Up the Middle: Loading Up on Shortstops

I recently finished reading Joe Morgan’s autobiography A Life in Baseball. I really enjoyed it as he’s one of my favorite players and the book was written in a very honest, straightforward manner. One of my favorite parts of the book was when he discussed the “diamond within the diamond” and how important good defensive play is to building a winning team, especially at the positions of catcher, middle infield, and centerfield. That book was written two decades ago about a player who played four decades ago, and yet that principle still holds true. No matter how solid prospects start out at the shortstop position, there are many factors along the way, including the defensive ability mentioned above, that can determine whether that player will actually end up at shortstop in the major leagues.

Due to the fact that shortstop is still a very defensive position along with second base, the two positions can supply loads of value if you can find a player who is an offensive stud there as well. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to write about middle infield in the first place. But there is also the catch that the guy who you’ve projected as your dynasty league shortstop of the future ends up as a corner infielder. So what do I do as a dynasty owner? I load up on shortstop prospects and play the numbers game.

There are lots of reasons players switch positions. At shortstop, defensive ability is one of the biggest reasons players who start out there eventually shift somewhere else. Maybe they “outgrow” the position, or their offensive ability is better served somewhere else on the diamond. Another reason can be that they are simply blocked by a more proven star who occupies the position at the major league level already. There are several recent examples of these scenarios like Billy Hamilton, Jurickson Profar, Xander Bogaerts, and Manny Machado. Even big, bad Miguel Sano was a shortstop when he came out of the Dominican. Could some of these guys wind up back at the shortstop position? Sure. But some of them won’t.

There’s more to this strategy of loading up at shortstop than just trying to find somebody who can actually stick at the position. The best athletes tend to play short, due to the range and athletic ability required just to handle the position. So it’s natural that a lot of the best athletes have the SS next to their name coming out of the gate. I figure it can’t hurt to load up on guys who are considered the best athletes on their teams. Also, as I mentioned before, finding a shortstop who pans out on the offensive side of the ball is pretty rare in fantasy, so by loading up at the position I can sometimes find myself with an extra piece that has a lot of trade value to a team that has a farm composed mostly pitchers or some other less valuable position.

I won’t fuel any speculative fires since I certainly don’t scout these guys myself, but just as an example, I’m not counting on Carlos Correa to stay a shortstop forever, while I do think Francisco Lindor’s defensive prowess can keep him there long term. By the way, you can put in your two cents about Lindor over at Ben Carsley’s latest edition of Prospect Smackdown! Meanwhile, Corey Seager is probably a good bet to move off of short, while I like the chances of Raul Adalberto Mondesi sticking there, despite how far away he is. The point? I own most of these players, and I can jump off of the positional bridge with them when we get there. It’s kind of the same way I roll in Monolopy – I don’t buy a lot of properties, but when I do, I build mad hotels on that shizz. So what’s your strategy? Do you spread the wealth or do you load up on one spot in the depth chart? If so, which position? Have a safe and happy New Year!

Mike also writes for Razzball. You can follow him on the Twitter @643ball

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13 comments on “Up the Middle: Loading Up on Shortstops

  1. jfritzsche0211 says:

    I’m relatively new to the whole dynasty thing, but I tend to believe that it’s a good bet to stock up on outfielders. The reason I like outfielders so much is due to the reason you take so many SS’s; you can’t really plan on slotting your INF prospects into their minor league position when they come up. And what happens when you’re planning on their production at an infield position, but they either become a bust or play a different position? I believe you should pay for your infield, get a few cheap outfielders and load up on outfield prospects. If they’re a bust you should have to flexibility to get somebody else in that spot and it is very unlikely that a prospect would get moved from the OF to the INF.

  2. Chris says:

    I also load up on shortstop prospects. In my dynasty league I own Profar, Baez, Russell, Hanson, and Mondesi (who I might not be able to keep). I am hoping that 3 of these guys pan out (stick at a MI position and provide solid offensive production). I have also received a lot of trade offers from other owners because I have somewhat of a monopoly on the MI prospects (with a few exceptions).

  3. Andy Barnes says:

    I do the same thing with SS, but i also apply the “best athlete on the team” mentality to CF as well. I tend to find that 2B and LF are the most common positions a player gets moved to during his ascent to the pro level. They don’t need as strong of an arm (3B/RF) or speed/range (CF/SS), so I refuse to invest in prospects that are starting their careers at 2B or LF.

  4. Tony says:

    Article brings up a great point. Right now in my dynasty league I have Ian Desmond and Brad Miller at SS. Not bad, but I might load up on a 3rd Shortstop (I am not sure if Miller can become a top 10 SS, or will just become a very solid backup). We work off the 40 man roster +, so Baez, Russell and Correa will possiby all be available likely next year to be picked up. Baez seems like top choice for fantasy purposes (the power and speed potential), but seems the most likely to be a 3B in a couple of years. Russell seems the most likely out of the three to remain at SS, which increases his value. I am torn to just grab Baez without thinking because he has so much fantasy potential, or grab Russell because of the likely-hood to be at SS for most of this career. My third base is likely my weakest position (with Arenado as starter), so maybe grabbing Baez is the best choice.

    • Mike Buttil says:

      Thanks for your comment, Tony. All three of those available guys are really solid prospects. I’m a Russell fan myself, but like you said, as long as you have somewhere to put them if/when there is a position change, you’re free to focus on who you think will provide the most fantasy value, period. Thanks for reading!

  5. […] Mike Buttil employs my favourite strategy and loads up on shortstops. […]

  6. I’ve had a rotating door at SS ever since we started our dynasty league up in 2008.Stephen Drew was supposed to be the answer but that didn’t really work out. Then Elvis Andrus got traded pre fantasy explosion (I got Adam Jones in that deal so i still call it a win…). Alexi Ramirez had been serviceable but isn’t an answer long term. Derek Jeter was supposed to be my starter last year but managed to get inserted into my line up one time. I got rather lucky with my drafting of Peralta and waiver claim of Dozier last year however. So as you can see I’ve gone through a lot of short stops. Machado was supposed to be the future but he got moved to third so i dealt him for Yu since i have Miggy and Beltre manning the hot corner. Now my eggs are in the Bogaerts basket with Addison Russell as plan B. Plan C would be Mondesi. I also had Story but he got traded at some point before he fell off a cliff value wise. So here’s hoping one of my big two stick at SS!

  7. […] More bounce-backs? Why certainly. Moose is either going to pull things together or end up in a platoon. Maybe both! Either way, we felt his bat and his youth (25) were worth the 240th pick. Even our prospects fit the bounce-back mold. Carsley wasn’t a fan of our Dahl pick, and for good reason. After a lost 2013, his talent seems to have fallen through the cracks. He won’t help us in the immediate future, but were are more than happy to stash him away on our farm. Lord only knows what to make of Ike Davis, but we were willing to roll the dice on him with news of a hidden oblique injury last year that might have contributed to his issues. He worked on simplifying his swing as well. He’s still on 27 and he’s got 30-homer upside. That’s hard to find at pick 280. Paul and I are both Phillies fans, and so we chose to go with J.P. Crawford with another prospect pick. We considered Raul Adalberto Mondesi here, but you can’t have everyone. Carl Crawford’s cousin is just starting his career, but he has the defensive tools to stick at short and could eventually be help in all five roto categories. You’ll see us load up on shortstop prospects in this draft. Here’s why. […]

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