Shortstop is one of the more interesting positions to look at in fantasy baseball.
You have elite talent at the top, though they all seem to have injury issues that need to concern fantasy owners. You have some big names, but their best days are clearly behind them. Then, you have a few emerging talents, who may be primed to fully entrench themselves among the best in the game.
In other words, the position has it all. Let’s take a look at how fantasy owners should view the top options heading into 2012:
- Troy Tulowitzki—Colorado Rockies
- Hanley Ramirez—Miami Marlins
- Jose Reyes—Miami Marlins
- Starlin Castro—Chicago Cubs
- Asdrubal Cabrera—Cleveland Indians
- Elvis Andrus—Texas Rangers
- Jimmy Rollins—Philadelphia Phillies
- Alexei Ramirez—Chicago White Sox
- Dee Gordon—Los Angeles Dodgers
- Erick Aybar—Los Angeles Angels
- Derek Jeter—New York Yankees
- J.J. Hardy—Baltimore Orioles
- Emilio Bonifacio—Miami Marlins
- Yunel Escobar—Toronto Blue Jays
- Jhonny Peralta—Detroit Tigers
Is there a position with more injury risk at the top than shortstop?
Tulowitzki played in 143 games in 2011 and was limited to 122 in 2010. Ramirez, who had been relatively healthy over his first five seasons, played in just 92 games in 2011. Jose Reyes, once again plagued by hamstring injuries, has played in 133 games or less in each of the past three years. All three have tremendous upside and ability, but you have to be prepared to be without them at times.
Starlin Castro will enter the year at 22 years old, with two years of experience under his belt and a ton of upside potential. He took major steps forward across the board in 2011, hitting .307 with 10 HR and 22 SB and could take another step in 2012. He’s a near lock to hit over .300 and should contribute some power (10-15 HR) and enough speed (20-30 SB). He has the chance to be the next great SS, and he could realize it as soon as this season.
Both Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter have seen their better days pass them by.
The issue is even more pronounced with Jeter, who hit .297 with six home runs, 16 stolen bases and 84 runs in 2011. Sooner or later, the Yankees are going to realize that he is no longer an ideal leadoff choice, and his value is going to take an even greater hit. Do not draft him on his name or value to the Yankees; he just doesn’t bring the same upside as other options.
Dee Gordon has stolen as many as 73 bases in a season (at Single-A in 2009). In 2010, he had 53 stolen bases and, across three levels in 2011, he had 56 SB. There’s no doubting the speed he brings to the table, and he should be given a very long leash (as long as he’s healthy). As a low-end option, and one that can carry you in one category, he’s a very intriguing possibility.
Erick Aybar is often an overlooked player for fantasy owners. However, if he hits leadoff (with Albert Pujols behind him), there is an awful lot to like. He brings moderate speed (20-30 SB), some power (he hit 10 HR in 2011) and could score a ton of runs. With a .307 average for his career, one could argue that he’s a similar player to Starlin Castro, just without the same type of upside.
Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: