2016 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings

It’s an exciting time for shortstops in fantasy baseball, and for reality baseball for that matter as well — but as I like to say…this is real living in a fantasy world. And I can’t get enough of it! 7 of the top 10 ranked shortstops on this list are 23 years old or younger. Yes, that is correct! That is the state of where this position is moving toward in fantasy baseball, which might make it appear to be very attractive and deeper than recent years. I will say that it is deeper in terms of the amount of talent and potential, but there might be an overrating of some of the young talent. I know what you’re thinking — “How can you say it’s overrating of young talent when you have 7 of the youngsters ranked so highly in the top 10?” Well, it’s simple. There’s the super elite talent at the top 2, but after that it is a steep dropoff to some of these other youngsters that are being treated as if they are already valuable fantasy commodities when in the reality of the fantasy world they have much to prove. Yet, they are still better than much of the rest of the shortstop player pool.

Below are THE BACKWARDS K 2016 FANTASY BASEBALL SHORTSTOP RANKINGS. Included for each player is “The Backwards K Quick Take” and a self-produced player projection for 2016.

***Please note the following:

  • The player’s names are color coded to signal different tiers at the position.
  • The rankings reflect standard 5×5 roto scoring settings (AVG/HR/RBI/R/SB) with position eligibility requirements as 10 total games played at a position in 2015, or 5 total games started at a position in 2015 (i.e. Yahoo! settings).
  • The numerical order is not necessarily a suggested order to draft them in, but it is the order that is calculated based on each player’s listed projections, unless noted otherwise.
  • Noted in some players’ “Quick Takes” is if they gain or lose notable value in points leagues that factor penalize hitter strikeouts and reward hitter walks.

