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Overvalued and Undervalued Shortstops in 2020

In the last few seasons, the shortstop position has improved tremendously with the emergence of All-Stars like Alex Bregman, Trea Turner, and Trevor Story. The position has four potential first-round picks, and a staggering ten picks in the top 40 according to NFBC. By comparison, second base and third base have five players each in the top forty, while first base has three. The position's dominance may not be over any time soon, as Elvis Andrus is the highest-drafted shortstop over the age of 30, and four of MLB's top-10 prospects play shortstop.

With that being said, in a standard twelve team league, every owner should have at least one highly rated shortstop, making it imperative that the position is responsible for a lot of production in a fantasy lineup. The abundance of talent at the position means it doesn’t make much sense to reach for one early unless they are truly elite.

With so many quality shortstops available, there are a few players who are currently being far overvalued and overvalued. All ADPs were taken from NFBC from April 15th till June 2nd. This way all injury returns are accounted for, barring Chris Archer, but yet it’s a big enough sample size so that their ADP is a true representation of where they’re being selected.

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Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres

ADP: 17

All the fantasy owners that rushed to their waiver wire early last season to pick up Tatis were greatly rewarded. The rookie burst onto the scene by slashing .317/.379/.590, with 16 stolen bases in 84 games before having his season prematurely ended by a back injury. At just 21-years-old, Tatis is already right up there with Javier Baez as one of the most exciting young players to watch in baseball.

According to Fantasy Pros, here is the side by side projection comparison of Fernando Tatis Jr (left), and Javier Baez (right)

Baez either leads or compares favorably to Tatis in nearly every metric. And yet, Baez is being drafted 15 picks after Tatis at 33rd overall. Recency bias clearly is a big reason behind the discrepancy. It’s fair to say that if Tatis can produce a season as Baez did in 2018 it would be a success. However, it seems a touch premature to spend a middle second-round pick on the young stud for this upcoming season.

Let’s have a look at how sustainable Tatis's fantastic stats were last season. Shortstops tend to have higher BABIPs due to their athletic abilities to reach base safely, but Tatis’s .410 BABIP led the majors and will be difficult to repeat. Tatis also struck out way too much, with his  29.6% K-rate finishing in the bottom 7% of baseball and carrying a 15.6% swinging-strike rate that was in the top-10. A lot of his strikeout issues came down to the rookie struggling against off-speed pitches, hitting only .191 against them. He had a .253 AVG on breaking balls and crushed heaters to the tune of a .378 AVG. However, he'll continue to see more off-speed stuff until he proves he can hit it.

It’s up to each individual to decide how much stock they put into the “sophomore slump,” however, there are plenty of examples to suggest it’s something to be taken into consideration. In a smaller sample size, Andrew Benintendi burst on the scene in 2016, with a .295 AVG (and a .367 BABIP) leading him to be over-drafted the following year. Cody Bellinger and Josh Bell, are both great players but neither lived up to the lofty expectations for their second seasons.

Tatis will likely be a first-round caliber shortstop one day, but given the current overflow of talent at the position from more established players, 17th overall is too high for a player with such an insanely high BABIP and strikeout rate.


Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

ADP: 93

Anytime you read about Tim Anderson last year, it was likely followed by two four-letter words; sell high. The fantasy community, by and large, weren’t buying it last year and nothing’s changed going into this upcoming season.

While expectations have risen for the Southsiders, the White Sox haven’t finished above .500 since 2012. If Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez realize their true potential then perhaps Chicago can make a playoff push and Tim Anderson can ride their coattails in 2020. However, the organization and fantasy owners should not expect the 2013 first-round pick repeat to his breakout 2019 performance where he won the AL batting title with a .335 AVG.

Digging a little deeper into that .335 AVG reveals it may have been a little fluky, with it being backed by a .399 BABIP. The Alabama native simply does not draw walks at all, with a league-low 2.9% BB% and just a .357 OBP. For those not mathematically inclined, that’s an OBP that's just 22-points higher than his average. Anderson also had a .14 BB/K rate was last amongst the 25 shortstops with at least 500 plate appearances.

Anderson set career highs by a considerable margin in every single significant analytical category, except BB%, and would have set career highs in every counting stat if injuries didn’t hold him to 123 games. But it’s hard to pinpoint what tangible changes he made to his approach at the plate. Apart from hitting to opposite field 4.5% more and pulling the ball 7.9% less than his career averages, all other batted ball data is fairly consistent.

Be careful not to just assume that these improved stats are the new normal for the 26-year-old because if the BABIP regresses, all those great numbers could trend right back towards their mediocre career averages. Anderson finished sixth in OPS last season at shortstop but was sixteenth in 2018, and nineteenth two seasons ago. When taking into account likely BABIP regression and his unbelievably low walk-rate, it seems more likely he’ll finish closer to his 2018 numbers than 2019.


Amed Rosario, New York Mets

ADP: 133

Rosario is at best an all-around average player who doesn’t do anything exceptionally. The 24-year-old hit over. 300 in the minor leagues across 2016, and half of 2017 before being called up, however, he is yet to repeat his success in the Majors. When a hitter is projected to start the season hitting eighth on a National League team, that should tell you all you need to know.

The shortstop is trending in the right direction after a decent second full season, setting career highs in the majority of categories, with stolen bases and runs being the exception. He did, however, have 63 more plate-appearances. These career highs were underwhelming, though, and a .323 OBP and 15 HR are not good enough to warrant a 133 ADP.

