The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Shortstops, Nos. 21-50
From the 21st of January to the 20th of February, the writers at TDG will be taking you through our rankings position-by-position. As I mentioned in the primer, this year we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of having my personal rankings up on this site, like last year, these rankings for 2014 are of the consensus variety and being brought to you by all of the TDG staff. Everyone put a lot of work into this project, so we hope you enjoy the end result. And if you are looking for my personal dynasty league rankings, you can find them this off-season at Baseball Prospectus.
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And now the remaining 30 of the Top 50 Dynasty League Shortstops, led off by an oldie, but still a goodie (at least for now):
21) Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 9)
Time to line up a replacement for this longtime fantasy stalwart in dynasty leagues, but don’t count him out just yet. He may be old but he still has a solid grip on the everyday SS job in Philly. He can be expected to put up usable, if not elite, fantasy numbers in 2014. I would expect a decent rebound over his down 2013 numbers, but older players are no sure bet to stay healthy. Tends to be a slow starter most seasons, heating up as the weather heats up. Keep an eye on him and snap him up for a bargain price in late May.
22) Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 23)
As the everyday SS for the Angels we can expect Aybar to be a good contributor in Runs, SB and AVG. He is a liability in HR and RBIs. He rarely walks so he should be downgraded in points leagues or leagues with OBP as a scoring category. Batting in front of Trout, Pujols and Hamilton should help him rack up decent counting stats. Aybar has never been an elite fantasy option and he won’t be this year either, but he is a serviceable option for a Middle Infield slot until you can dig up a better one.
23) Jonathan Villar, Houston Astros (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 38)
While Villar is still very young he doesn’t really have much upside. He will likely be the Astros’ starting shortstop in 2014, but Stolen Bases are his only fantasy strength. He is a poor hitter and he plays for a team that is not going to score many runs. That could change over the next couple seasons as the Astros will have some good hitters coming up from the minor leagues, so Villar’s counting stats can be expected to improve over time.
24) Alen Hanson, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 15)
Hanson had a breakout season in the low minors in 2012 and vaulted to prominence on prospect charts. But he took a step back in 2013 and raised some doubts among scouts about his ability to become a star. He is likely to spend another couple years in the minors and probably won’t be ready to insert in your starting lineup until 2016 at the earliest.
25) Raul A. Mondesi, Kansas City Royals (Age: 18, Previous Rank: 35)
Unlike his father, who was a slugging right fielder, Raul (Adalberto) Mondesi Jr is a switch-hitting shortstop. He is skinny and quick right now, but he could develop some power as he matures past his teenage years. His prospect stock took off in 2013 and he is now ranked in the top 50 of most prospect lists despite being several years away from the major leagues.
26) Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 24)
Another aging shortstop who has seen his best days already, Ramirez still has a firm grip on everyday playing time in Chicago. He can be expected to produce solid counting stats across the board, with perhaps more stolen bases and fewer home runs than he put up in his prime. If you miss out on the elite fantasy shortstops, Ramirez is a nice fallback option for SS or MI who can be obtained cheaply.
27) Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 17)
Escobar got off to a hot start in 2013, but then crashed back to Earth with a vengeance. He ended the season with an absolutely brutal .559 OPS that cemented him as one of the worst players in the major leagues. Don’t let his 2012 OPS of .721 fool you, his career OPS is a paltry .638 over 6 seasons. He is a good base stealer, but is way below average at everything else. There is no reason to expect he will ever be anything but bad news for your fantasy team. Look elsewhere.
28) Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 26)
The oft-injured Drew is a perennial tease who occasionally plays well enough to sucker another batch of fantasy owners into taking a chance on him. Don’t be that guy. When healthy he produces enough to be adequate, but he is rarely healthy. Right now Drew does not have a team, much less a starting role. If he lands a starting role with a good offensive team he might be worth a flyer, but don’t invest much in him.
29) Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 20)
Cozart’s only value stems from the fact he is going to be the Reds’ everyday SS again this year and will get a lot of at-bats. He should get about 65 runs, 10 homers, 65 RBIs, 2 steals, and hit about a .250 batting average. Blah. He rarely walks and has a .287 OBP. Not Good At All.
30) J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Crawford was a 1st round pick in the 2013 draft and played very well in Rookie ball after signing. He is climbing the top prospect charts, but he is not going to reach the majors until at least 2016 and won’t be worthy of your starting lineup until at least 2017. Lots of athletic ability but very raw and hit only one homer in 195 ABs after signing. Cousin of Carl Crawford. Keep him on your long-term radar as a borderline top 100 prospect.
31) Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (Age: 39, Previous Rank: 19)
The perennial All Star and future Hall of Famer’s days as a useful cog in your fantasy machine are long gone folks. Not only is he almost 40 years old, he is coming off a season completely lost to a major ankle injury. His legs have always been a major piece of his fantasy value thanks to his 348 career stolen bases. He may still hit close to .300 this year if all goes well, but don’t expect his counting stats to come anywhere close to his glory days. He likely doesn’t have much if any trade value in your league right now, but if he gets off to a hot start to the season try to flip him to your dumbest leaguemate for a prospect or a setup man.