  1. Carlos Correa (Astros)The Backwards K Quick Take: The shortstop phenom and #1 overall pick from the 2012 amateur draft was called up to the Majors in June of last year at age 20, and what an Astro-nomical debut it was as he took home the AL Rookie of the Year award in only 99 games played. Looking at 2016, there will be some doubters who think that Correa regresses. But the only place that he should regress in is in HR/FB%, which ranked 8th in the Majors (minimum 400 PA) at 24.5%. Correa certainly does have pop, but that’s not a HR/FB% that seems sustainable for him right now when he’s still presumably a few years away from his power peak (Eno Sarris presents here that the power peak age is around 24-25 years old). Correa can still probably be counted on for a HR/FB% of 18.0% or greater though, which is still solid. But even though there may be regression in his rate of HR, there could be positive upswings elsewhere for Correa. His first month as a Major Leaguer was easily the worst month for him in both BB% (3.1%) and K% (20.6%). As a 20-year old debuting in the Majors, there should be those types of initial struggles. But astonishingly, Correa adjusted very quickly and posted well above league average marks in both BB% and K% the rest of the way, which can be considered the benchmark for him in 2016. In addition, Correa had an overall .296 BABIP, which is fine, but it’s a little below league average. But the thing is that he was a decent amount better than league average in all the batted ball profile categories that should affect BABIP. So with all things being equal, it wouldn’t be crazy to say that a .320+ BABIP is in his 2016 future. Finally, the rate at which he scored runs when on base was 23.6% (excluding HR that drove himself in), which is absurdly low for a hitter who spent most of his time hitting 3rd in a good lineup. For perspective, in all games where Correa did not hit 3rd (before and after he arrived to the Majors), #3 hitters for the Astros combined to score 40.4% of the time on base. It would be perfectly reasonable to presume that rate comes up to 30% or higher for him this season. To suffice, Car-Cor is quite the beastly player and is a surefire 1st round selection in fantasy drafts. 2016 Projection: .290 AVG/27 HR/98 RBI/97 R/24 SB/119 K/71 BB in 682 PA
  2. Manny Machado (Orioles) The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Machado in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen Rankings, but he does also appear on the shortstops list because he started 6 games at shortstop late last year. That’s not good enough for him to be eligible at the position universally in fantasy, but for the leagues that he is, it is quite the game changer. I may have Machado as the #1 3B but #2 SS, but unlike SS, the 3B pool is littered with fantasy goodness at the top. So draft Machado as a SS and then have the flexibility to add a strong 3B too. 2016 Projection: .285 AVG/33 HR/99 RBI/103 R/15 SB/110 K/68 BB in 705 PA
  3. Jean Segura (Diamondbacks)The Backwards K Quick Take: Some of you are reading this right now and are probably taking your handkerchief to wipe off your glasses lenses, but indeed I have Segura as the #3 shortstop based on my projections. Let’s take a walk down narrative street here. After posting a breakout season in 2013 with the Brewers, you may know about the unfortunate death of Segura’s 9-month old son in July of 2014. The magnitude of that tragedy likely, and rightfully so, impacted his mental state and on-field performance to a significant degree. And it is something that probably even carried on into the following season and something that he thinks about everyday. But I truly believe that the off-season trade that sent him from the Brewers to the Diamondbacks has played a pivotal role in helping him turn the page to the next chapter. It’s shown in the reports of his upbeat demeanor in Spring Training and through his performance as well. Much of the time you have to take Spring Training stats with a grain of salt, but this is a nice turnaround story where I think the results will translate to the regular season. Segura will start somewhere in the middle infield on a near everyday basis, and he will also begin the year as the leadoff hitter (and probably hit 2nd whenever he’s not leading off). He’s not the ideal leadoff man with his poor walk rate, but he can create action when he is on base. As a leadoff or #2 hitter in his career, Segura has attempted a stolen base 30.7% of the time compared to 16.1% from any other spot in the lineup. Still at a young age of 26, Segura is not passed his speed peak so this is a situation that he could be primed to take advantage of. Manager Chip Hale will also likely give him the green light to run since there is a slew of .300 hitters behind him (A.J. Pollock, Paul Goldschmidt, and David Peralta) that can easily drive him in from scoring position. Also, #1 and #2 hitters for the D-Backs last year scored 38.0% of the time from either spot. With the same crew returning from last year in those run producing spots, Segura could achieve that same rate to put him in line for 80 or more runs despite a poor OBP. 2016 Projection: .276 AVG/8 HR/50 RBI/79 R/35 SB/86 K/25 BB in 632 PA
