The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Shortstop, Nos. 21-50
It’s been over two months since the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, ending the 2016 baseball season. But if you’re like most fantasy baseball owners, those two months probably feel like two years. Considering it’s still another month until Spring Training even starts, late January has to be the worst time to be a baseball fan. It’s too late to reflect on last year, but next season is too far ahead to look forward to. Luckily, with a little help from The Dynasty Guru, the next month is survivable, as we’ll be ranking and commenting on a whole lot of players over the next six weeks.
The Dynasty Guru’s hard-working staff has spent countless hours crafting these rankings, and we hope you enjoy and continue to support our efforts by showing your appreciation through this link or via the splendid ‘donate’ button located on the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.
You can view our rankings for previous positions, and the dates future rankings will come out, by clicking the link to TDG’s 2017 Consensus Dynasty Baseball Rankings splash page. With that, it’s time to move on from the exciting first-half of our shortstop rankings and look at the bottom half of our list (there’s still time to close this page. No, seriously).
21) Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds (Age 22, Previous Rank: 27, 2B)
With the departures of injury-prone veterans Zack Cozart and Brandon Phillips looming, Peraza is likely to be given a starting role at one of the middle infield positions as early as Opening Day 2017. While his stock among prospect experts has certainly fallen over the past couple years, Peraza has hit at every level and even slashed .324/.352/.411 in his rookie year. The former-Brave should be a great source of stolen bases in the near future, while pitching in a solid, but empty, average, considering his lack of pop.
22) Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers (Age 28, Previous Rank: 27)
Dating back to the beginning of the second half of 2015, Andrus has slashed .294/.347/.424 with 12 long balls over 867 plate appearances. One can assume the Venezuelan shortstop has been rejuvenated offensively, and this is his new true talent level. Even after taking slight regression into account, league-average numbers with 20-something stolen bases total aren’t out of reach. A final note: last season was the first of Andrus’s career where he was above league average with the bat (per wRC+). Take that as you will.
23) Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays (Age 27,Previous Rank: 25)
2017 is likely to be the final year in which Miller is eligible for the six, as the former Best Shortstop in the AL has turned into an one-dimensional slugging first baseman with huge platoon split, a.k.a. post-extension Ryan Howard. And in an era where everyone hits home runs, power is becoming less and less valuable. But for one year, you can enjoy a shortstop-eligible player with above-average pop for the position.
24) Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 19)
The UC Berkeley product cemented his status as more or less a league-average hitter in 2016, with a career-high 27 dingers and 10 steals. Even in the era of young, offensive shortstops and suspected juiced balls, there’s value in this type of production coming from a premium position. Speaking of that position, Semien took big steps forward last season with the glove (in part due to Ron Washington’s instruction), and he should be able to stick at shortstop long-term. He may eventually be challenged for the spot by Franklin Barreto, but if things continue to improve with Semien, Barreto could be the one moved off the position.
25) Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 35)
Even after slashing .274/.372/.430 with 11 bombs, 13 steals, and a 135 wRC+ as one of the youngest players in the Southern League, the biggest question in Adames’ profile remains unanswered: can he stick at the position? If he can, he could be a serviceable shortstop. If he has to move to either side, his fantasy stock will take a toll. Still, Adames is hitting better than some other big names higher on this list were at the same level and age (read: Torres, Gleyber), so his profile should play at other places on the field.
26) Jorge Mateo, New York Yankees (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 23)
On surface, Mateo’s numbers took a step back in 2016. But taking the fact that he went from South Atlantic League to more pitcher-friendly Florida State League into account, he more or less put up the same production as he did in 2015. Even though his stolen bases total nearly halved, from 71 in 2015 to 36 in 2016, the 80 speed is still there. Questions about his bat are growing in volume, though, and Mateo is likely to end up at a position other than shortstop. Even with that in mind, 80 speed is 80 speed, and Mateo should be able to pitch in a handful of home runs too. That’s a valuable fantasy asset, but Mateo will have to hit to get there.
27) Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers (Age 22, Previous Rank: 16)
Fun fact: Arcia is one of the only a few dozen players in history whose first and last name start and end in the same letter. Although he struggled in his first stint in the big leagues, there’s still plenty of room for Arcia to improve, as he was the third-youngest player to appear in a game at the level. For whatever it’s worth, the track record of 21-or-younger shortstops who had 200 or more plate appearances in the recent years is quite strong, if not impressive (no, don’t look at the name one spot below Arcia).
28) Jedd Gyorko, St. Louis Cardinals (Age 28, Previous Rank: 39)
No, I have no idea what to do with this guy either. One can say the Devil Magic did its signature sorcery to the former Mountaineer. Or he was just another product of the league-wide power surge. One thing for certain is that he’s likely to get a lion’s share of playing time at the hot corner, with Jhonny Peralta’s health diminishing, and Gyorko will be a good bet for 25+ home runs and solid counting stats along the way.
29) Eduardo Nunez, San Francisco Giants (Age: 29, Previous Rank: NR)
In 2016, Nunez quietly put together a great fantasy season by posting a .288/.325/.432 slash line with 16 long balls to go with 40 stolen bases, the third-highest mark in all baseball last year. His .314 BABIP indicates it wasn’t all luck, but expect the stolen bases and power to regress, making him less of a 20/40 threat and more of a 10/25 player. Still, that’s not too bad for a guy who seemed destined to be a utility player for life.
30) Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees (Age: 26, Previous Rank 33)
Don’t let his career-high 20 home runs in 2016 fool you. Everyone – a record-setting 111 players, to be precise – hit 20 home runs or more last year. In an era in which your next-door neighbor mashes balls out of the park, the relative value of a home run is at all-time low. So, Sir Didi remains largely the same player he was last year, a lower-tier starting shortstop who has more real-life than fantasy value as someone who hits for an decent average with some speed and leage-average power.
31) Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds, (Age 31, Previous Rank: NR)
The difference between Mozart and Cozart is more than just one letter. The former pleases people with the great music he composed. The latter puts up fantasy production that is… well, less than pleasant. Should he stay healthy, he’s likely to give you unimpressive, if not boring, numbers, as he’s done in the past.
32) Isan Diaz, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
As one of the younger position players in the Midwest League, Diaz proved that his breakout 2015 wasn’t a mirage and the power potential is legitimate. With his lack of athleticism to handle the position and Orlando Arcia’s presence, Diaz’s long-term future is on the other side of the second base. But even with the impending move, you can expect Diaz to produce something in the early-career Kelly Johnson mold.
33) Ketel Marte, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 17)
Marte could prove to be the counter-argument for what we said about Arcia’s chances of success, as he followed up a promising age-21 rookie season with a brutal sophomore showing. Don’t give up on Ketel just yet, though, as there’s still a player here that shows a decent bat with plus speed.
34) Nick Gordon, Minnesota Twins (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 43)
Last season, at age 20, the fifth overall pick of the 2014 draft posted a .291/.335/.386 slash line as one of the youngest players at the High-A level. While he won’t be his older brother, Dee, or his father, Flash (Tom), this Gordon has a great bat and plus speed. His reads on the basepaths will have to improve after being caught 13 times (compared to 19 steals) last season, but there’s still an interesting package here.
35) Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 30)
If the gloriousness of bat flips were a fantasy category, Cabrera would be ranked much higher. Alas, it’s not, and Asdrubal has begun his marching towards the wrong side of 30. He’s still a league-average player in terms of offensive production, but diminishing athleticism and speed will force him out of position in a couple of years, if not sooner.
36) Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 40 2B)
It gets pretty dark toward the back of the shortstop rankings, but Polanco may be one of the few buy-low targets in the back half of this list. As of press time, Polanco is slated to get the majority of SS at-bats over Eduardo Rodriguez for the suddenly-rebuilding-again Twins. Minnesota’s place in the cycle may give them the patience to tolerate Polanco’s questionable glove, and if they move Brian Dozier, the odds of multi-position eligibility jump quite a bit. Pay as if you’re going to get 10 homers/10 steals and .270 average, but the possibility of a better-than-15/15 season is there and that counts as upside for a middle infielder in 2017.
37) Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 40)
If you believe the early psychoanalysts, every culture repeats the same myths to teach self-realization. According to the work of Carl Jung, the mythic archetype of the scapegoat teaches us through stories of how he suffers the shortcomings of others. For fantasy owners, the middle infielder-with-upside serves as a metaphor for our own inability to take responsibility for our poor decisions: we project our personal failures onto the man who needs a .334 BABIP in order to hit for .277 with 52 runs and 49 RBI over 119 games. Chris Owings, who in retrospect is a subject of the saddest piece of analysis ever written in these pages, serves as a perfect metaphor through which you may deal with your own feelings of inadequacy, but he is unlikely to get much playing time in 2017 or do much of fantasy value with the playing time he gets, and the luster of his 5-tool prospect shine has dimmed.
38) Kevin Newman, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
To the one commenter who, in 2016, suggested that the shortstop position was deep because our rankings did not include Kevin Newman: this is for you buddy. Newman has a high floor, which, at his position, means Chris Owings is his floor. The hit tool plays, and is perhaps the only fantasy-relevant value he brings to the table. At least a year away from meaningful major league at-bats, Newman is the kind of guy you should target late in drafts or as an extra piece in trade given his potential to jump ahead of a weak crop of middle infielders in the next couple of years.
39) Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals (Age: 30, Previous Rank: NR)
Escobar played 162 games for the Royals in 2016, and for that reason alone it was a mistake that he was not included in these rankings last year. In those 162 games he hit .261 with 7 home runs and 17 steals, and for that reason alone it was a mistake that he was ranked ahead of the likes of Brad Miller and Amed Rosario on the July 2016 update of the TDG Top 500. We apologize for both mistakes, and would point out that playing time in very deep fantasy leagues carries its own form of value while, at the same time, pointing out that Tyler Saladino had a more valuable 2016 in 93 games…so early apologies to Saladino for wherever he ranks on our 2018 list.
40) Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 41)
If, as we explored in brief above, playing time is its own form of fantasy value, Simmons remains a player to be owned in AL-only/deep leagues. His spike in batting average last year– a career high .281 for a full season–is partly BABIP-inflated but also due to just swinging a little bit more than he had in the past. Simmons also “gained” a little speed in 2016, posting a career high 10 steals. Of the two, the steals may be more sustainable, but the batting average won’t be actively harmful in 2017’s hitting environment. There are worse options, even on this very list, but the floor and ceiling are practically the same thing.
41) Kevin Maitan, Atlanta Braves (Age: 16, Previous Rank: NR)
You know already if you are the type of fantasy team owner likely to pick up a 16-year-old Central American middle infielder. You pick the guy up because he’s a top international prospect, maybe one of the best international bats anyone’s seen in years, and if he can hit his ceiling you’ll be talking about this one for the rest of your life. If he misses, well, that happens. Maitan’s ceiling is incredibly high, and at 16 he already has a lot of helium. Take a cold shower, think about it, make sure not to overpay, and keep in mind there’s a lot to get excited about here.
42) Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Freddy Galvis has never appeared on a TDG list before. On the one hand, that’s about right for a player who has never posted an average above .263 despite being around in some form or other since 2012. On the other hand, flashy-defense middle infielders with power potential are basically the only thing ever ranked at 42 in the history of this list. The flash of Galvis’ defense has dulled, but he somehow posted 20 homers and 17 steals in 2016 and is likely to get 100+ games in 2017. The power is legit. The batting average is painful. Freddy Galvis has now appeared on a TDG list, perhaps for the last time as a shortstop given J.P. Crawford’s imminent arrival, but maybe not for the last time ever given what the Phillies have going up the middle generally.
43) Miguelangel Sierra, Houston Astros (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
Sierra is 19 and just came out of a Rookie-Ball season where he hit for a lot of power. Those scouting the stat lines will see a sleeper and may risk getting ahead of themselves, since the power evaporated when he faced better pitching upon a promotion to Low-A. Despite that, he’s a lock to stick at short and does project to hit well enough to be valuable if it all works out. Exercise caution, but there’s plenty of reason to expect Sierra to continue climbing up prospect rankings as he matures over the next several years.
