6. Xander Bogaerts, BOS – Bogaerts’ 115 runs led all shortstops by 10, and his 89 RBIs were third best while also being one of four shortstops with 20+ homers and double-digit steals. The crazy part is how he did this while having a rather mediocre second half that saw his average drop to .253 after a .329 first-half mark. It’d be a lot to expect his first-half production to hold over an entire season, but he’s closer to that than the .250s hitter we saw later.

7. Jonathan Villar, MIL – Villar’s speed had made itself known in the Minor Leagues, with brief flashes in the Majors (17 SBs in 289 PAs in 2014), but the Brewers finally gave him an everyday job to show it off. The 25-year-old responded in kind with 62 steals on 80 attempts alongside 19 homers and a healthy .285 average. His incredible speed joined a healthy 75.9% combined line-drive and ground-ball rate to sustain a high .373 BABIP, a mark that he could certainly replicate in 2017.

8. Jean Segura, ARI – He started 17 games at SS (23 appearances), so he'll be eligible here in several formats. What a comeback season for Mean Jean, as he popped off for career highs in runs (102), homers (20), RBIs (64) and batting average (.319) alongside 33 steals on 43 attempts. This is a guy who has been through a lot on a personal level, and a fresh start in Arizona may have been just what was needed. His 13.5% HR/FB rate may come down a bit towards his 8.6% career mark, but the speed is real and the opportunity atop Arizona’s lineup should lead to him being another 100-run threat in 2017.

9. Addison Russell, CHC – While his batting average remained low (.242 in 2015, .238 in 2016), the 22-year-old’s power took a big stride forward as he mashed 21 taters with 95 RBIs in that stacked Cubs lineup. He began the season in the bottom third of the batting order, but by July he was seeing regular looks in the five-hole. All he did was deliver 22 RBIs in July before knocking in 23 Cubbies in August. His production did dip in September, likely due to a lowly 23.9% hard-hit rate, but September can be rough on young players and the growing pains are going to be there. The lineup around him gives him a great floor, let alone his own innate talent and raw power.

10. Aledmys Diaz, STL – Another “dang, why’d he have to get injured” youngster, Diaz jacked 17 homers alongside a .300 average in 460 PAs for the Cardinals. Many kept waiting for the magic to end, but it never did. Sure, his ridiculous .423 April average came down towards the high-.200s in his other monthly splits, but his production remained useful.

11. Troy Tulowitzki, TOR – The 24 homers were solid, though most important might be the 131 games played – his highest total since 2011 (143). The thing is, his batting average took a dramatic hit for the second season in a row (2014: .340, 2015: .280, 2016: .254). His hard-hit and line-drive rates were the worst marks of his last four seasons. His power keeps him viable, but not upper-tier.

12. Brad Miller, TB – Miller took well to finally getting the keys to an everyday job, as he blew up for 30 homers in 601 PAs after hitting 11 in 497 PAs in 2015 for Seattle. His April was awful (.185, 2 HRs) but the power really came on in June, as he hit 25 dingers over the last four months of the season. He’s much more valuable at SS/MI than 1B, but the versatility always helps.

13. Eduardo Nunez, SF – He of the perpetually lost batting helmet killed it for the Twins (12 HRs, 27-of-33 on steals, .296 average in 396 PAs) before being dealt to the Giants at the trade deadline, where he only hit four homers and went 13-for-17 on steal attempts with a .269 average in 199 PAs. He’s good and his speed should play in 2017, but he’s just not great.

14. Didi Gregorius, NYY – That’s Sir Didi Gregorius to you. The 26-year-old did well to finally become more than just “the guy who took over for Derek Jeter”, as his bat went to another level starting on June 14 when the Yankees traveled to Coors Field. In the following 381 PAs (94 games), all he did was post a 50-16-49-5-.281 line. Very promising heading into his age-27 season.

15. Dansby Swanson, ATL – His first cup of coffee in the bigs yielded a .302 average, three homers and three steals in his first 145 PAs (38 games). He’ll be limited until he gets lifted from the lower third of the batting order, but the 22-year-old likely won’t be buried for long.

16. Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM – His .280 average was his highest mark since 2009, and the 23 homers in only 568 PAs was definitely his best power pace (he hit 25 homers in 2011, but had 99 extra PAs to smack those other two dingers). His 14% HR/FB rate may regress a tad in 2017, but if he stays healthy then 20 homers and a solid average should follow if he can hold onto the career-best 36.7% hard-hit rate.

17. Jose Peraza, CIN – This dude is faaaast. It’s almost not fair considering they already have Billy Hamilton the roster, but his 21 steals (in 31 attempts) came with a robust .324 average across 256 PAs (72 games). He also made seven starts (12 appearances) at 2B and 19 starts (21 appearances) in the OF, for those keeping track of eligibility.

18. Marcus Semien, OAK – Semien’s wild .235 first-half ISO fell to .153 in the second half despite healthier batted-ball metrics (5.8% drop in soft contact, 6.9% rise in line-drive rate). Alas, his first-half 18.8% HR/FB rate fell to 9.6% in the second half anyway, resulting in eight second-half HRs compared to 19 in the first half. Both figures are likely too far on either end of the spectrum, with his true self holding steady in the middle in the 20-25 HR range.

19. Brandon Crawford, SF – As most thought, his 21-homer 2015 campaign now looks like a power outlier. His 16.2% HR/FB rate came back down to 7.5% this season (8.1% career) despite actually improving his fly-ball and hard-hit rates. He’s still a good hitter, but unless he dices up four leaf clovers in his pine tar again, he won’t hit enough homers or steal enough bags to give him top value.

20. Elvis Andrus, TEX – He set a new career high in homers in 2016! Alright calm down, the bar wasn’t that high. His eight homers and 69 RBIs are both bests, but it’s the 44-point bump in batting average to .302 alongside the usual 24 steals that made him a nice MI-slot play in 12-team mixed leagues. He’s not a standalone starting SS in most leagues, but this was a very encouraging age-27 season.

Honorable Mention: Tim Anderson, CWS - This was a tricky omission, but blackjack goes to the White Sox. The rookie did well to post a 57-9-30-10-.283 5x5 line, but a 3% walk rate and 27.1% strikeout rate are a bit concerning moving forward, even for a youngster. He also didn't have a track record of power in the Minors, though it's well within reason for the 23-year-old to have grown into some power with his 6'1" frame. The potential is there, but some of those metrics need to step up (and the rest of the White Sox need to show a little consistency).


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