5 Late-Round Shortstop Bargains for Fantasy Baseball Drafts
The shortstop position is perhaps the riskiest position to draft early this season in fantasy baseball.
This season, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Xander Bogaerts are being drafted in the top 60 according to NFBC's average draft position data. Their talent and youth represent a renaissance for the position, but are they really worth the heavy investment?
While the long-term prospects of Correa, Seager, and Bogaerts suggest a promising outlook for the future of the position, it feels risky to invest so much in players with such a limited track record. Correa looked like the second coming of Alex Rodriguez in his half season with the Astros, but was he really forced to make any adjustments at the plate?
If you draft him, you are likely passing on sure things with similar upside like Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, or Anthony Rizzo. Drafting is all about managing risk appropriately, why invest so much when we know so little?
Seager has even more questions about his ability to adjust to Major League pitching because he received only 113 plate appearances last season. Bogaerts' floor is probably higher than Seager's or Correa's, but can he really maintain a .320 average? Is there more power than the seven home runs he hit last season?
If these picks give you pause, take solace in knowing there are shortstops later in the draft who can potentially be a boon to your fantasy lineups, without the heavy investment.
Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
With Jose Reyes out for probably at least the first half of the season due to suspension, it appears Trevor Story will likely make his Major League debut sometime this spring for the Rockies.
Story has been on the prospect landscape for years but has been knocked way down the list due to a combination of his contact issues at the plate and the new wave of talent at the shortstop position. Story has been regarded as one of the best athletes in the Rockies' system since he was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft but has had a challenging time keeping his strikeout rate below 25% for the majority of his minor league career. In 2015, Story was able to shore up some of those contact issues and post a 24% strikeout rate in 575 plate appearance between Double-A and Triple-A.
From a fantasy prospective, Story is a power/speed threat who will likely hit for a low average due to his aforementioned contact issues at the plate. In 2015, Story hit 20 home runs and stole 22 bases between Double-A and Triple-A. While it is unreasonable to forecast Story going 20/20 at the Major League level, if he were given a full season of plate appearances, it is possible to see Story going 15/10 while playing his home games at Coors Field.
Story's torrid spring training should give him the edge over Cristhian Adames to be the Rockies opening day starter and is worth a flyer in later rounds.
Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics
Marcus Semien had a very solid 2015 fantasy season, hitting 15 home runs and stealing 11 bases while hitting .257 in 601 plate appearances. Semien represents the type of bargain that all fantasy owners want to make on draft day, one that possesses both a high floor and a considerable ceiling.
Semien, who is entering his power peak at age 25, has displayed mid-teens home run power at every level he has played and is a strong bet to maintain the 15 home runs he's hit the past two seasons, as well as a decent bet to challenge for 20 home runs this year.
Semien does most of his damage against left-handed pitchers, mashing .329/.372/.507 against southpaws in 2015. Semien, when facing left-handed pitchers, should definitely be a consideration for daily fantasy game players.
For seasonal fantasy players, Semien represents a great late-round bargain for anyone looking to fill their shortstop or middle infield in their lineup.
Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds
Suarez, in 97 games, slashed .280/.315/.446 for the Reds after Zack Cozart was lost for the season.
At this point in Suarez’s career, it is challenging to believe that he is a true talent .341 BABIP hitter, but he did post consistently high BABIPs during his minor league career. Suarez posted a 38.4% fly ball rate and a 12.1 HR/FB rate in 2015, which were basically the same rates as Troy Tulowitzki's 2015 season (37% and 12.2).
If Suarez were able to accrue 600 plate appearances for the Reds this season and maintain similar fly-ball rates, he could launch 17 to 22 home runs while playing at Great American Ball Park (oddly he hit most of his home runs on the road in 2015). As the Reds continue to shed established players, Suarez could be moved to the top part of the batting order, increasing his counting stats and more importantly his fantasy value.
From a speed standpoint, Suarez does not do much damage on the base paths, but should provide 7 to 10 stolen bases over a full season.
Overall, Suarez is a good source for cheap power and should be a solid contributor in each of the counting stats relative to the position.
Ketel Marte, Seattle Mariners
If you are looking for speed late in your drafts, take a look at Ketel Marte. Marte stole 8 bases in 57 games last season and is projected by our algorithms to steal 20 bases this season. In addition to his speed, Marte hit .283 in 247 plate appearances last season for the Mariners. His overall approach allowed him to get on base at a .350 clip, and there is a chance that Marte will hit high in the order this season for the Mariners. If Marte is penciled into the two-hole for the Mariners in front of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, there is a good chance he will flirt with 90 runs to go with a decent average and 20 stolen bases.
Marte represents a unique shortstop option for owners as he could be a speed/average value late in drafts -- almost like a poor man’s Dee Gordon or the player fantasy experts thought Jean Segura would turn out to be.
Erick Aybar, Atlanta Braves
Nothing sexy about Erick Aybar -- just league-average production for the position. Last season with the Angels, Aybar hit .270/.301/.338, which is actually pretty terrible, but at least the batting average is around league average. The fantasy play with Aybar is that he will lead off for the Braves this season, which pretty much guarantees that he will score runs and will also likely be given the green light to steal bases. He stole 15 last season.
It is unlikely at this stage of his career that Aybar will see a surge in power or steals, but he does have a bankable track record that owners should target late in their drafts if they went overboard with upside plays earlier in the draft.