Troy Tulowitzki tagging out a runner.
Shortstop has long been considered one of the most important positions in the game. That's why it's crucial to have a solid player manning the fort.
Shortstops are expected to be have good range, a strong arm, solid glove and enough speed to not only cover ground in the field but run the bases well. If you add power into the mix, all the better.
With the true Opening Day finally upon us, it's time to take a look at the starting shortstops in the MLB and where they fall in the power rankings.
Just a note: I will be considering overall offensive output, versatility of production (i.e. just high batting average, or high average, power and steals) and defensive abilities in determining each player's placement. Also, all stats are gathered from FanGraphs.com.
Without further ado, let's get onto the rankings.
Jed Lowrie will be suiting up for the Houston Astros this season.
Traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Houston Astros for Mark Melancon this offseason, Jed Lowrie ranks in as one of the worst shortstops this season.
The 28-year-old has not accomplished much thus far in his career. He is only mediocre at the plate and is below average on defense.
Last season, Lowrie hit .252 over 88 games for the Red Sox. He scored 40 runs and knocked in 36 RBI. However, his walk rate was an abysmal 6.7 percent, while he struck out 17.6 percent of the time.
His ISO (isolated power measures the ability to produce extra-base hits) was a minuscule .129. He doesn't get a hit very often, and when he does, it is usually a single.
A category that would normally help his placement is fielding. However, he did not fare very well there last season.
In 398 innings at shortstop last season, Lowrie committed 10 errors and had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of minus-4.9. That means he gave up approximately five additional runs compared to the league average.
His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) last season was a 0.3. In other words, he was a third of a win better than a replacement-level player.
The only thing going for Lowrie is his relatively young age. While there is the possibility for him to turn his career into a decent one, it is not very likely. He earns the No. 30 spot on the list.
Jamey Carroll will be donning a Twins uniform this season.
The Minnesota Twins stunned the baseball community when they went out and signed veteran shortstop Jamey Carroll to a contract this offseason.
The 38-year-old shortstop is coming off a season where he hit .290 and scored 52 runs, drove in 17 RBI and stole 10 bases.
The downside to Carroll? That's about all the offensive production he will give you.
Carroll had 131 hits last season. 111 of them? Singles.
The last time he hit a home run? According to Mike Axisa of FanGraphs.com, it's been 913 days, 308 games and 1,066 plate appearances. His last home run came off of Scott Linebrink on August 9, 2009.
While his slugging percentage will be towards the bottom of the league every season for shortstops, he draws a moderate amount of walks and is typically around the .350 mark for OBP. Typically when a player is a single-hitting machine, you look for a high number of stolen bases, which Carroll does not possess.
He is below average at fielding the position as well. In 1573.1 innings at shortstop, Carroll has only 10 errors, but a UZR rating of minus-2.2.
Carroll offered production that was just above the level of a replacement player according to WAR, as he checked in with a 2.2.
The lack of offensive production and below-average fielding puts Carroll in the No. 29 slot in the power rankings.
The Oakland Athletics' starting shortstop the last two seasons has been Cliff Pennington.
He offers a mediocre average at the position, but his biggest contribution comes from stolen bases.
In 2010, Pennington hit .250 and scored 64 runs, but stole 29 bases for the A's.
Last season, Pennington hit .264, scoring 57 runs but stealing only 14 bases. He gathered a .319 OBP both seasons, so the only difference in stolen bases can be attributed to running less often.
Defensively, Pennington is hurting the Oakland A's.
He logged 1272.1 innings at shortstop last season and committed 22 errors. That puts him at a UZR rating of minus-5.2, or costing his team five additional runs than the league average shortstop.
His lack of offensive production and poor defense places Pennington at No. 28 in the power rankings.
Crawford makes a nice bare-handed grab.
Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants is a player that fills the profile of defensive specialist with a limited ceiling for offense.
Crawford does not possess the speed to steal a ton of bases and was considered to have a "weak bat" coming out of college, according to Marc Hulet of FanGraphs.com.
