2023 Dynasty Baseball Rankings

THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2023 TOP 50 DYNASTY LEAGUE SHORTSTOPS, #11-30

Continuing with our highlights of the league’s top Shortstops, as judged by our collection of industry experts, below are the 11th through the 30th ranked players in the league.

11. DANSBY SWANSON, CHICAGO CUBS (AGE: 28, PREVIOUS RANK: 20th)

As a Cubs fan I am obligated by Cubdom to say that Dansby Swanson is a top-ten SS and should have been ranked higher. But, this time my Cubdom is not blindly saying this to make myself feel better. Swanson showed last season that he had the ability to justify his power-first approach at the plate that he switched to in 2021. Justifiably it scared fellow Gurus in last year’s rankings when this approach led to career lows in batting average and on-base percentage. But, in 2022 not only did he have a similar home run output with 25 (27 in 2021). Swanson was able to put up career highs in batting average of .277 and an OBP of .329 last season. His plate discipline improved in terms of contact with pitches in the zone at 76.2% compared to 75.5% (+0.7%). He did chase more pitches out of the zone last season with 26.4% compared to 24.1% (-2.3%) in 2021, but that is still well below MLB average of 28.4%. But, be forewarned, even with these improvements Swanson still struck out 182 times in 640 at-bats. Even with that glaring stat, there is a lot to stay optimistic about Swanson’s fantasy forecast. Last season was the first time in his career he found the sweet spot with his Launch Angle by entering the 15 to 20 ideal degree level with 15.7 that led to an uptick in Exit Velocity from 89.3 (in 2021) to 90.2 (+0.9). But, what caught my eye was the jump in his Hard Hit percentage from 42.7% to 46.3% (+3.6%) which landed him in the 82nd percentile among all MLB players. Coupled with his newfound emphasis on base stealing in which he had a career-high of 18 stolen bases. Even though that probably won’t happen again but he does possess a 55-graded speed so it isn’t impossible. Another positive sign is his expected home runs were at 33 if he was a Cub last season. Even though he is very high in our rankings. Swanson is easily forgotten in one of the deepest positions in fantasy. He isn’t currently mentioned in the elite SS tier and is too old to be part of the next wave of prospects that are primarily lower on our list. Swanson is probably the highest-ranked SS on our list that can be available in your league and not cost you a ridiculous haul in players or picks. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

12. WILLY ADAMES (AGE: 27, PREVIOUS RANK:14th)

Again, as a Cubs fan, I am also obligated to never give kudos to a Brewers player, but Adames is an elite power source at SS. His 31 home runs were the second most among all shortstops and his 98 RBIs were the third most. But that power does come with a cost. Adames had career lows with a .238 average and .298 OBP and had the worst strikeout clip at 29.4% among shortstops (166 strikeouts in 563 at-bats). And a drop in Exit Velocity from 89.5 to 88.9 (-0.6) and Hard Hit percentage also dropped to 43.6% from 44.7% from last season is not what you want from a power-hitting profile like Adames. The question will be if Adames can make the adjustments Swanson did from 2021 to 2022 to justify another move up in the shortstop rankings next season or will he drop below the next wave of shortstops that are coming up. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

13. JEREMY PENA, HOUSTON ASTROS (AGE: 25, PREVIOUS RANK: 39th)

As a Cubs fan…. ok I’ll stop with that. Before, he introduced himself to a national audience with his home run to break a scoreless tie against the Mariners in the 18th inning of Game 3 of the ALDS. Jeremy Pena’s 2022 season can be described as Carlos Correa Light. There is nothing wrong with that!!! He proved throughout the regular season that he was more than an adequate replacement by putting up a slash line of .253/.289/.426 with 22 home runs and 11 stolen bases. But, it was his 4 home runs, 8 RBIs, and.345/.367/.638 line which netted him the postseason MVP that catapulted him 26 spots in our rankings. Pena was never considered a top prospect by any publication before 2021. Even in a scarce Astros’ farm system MLB.com had him as their 4th ranked prospect. Hell! We had him ranked the 39th dynasty shortstop right behind Nicky Lopez. Yeah. You will need to scroll a bit to see Nicky on these rankings. Yet the Astros felt he was the heir apparent after 2021 and expressed that with their half-hearted attempt to re-sign Correa. Now the question was Pena’s postseason MVP performance just the start to even bigger things or will he be more like his regular season performance as Carlos Correa Light? I believe he will be more valuable in the real world of baseball than in the world of fantasy baseball. He has already exceeded expectations and can always be the exception. But, his past performance at the University of Maine, his three-plus year minor league numbers, and his 2022 regular season point to a good fantasy baseball player, but I don’t believe he will be in the elite tier of shortstops. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

