While so much can change from year to year in the fantasy world, it’s nice to see that you can still find a bit of consistency in certain things while doing your draft prep. Take the shortstop position, for example. As it has been since I can remember, and let’s be generous and assume that I can remember as far back as a decade, the shortstop position remains one of the absolute thinnest in this game. Each year you’ve got a small handful of players who sit atop the shortstop rankings, but as you attempt to scroll down the list, looking for maybe some less expensive alternatives, you find more guys that have trouble hitting their way out of a paper bag, let alone are capable of contributing helpful stats to your fantasy squad. Some might have a bit of speed but no stick, some might have a whisper of power but no batting average, and some just don’t have anything at all but a starting job thanks to their useless-in-fantasy glove work. But alas, you still need to draft one and considering the mass use of the middle infield spot, maybe even two. The choices can be a bit aggravating, but what can you do? So let’s take a look and see what the boys and girls of the NFBC are doing with the position…
|Rank||Player||Team||Current ADP||1 Week Ago||Trend|
Obviously, Troy Tulowitzki continues to sit at the very top of this heap. When he’s healthy, he’s the absolute best at what he does. He’ll hit for power, he’ll hit for average, heck, he just might even swipe a few bases for you. The problem is, though, he hasn’t been fully healthy for some time. In fact, he’s appeared in 140 or more games just twice in the last five seasons and last year he appeared in just 74. It would be very difficult to pass over him if position scarcity is a concern of yours, but know that you are taking a significant risk making him your first pick of the draft.
I do like the fact that Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes appear to be getting closer to each other according to the ADP trends here. While it would be my preference to grab Hanley as the number two shortstop off the board due to the probable advantage in power, I can understand people’s desires to lock in more speed early and not have to worry about competing with others for lesser base-stealers later on. It should be interesting, now that Hanley has his shortstop eligibility back, to see how he finishes both in the ADP ranks come Opening Day and where he starts off next season if he has the rebound year I feel he could have.
And look at that list once you get past Alcides Escobar. What are there, maybe four or five names you wouldn’t mind seeing on your roster? Unless you’ve got some serious faith in some of those lower names, you should probably be fishing of the second base pier for your middle infield slot.
Now let’s take a look at some of the more notable risers and fallers…
Hiroyuki Nakajima, OAK (+61.11%) – On American soil, he’s a relatively unknown commodity, but in Japan, he’s a guy who owns a slash line that everyone loves. Last season for the Seibu Lions, Nakajima posted a line of .312/.382/.451 which, according to the league stats, ranked second, fourth and fourth overall. We’ve already seen that power doesn’t translate coming from overseas, but average and OBP have in a few cases. The A’s signed him to a two-year deal and he’s penciled in as the starter, so Billy Beane must’ve seen something he liked.
Jean Segura, MIL (+14.75%) – Some scouts actually had him projected as an eventual 15-40 guy, and while it’s difficult to see a guy like Segura power up that much, the steals are very much a possibility. His cup of coffee with the Brew Crew last season was less than impressive, but he’s just turning 23 this March and will be given a fairly long leash to grow as the team doesn’t have much else in shortstop options. He’s turning into a fairly trendy pick based on some of the mocks I’ve seen, so be careful reaching too high based on unproven talent and speculation.
Stephen Drew, BOS (+9.64%) – Considering the extent of the ankle injury he suffered, I’m willing to give him a mulligan on these last two seasons. Now that he’s healthy and sitting in a very hitter-friendly division, I’ll happily reacquaint myself with Drew’s .181 ISO from 2010. And it looks like I’m not the only one as he creeps up the ADP ranks.
Josh Rutledge, COL (+7.97%) – Talk about a trendy pick…oh man. Rutledge is the prime example of the fact that there are no more sleepers in fantasy baseball. There are just too many sources available to keep the lid on any big secrets. Rutledge would have been a very sneaky pick for many people, but he was outed long ago people are hyping him so much that they’re projecting a 20-20 season for him now. I would err on the side of caution and assume that 15-15 is his ceiling right about now and anything you get beyond that is pure gravy. Just like with Segura though, beware the reach.
Pedro Florimon, MIN (-20.13%) – Is there anything more depressing than a starting shortstop with so little going for him the power/speed departments that, not only is his ADP in the toilet, but someone out there is continuously flushing which drives him down even further? I didn’t think so. With such little faith in him, you have to wonder why they’re penciling him in each week. It might not be too long before we see a major platoon situation.
Billy Hamilton, CIN (-16.17%) – I was somewhat surprised, even in NFBC mocks that Hamilton was going as high as he was without even being slated for a starting job. The word is that he will be given the opportunity to compete for the center field job, but without having played at Triple-A (yes, I know there are those that have made the jump) and without seeing him against big-league pitching, that’s an awfully big reach even with his speed potential. He’ll likely hover around his current ADP for a little while, but if word comes out that he could automatically start in the minors, he should drop in all non-keeper leagues; especially with how much speed is available in drafts.
Rafael Furcal, STL (-14.15%) – This is pretty much a no-brainer. I remember very well when he came into the league as a 20-year old, but here we are with him as a 36-year old and he really hasn’t been a productive fantasy option for some time. Sure, he’s flashed a bit of the old Raffy here and there, but you have to go all the way back to 2006 to get any kind of consistent and reliable production.
Mike Aviles, CLE (-11.08%) – The drop is subtle right now and not very surprising as he is slated for back-up duty for the Tribe, but he is definitely worth keeping an eye on as we head into Spring Training. The Indians are hoping that Lonnie Chisenhall is finally ready for full-time duty, bringing in Aviles to compete is pretty smart. We know he always falls a bit short of expectations, but with Chisenhall being the only body standing in his way of a full-time job, he’s definitely worth keeping on your radar.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------