Last season in 66 games for the Giants, Crawford hit .204 with 22 runs, three home runs and 21 RBI.
Crawford's true value comes from his defense.
In 507.1 innings, Crawford committed seven errors, but earned a 3.1 UZR rating due to his range.
As his offensive ceiling is very low, Crawford does not offer much in terms of production for the Giants. Once the other top shortstop prospects are ready to join the majors a couple years down the road, they will likely easily take the spot from Crawford, moving him to the bench.
Crawford comes in at No. 27 in the power rankings.
Brendan Ryan making a play on the run.
Brendan Ryan of the Seattle Mariners is up next.
Last season, Ryan hit .248, scoring 51 runs, three home runs, 39 RBI and stealing 13 bases for the Mariners.
Unfortunately, Ryan is predominately a singles hitter. His ISO rating was a mere .079. Of his 108 hits last season, 83 of them fell in for singles, 19 for doubles, three for triples and three for home runs.
That's a rate of an extra-base hit once in every 17.44 at-bats. Yikes.
On the defensive side, Ryan is an above-average defender. Last season, he logged 1060.2 innings at short and committed 15 errors. Despite the errors, he saved his team 7.6 runs compared to the league average according to UZR, mainly due to his range.
While his offensive numbers certainly leave something to be desired, Ryan makes up for it with his play on defense. His WAR last season was 2.6, which is the highest it has been in his career.
Ryan ranks in at No. 26 in the power rankings.
Barmes will be suiting up for the Pirates this season.
Clint Barmes is one of the multiple shortstops changing teams this season, going from the Houston Astros over to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Last season, Barmes hit .244 with 47 runs, 12 home runs and 39 RBI for the last-place Astros. Barmes has not hit over .250 in the last three years, so these numbers are expected to continue.
The main reason teams are keeping Barmes around is for his defense. He spent 1058.1 innings at shortstop last season, committing 12 errors. Due to his range, he gained a UZR of 7.9, saving the Astros about eight runs more than the league average shortstop.
His offensive numbers are significantly below average, however his defensive rating helps him out a little bit. Barmes comes in at No. 25 in the power rankings.
Mike Aviles getting ready to throw it to first.
Shortstop will be one of the weakest positions for the Boston Red Sox this season.
Their starting shortstop this season is Mike Aviles, after he beat out prospect Jose Iglesias for the spot.
Acquired from the Kansas City Royals at the trade deadline last season, the Red Sox are hoping he returns to his previous form of a career .288 hitter.
Last season, Aviles hit .255 with 31 runs, seven home runs, 39 RBI and 14 stolen bases between the Royals and Red Sox.
Aviles has not played much shortstop since his rookie year in 2008. That year, he logged 747.2 innings at shortstop, committing 10 errors and earning a UZR of 11.7 due to his excellent range.
He only saw 91 innings last season at shortstop and saw a UZR of 0.5. If his career defensive numbers are any indication, he will be below average for the Red Sox, as his career UZR is a minus-1.9 for all defensive positions.
His WAR last season was only 0.3; however, it was considered a down year for Aviles. If he is able to bring his average back up into the .280 range, he should be worth between 1.5-2.5 wins this season.
If Aviles struggles, look for Iglesias to make a push for the starting gig mid-summer.
As he is not the strongest defender and is coming off of a down year, Aviles ranks in at No. 24 in the power rankings.
Sean Rodriguez turning the double play.
Sean Rodriguez is one of the few weak spots in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup.
Last season, Rodriguez hit .223 with 45 runs, eight home runs and 36 RBI for the Rays over 131 games. He also stole 11 bases.
Rodriguez held a .134 ISO last season by having only 31 extra-base hits the whole season.
This is particularly troubling when looking at his career in the minors. Rodriguez used to be a power hitter, with his lowest home run total being 17 in the minors back in 2007. Since joining the Rays roster full-time in 2010, he has accumulated 17 home runs total.