  4. Francisco Lindor (Indians)The Backwards K Quick Take: Lindor was another top shortstop prospect that was called up in June like Carlos Correa, but unlike Correa, Lindor’s fantasy prospects didn’t look as shiny because he earned most of his prospect glam by being a defensive wizard. He set out to prove us wrong though (as if he actually cares what the fantasy baseball community thinks of him) and he filled the roto stat sheet extremely well to make it a pretty close race with Correa for AL Rookie of the Year. However, we do need to keep some things in check when projecting Lindor for 2016. First of all, his .348 BABIP that led him to a .313 AVG is likely to regress. The switch-hitting Lindor sprays the ball decently, but his hard% came in a few percentage points below league average last year. His speed and groundball tendencies will help him to maintain an above average BABIP, but I would expect something more in line with what he displayed in the upper Minors around .320. Next, his 12 HR total in 99 games was a bit of a shock and his HR/FB% of 13.5% seems rather high for his low average distance on flyballs + HR of 266 ft. In addition, 4 of his 12 HR were considered “just enough” by ESPN Home Run Tracker. So don’t expect him to hit HR at the same rate this year. The good news though is that he attempted stolen bases at a far less rate than he did in the Minors, so there is certainly greater upside in that department. All in all, just keep expectations in check when it comes to his hit tools, but Lindor should still produce a pretty solid season. 2016 Projection: .276 AVG/12 HR/65 RBI/81 R/21 SB/110 K/51 BB in 676 PA
  5. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox)The Backwards K Quick Take: In his second full season in the Majors, Bogaerts transformed himself into a different hitter by severely cutting down on his strikeouts from 23.2% to 15.4%, hitting the ball on the ground much more often from 38.1% to 52.9%, and by diversifying his spray chart to go to the opposite field more from 19.3% to 32.0%. These changes were so drastic that it is extremely likely that this is exactly what Bogaerts intended to do to become a better hitter and more valuable player to his team. With this change in approach came a big surge in his batting average, but gone was the power. In the Minors and first year in the Majors, Bogaerts displayed himself to be a player that could eventually have 20 HR type of power, but the changes from last season put that in question. Lots of people are going to just assume that he can maintain the batting average gains while adding back on the power that he showed prior to 2015. While it is possible, especially because he’s still young at 23 with time to develop, I’m not so sure that it’ll happen right away, if at all. I would expect more of the same approach from last year, while marginally adding some more power, but with some decline in AVG with BABIP regression. With the way he sprayed the ball he can definitely maintain a very healthy BABIP, but his .372 mark from last year does seem a bit inflated. Also, the 10 SB last season were a nice addition, but if he’s going to reprise the role that he earned mid-season hitting 3rd in front of David Ortiz, which appears to be the case, then he may not crack double digit SB again this year. When Bogaerts made the switch to the #3 spot in the middle of last year, he only attempted a stolen base 3.1% of the time as opposed to 8.9% of the time when he hit elsewhere in the lineup. And referring to something Dustin Pedroia said this off-season, Pedroia was hesitant to attempt steals the last couple of seasons when he was hitting directly in front of Ortiz because he knew that the opposition would then just pitch around Ortiz with first base open. The numbers show that perhaps Bogaerts had the same train of thought when he was ahead of Ortiz. In summation, Bogaerts should certainly be a fine fantasy shortstop, but in this writer’s opinion, he is getting overhyped. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .297 AVG/11 HR/77 RBI/82 R/7 SB/110 K/37 BB in 669 PA