44) Anderson Tejeda, Texas Rangers (Age: 18, Previous Rank: NR)
Tejeda inherits the mantle of “Texas Rangers Middle Infield Teenager Destined To Shoot Up Top Prospect Lists.” It wasn’t so long ago that the guys who previously held that mantle changed the way people talk about prospects: so WANT, much WET. There are questions around Tejeda’s ability to stick at short, but his bat impressed in the Arizona Fall league and short season ball and he has enough pop to be interesting as a 2B prospect if it comes to that. On the one hand, this same description once described Rougned Odor. On the other hand, it also described Luis Sardinas.
45) Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 13)
Even Cardinals Devil Magic too must fade, as dynasty owners realized from Peralta’s injury-shortened season. After missing the most of the first half of the 2016 season to thumb-injury issues, Peralta appeared to be mostly back to his old ways in the 82 games he did play, putting up a .260/.307/.408 slash with eight home runs. The OBP should cause concern, but the power alleviates some concern that thumb injuries would sap his ability to hit. Do not expect another season as a top-15 SS, and do not expect others in your league to trade much for him, but the potential for maybe one more magic season is there for the former perennial All Star.
46) Sean Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)
Multi-position eligibility has ensured Rodriguez will pop up on deep-dynasty waiver wire posts for years, but after a career 2016 where he hit .270 with 18 homers, Rodriguez might finally find himself owned for a whole season in many leagues. In most formats, you could literally start Rodriguez at any and every position this year. There are some positions, especially in leagues 16-teams or deeper, where even an average-to-OK Rodriguez year could be helpful. That said, expecting him to be his 2016-self may be setting expectations too high — the second coming of peak Martin Prado he is not.
47) Adeiny Hechavarria, Miami Marlins (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 38)
Looking for a discount version of Andrelton Simmons? If so, I’m sorry! I know we talked about the potential value of games played in deeper leagues earlier, but Hechavarria represents the point at which the risk might outweigh the reward. If you are rebuilding and have to get at-bats on your roster in order to stay legal, Hechavarria should be cheap. If your league has figured out a way to value defense or name-quality, Hechavarria should get some love. Otherwise, if you came to this list to find this write up, reevaluate the life choices that led you to this point.
48) Derian Cruz, Atlanta Braves (Age: 17, Previous Rank: NR)
A no-power switch hitting speedster with average contact ability who probably won’t stick at short, Cruz caught a lot of dynasty attention as one of the higher-profile International Free Agents of 2015. There are question marks galore, and he’s YEARS away from making any impact, but the speed is truly elite. There is no reason to try and speculate on the potential value of steals in 2022, but a player with an at least average hit tool and 80-grade wheels will end up on prospect lists even if he does have to move down to OF eventually.
49) Gavin Cecchini, New York Mets (Age: 23, Previous Rank: NR)
In 2013, Cecchini was the 46th best shortstop prospect on these rankings. In the four years since, he has gone from rising star to “where is he on this list” to, now, “ugh, if he’s on this list, things must be pretty bleak.” Friends, yes. Things are bleak. Cecchini is an inevitable 2B who would be ranked about the same on the 2B list (free preview of the 2018 Consensus Rankings!), and the back half of the 2B list is maybe even uglier.
50) Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 31)
You may be looking over this list and thinking “where is Player X?” Please know that ten writers for this site ranked shortstop lists of at least 50 shortstops each, 18 writers debated those lists, and the results of those debates were refined into the list you see here (ed. note: please kill me). Player X was not included. Instead, we included Jose Iglesias, who is very likely to play most of the season for Detroit on the strength of his glove despite a precipitous decline in his batting average last year, the one asset he brought to your fantasy team. This guy, we think, is probably better than Player X. Player X is, at best, 51, behind Jose friggin Iglesias. Think about that.
Comments by Kazuto Yamazaki and Tyler Baber