Rodriguez is unique in his fielding abilities as he is incredibly versatile. He has logged innings at every position except for pitcher and catcher. However, when looking at his stats for shortstop, he is slightly below average.
He logged 430.2 innings (approximately 48 nine-inning games) at shortstop last season, and committed nine errors. He earned a UZR of minus-0.9 there last season. Overall for his career however, Rodriguez has logged 459.2 innings at shortstop and holds a 0.9 UZR.
Last season saw his WAR at a 2.3. He gains some bonus points due to his versatility.
Mr. Rodriguez comes in at No. 23 in the power rankings.
Furcal going for a bunt hit.
Veteran Rafael Furcal of the St. Louis Cardinals is up next.
Furcal used to be one of the top offensive producers at shortstop at the turn of the century. However, recent years have seen him fall from offensive stardom to barely league average as he has struggled to remain healthy.
Last season, Furcal hit .231 with 44 runs, eight home runs, 28 RBI and nine stolen bases over 87 games between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Cardinals. His last full season came in 2009 with the Dodgers, where he hit .269 with 92 runs, 47 RBI and 12 steals.
His defense is starting to deteriorate as well.
In just 87 games last season, Furcal recorded 14 errors at shortstop. He earned a minus-5.4 UZR rating at short, while obtaining a 0.5 WAR overall.
Furcal is expected to put together a better offensive season now that he is healthy, with projections having him around .265 with 65 runs, eight home runs, 40 RBI and 15 steals.
Those projections, combined with his deteriorating defensive abilities, place him at No. 22 in the power rankings.
Tejada tags out Sappelt.
Ruben Tejada of the New York Mets comes in next at No. 21 in the power rankings.
Last season, Tejada hit .284 with 31 runs and 36 RBI over 96 games. He stole five bases as well. Tejada is another player that is your stereotypical singles guy. He had 93 hits total last season, with 77 of them being singles.
His ISO was a mere .052, as he had 15 doubles and one triple as his extra-base hits.
Defensively, Tejada split time between second base and shortstop last season. At short, he logged 353 innings and committed eight errors. This led to him having a below-average UZR of minus-0.2.
For his career at shortstop, Tejada has logged 574.2 innings, committing 10 errors with a UZR of 0.1.
Ruben Tejada is right around your average player defensively; however, his offensive numbers leave something to be desired, causing him to stay put at No. 21 in the rankings. If he comes out with a solid season in his first year as a starter, he could rise in the rankings.
Gonzalez will be sporting a Milwaukee Brewers uniform this year.
Another player that is changing teams this season is Alex Gonzalez of the Milwaukee Brewers. Gonzalez joins the Brew Crew after spending the last year and a half with the Atlanta Braves.
Last season, Gonzalez hit .241 with 59 runs, 15 home runs and 56 RBI.
The last few seasons, Gonzalez has struggled to get on base. He only had a .270 OBP last season, and had a .279 and .294 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Gonzalez also hurt the Braves last season defensively, committing 12 errors in 149 games at shortstop. His UZR was below average, coming in at minus-0.3.
Considering his defense is starting to falter due to diminished range and his offensive numbers are starting to decline as well, Gonzalez ranks in at No. 20 in the power rankings.
Bartlett making a play in the field.
When the San Diego Padres acquired Jason Bartlett from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, they expected to receive a star shortstop.
However, what they received was a shortstop that had one great season amongst multiple mediocre ones.
Last season, Bartlett hit .245 with 61 runs, two home runs, 40 RBI and 23 stolen bases for the Padres in 139 games.
If you take out his 2009 season where he hit .320 with 90 runs, 14 home runs, 66 RBI and 30 steals, you have the definition of a league-average shortstop. He is going to hit around .260 with 55 runs, a handful of home runs, 40 RBI and 15 steals.
In the early stages of Bartlett's career, he was strong defensively. That trend has gone south in recently, however.
Last season saw Bartlett log 1211 innings at shortstop, committing 18 errors. He earned a UZR rating of minus-0.9, certainly better than the minus-10.4 in 2010.