  6. Ian Desmond (Rangers)The Backwards K Quick Take: Desmond was quite the disaster in the first half of last year, which ultimately did him zero favors in securing the long-term contract that he sought in the off-season after declining a qualifying offer from the Nationals (and previously declining a 7-year/$107 million contract from the Nationals in the fall of 2014). So he comes to Texas on a cheap one-year deal to play the outfield where he could be in line to rebuild his value to aid him in signing perhaps a 3-year deal next off-season. Looking at Desmond’s exit velocity charts, there was a clear point at the beginning of August of last year where he turned things around and started to get consistently good contact on the ball on a week-to-week basis, which logically led to a higher BABIP and AVG the rest of the way. So while second half stats don’t necessarily translate to success the following season, there is reason for optimism, especially since Desmond is a player who was fairly consistent on a year-to-year basis from 2012-14. And while Globe Life Park in Arlington isn’t the hitters haven that it once was due to stadium reconstruction a while back, it’s certainly a better place to hit than Nationals Park. Look for a roto bounce back of sorts from Desmond, but he’s quite a drag in leagues that penalize strikeouts and/or K/BB ratio. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .252 AVG/20 HR/72 RBI/67 R/15 SB/169 K/42 BB in 605 PA
  7. Ketel Marte (Mariners)The Backwards K Quick Take: Marte debuted for the Mariners last season to give them a glimpse into their future at shortstop and it looks pretty interesting. The 22-year old Marte brings to the table decent OBP and AVG skills with speed, but little power. I think projection systems are undershooting his BB% as most projections have him for 6.0% or under because of his 5.6% career rate in the Minors. However, since being promoted to AAA in 2014, it looks like something overcame Marte to be more patient. Since then, Marte has a BB% of 8.3% in basically a full season’s worth of PA, which includes a rate of 9.7% in 247 PA in the Majors. So he’s profiling as a solid #2 hitter for the Mariners and could also be an option to leadoff. Marte also has the upside to steal 30 or more bases, however, it might be difficult to attain because he’ll be slotted behind Nori Aoki who is notoriously a singles hitter who could clog up first base a lot. Although, that could be an impetus for manager Scott Servais to eventually flip flop the two in the lineup. Nonetheless, Marte is looking like a potentially underrated shortstop option. 2016 Projection: .280 AVG/4 HR/45 RBI/75 R/28 SB/99 K/47 BB in 637 PA
  8. Addison Russell (Cubs)The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Russell in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Second Baseman Rankings, but his position eligibility at shortstop is very nice to have as well. Overall, I think there’s going to be some good growth for Russell and he has the potential to be a top 5 fantasy shortstop. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .270 AVG/18 HR/71 RBI/70 R/9 SB/128 K/55 BB in 583 PA
  9. Corey Seager (Dodgers) The Backwards K Quick Take: The game’s top position prospect remaining in the Minors last year after both Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton got the call up mid-season, Seager then got his call to the bigs down the stretch and was practically the Dodgers best hitter during that period. So with the brilliant performance, the top prospect pedigree, and the brotherhood to an already established Major Leaguer (Kyle Seager), he has been getting quite a bit of hype. However, I think some jets need to be cooled here. After all, he got a taste of humble pie when he struck out 8 times in 16 post-season AB, and more importantly, there were some contradictory stats in his profile. In his regular season last year, Seager had a swing% of 51.6% and a swinging strike% of 11.2%, which were both above the league average rates and more reflective of a K% closer to 20.0% instead of the 16.8% that he ended up with. Conversely, his BB% of 12.4% was unexpectedly very high given his plate discipline profile coupled with the fact that he only walked 6.6% of the time in the upper Minors. Lastly, Seager did hit the ball well with a hard% of 46.8%, but that’s definitly not going to be a sustainable number over a full season (except for maybe Giancarlo Stanton). So while his .387 BABIP was correctly supported by a very high hard%, he might be lucky to come away with a BABIP over .330 over the course of 2016. It’s not that Seager is a bad player by any means — he should be a very solid fantasy shortstop this season (particularly if he spends most of his time hitting 2nd) and he has a very bright future. But I think he’s a good example of small sample size allure when there’s really more than meets the eye. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .278 AVG/17 HR/73 RBI/72 R/6 SB/121 K/41 BB in 625 PA