The numbers were underwhelming but they may have even been a little inflated due to a .940 OPS he hit during a hot-streak in June. Rosario didn’t have an OPS above .800 in any other month.

One way he can add value is through stealing bases but that’s not looking as likely, with Rosario stealing only 19 bases in 2019 after finishing with 24 SB in 2018. It’s especially concerning considering Rosario found himself on first base 26 more times last season than he did in 2018.

As of now, Rosario is basically a poor man’s Tim Anderson, who is a poor man's Xander Bogaerts with more steals. Rosario was 22nd out of 25 qualifying shortstops with a .25 BB/K, walking just 4.7% of the time. It’s the same poor plate discipline as Anderson, but at least he had .508 SLG%, compared to Rosarios .432 SLG%.

It could be argued that being the sixteenth shortstop taken is not an overvaluation. However, there are a slew of shortstops being taken after him who have a better chance to be just as impactful. And given his mediocre contributions and lineup spot, there's a better chance that Rosario could end up back on the waiver wire by mid-season.

Now that we've covered three of the biggest overvalues at shortstop, next up I'll take a look at some of the most undervalued players at the position. These are the players more likely to return their draft price that the possible busts from above.



Didi Gregorius, Philadelphia Phillies

ADP: 219

Sir Didi goes from one premier lineup to another as he’ll try to justify his new one-year $14 million-dollar contract in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Dutch shortstop took a step back in the 82 games he played to close out last season. A career-low .276 OBP, and a career-high 11.4% swinging strike rate indicates he never quite caught back up to the speed of the game. However, given that he had Tommy John surgery the off-season prior, it isn’t surprising that he wasn't all the way back yet.

There were some positives to take out of the last season. A .204 ISO was the second-best of his career and his 16 HR, and 61 RBI show that Didi can still be one of the best offensive shortstops in the game. Career highs in barrel percentage, exit velocity, launch angle, and hard-hit rate are further proof of that.  It’s reasonable to expect that now, after another season removed from surgery, he can recreate or even improve on the 27 HRs and .829 OPS he produced in 2018.

An underrated consideration when analyzing a shortstop is his fielding ability, as it directly impacts his job security, and a manager’s willingness to stick with him during cold streaks. Shortstop is the most important and demanding position in the infield and the 30-year-old Gregorius led the league with a .987 fielding percentage in 2018 and will have the familiarity and trust of former Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Gregorious is currently the 22nd SS off draft boards, which is way too low considering his likelihood of rediscovering his old form in what should be a potent Phillies lineup.


Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

109: ADP

If someone told you before last season that heading into 2020, World Series Champion Carlos Correa would be drafted after Tim Anderson, Marcus Semien, and Bo Bichette, you would have thought they were kidding.

The draft order is justifiable as Bichette and Semien could very well have better seasons than Correa. However, they would have to pick up exactly where they left off last season. Semien played all 162 games at a very high-level last season but prior to that, he was a fantasy afterthought. Bichette was an elite prospect and has performed exceptionally at every level, but has only played 46 major league games. And Tim Anderson? Well, that already been covered...he's Tim Anderson.

The only real concern with Correa is his health. The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year only played 75 games in 2019, and when he did play he wasn’t at 100%. Even while being plagued with a variety of neck, rib, and back injuries, Correa still slugged a career-high .568, with 21 HR, and a .289 ISO (second at SS only to teammate Alex Bregman) in just 75 games.

He’s still sneaky young at 25-years-old so he likely hasn’t even reached his physical peak yet. All projections have him swatting 29 – 30 bombs next season, but if he takes another leap he could exceed that total. One of his dingers last season few 474ft, it was the 9th longest of the season.

The Puerto Rican All-Star had a below-par 2018. A deviated septum that resulted in breathing difficulties was partly to blame. Either way that season was an anomaly. He was an above-average hitter his first two seasons in the league before breaking out in 2017. Just like Gregorious, Correa is hitting seventh in an elite offensive lineup and should see some juicy pitches he can square up because opponents can’t afford to pitch around him.

It’s fairly safe to say that the former first overall pick will finish higher than the 15th best shortstop when the seasons over, which is where he is currently being drafted. Especially with him benefiting from the extra rest more than most.


Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins

ADP: 158

Another undervalued shortstop on another elite offensive team. Last season the Twins were one of the most surprising teams in baseball, finishing 101-61 and clinching the AL Central by eight games. They dominated at the plate, scoring the second-most runs per game (5.73,) behind the New York Yankees (5.77.) Polanco was a big reason and beneficiary of the Twins' success, and this off-season they only got stronger by adding former AL MVP Josh Donaldson.

Polanco may not lead the majors in any one category or be the best at any specific skill, but he is really strong in every facet of the game. Amongst qualifying shortstops, he had a .841 OPS (10th), 107 runs (6th), .356 OBP( 6th); 22 HR (11th,) and 79 RBI (9th). Polanco isn’t going to single-handedly win fantasy weeks but he won't lose them either with solid contributions across the board.

Hitting second in a Twins lineup that was often turned over, Polanco finished with 706 PA, one of only nine players to finish with more than 700 PA. Across all of those plate appearances, Polanco hit a very palatable .295, with a sustainable .328 BABIP.

Polanco finished 13th in AL MVP voting in 2019, and yet he is only the 20th shortstop off the board. It simply doesn’t add up. Even if the 26-year-old does slightly regress, he's still mightily undervalued at his current ADP.

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