With his mediocre career line and average defensive ability, Bartlett comes in at No. 19 in the power rankings.
Pastornicky warming up prior to a game.
Rookie Tyler Pastornicky of the Atlanta Braves comes in at No. 18 in the power rankings.
Acquired in the trade that sent Yunel Escobar to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, Pastornicky earned the starting shortstop role for the Braves this season.
He has yet to play a game in the majors, so his numbers will be strictly from his minor league experience.
Last season, he hit .299 with 50 runs, six home runs, 36 RBI and 20 steals in 90 games at Double-A. His play earned him a promotion to Triple-A midseason, where he hit .365 in 27 games, stealing seven bases in the process.
Most projections have Pastornicky hitting around .265 with 60 runs and 40 RBI, while stealing 20-plus bases.
According to Mark Anderson of FanGraphs.com, Pastornicky is considered an average defender at shortstop, and possesses skills that make him appear better due to his instincts.
With the projections and average defense, Pastornicky ranks in at No. 18 on the list.
Desmond fields a ball at short.
One of the good young players is Ian Desmond of the Washington Nationals.
Desmond brings to the table a bat that is still developing with some wheels to complement. Last season, Desmond hit .253 with 65 runs, eight home runs, 49 RBI and 25 steals.
With an OBP of only .298, Desmond has room to improve his run total and stolen bases by getting on base a little more.
The main segment of his game that is holding him back is his defense.
Desmond logged 1317.2 innings at shortstop last season for the Nationals and committed 23 errors. This earned him a minus-5.4 UZR rating.
If Desmond can bring up his defense this season, he stands the chance to increase in the power rankings. However, as is, he comes in at No. 17.
Escobar making a diving effort to stop a ball.
Part of the return package that sent Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers, Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals comes in at No. 16 in the power rankings.
Speed is Escobar's greatest asset. Last season saw Escobar hit .254 scoring 69 runs with four home runs and 46 RBI. He also stole 26 bases for the Royals.
The biggest thing that is hurting Escobar offensively is his inability to get on base. In 598 plate appearances last season, Escobar only walked a total of 25 times, but struck out 73 times. Combine that with his low batting average of .254, and he had an OBP of .290.
If he can get his OBP up to at least .310, he should easily be able to steal over 30 bases this season.
Escobar's speed also helps tremendously on defense. His 15 errors over 158 games at shortstop last season place him amongst the top defenders at shortstop. He saved his team 10.2 runs last season according to UZR, mainly due to his superior range.
If Escobar is able to get on base some more, his ranking would likely increase. However, as it stands, he comes in at No. 16 in the power rankings.
Asdrubal Cabrera gears up for a pitch.
Asdrubal Cabrera enjoyed a breakout season last year for the Cleveland Indians.
His overall play earned him a 3.6 WAR ranking in 2011. His stat line: .273, 87 R, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 17 SB.
While those are fantastic numbers, they are numbers he is not very likely to repeat.
Last season was the first time in his professional career that Cabrera reached double digits in home runs, let alone eclipsed the 20-home run mark. The main cause for his apparent surge in power?
Cabrera's fly ball rate jumped from 31.4 percent in 2010 to 38.7 percent in 2011. His HR/FB rate also increased drastically, from three percent to 13.3 percent in 2011.
With those numbers expected to drop back towards his career average of 34 percent for fly ball rate and 7.8 percent for HR/FB, his power numbers will decrease.
A stat line of .270, 80 runs, 15 home runs, 85 RBI and 15 steals is manageable, however.
The area that truly hurts Cabrera's standing in the power rankings is his defense.
Last season, Cabrera committed 15 errors after starting 151 games at shortstop. He earned a UZR rating of minus-11.8 during the season. In other words, he cost the team almost 12 runs through his poor defense. He is also trending in the wrong direction, as his UZR rating has gone down each year since 2008.
Due to the high probability of regression and his poor defense, Cabrera ranks in at No. 15.
Dee Gordon making a play in the field.