  10. Troy Tulowitzki (Blue Jays)The Backwards K Quick Take: There are some theories out there that the thin air in Denver slows down the recovery time for players with muscular type of injuries, but regardless, there’s no ignoring the fact that Tulowitzki is an injury risk and has only played more than 140 games in 3 seasons out of his 9 full seasons as a Major Leaguer. In fact, he hasn’t played in more than 128 games in a season since 2011 when he was right in the middle of his prime at age 27. Now 31 years old, there’s no real reason to think he can avoid the DL and then there’s also the detractor that he is now away from Coors Field. But if he was going to leave Coors Field, one of the better landing spots was Toronto where he’s in a high powered lineup in a home stadium that is pretty friendly to right-handed hitters. An overall decline in offensive performance can be expected, but Tulo shouldn’t fall completely off the map. He’ll hit 5th behind Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion, so it’s a pretty nice spot (though those three players can end up driving in all the runs themselves). And with a projected DL stint, we can at least factor in some implied value with value plus replacement player (VPRP), which would put him at or near the bottom of the turquoise tier. 2016 Projection: .276 AVG/20 HR/77 RBI/71 R/1 SB/108 K/42 BB in 538 PA
  11. Cesar Hernandez (Phillies)The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Hernandez in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen Rankings, but he’s going to have a bit more value as a fantasy shortstop. The speed is there for 30+ SB and he’ll be hitting near the top of the lineup, albeit, not an exciting lineup. 2016 Projection: .277 AVG/3 HR/41 RBI/78 R/27 SB/114 K/55 BB in 615 PA
  12. Elvis Andrus (Rangers)The Backwards K Quick Take: Andrus appeared to try and hit for more power last year as he had severe changes in both his pull% (31.9% in 2014 to 43.7% in 2015) and FB% (20.9% to 31.8%). It did result in a career high 7 HR, but the power gains were so marginal that he would be better off just sticking to his former method of keeping the ball on the ground to utilize his speed. Once a great SB threat and top 5 fantasy SS, Andrus has taken a backseat to the influx of young shortstops. The fact that he’s primarily a bottom of the order hitter now certainly doesn’t help him either. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .267 AVG/6 HR/53 RBI/61 R/26 SB/81 K/43 BB in 612 PA
  13. Marcus Semien (A’s)The Backwards K Quick Take: Semien entered 2015 as a nice sleeper pick and he had some very nice stretches, but there was an extensive bad period in between those nice stretches. Semien has never been known for his glove, so he got off to a historically atrocious start on defense at shortstop. But then the A’s employed coach Ron Washington to work intensely with Semien on his defense. So there was about a 3-month stretch where Semien’s primary focus was on defense. Whether it was a causal effect or not, Semien’s offense was horrible during that same period. Semien crushed lefties, so he appears ideal to continue to spend a lot of time hitting 2nd against them. However, he’s probably going to be back at the bottom again versus righties. There’s 20 HR/15 SB potential here if he can keep his glove sharp enough to stay in the lineup. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .255 AVG/17 HR/65 RBI/69 R/12 SB/132 K/51 BB in 602 PA
  14. Jung-Ho Kang (Pirates) The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Kang in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Third Basemen Rankings. Kang has universal eligibility at both 3B and SS, but clearly has more value at SS. He’s projected to miss at least the first few weeks of the season as he recovers from a knee injury from last season, but he makes for a good DL stash to start the year and his implied value with value plus replacement player (VPRP) would push him up to or near the top of the green tier, which makes Kang a nice value pick after all the other top shortstops are off the board. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES AND GAINS VALUE WITH VPRP) 2016 Projection: .274 AVG/19 HR/71 RBI/63 R/4 SB/117 BB/33 K in 538 PA
  15. Starlin Castro (Yankees) The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Castro in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen Rankings, but he’ll have a bit more value as a shortstop. In a new uniform this year and switching to a good offensive environment in the AL East, Castro has some intrigue and let’s not forget that he’s only 26 years old. 2016 Projection: .283 AVG/13 HR/66 RBI/61 R/7 SB/92 K/26 BB in 584 PA
  16. Alcides Escobar (Royals)The Backwards K Quick Take: There’s much made out of Royals manager Ned Yost continuing to run out Escobar at the top of his lineup card every game. It seems pretty silly to have a leadoff hitter who owns a career .298 OBP. Unless there’s an excellent chance that player ends up on 2nd base 50% of that 29.8% of the time he’s on base (like Billy Hamilton), then there really is no business for that player to be leading off. However, somehow the Royals keep winning with that arrangement and it led them to…err…didn’t prevent them from…a World Series title last year. Expect a similar type of year from Escobar with a good chance to bounce back to 20+ SB. 2016 Projection: .264 AVG/3 HR/48 RBI/73 R/20 SB/86 K/26 BB in 660 PA