32) Hak-Ju Lee, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 39)
Lee is a slick fielding shortstop prospect on the verge of the major leagues. He missed almost all of 2013 with a major knee injury. Lee will likely knock Yunel Escobar out of a starting job in Tampa Bay this year or next, but he won’t be any better than Yunel for your fantasy roster. Hak-Ju will be another in a long line of weak-hitting, base-stealing shortstops who clutter up the bench slots of 2nd-rate fantasy rosters. If you want to invest in a shortstop prospect there are higher ceiling options farther down this list, although they are higher risk and farther from the majors.
33) Yunel Escobar, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 36)
The best I can say about Yunel Escobar is that he won’t kill your team’s batting average. He is a career .278 hitter, although he has been in the .250s the last two seasons. He has very little power and no speed, therefore he doesn’t accrue much in the way of Runs, HRs, RBIs or SBs.
34) Rosell Herrera, Colorado Rockies (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
Here is a prospect with a chance to be an impact player. He may not stay at shortstop much longer, but he is an all-around threat offensively. The Rockies made Herrera repeat the Class A South Atlantic League last year and he thrived his second time around, winning the league MVP award with a .343/.419/.515 slash line and even threw in 21 stolen bases for good measure. Power, Average and Speed. Yes, please. He is a borderline Top 100 prospect. Go get him if you can afford to wait a few years for your investment to pay off.
35) Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Toolsy, athletic, raw 2013 1st-round draft pick. Anderson projects to be a speedy, slap-hitting leadoff hitter in the majors. Expect a high AVG and a low SLG with lots of stolen bases and not much in the way of HRs or RBIs. Still in the low minors and has a lot to prove before sniffing the major leagues. If you trust the 1st-round pedigree to bear fruit you can invest, but he is high risk and his fantasy ceiling isn’t stellar.
36) Marcus Semien, Chicago White Sox (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
Semien made his big league debut with mixed results and — despite an ugly 1:22 walk-to-strikeout ratio in 21 games — could push Gordon Beckham off second base in 2014. He dominated Double-A and displayed an advanced approach (as demonstrated by a 17.4 percent walk rate), while providing both power and speed.
37) Didi Gregorius, Arizona Diamonbacks (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
An open competition in the spring could spell trouble for Gregorius, whose offensive upside pales in comparison to a younger Owings. In 404 PA last year, Gregorius struck out on the base paths, going 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts. There’s little appeal here.
38) Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 18)
After entering the season as one of the Rockies most promising prospects, Story graduated to the California League and fell flat on his face. He struck out 33 percent of the time and slugged .394, dropping his dynasty stock by 20 spots.
39) Luis Sardinas, Texas Rangers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Sardinas’ path to Texas is blocked by a pair of pretty good pair of middle infielders (Andrus, Profar), but the Rangers should count their blessings. The young shortstop worked his way up to Double-A and combined to go 32-for-42 on the base paths in 2013. The speed will play at the next level.
40) Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
If Web Gems counted in fantasy, we’d have a real gem on our hands, but Iglesias doesn’t provide enough offense to warrant serious consideration for your fake team.
41) Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 33)
Gordon couldn’t hit enough to make his legs count in 2013, batting .234/.314/.298 in 106 PA. With Ramirez in place, his time in LA is running out.
42) Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 50)
Ranked 50th a year ago, Crawford is an unexciting option best left for the desperate. He was one home run shy of 10 in 2013, but back-to-back seasons with a .248 BA and underwhelming run production won’t break any banks.
43) Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Mercer was a solid contributor in September, hitting .347 with Clint Barmes in the Pirates’ rear-view mirror. A respectable .150 ISO was the highlight of his season and — if he receives regular playing time and a favorable spot in the order — he could surprise with double-digit home runs and a handful of steals.
44) Dorssys Paulino, Cleveland Indians (Age: 19, Previous Rank: 29)
What a name. Paulino hit .355/.404/.610 in Rookie Ball in 2012, but dropped to .246/.297/.349 in Single-A in 2013. With Lindor hogging short, most agree that Paulino will move to second or third. He has gap power and could develop more as he fills out.
45) Jace Peterson, San Diego Padres (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 43)
After swiping 51 bags in 2012, Peterson stole 42 more at the High-A level and improved at the plate with a .382 OBP. He added seven home runs and could shoot up the ranks with more success in Double-A and beyond.
46) Ruben Tejada, New York Mets (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 45)
Tejada is what he is, which is not great for fantasy. In 1,359 career plate appearances, he’s recorded two home runs and 13 steals. Following last season’s .202 BA, the Mets could soon look in a new direction.
47) Eduardo Nunez, New York Yankees (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 37)
Nunez played 90 games in 2013 and contributed three home runs and 10 steals. If you could guarantee more playing time, he’d be a more serious fantasy consideration.
48) Adeiny Hecchevaria, Miami Marlins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
The good: he stole 11 bases in 2013. The bad: he was caught 10 times. In this case, 11 is not better than 10.
49) Roman Quinn, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
A switch-hitting newbie, Quinn has plus speed on the bases, as demonstrated by 62 thefts in 133 minor league games. Unfortunately, he ruptured his Achilles in November and the recovery time from surgery is long.
50) Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Arcia spent 2013 in Single-A, hitting .251/.314/.333 with four home runs and 20 steals in 29 attempts. With Segura at short for the foreseeable future, Arcia will need to bulk up and move to another position to stay in Milwaukee’s organization.
Commentary by Nick Doran and Alex Kantecki.