14. ELLY DE LA CRUZ, CINCINNATI REDS (AGE 20, PREVIOUS RANKING N/A)

How does this happen? With all of the scouts, experts, and access to every player’s tape in MiLB that a 6’5 200 lb kid that has a 60-grade power, arm, and run suddenly poofs out of thin air and lands on everyone’s top 25 prospects list. Elly De La Cruz along with Jackson Churio were the two helium rocketed prospects of 2023 that you have no chance of rostering if they aren’t on your team already. Every place you read about De La Cruz will bring up all the raw tools to be blah, blah, blah… The tools are tantalizing. The statistics he put up last season between A and Double-A were eye-popping with a line of .304/.359/.586 and OPS of .945 with 28 home runs in 471 at-bats and 47 stolen bases. He has the fielding ability to stick at SS or be moved to 3B depending on what the Reds do with the six shortstop/3B prospects in their minor league system that make up their top ten. Wherever he ends up playing I think he will be a top-three fantasy player at that position in five years. If not sooner. He looks like a bigger version of Crime Dog Fred McGriff when I watched tape of him at the plate. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

15. ANTHONY VOLPE, NEW YORK YANKEES (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: 18th)

I can already hear Yankee fans screaming about Volpe only being ranked this low. “Heyyyy! Yo! What in the Derek Freakin’ Jeter!”  Just “forget about it!” and eat your crappy pizza. As I said, the shortstop position in fantasy is ridiculous right now and there isn’t much doubt that Volpe is going to be a very good player in the majors. He still was rewarded with a three-spot jump for a 2022 season in which he regressed against higher competition. Across the board, he significantly regressed with a .249/.342/.460 line between Double-A and Triple-A compared to .294/.423/.604 last season in A and High A Ball. His saving grace was his decrease in strikeouts dropping to a 23.1% clip from 24.5% with 99 more at-bats. He also showed his natural baseball timing and instincts that he has been praised for in various scouting reports by having 50 stolen bases last season. I believe the regression was an adjustment period with the huge jump in competition he had to deal with. He has already shown that he has the ability to adjust after changing his approach to a power hitter in 2020. His talent didn’t disappear. But, he will need to show the necessary adjustments against stiffer competition a full season to validate another rise in the very competitive SS rankings. Otherwise, I’m sorry Yankee fans you will be screaming a LOT more next time these rankings come around in 2024.  (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

16. JORDAN LAWLAR, ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (AGE:20, PREVIOUS RANK 27th)

Ok. Take a second and let’s take a look back at the rankings. We are only at the 16th spot and Jordan Lawlar is already the 9th shortstop in our rankings under the age of 25. And he is 9th?!?! It is getting ridiculous and also difficult to come up with more superlatives to describe how great these players are already. Lawlar is another five-tool shortstop who was an advanced approach to the plate. After having his 2021 season shortened to only 5 at-bats with a shoulder injury. The Diamondbacks aggressively promoted Lawlar through their system in 2022 by having him play for four of their minor league affiliates. Starting in Rookie Ball and ending in Double-A where he hit .212-/299/.353 with 4 home runs in 85 at bats. It was a little bit of a letdown at the end, but even with those Double-A numbers, he compiled a .303/.401/.526 line with 16 home runs and 39 stolen bases. He will only be adding to his home run total when he fills out his 6’2 frame and has shown an ability to hit to all fields since high school. The only red flag is that Lawlar ended his 2022 in with another shoulder injury (same arm) from being hit by a pitch in the AFL. You will want to keep tabs on his recovery and see if it affects him this season.  (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

17. TIM ANDERSON, CHICAGO WHITE SOX (AGE: 29, PREVIOUS RANK: 10th)

Poor Tim Anderson! He is one of the elder statesmen in the top 20. He is probably called sir and asked if he needs help remembering how to play SS by all these young punks that surround him in these rankings. It also probably didn’t help his cause being injured for the better part of 2022. In 332 at-bats he still hit .301 but his OBP (.339) and SLG (.395) were both career lows thus making his OPS drop to .734 from .807 in 2021. Now that can be due to lingering effects from his injuries and he is still in his prime years. If he was on his walk year I’d be all in on Anderson bouncing back. But, he still has a club option after this season. He will be fully recovered from his finger and groin injuries so that shouldn’t be a concern. Also, what makes Anderson a great player is the chip he has when he plays and that chip will be Tostito dipping-sized with all the doubts and concerns I’ve read about him this off-season. I expect a bounce-back year with similar numbers he put up from 2017-2021. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

