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Three Shortstops Who Will Outperform Their 2015 ADP: Rankings Analysis

After the tier of elite shortstops, which, as I see it, is essentially just Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Desmond (though I am hesitant to crown Desmond as "elite" just yet), there is quite a bit of parity throughout the league. Of the consensus top five or six shortstops ranked for fantasy purposes, ZiPS projects only two to hit more than 20 home runs, only one to score 80 or more runs, and just three everyday players to hit over .285. On the flip side of that, we have 23 shortstops projected to produce between 10-17 home runs, 33 projected to score between 60-79 runs and 19 to hit somewhere between .260 and .279.

Basically, what I am trying to suggest is that with this great parity, the opportunity to steal value in late rounds and in players less thought of presents itself. Also, don't go wasting an early pick on a shortstop not named Tulowitzki or Desmond. To be honest, I wouldn't use one on Tulo, either. He's been prone to injury and the last time he played more than 140 games was 2011. I understand how valuable he is when healthy and he's certainly still cabable of raking big numbers. That said, should Tulo lose time to injury your team will have a hard time replacing his value.

Let's take a gander at three shortstops who should outperform their average draft positions for the 2015 fantasy season.


Three Undervalued Shortstops for Your Drafts

Jhonny Peralta, STL - Current ADP: 199 (15th SS)

Often overlooked and undervalued, Jhonny Peralta has been Mr. Consistency at the shortstop position for quite some time. Dating back to the 2005 season, Peralta has played in more than 140 games and produced double digit home run totals in each of those seasons, with the exception of playing in only 107 games in 2013. He still managed to produce 11 deep flies in '13, despite his shortened season.

All factors considered, Peralta had an above average season in 2014. Among all MLB shortstops, he finished the year first in extra base hits (59), third in total bases (248), and first in isolated power (.180).

The fact that he put together such a great season, especially relative to his numbers the two to three seasons before it, could be what is scaring fantasy owners away. We throw around the term regression quite a bit now, and frankly, Peralta is a good candidate for it. But how much regression is to be expected? And what about areas Peralta under-produced in in 2014?

So, let's say it's unlikely Jhonny produces another 20+ home run season and leads all shortstops in isolated power. That's fine. His batting average and BABIP - which last year was nearly 20 points lower than his career average - should bounce back this season. His strikeout percentage, which ballooned to almost 22% in 2013, was back closer to his career average in 2014, which is a good sign, along with the increased walk percentage. Peralta also has excellent patience at the plate - he's 4th among shortstops, seeing 3.94 pitches per plate appearance - an above average on-base percentage, and a position (albeit late in the order) in an excellent lineup. He should get increased run scoring and RBI producing opportunities in 2015.


Xander Bogaerts, BOS - Current ADP: 177 (12th SS)

Young Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is what you might consider a post-hype sleeper, in that he may be overlooked this season because he didn't quite produce the stellar numbers some analysts had him projected for in 2014. Those owners that may be sleeping on him create quite the opportunity for you and I to steal extra value in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft in a player that has an enormously high ceiling.

It's no secret that Bogaerts's 2014 campaign was not up to par with the lofty projections he was pegged with, but he was league average across the board in almost every category. Oh, he was also just 21 years old for the entirety of the season, which is three years younger than the average MLB rookie.

Boagerts saw incredible success at every minor league level, and those skills he used to produce those gaudy statistics won't disappear overnight. They also point towards a brighter future than the .240/.297/.362 slash line he finished with last year. To struggle against major league pitching in the early going, especially at such a young age, is to be expected.

In 2015, some scouts and analysts (like myself) are betting on the skills he flashed throughout the minors to rear their collective heads again. His .294 BABIP last season is solid by most accounts, but well below his career average, and it could have something to do with the approach he took at the plate last season. His line drive rate was cut down significantly from to just 20%, his plate patience wasn't there (walks dipped but swing rate was roughly league average) and he struggled mightily against right-handed pitching. I'm expecting an improved plate approach and swing that allows him to spray line drives to all fields, providing a lot of value for Bogaerts' fantasy owners.


Wilmer Flores, NYM - Current ADP: 422 (38th SS)

In regards to true sleepers, that is, the players I really, really have heard little mention of, none fit the bill more perfectly than the Mets' Wilmer Flores. There are plenty of reasons why a young player may be overlooked or unknown in some fantasy circles, but with Flores' offensive ceiling as high as it is, I'm shocked to see so little mention of him and a draft position that is 38th among MLB shortstops.

Flores definitely has some defensive flaws and issues to correct if he wants to stick at shortstop, but it looks like has just enough to be the man in Queens this season. His offensive upside may even be enough for the Mets to consider keeping him there long term despite his limited range, or it could even kick him over to third base if David Wright were to finish his career elsewhere.

That said, he could have fairly significant fantasy impact this season, especially in regards to power numbers relative to other shortstops. Flores has the potential to be a 20+ home run guy and if he can keep his strikeout rate low (an impressive 11.3% in 274 plate appearances in 2014) we may see him reach that potential before the year's end.

Flores definitely needs to improve on his discipline a little. Scouts are saying he often is over aggressive, which can lead to making outs early. However, they also point to the fact that an above average power tool, coupled with an average hit tool - both grades Flores has received - usually translates to 20-25 home runs a season at the MLB level. The 23 year old has a big frame, covers the plate well and could see a lot of pitches to hit late in this Mets lineup if Cuddyer and Granderson are doing their part to get on base. I may be going out on a bit of a limb here, but it wouldn't totally surprise me if Flores produces top 15 shortstop numbers when the 2015 season is in the books.



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