THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2021 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE SHORTSTOPS: PLAYERS TO TARGET
This is a companion piece to our annual Top 50 Dynasty League Shortstop posts. The opinions below are my own and do not reflect the TDG consensus.
The middle infield positions on your dynasty squad are extremely important and should be handled with the utmost care. In particular, shortstop is in a class of its own and having an elite slugger on your roster is fantasy gold.
Including franchise cornerstone type talents Tatis Jr., Turner, Lindor, and Bichette, among many others, shortstop is without a doubt the deepest and most talented position on the diamond. That said, if shortstop is a need on your roster, you’ll either have to pay up for one of the top names or buy-low/early on some targets who are capable of performing at an elite level that come at a reduced cost. Here are three targets for you to consider heading into 2021.
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Javier Baez, Age: 28, Chicago Cubs (Rank 12)
If you’re reading this, I don’t need to introduce you to Javy Baez or explain the unexplainable, which was his dismal 2020 season. You’re not alone in your agony when reflecting on last season and you’re also not alone in your hesitation committing to Baez moving forward. However, what I will tell you is that compared to his counterparts, acquiring the 28-year-old’s services for your roster this season are much more likely than they were a year ago, and if come September you told me Baez was a Top-5 shortstop, I would not be surprised.
The 2020 season was an anomaly for so many players, of which I include Baez on this list. We are only one year removed from a .281/.316/.531 season in which Baez had 29 home runs, 11 stolen bases over only 138 games, and extrapolated over 162 games, you have an MVP caliber player. Javy was an easy Top-25 dynasty player heading into 2020, and while he will never be an on-base machine, he is capable of hitting for a high average and boosting all of your counting stats. Further, Baez is in his last season prior to free agency. Maybe you believe in contract years or maybe not, but regardless Baez is playing for his future. Whether the righty dons a Cubs uniform for the duration of 2021 remains to be seen, but if not, another MLB team will be taking a leap of faith that Baez returns to form, and I encourage you to do the same.
Dansby Swanson, Age: 27, Atlanta Braves (Rank 17)
Two truths and a lie:
- Swanson hit .258/.335/.415 with eight homers and six stolen bases during 2020
- Swanson ranks in the 90th percentile for sprint speed and has increased his barrel rate and launch angle for four straight seasons
- Swanson was a Top-5 shortstop during 2020
You’re right, number two and three are correct. Wait, Swanson was Top-5? Yes. Number one is a lie, that stat line actually belongs to Francisco Lindor. Swanson’s numbers are indeed worthy of a top finish amongst the position, as he managed .274/.345/.464 with 10 home runs and five stolen bases during 2020 and further solidified himself as a good, but not great, shortstop for fantasy purposes. Swanson is an ideal target if you have a hole in your roster since you can likely acquire his services for nothing significant in return. While Swanson does not lie among the position’s elite, he is more than serviceable and is a particularly good addition to your squad if you’re waiting on one of the next top prospects to make his debut. Despite Swanson’s improvements, there may not be a “next level” improvement coming due to his strikeout rate and generally average batted ball data. Write down his name so you don’t forget it as I did, I knew it started with an “S” though.
Noelvi Marte, Age: 19, Seattle Mariners (Rank 18)
As a brief introduction to my favorite shortstop target, Noelvi Marte is a 6’1’’ righty out of the Dominican Republic who signed with the Mariners as an international free agent in 2018. All he has done since is climb the prospects’ ranks and impress Seattle’s front office enough to be carried on the taxi squad last season as a teenager. I covered Marte in our Roundtable: The Next Top Prospect, and still believe that he has the makeup and ceiling to be baseball’s future #1 overall prospect.
While targeting a top prospect is not some new mind-blowing strategy, I’m particularly interested in acquiring Marte’s services for a number of reasons. The cream of the crop at shortstop possesses the abilities to hit for average, hit for power, and run. Marte showcased these abilities in his first taste of affiliated ball hitting .309/.371/.511 with nine homers and 17 stolen bases with a nearly 10% walk rate over 65 games. His maturity at the plate complements his character, both of which are renowned within the Mariners organization and outpace his youth. He’s particularly close with Julio Rodriguez, another Mariners phenom, who has vaulted up the rankings in the past couple of seasons in a similar fashion and has thrived in the spotlight.
Further, fantasy managers have recognized the benefits of rostering an elite shortstop and the next wave of prospects are ranked accordingly, with Wander Franco, Marco Luciano, Royce Lewis, CJ Abrams, and Bobby Witt generally leading the charge and Noelvi Marte tucked in the back half of the Top-10 for their position. Marte has yet to play in the upper minors and due to his proximity, you’re likely able to acquire his services more economically now than after his real breakout, which is coming. Shortstop at the highest level is extremely top-heavy with stars, but if Marte’s package all comes together he is someone who we may need to make room for in the coming years.