18. EZEQUIEL TOVAR, COLORADO ROCKIES (AGE: 21, PREVIOUS RANK: N/A)

Another player in our top twenty ranking that pretty much came out of nowhere. Just a year ago Tovar was an unknown in A ball who was known more for his abilities on the defensive side. A switch turned on for Tovar in 2022 that saw him rocket up not only everyone’s fantasy rankings, but also the Rockies system. After only 66 games in Double-A and 5 games in Triple-A, he made his major league debut in the last month of the season. In Double-A he posted a .318/.386/.545 slash line with 13 homers and 17 stolen bases. He proceeded to stay hot in Triple-A where he went 7-21 with a home run. After Rockies starting SS Jose Iglesias injured his hand and landed on the IL. The Rockies saw enough in Tovar to make him the youngest position player in Rockies history. The Rockies aren’t retaining Iglesias and aren’t looking to sign another experienced SS this off-season so it will be Tovar’s position to lose. From a fantasy perspective, Tovar isn’t even the highest-graded hitting shortstop in the Rockies system (Adael Amador). But he is by far the better defensive player so he will not switch positions. Still a bit of an unknown like many of the prospects down this list. One thing Tovar has over a lot of the guys at this point of our rankings is he is on a major league roster and will be starting. An excellent candidate to be a plug-and-play this season if your fantasy team has an injury-prone starting SS who likes riding motorcycles or has problems with ringworm.  (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

19. JACKSON HOLLIDAY, BALTIMORE ORIOLES (AGE 19, PREVIOUS RANK: N/A)

Let me get this out of the way…. Jackson Holliday is a dead ringer of Tanner Boyle from the original Bad News Bears. Maybe I think this because they both played SS. Holliday just looks like he is 12 years old to me. Okay, now that is out of the way, let’s focus on him as the #1 pick in the 2022 MLB draft. At the plate, he has a rubber band action swing that looks violent and relaxed at the same time. He can spray it to all fields and is the definition of a professional hitter. He had video game stats in high school with a laughable slash line of .685/.746/1.392 with 17 home runs in 41 games. He is as sure as a sure thing comes when it comes to a prospect. At 19 he is still growing into his frame he might be turned into the power first approach at the plate. I hope he doesn’t and stays with his contact-first approach because he has the makings of a multiple batting title crown champ in his future. He will be in the conversation of top fantasy shortstops in five years and is someone I’m targeting in my first-year player drafts. If all goes according to plan he should be in the majors just in time for the Orioles to compete for a championship. Probably bumping Gunnar Henderson to third or second base. Just don’t tell Ross (@RossJensen12) I said that about Gunnar!  (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

20. AMED ROSARIO, CLEVELAND GUARDIANS (AGE: 26, PREVIOUS RANK: 25th)

Not long ago Rosario was talked about just like all the high-ceiling prospects before him and was projected to be a top-ten fantasy SS. He was ranked as high as 14th on the TDG rankings before the 2020 season after a very good 2019 season with the Mets. After the shortened 2020 season he was part of the Francisco Lindor package that was traded to the Guardians. With sky-high expectations after that trade. Rosario has been considered a disappointment even with pretty good numbers. Now the Guardian major and minor league rosters have a plethora of middle infielders. And with Rosario being arbitration eligible in 2023 can possibly make him the odd man out. In his two seasons, he averaged a slash line of .282/.316/.406 with 11 home runs each season. This past season he did have his best defensive season and led the league in triples with 9 with 18 stolen bases which led to a career-high 2.4 WAR. But, Andres Gimenez who also was part of the Lindor trade package still took playing time away from Rosario at SS. Gimenez had better-hitting stats across the board compared to Rosario. Couple that with Gabriel Arias and Tyler Freeman making major league debuts last season. Signs point to Rosario not even getting a chance to improve on last season’s number if he isn’t traded. But, at the age of 26, I wouldn’t give up on him even with all these red flags but you should monitor his playing time during spring training and have a backup plan. (Ryan Felix Fernandes)

21. CJ Abrams, Washington Nationals (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 16)

Drafted in 2019 out of high school, CJ Abrams was aggressively promoted through the Padres organization. He played well post-draft, and his Rookie League showing (32 games, 189 wRC+ 14 SBs) set the bar high. After the lost 2020 developmental season, Abrams never really duplicated the same level of domination. Though he never really faltered either and posted above-average wRC+ scores at each MiLB level. 