Dee Gordon of the Los Angeles Dodgers is going to be an exciting player to watch this season.
Gordon joined the Dodgers last season for 56 games, hitting .304 with 34 runs, 11 RBI and 24 steals. This high average is not likely to repeat itself thanks in large part to a very high .345 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play), and should lower itself to around .270 or so this season.
Gordon is entirely a one-dimensional player offensively, as he is severely lacking in the power category. In his four years of professional baseball, he has seven home runs and 200 stolen bases.
Needless to say, this guy is a threat to steal anytime he reaches base.
Gordon leaves something to be desired on defense if his time with the Dodgers last season is a true indication of his ability. He spent 446.1 innings at shortstop last year, committing 10 errors in that time. He earned a minus-6.5 UZR rating through this performance.
A .270, 70 runs, 35 RBI and 40 steals season would be a solid year from this young shortstop. However, his defensive abilities knock him down a few spots on the list.
He comes in at No. 14 in the power rankings.
Cozart getting ready to unload on a pitch.
Another rookie in the majors this season is Zack Cozart of the Cincinnati Reds.
Cozart spent most of his time last season at Triple-A, where he hit .310 with 57 runs, 32 RBI and stole nine bases. He is projected to have more speed than that, especially considering in 2010 he stole 30 bases at Double-A.
Cozart gained a little bit of experience last season in the majors, where he hit .324 with six runs, two home runs and three RBI over 11 games. His season was cut short when he went on the DL with an elbow injury.
Projections have him in the ballpark of .270, 60 runs, 10 home runs, 55 RBI and 15 steals.
According to Marc Hulet of FanGraphs.com, Cozart provides a solid defensive approach. In the brief stint in the majors last season, Cozart fielded 77.1 innings at shortstop without committing an error, earning a UZR of 4.1.
With his upside on offense and solid defense, Cozart comes in at No. 13 in the power rankings.
Stephen Drew waiting for a pitch.
Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks comes in at No. 12 in the power rankings.
The Florida State product is currently recovering from a severe ankle injury that ended his season early last year. In his injury-shortened season, he hit .252 with 44 runs, five home runs, 45 RBI and four stolen bases.
The two years prior, he averaged .270 with 77 runs, 13.5 home runs, 63 RBI and seven stolen bases.
Drew has improved defensively the last few years as well.
Last season saw Drew play 84 games at shortstop, committing seven errors. He earned a UZR of 4.5, saving his team nearly five runs more than the average shortstop.
When healthy, he is easily a top-10 shortstop in the majors. Due to his injury history, he drops a couple spots in the rankings.
Peralta crushing a ball.
Jhonny Peralta enjoyed a solid year last season for the Detroit Tigers.
Peralta hit .299, scoring 68 runs and hitting 21 home runs with 86 RBI. His ISO last season was .179, tying him with Howie Kendrick for No. 68 in the majors.
Last season also saw Peralta improve by leaps and bounds defensively.
He played in 1245 innings (approximately 138 nine inning games) at shortstop last season and only committed seven errors. This earned him a 9.9 UZR rating, much higher than his previous best of 2.6 at shortstop in 2009.
Peralta held a career-high WAR at 5.2 last season, and most projections have him regressing slightly this season. It is fair to expect around a .265, 15 home run, 85 RBI season from Peralta this year.
Due to the potential to regress, Peralta ranks in at No. 11 in the power rankings.
Jeter throwing it to first.
The captain of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter comes in next in the rankings.
It has long been stated that Jeter is getting older and his skills are starting to deteriorate. While his days of hitting .320 with excellent defense are likely behind him for good, he is still a valuable asset to the Yankees at shortstop.
Last season, Jeter rebounded from a down year in 2010 by hitting .297 with 84 runs, six home runs, 61 RBI and stealing 16 bases.
The main spot of criticism for Jeter in recent years has been his defense.
Last year, Jeter spent 1047.1 innings at shortstop, where he committed 12 errors. However, his UZR rating was a minus-6.5 due to his diminished range.