  17. Eugenio Suarez (Reds) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Spending a couple seasons as a part-time player with the Tigers and then the Reds, the 24-year old Suarez is going to get an opportunity at everyday playing time with the Reds as their third baseman and he’s going to be an interesting sleeper pick. There are some things that are in his favor and some against him, but in just 97 games last year, he hit .280 with 13 HR. I’m not going to give him credit for that good of an AVG because it was driven by a .341 BABIP despite the fact that he didn’t hit a lot of line drives and his groundball/flyball ratio was just 1.07. Although, he has always posted high BABIP marks in the Minors despite a similar batted ball profile — I’m just not willing to say that he can continue to do so. I’ll give him some credit for the power though because he’s approaching his power peak and he has one of the friendliest home stadiums in the Majors for home runs. But what might be the most interesting part for Suarez is his K% and BB%. His swinging strike% last year was right around league average and his swing% was better than league average, yet he posted a K% (23.6%) and BB% (4.3%) that were much worse than the league averages. Moreso, in the Minors he displayed much better rates in these categories too. So he will have room to improve there, and if he does, then he might make the most sense for the Reds as their #2 hitter. He’s not eligible at 3B in fantasy leagues to start the year, but SS is where you would want to use him anyway. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .252 AVG/17 HR/66 RBI/66 R/5 SB/129 K/43 BB in 602 PA
  18. Jonathan Villar (Brewers) – The Backwards K Quick Take: The soon to be 25-year old Villar is keeping the shortstop seat in Milwaukee warm for top prospect Orlando Arcia. Everyone in Milwaukee knows it. But that doesn’t mean that Villar still won’t have a substantial role with the Brewers even after Arcia arrives with the ETA of late June or so. The Brewers currently have the aging and declining veteran Aaron Hill at third base with the ginormous flop of Will Middlebrooks set for Minor League action. At second base, the Brewers have Scooter Gennett set to see the majority of the playing time, but he can’t hit lefties worth a lick. Villar is capable of handling either third or second base and he’s a switch hitter with no pronounced splits. So after Arcia comes up, Villar could see plenty of time at other positions. So don’t discount the guy too much. He strikes out a bit more than desired, but he can have decent OBP skills (a potential leadoff or #2 hitter for the Brewers) and best case scenario is that he is a .270 hitter with 10+ HR/30+ SB. That would be rather spiffy. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .244 AVG/8 HR/42 RBI/48 R/28 SB/119 K/37 BB/468 PA
  19. Trevor Story (Rockies) – The Backwards K Quick Take: With Jose Reyes scheduled to be out to start the season, it opens up an opportunity for the prospect Story to be the next hitter to take advantage of Coors Field. At the moment, it’s unknown how long Reyes will be out, but we do know that he’s been suspended with pay by MLB as he awaits his trial for alleged domestic abuse. The trial is set to begin on the day of the Rockies season opener on April 4 and could last a couple weeks maybe. Knowing that Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game suspension without even having gone to trial in a domestic abuse case, that doesn’t bode well for Reyes. I’m guessing he’d be looking at at least a 50-game suspension. Then factor in that he’ll have to play in some games to get into game shape before returning to the Rockies, that could be another two weeks or more. So that’s basically already half a season right there. By that time, Story could be mashing and not relinquishing the job. As such, I have Story projected to start 102 games this season (but he could easily end up in more) and he could see a lot of time in the 2-hole. He’s a high strikeout batter but has a nice blend of power and speed. He has also shown nice walk rates in the Minors, but he did take a big step backwards in that area when he got to AAA last season. But basically, we are looking at a low AVG, high strikeout hitter with 25 HR/15 SB potential over the course of a full season. Sounds a lot like Ian Desmond to me. Give Story a 140 start projection and he would shoot all the way up to right where Desmond is on this rankings list. (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .241 AVG/18 HR/58 RBI/57 R/9 SB/129 K/32 BB in 460 PA