The concern many have with Abrams is the lack of pop he’s shown so far. His MLB debut resulted in a poor EV (86.8) and a low LA of 6.8 degrees. In OBP leagues, he’s never had outstanding BB rates though remember he has been extremely young for each level and debuted in the MLB at 21. His bat-to-ball skill has been as advertised since his draft year, with an impressive 16.6% K rate during his first taste of the big leagues. I fall into the ‘buyer beware’ camp based on 14 professional home runs in 3 seasons but there is some tremendous upside if he does add pop in the coming years. (Chris Knock)

22. Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 43)

The seemingly perpetually injured Royce Lewis was just starting to tease us last year before he tore his ACL for a second time. His first 34 games in AAA were enough to convince the Twins brass he was ready for the prime time and, in a small initial sample of course, he didn’t let them down. Lewis hit 2 homers in his first 41 plate appearances and another 4 doubles while only striking out 5 times. Unfortunately, the ACL gave out before the league could adjust so we can’t fully appreciate how well the season could have been. 

Even with the injury risk, the 5 category potential Lewis has displayed is still a possibility. Although with a mid-year return likely, so don’t expect double-digit steals in 2023. Letting Correa go to free agency and ‘replacing’ his production via a Kyle Farmer trade, tells me that the Twins’ plan for Lewis is at shortstop. Find the fed-up owner in your league and get him while you still can. (Chris Knock)

23. Marcelo Mayer, Boston Red Sox (Age: 20, Previous Rank: 24)

Marcelo Mayer wrapped up his first full pro season essentially checking all the boxes he was supposed to. Showcase-worthy hit tool? He hit a combined .280 between both A levels. Strike zone awareness? Aced with an overall OBP of .399 at the same stops. In-game power? 13 total homers with a .209 isolated power average. All of these were checked off while Mayer was consistently one of the youngest in the league, especially High-A where he was 3.5 years younger than the average Sally League opponent. Don’t be deceived by his perfect 17/17 on the base paths though. While Mayer won’t be a full zero there once in the majors, the speed that currently exists will likely lessen as he fills out his big frame and ages. (Chris Knock)

24. Nico Hoerner, Chicago Cubs (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 25 – Second Base)

Last year TDG’s #25 second baseman, Nico Hoerner essentially slid right into the shortstop line at the same spot. Many consider his ‘22 season as his breakout. Playing over 50 games for the first time in his short career, Hoerner hit 10 homers and swiped 20 bags. Many thought that his post-college swing change would unlock average power but the 10 home runs he hit this year alone more than doubled his entire professional total. A reasonable 10.7 degree LA and a nearly 33% barrel rate show that he’s contacting the ball well, just not over the fence. 

Hoerner doesn’t need to hit long balls to be a fantasy asset. His minuscule (11%) K-rate and .281 AVG mean that even with a pedestrian walk rate, he’ll be getting on base a steady amount. And when on the bases last year, Hoerner showed he was a stolen base threat. He is expected to hit at the top of an assumedly improved Cubs lineup, and take the over on a 130 R+RBI line with a full season of games. (Chris Knock)

25. Noelvi Marte, Cincinnati Reds (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 15)

Noelvi Marte has become the epitome of prospect fatigue, and I’m guilty of suffering from it with him as well. Deemed a future #1 prospect since his J2 signing in 2018, Marte has done 2 things very well: play baseball and lose hype. Yes, he’s climbed in both fantasy and real baseball rankings as he’s progressed. Though he’s lost more and more ‘shine’ while consistently producing at each level. ‘22 was no exception, his combined .829 OPS for two professional organizations is a testament to his ability to adapt. This will help Marte as he moves to the advanced minors despite already performing well against competition more than 2 years his senior. Last year’s 19 homers and 23 SBs in 520 total High-A plate appearances are fantastic. He’s already a thicc boi so I don’t anticipate 20/20 seasons in Marte’s future. What I do see is a 25/10+ shortstop who gets on base and rocks Great American Ballpark regularly. (Chris Knock)

26. Ha-Seong Kim, San Diego Padres (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 51)

Year to year, Ha-Seong Kim improved greatly from his first MLB taste. Tatís’s injury and suspension allowed Kim to get comfy with a full season’s slate of at-bats. Kim improved both his K-rate and BB-rate (to 17.2%/8.8% respectively) which are much closer to the initial expectations placed on him as a rookie. His counting stats haven’t matched his KBO levels, though they may not ever with his low avgEV (86.7 MPH) and home stadium. RosterResource currently has Kim penciled as the leadoff batter in the Padres’ lineup. If he’s able to stay near the top all season, he should continue to rack up runs and RBIs. Kim’s a solid bench piece for a competitive dyno squad with the possibility he improves on last year’s numbers as well. (Chris Knock)

