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.
Joey Butler of the Tampa Bay Rays has been the team’s primary DH since being called up and he has been scorching as of late and with a 3 for 5 game on Friday night, Butler is now hitting .342 with 4 HR, 16 RBI, 14 R, and 3 SB in 34 games. Now I am all for riding hitters while they’re hot, so by all means let the Butler service your team for now, but before picking him up you need to know that the Butler might start hitting like an old maid in short time.
Up to this point, Butler has been a career Minor Leaguer who is now with his third organization. Butler had received just 21 Major League appearances before this season, and at 29 years old he is not some emerging hot shot prospect who is taking the baseball world by storm. He has had some nice success as a Minor League hitter with a career .294 AVG, 15-20 HR power, and some sneaky double digit SB speed. So I am not meaning to say that Butler is a terrible player who doesn’t deserve any consideration, but we need to see the reality in this fantasy situation.
The reality is that Butler should soon begin a swift downfall. His excellent batting average is being driven by an astronomical .456 BABIP, which would rank as the highest in the Majors if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. It is true that his 27.7% line drive rate would rank favorably as the 9th highest and his 10.8% soft hit rate would rank as the 11th lowest, but those rates are likely to trend in the wrong directions soon. But even if he does happen to keep up those rates, no player can sustain a BABIP like that and he has his strikeout rate working against him as another factor that should bring his AVG down. Butler has struck out 27.9% of the time, which is a pretty high rate. It’s not quite in the territory of his teammate Steven Souza, but it’s still up there and it is very realistic since his swinging strike rate of 16.3% would rank as the 5th highest in the league. To make things worse in the plate discipline area, his high strikeout and swinging strike rates are paired with a horrific 1.6% walk rate. Butler had a 11.1% career walk rate in the Minors, so he does have some upside to do better there, but it’s not likely something that is going to change over night to make a drastic turn.
The fact of the matter is that Butler has been an extremely free swinger and while free swingers can succeed in the league, like Adam Jones or the retired Vladimir Guerrero, free swingers with high strikeout rates will have much more limited success in the long term, if any success at all. But like I said, using hitters in fantasy while they are hot is a fine strategy, but it’s knowing when to cut them loose that is equally as important.
Let’s take a look at the rest of Friday’s action.
When doing fantasy baseball drafts, it is important to know ahead of time the players that you want to avoid and the players that you want to target. Having this game plan in mind will help you in the flow of the draft to make quicker and easier decisions when you are on the clock. For players you want to avoid, just simply pay no attention to them and let some other sucker draft the soon to be bust. For players you want to target, keep an eye on them and know when the latest is that you might be able to draft them. Take a look at average draft position (ADP) stats and form some sort of plan. The worst thing that can happen in a draft is to not be prepared and having to end up making a panic pick as the clock winds down. Don’t let that happen to you! Below is a list of infielders who I personally would avoid or target.
*The order of these rankings are based on a valuation system for a 5×5 roto scoring league with 5 games played minimum for position eligibility. This is not necessarily the order I would draft these players in, as different factors should impact which player to choose.