Post Break Preview: Shortstop

Best in fantasy at SS over the last year, feeling lucky this second half?
“Tulo” has been the best SS in the game over the past year. Feeling lucky, punk?

The shortstop position had shown distinct tiers for drafters in the preseason. Playing the injury prediction game with friends Troy Tulowitzki, HanRam and Jose Reyes was the. So investing in one of these players came with a caveat. For those who had faith in Tulowitzki, you have been rewarded. Jose Reyes has spent time on the disabled list already and Hanley Ramirez seems to have a different ailment each week, or is it daily lately? There have been some surprises at the position, as Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Jimmy Rollins and Starlin Castro who have provided great value in the first half. Disappointments that come to mind are Brad Miller, Jean Segura (though his regression is not a surprise) and J.J. Hardy. Where are the homers? Anyway, the season’s 2nd half may show that further shakeups are in order. Here are the top 20 Shortstops according to ESPN’s player rater along with their last 365 day stats as of the All-Star Break:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – 152 G, 102 R, 30 HR, 82 RBI, 2 SB 320/411/549
2. Alexei Ramirez – 164 G, 78 R, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 26 SB 284/318/406
3. Hanley Ramirez – 132 G, 81 R, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 18 SB 289/369/513
4. Jimmy Rollins – 158 G, 76 R, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 32 SB 243/347/349
5. Erick Aybar – 161 G, 84 R, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 19 SB 270/309/397
6. Jose Reyes – 146 G, 93 R, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 25 SB 279/337/412
7. Alcides Escobar – 164 G, 61 R, 3 HR, 49 RBI, 32 SB 256/285/336
8. Ian Desmond – 157 G, 71 R, 21 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB 259/312/412
9. Starlin Castro – 165 G, 58 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 5 SB 265/312/399
10. Elvis Andrus – 160 G, 92 R, 6 HR, 58 RBI, 43 SB 282/334/361
11. Asdrubal Cabrera – 156 G, 76 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 11 SB 245/302/391
12. Jhonny Peralta – 113 G, 48 R, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 2 SB 265/332/473
13. Jean Segura – 63 R, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 30 SB 236/267/322
14. Chris Owings* – 92 G, 31 R, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 9 SB 280/323/444
15. Andrelton Simmons – 159 G, 61 R, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 4 SB 261/312/411
16. Derek Jeter – 99 G, 38 R, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 6 SB 259/277/359
17. Brandon Crawford – 153 G, 51 R, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB 226/302/372
18. Jonathan Villar* – 129 G, 53 R, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 32 SB 221/287/331
19. Danny Santana – 40 G, 20 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB 313/348/429
20. J.J. Hardy – 151 G, 61 R, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB 280/315/393
*Chris Owings is on the the DL and Jonathan Villar is in the minors

I find it amazing how much J.J. Hardy’s value is impacted without the long balls. It may be a trend based on his past statistical year, Hardy is a hot streak away from increased value so the second half will tell us if this is who he really is. It’s safe to say that the league has caught up with Jean Segura, but that was to be expected, but he maintains value with his speed and sets himself up as a fantasy bargain next year. If the Brewers are going to stay in contention, they need him to step up. As much as I see people bash Andrelton Simmons, his stats over the past calender year are not all that different than Starlin Castro’s. Here are their ZiPS projections with leaders in each fantasy category:

ZiPS ROS Projected Leaders:

1. Elvis Andrus 33
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Brad Miller 31
4. Jose Reyes 30
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 30
6. Erick Aybar 30
7. Ian Desmond 29
8. Starlin Castro 29
9. Jimmy Rollins 29
10. Hanley Ramirez 28

Home Runs:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 11
2. Ian Desmond 9
3. Hanley Ramirez 8
4. J.J. Hardy 7
5. Jhonny Peralta 6
6. Xander Bogaerts 6
7. Starlin Castro 6
8. Asdrubal Cabrera 6
9. Jimmy Rollins 6
10. Brad Miller 5

1. Ian Desmond 34
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Hanley Ramirez 28
4. Starlin Castro 28
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 28
6. Jhonny Peralta 26
7. J.J. Hardy 25
8. Erick Aybar 25
9. Alexei Ramirez 23
10. Brad Miller 23

Stolen Bases:
1. Elvis Andrus 13
2. Jean Segura 12
3. Jose Reyes 11
4. Alcides Escobar 11
5. Jimmy Rollins 9
6. Ian Desmond 8
7. Alexei Ramirez 8
8. Hanley Ramirez 7
9. Erick Aybar 7
10. Danny Santana 7

Batting Average:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .311
2. Jose Reyes .283
3. Starlin Castro .278
4. Erick Aybar .278
5. Hanley Ramirez .275
6. Josh Rutledge .274
7. Alexei Ramirez .272
8. Elvis Andrus .271
9. J.J. Hardy .269
10. Jean Segura .269

Some players that have upside, albeit with some risk are Brad Miller, Xander Bogaerts and Danny Santana. The ZiPS projections seem to favor Miller but if he continues to bat at the bottom of Seattle’s order it will be hard to get to the runs and RBI predicted above, but he is worth a flier in the second half. I find it hard to believe that Xander Bogaerts will not rebound and even if the Red Sox become sellers, this is an offense that can provide runs. Danny Santana made his debut and took on the look of Jean Segura from a year ago with his fantasy splash. However, he has struggled since his return and learning to hit the ball to the opposite field will be a key in his development, but if he hits leadoff for the Twins he can still provide value moving forward. As of today, Tulowitzki and Ramirez are on the mend so their rankings going forward are tenuous and dependent upon health, but isn’t that always the case?

Desmond's power/speed combo makes him a second half stud
Desmond’s power/speed combo makes him a second half stud

My Second Half Ranks:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – He is the gold standard at SS, injuries are always the key
2. Ian Desmond – There are flashier, and higher batting averages, but his steadiness is the key (21 HR, 21 SB) in his last statistical year.
3. Hanley Ramirez – Maybe the most frustrating player to own in fantasy (or is it his teammate Puig?). Always is nicked up, leaving early and now hit on the wrist with a pitch. May be a good time to sell if you can
4. Jose Reyes – As stated above, if healthy he is an elite shortstop, a pennant push will keep him motivated to stay on the field
5. Starlin Castro – What a difference a year makes, hitting behind Anthony Rizzo and an evolving Cubs lineup makes him worth speculating on
6. Alexei Ramirez – Similar to Desmond, he is under-appreciated in fantasy but he fills the stat columns. Can be streaky but he is emerging from a slump and may finish strong
7. Erick Aybar – His value fluctuates but the Angels offense is potent and Aybar is in the middle of it. He’s also a sneaky source of RBI (70 over the last year)
8. Elvis Andrus – Elvis relies on his speed  for fantasy value. While the Rangers are struggling, this offense has to improve in the second half, right?
9. Jimmy Rollins – I had him too low entering the season as he and Chase Utley continue to put up stats. A trade to a contender may be just the right juice to squeeze out another fantasy-driven second half
10. Alcides Escobar – Has quietly been emerging this year and is only 27 years old
11. Jhonny Peralta – If the Cardinals are going to win the NL Central again this year he will need to provide more pop in the second half. With Allen Craig struggling, he is moving up in the order
12. Jean Segura – The loss of his child has to be a distraction but there is still time to turn around his season
13. J.J. Hardy – He could vault up this list with more power, this second half will tell us more about his fantasy value in the future
14. Brad Miller – I still believe. ZiPS agrees, hope we are correct
15. Jordy Mercer – Jordy goes virtually unnoticed but has been a key part of their success following the promotion of Gregory Polanco. Over his last 28 days he is hitting .325 with 12 RBI and a stolen base
16. Asdrubal Cabrera – I feel like I am always downgrading him but he left last night’s game with back spasms. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and Francisco Lindor was promoted to AAA. None are good signs to me
17. Jed Lowrie – What a difference a year makes. He has hit 12 home runs over the last 365 days but only 4 in the first half this year. The A’s could use a rebound from him
18. Xander Bogaerts – The potential is there, a nice second half would alleviate some of the worries about next year. May have been a year early on “X”
19. Stephen Drew – I do love him and he is probably safer than Bogaerts moving forward but I think the Red Sox wasted money on him (Editor’s note: Yes, yes they did)
20. Derek Jeter – Not really a fantasy factor anymore but I just wanted to recognize him as a team player who always hustled (on and off the field. Have you seen the women he has been with?), and a player baseball will miss. #RE2PECT

A couple of players who just missed include the Diamondbacks duo of Chris Owings (presently on the DL) and Didi Gregorious. Either may be a good trade chip in the off-season and both are improving this year. Danny Santana is another wild card but his minor league track record suggests his hot streak is going to be hard to maintain. If the Twins leave him at lead-off he will be a cheap source for runs and stolen bases. Shortstop is a position in transition with some big minor league talent on the way. It will be interesting to see how soon some of them will make their debuts.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on the Twitter machine @gjewett9!

Statistical credits:,, ZiPS Projections,
Photo cred: (Tulo), (Desmond)


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