27. Javier Báez, Detroit Tigers (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 12)

2022 resulted in the Javier Báez decline we all saw coming from a trade deadline away. Not only did Comerica Park sap his home run totals, but an assumed mentality of ‘I gotta prove my value’ post-giant contract signing likely factored in. Báez’s performance last year was classically confusing, just as Cubs fans have come to expect. He drastically cut his K-rate to a near personal best of 24.9%. His walk rate followed suit though, dropping to 4.4%. The K-rate is surprising because the plate discipline stats showed Javy pressed while in the box like only Javy can. His O-swing% increased to a career-worst (48.7%) and his Z-swing% dropped near his personal lowest at 69.1%. Yeah, that means in order to prove his worth Báez decided to look at more strikes and swing at more balls. He could improve his counting stats this year, but I wouldn’t expect a return to anything worthy of a starting fantasy spot. I was out last year and I’m still out sadly. (Chris Knock)

28. Oswald Peraza, New York Yankees (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 29)

Oswald Peraza got his first taste of MLB action in 2022, and he didn’t disappoint. His September call-up should be taken with a sample size caveat, but Peraza had 57 PAs and finished with a .306/.404/.429 triple slash. His walk and strikeout rates of 10.5%/15.8% show that he wasn’t overmatched versus the end-of-season big league pitching. Barring the perpetual Yankee trade rumors, he’s looking to be the Opening Day shortstop though hitting towards the back of their lineup. While this will cut back on opportunities to accumulate counting stats, Peraza will be in as low of a pressure situation as he could be as a starting shortstop wearing the pinstripes. His above-average skill set and everyday playing time should help encourage you to make bench space for him on your fantasy roster. (Chris Knock)

29. Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 21)

Marco Luciano spent 2022 repeating High-A, which writing that makes it seem as if he failed it the first go-round which he kinda did (59 wRC+ in 36 games during ‘21). He definitely didn’t during the second time, even after missing games due to back and leg injuries. 10 home runs in 57 games weren’t as (personally) impressive as Luciano limiting his K-rate to 22.2%. The Three True Outcomes masher was looking like a likely outcome, though it’s possible that the more rounded results last year will continue beyond. But don’t worry, the homer power hasn’t left as he’s reportedly showing elite MiLB exit velocities despite the injuries. The Giants added Luciano to their 40-man roster, so any prospect fatigue that may be settling in won’t keep trade windows open for much longer. (Chris Knock)

30. Masyn Winn, St. Louis Cardinals (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 49)

Despite being ranked back-to-back, Masyn Winn is somewhat the yin to Luciano’s scouting grade yang. Luckily, the questionable power metrics are not Winn’s hallmark characteristics. Those are his plus speed and double-plus arm, both will allow him plenty of time to develop into a major-league hitter. Though Winn has shown no issue putting the ball into play far. A .283 AVG between AA and A+ gets him on base and then his 75 stolen bases (with 88% success) lead to plenty of run-scoring opportunities. 

I have started to fade the Winn/Abrams/Brujan skill set though. While you can’t teach speed, it has seemed somewhat difficult for these types to break into the big leagues. Perhaps this year’s shift rules will help them succeed? With that in mind, I’m not out on Winn totally but I prefer several names around him if drafting a start-up. (Chris Knock)

The Author

Chris Knock

Chris Knock

Chris is a father of two kids and husband of one wife. His next loves are baseball and whatever seasonal beer you have on tap. He's played fantasy baseball for almost 20 years and is excited to share his relatively educated opinions!

4 Comments

  1. Billy T
    January 10, 2023 at 11:58 am — Reply

    Does this mean Vaughn Grissom is in the top 10? Or is he being counted as a 2B?

    • January 10, 2023 at 1:08 pm — Reply

      We have him as a 2B this year! 2B rankings out on the site in a few weeks

  2. Babbo B
    January 11, 2023 at 6:32 am — Reply

    Since these are dynasty rankings, not redraft, should consider that Grissom only played 2B as a stopgap last season because of the Albies injury and now is returning to his natural position at SS.

    • January 11, 2023 at 10:40 pm — Reply

      That’s fair. For the most part, we rank players based on their most recent season of playing time, giving MLB precedent. I see where you’re coming from with Grissom though. In any case, I quickly polled the Gurus, and I’m guessing Grissom would’ve fallen somewhere in the 15-20 range if we had had him at SS based on their responses.

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