While his offensive abilities are diminishing, they still place Jeter in the top 10 offensive shortstops.
However, when combining his offensive abilities with his deteriorating defense, Jeter falls in the power rankings.
Jeter comes in at No. 10 in the power rankings.
Escobar attempting the double play.
Yunel Escobar of the Toronto Blue Jays now steps up to the plate.
Escobar is a very consistent player at shortstop and offers the Blue Jays some offense to complement his nice glove.
With the exception of the season he was traded (2010), Escobar has had a batting average of at least .288 his entire career. Last season, he hit .290, scoring 77 runs with 11 home runs and 48 RBI.
Escobar also provides some above-average defense for the Blue Jays. In 1121 innings last season, he committed 14 errors. This earned him a 1.6 UZR rating.
Overall, his WAR last season was 4.3.
His consistency and above-average defensive skills place him at No. 9 in the power rankings.
This will be a familiar picture in Baltimore this season.
The powerful J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles comes in at No. 8 in the power rankings.
Hardy is one of the few shortstops in the league that can hit for power. He arguably has the biggest power bat of all players at his position.
Last season, Hardy hit .269 and slugged 30 home runs over 129 games. He drove in 80 RBI and scored 76 runs. His ISO was a nice .222, placing him in a tie with Joey Votto for No. 30 in all of baseball.
The biggest issue surrounding Hardy is his health. He has spent time on the disabled list with a severe ankle sprain and wrist issues during his career. Last season he dealt with a wrist injury again that landed him on the DL early.
If he can stay healthy, there is no reason Hardy can't approach or even surpass 30 home runs again.
He is also an elite defender at shortstop, which certainly helps his ranking.
Last season, he played 1133 innings at short and committed only six errors. His play earned him a UZR of 10.7. His overall WAR last season was a 4.8.
Alexei Ramirez getting a hit.
One shortstop that is on the brink of becoming something special is Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox.
Ramirez has the ability to offer some power and speed at shortstop.
His first three seasons saw him post seasons of 21 HR/13 SB, 15 HR/14 SB and 18 HR/13 SB, respectively.
Last season, Ramirez hit .269 (the lowest of his career), scoring 81 runs while hitting 15 home runs, 70 RBI and stealing seven bases.
He only attempted 12 steals last season, as opposed to 22, 19 and 21 his first three seasons. If he gets the green light some more this season, his stolen base total will likely increase back to the previous level.
Ramirez brings his true value on defense. The slick fielder earned a UZR rating of 11.9 last season at shortstop, mainly due to his extensive range. He logged 1382 innings but committed 16 errors for the White Sox. His range came into play to save the team almost 12 runs defensively, adding to his value.
Overall, Ramirez was worth 4.9 WAR last season. His rare speed/power potential and fielding abilities rank him at No. 7 in the power rankings.
Andrus waiting for a pitch.
Elvis Andrus, the young shortstop for the Texas Rangers, is up next.
Andrus' best asset is his speed. Last season, he hit .279 with 96 runs, five home runs, 60 RBI and 37 steals in 150 games.
Over the last three seasons, Andrus has stolen a combined total of 102 bases.
He does not possess much power, as displayed by his 0.082 ISO rating. Of his 164 hits, 129 of them were singles. He hit 27 doubles, three triples and five home runs.
Andrus is a solid defender as well. He logged 1261.1 innings at shortstop, committing 25 errors. However, his speed and agility combine to give him exceptional range at the position, granting him a 7.0 UZR rating and helping him save seven runs on defense.
Combine his offensive success with his solid defensive ability and Andrus is one of the top shortstops in the league.
Andrus comes in at No. 6 in the power rankings.
Aybar making a play.
The shortstop for the Los Angeles Angels, Erick Aybar, comes in next.
Aybar hit .279 with 71 runs, 10 home runs, 59 RBI and 30 stolen bases last season. With his offensive numbers increasing each of the last three years, it is safe to expect similar or better numbers this year.
