Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Shortstop
The calendar has flipped to March and spring training is underway, so you know what that means -- it's draft season.
Season-long fantasy baseball Twitter is abuzz with nightly draft boards and threads, and perhaps you've already gotten in on the action or have a draft right around the corner.
I'll be posting positional rankings for 12-team, standard-scoring roto leagues throughout the week, with brief notes highlighting notable players and situations. These are by no means strict and rigid rankings, as roster construction should play a big role in who you draft, so I've also included tiers to show which players have comparable values.
|1||Fernando Tatis Jr.||1|
Shortstop is widely considered the deepest infield position this season, and particularly in 12-team formats, you'll really have to muck things up to avoid ending up with a great-to-good starter.
But that doesn't mean we have to wait on the position, either, with Fernando Tatis Jr. in the conversation for going first overall, and Trea Turner and Trevor Story locked in as excellent first-rounders.
The next tier is filled with upside, as well, but it's Adalberto Mondesi who gets the widest range of opinions -- and outcomes.
With stolen bases becoming harder and harder to come by every year, Mondesi is the rare difference-maker in the category, and he's the only guy who could realistically swipe 50. For instance, ATC projections give Mondesi 51 stolen bases and the next highest is Trea Turner at 33, which is a sizable gap. On top of that, he isn't a total zero when it comes to power, as those same projections see him slugging 15 dingers, and he's posted a respectable .161 ISO over his career.
But the reason Mondesi isn't universally loved is that he's an extremely flawed and volatile hitter. The plate skills are worrisome (career 29.7% strikeout rate and 4.3% walk rate), and his career wRC+ is well below average (81). This makes him prone to lengthy slumps, and the Royals had him batting as low as seventh or eighth at times last season. That's not exactly the floor you're looking for out of a second or third round draft pick.
Honestly, you could probably move Mondesi to the top of this grouping or all the way to the bottom -- it's really based on your risk tolerance. But even if he isn't your type of player, if you're drafting multiple teams, you might want to take a shot somewhere in case he puts together that ceiling campaign.
Gleyber Torres and Javier Baez arguably belong somewhere between tiers two and three -- and that's reflected by their ADP -- but I loop them in with the former due to the upside they've shown previously. Both are solid bounce-back candidates, and their projections reflect that.
Like some of his fellow Houston Astros, Carlos Correa was pretty meh in 2020, and it feels like we're still chasing the upside he showed early in his career. I'm not sure he's a guy I'm actively targeting, but at an ADP hovering around 125, I don't mind taking a shot here -- his 2019 campaign showed promise. Correa is also a candidate to bat leadoff this season.
Tier four contains two drastically different players who are typically going slightly before their tier five peers. Didi Gregorius is unexciting, but he's a safe, floor pick who shouldn't hurt you anywhere. Andres Gimenez is more of a boom-or-bust pick who I've addressed in prior rankings.
Much like second base, tier five is a hodgepodge of different player types. The order is less relevant here -- specific roster needs and strategies (safety vs. risk) should dictate who you target.
Paul DeJong might be a bit undervalued here, as he's going off the board at roughly pick 250, but he has everyday playing time and should get back to producing 25-plus home runs. Jonathan Villar's playing time is less certain as a utility guy. We've seen him rack up the stolen bases before, though, so you could do worse if you're hurting in speed -- just go in with tempered expectations. Willi Castro is getting some early buzz, and he's been hitting high in the order this spring.