  20. Brandon Crawford (Giants) The Backwards K Quick Take: Who was the most surprising name in 2015’s top 10 leaders in average distance on HR + flyballs? The answer is Brandon Crawford at #9 with an average distance of 306 ft. That average distance from last year doesn’t predict what he will do this year, but it does support the fact that his burst in power last year was legitimate and not just a product of all luck. His 21 HR and .205 ISO crushed his previous career highs of 10 HR and .143 ISO. The increase in power was due to some mechanical adjustments to his swing, so if he can stick with that then he stands a decent chance at maintaining at least some of the power as he enters his age 29 season. However, it would be prudent to factor in at least some regression as 11 of his 21 HR were considered “just enough” to get over the fence according to ESPN Home Run Tracker, which was the highest rate out of any player who hit 20 or more HR. If the Giants lineup is fully healthy, Crawford should be hitting 7th most of the time, which won’t be great for his counting stats, but if he maintains some of the power then that should be enough to keep him afloat in the fantasy shortstop pool. 2016 Projection: .255 AVG/15 HR/66 RBI/59 R/5 SB/118 K/46 BB in 574 PA
  21. Jose Iglesias (Tigers) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Iglesias has shown the inability to stay healthy in his first couple of seasons, but we know what to expect from him when he does play: high contact rate that leads to a good AVG, some SB potential, but empty power. There’s not much more to it than that. (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .292 AVG/4 HR/45 RBI/54 R/15 SB/52 K/27 BB in 518 PA
  22. Eduardo Escobar (Twins) The Backwards K Quick Take: I went over Escobar in the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Second Basemen Rankings. However, shortstop is the position you will generally want him at. But his position flexiblity in some leagues could turn out to be pretty valuable, especially in deeper leagues with daily lineup changes. 2016 Projection: .267 AVG/13 HR/61 RBI/57 R/5 SB/101 K/33 BB in 531 PA
  23. Didi Gregorius (Yankees) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Gregorius is more known for his defense, but he did show improvements last year with the bat, particularly in the second half. He’s still only 26 years old and could have a little more room for growth and as a left-handed hitter he has a very favorable home park at Yankee Stadium where he can launch some extra HR that creep over the fence. 2016 Projection: .269 AVG/11 HR/58 RBI/58 R/5 SB/79 K/34 BB in 562 PA
  24. Alexei Ramirez (Padres) The Backwards K Quick Take: Ramirez has remained remarkably healthy throughout his career in the Majors since coming over from Cuba. He debuted in 2008 and has never landed on the DL, and the longest day-to-day stint that he has had has been 5 days. At 34 years old now, he might not have the same type of fortune, but there’s really no real good reason to think otherwise. What could hurt him though is the switch from U.S. Cellular field in Chicago to Petco Park in San Diego, as well as hitting in the bottom half of one of the league’s weaker looking offenses. Maybe he has another 10 HR/15 SB season, but I think he falls short. 2016 Projection: .257 AVG/8 HR/56 RBI/47 R/14 SB/69 K/24 BB in 576 PA
  25. Brock Holt (Red Sox) – The Backwards K Quick Take:  It is a sad state of affairs at shortstop when someone in the top 30 isn’t even projected to have at least the strong side of a platoon locked down. But Holt is a super utility man that will see time literally all around the diamond. For fantasy purposes, he’s eligible at 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, and OF in some leagues. But his universal positions are 2B, 3B, and OF. There’s a distinct possibility though that he collects a good portion of the playing time in left field this season as Rusney Castillo still isn’t appearing to be a Major League asset for the Red Sox. An area that Holt can surely improve is his strikeout rate because he is well disciplined at the plate — he ranked in the top 15 in lowest swing% and swinging strike% (minimum 500 PA). That type of discipline should yield a very low K%. For instance, the other 3 hitters that appeared in the top 15 in those categories (Mookie Betts, Ben Zobrist, and Martin Prado) had K% marks of 12.5%, 10.5%, and 12.3% — while Holt was at 19.1%. If Holt can have some better fortune and get his K% down in that range, then he would be a borderline .300 hitter. (EDIT on 3/29/16: It was announced that Holt would begin the season as the primary left fielder against right-handed pitching. His ranking gets bumped up from #30 to #25) (**GAINS VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .289 AVG/3 HR/41 RBI/54 R/8 SB/70 K/42 BB in 469 PA