Aybar is above average defensively as well. Last season, he logged 1262 innings at shortstop, committing 13 errors. His range leaves something to be desired, however he still had a UZR rating of 1.2 last season. However, his defense was recognized last season, as he won the Gold Glove award at shortstop.
With Aybar's offensive production in the Angels lineup and above-average defense, he comes in at No. 5 in the power rankings.
Jimmy Rollins connecting with a pitch.
The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to an extension with shortstop Jimmy Rollins this offseason that will keep him in Philadelphia for the next three or four years.
Rollins has seen his production start to fall over the last few years, but that is expected as he gets older.
Last season, Rollins hit .268 with 87 runs, 16 home runs, 63 RBI and 30 stolen bases. He reached base 33.8 percent of his plate appearances, which is consistent with his career average.
The great news about his season last year? Rollins walked 58 times, and only struck out 59 times. He made defenses get him out rather than striking out. Teams love that.
Rollins is still one of the best when it comes to playing defense. He logged 1207 innings last season for the Phillies at shortstop, committing only seven errors. He had a UZR rating of 2.9—that would have been much higher if his range was what it used to be.
His consistency on both offense and defense place Rollins in the top five for shortstops. He holds the No. 4 spot in the power rankings.
Starlin Castro waiting for the pitch.
This young man for the Chicago Cubs is a star in the making.
Starlin Castro has manned shortstop for the Cubs the last two years, and he has given the organization a glimpse of what to expect for years to come. The 22-year-old hit .307 last season with 91 runs, 10 home runs, 66 RBI and 22 stolen bases for the Cubs.
Castro is one of the shortstops that offers some power combined with speed. While he may never hit more than 20 home runs, he will always provide some gap power to get him over 30 doubles and a handful of triples each season.
Defensively, Castro has plenty of room for improvement. He spent 1398.2 innings at shortstop last season and committed 29 errors. That led him to have a minus-8.7 UZR rating at short.
His offensive production is going to continue to improve; however, his defense is holding him back. Still, his potential weighs in here, and places Castro at the No. 3 slot in the power rankings.
Jose Reyes running the bases.
Jose Reyes, the long-time shortstop of the New York Mets, took his talents to South Beach and the Miami Marlins this winter. In doing so, the Marlins gained one of the best shortstops in the game today.
Last season was a career year for Reyes, as he hit .337 with 101 runs, seven home runs, 44 RBI and 39 steals. This could be attributed to his decreased strikeout rate, as he whiffed only seven percent of the time, compared to a previous low of 10.2 percent in 2007.
Reyes does not typically possess home run power, but he will drive the ball with authority to the gaps consistently. He had 31 doubles and 16 triples last season, and that should continue this season with the spacious gaps of Miami's new stadium.
Defensively, Reyes has been below average the last three seasons. He spent 1087 innings at short last season, committing 18 errors for the Mets. He earned a minus-3.1 UZR rating in the process, but improved from the minus-5.0 UZR from 2010.
He will be an exciting player to watch this season, as manager Ozzie Guillen loves to send his players running on the basepaths. If he remains healthy, Reyes could approach the 50-steal mark this season.
He falls in at No. 2 in the power rankings.
Tulowitzki making a play.
The best shortstop in baseball at the moment is Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies.
Tulowitzki will offer excellent offensive production and superior defense at shortstop, making him the legitimate holder of the No. 1 spot in the power rankings.
Last season, he hit .302 with 81 runs, 30 home runs, 105 RBI and nine steals. His ISO rating was a .242, which led all shortstops. He also hit 36 doubles and two triples last season, bringing his extra-base hits 68.
Defensively, Tulowitzki is one of the best. In 1208.1 innings at shortstop last season, Tulowitzki committed only six errors. Even though his range is decreasing, he still held at 7.3 UZR at shortstop, and earned a Gold Glove for his efforts at shortstop.
With his abilities on both sides of the ball, Tulowitzki is the best shortstop in the game and holds down the No. 1 spot in the power rankings.