Top 20 Shortstops – Fantasy 2017
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These rankings are for your standard 5×5 rotisserie leagues, enjoy!
Updated July 25, 2017. Overall Rankings can be found here.
‘Movement’ column signifies the change in rank at this position, from the last update (June 23, 2017).
My thoughts prior to the season…
The Waiting Game
Shortstop is the most top heavy position this year. The clear upper echelon are two players who will end up in my top 15; Carlos Correa, and Corey Seager. I then chose to group Xander Bogaerts and Trevor Story on the back end of the top tier, as the last shortstops I would be willing to pull the trigger on given the construction of my team through the first 3 rounds. After that, although the elite status given to a guy like Jonathan Villar is warranted by others, in the early drafts I’ve done, I’m heavily inclined to target other players around that range and leave the Brewers’ regression candidate for another owner. My projection for the 60+ stolen base commodity is around 12 home runs, 40 steals, and a .280 average. It’s realistic, attainable, and more likley to happen than the nearly 20HR/65SB season Villar put together. He’ll slot into my top 40 overall, but I can’t see many scenarios where I’d take him with one of my first two picks, which syncs up with his current ADP of 20 overall in NFBC leagues.
Unfortunately, the position itself really becomes different various of gray as you dig past the duo of studs. There are a lot of players with value built on steals – Villar, Eduardo Nunez, Elvis Andrus, Tim Anderson – combined with a crop of players who I wouldn’t mind owning, but don’t possess enough upside to pique my interest in the 12th round. The more interesting assets to target in that window become arms like Kevin Gausman, Jameson Taillon, Lance McCullers, Julio Urias, and to a lesser extent Matt Harvey. Participating in a few mock drafts with the crew over at CBS Sports, I’ve found this a common spot where middle infielders are scooped up, continuing my general philosophy of shying away from positional scarcity.
My tendency is to end up with players like Jonathan Schoop and Devon Travis to fill my second base slot first. If I’m at the back end of the first round, say pick 11 overall, I’ll hopefully end up with one of Correa or Seager – which means I’ll be deciding between late round up-the-middle assets to either fill my middle infield spot, or create some bench depth. As these decisions will likely manifest past 200 overall in drafts, here are a few I like the value of.
Steady at Short
Marcus Semien ended up as the 16th overall shortstop last season according to ESPN’s player rater, slotting in as a top 200 player overall. He’s currently being drafted just around 200 overall, which leaves very little room for value creation, but in Semien I oddly see both diversity and security. The ability to contribute across two categories (HR, SB) at a very nice level, and stable counting stats really only leave a bit of average to desire. He felt the boost in homers, like many other power deficient bats up the middle, but Semien’s pop is actually sustainable if you believe his track record. I think he’s a good bet to finish right around 180-200 overall again, with a 22HR/10SB season to pad your stats. There is security, with contribution in multiple regards, and even a very tiny window for some 2016-esque power upside. I’m a buyer.
Brandon Crawford is a classic example of perceived failure after helium from his 20 home run campaign in 2015 shot him way too high up draft boards for the 2016 season. Primed to disappoint before the first pitches of 2016, Crawford ended up with a respectable season, but one that was built on defensive esteem, which unfortunately does nothing for fantasy owners. So what’s the verdict on Crawford for 2017? Well, nearly 250 overall at the moment. It’s amazing how quickly perceptions of players can change in fantasy. The reason 250 is fantastic value stems from the improvements in his batted ball profile, even barely past his prime.
Crawford cut down on strikeouts (down 2.7%), increased his walks (up 2.1%), hit the ball harder (up 2%), had more line drives (2.5%), went up the middle more, and all that stands out is the 9 less home runs. We completely disregard the 20 point jump in average, and consistency among his counting stats and stolen bases. These percentage upticks may seem small, but across the board improvement is what creates sustainable success for players of any kind. Imagine a world where Crawford lucks into another 20 home runs for 2017? Good chance we’ll end up with a top 175 player for a 19-20th round price tag. Even if the 20 home runs don’t resurface, the floor of 12 bombs with a .275 average won’t come close to sinking your team. Steady is a great bucket to throw Crawford into.
Photo via the Flickr creative commons, thanks to Keith Allison for the shot of Machado.
Statistics via Fangraphs.com.
Position eligibility is determined via NFBC.com. If you desire the rank of a player at another position, feel free to comment below.