  26. Zack Cozart (Reds) The Backwards K Quick Take: Cozart got off to a nice start in 2015, reminding the baseball world that he was somewhat relevant in 2012. But he tore ligaments in his knee in June, which ended his season. He’s looking healthy this spring though and will be a candidate to hit #2 for the Reds. 2016 Projection: .249 AVG/14 HR/62 RBI/55 R/5 SB/84 K/27 BB in 569 PA
  27. Brad Miller (Rays) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Miller finds himself in new digs this year with the Rays after coming over from the Mariners in a trade. The Rays are one of a few teams that can be very “platoony” at multiple positions and Miller fits the mold very well as he cannot hit left-handed pitching well at all. So he figures to be the strong side of a platoon with Tim Beckham at shortstop. If it is a strict platoon, that would obviously hurt his counting stats, but it can help to keep his AVG and other rate stats looking respectable. All his power comes against righties (27 of his 29 career HR), so it’s basically a no-lose situation for the Rays to platoon him. Even in a platoon though, Miller can be useful, especially for leagues with daily lineup changes. He is capable of double digits in both HR and SB. He also has eligibliity in the OF universally and at second base in some leagues, but if you’re using him it’s likely going to be as a shortstop. 2016 Projection: .262 AVG/12 HR/48 RBI/48 R/8 SB/85 K/39 BB in 426 PA
  28. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Espinosa appears in line to begin the year as the starting shortstop for Dusty Baker’s Nationals, but he will have some competition lurking later on in the year in the form of prospect Trea Turner. Espinosa was a near 20 HR/20 SB player in both 2011 and 2012 when he was a full-time starter, so there is some sleeper appeal here in what will be his last season on the right side of 30 years old. In Espinosa’s favor for handling the gig all season long is Baker’s favoritism towards veterans. But if he does get anywhere near 20 HR/20 SB, just know that it’s likely going to come with a poor AVG and lots of strikeouts. A poor man’s Ian Desmond perhaps? (**LOSES VALUE IN POINTS LEAGUES) 2016 Projection: .232 AVG/16 HR/53 RBI/52 R/10 SB/144 K/41 BB in 514 PA
  29. Erick Aybar (Braves) The Backwards K Quick Take: Aybar was traded to the Braves in the off-season, but with this being the final year on his contract and the Braves in complete re-building mode as non-contenders, Aybar figures to be in a new uniform at some point this season — and whatever new uniform that is, it could be in a utility/reserve role. Count on him for double digits in SB, but don’t expect much else. 2016 Projection: .266 AVG/4 HR/42 RBI/55 R/13 SB/64 K/22 BB in 561 PA
  30. Asdrubal Cabrera (Mets) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Like with fellow veteran middle infielder Neil Walker, Cabrera is a new Mets player that could also see some playing time stolen away from the younger and more offensively talented Wilmer Flores. Since 2013, Cabrera has hit more flyballs than groundballs, which has adversely affected his AVG while not really adding any power and this shouldn’t be expected to change. 2016 Projection: .246 AVG/13 HR/57 RBI/50 R/6 SB/98 K/33 BB in 505 PA
  31. **BONUS PLAYER** Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals) – The Backwards K Quick Take: Peralta is going to miss about the first two months of the season after injuring his thumb in Spring Training, but I am including him as a bonus player in the shortstop rankings because he will carry some decent value plus replacement player (VPRP) if you were to use a replacement level shortstop until Peralta was ready. However, it should be noted that Peralta’s performance may not be up to par when he does come back as hand injuries could sap a hitter’s effectiveness. With VPRP, Peralta would find himself in the orange tier in these rankings around Brandon Crawford. 2016 Projection: .262 AVG/11 HR/45 RBI/40 R/1 SB/78 K/31 BB in 398 PA

 

UNDERVALUED SHORTSTOPS TO TARGET (Based off positional ADP):

Jean Segura (Roto and Points leagues)

Ketel Marte (Roto and Points leagues)

Marcus Semien (Roto leagues)

Cesar Hernandez (Roto and Points leagues)

DEEPER SLEEPER SHORTSTOPS (Based off positional ADP):

Eugenio Suarez (Roto and Points leagues)

Jonathan Villar (Roto leagues)

Eduardo Escobar (Roto and Points leagues)

Zack Cozart (Roto leagues)

Chris Owings (Roto leagues)

Orlando Arcia (not ranked) (Roto and Points leagues)

Trea Turner (not ranked) (Roto leagues)

OVERVALUED SHORTSTOPS TO AVOID (Based off positional ADP):

Corey Seager (Roto and Points leagues)

Brandon Crawford (Roto and Points leagues)

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One thought on “2016 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Rankings

  1. Pingback: 10 Bold Predictions & the End of Season Predictions | The Backwards K

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