Shortstop is a top heavy position in fantasy baseball. After five or six elite guys and three to four more decent options, the bottom falls out fast. Those playing in the popular ten-team mixed leagues might not have too much trouble filling their SS spot, but those in deeper leagues will most likely be scrambling for production. At this point in the roto season, the best thing you can do is to see which categories you can still pick up points, and use your SS spot to go after those category-specific needs.
Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins, 100 percent owned
There is a lot of talk going around about Hanley’s “down” year. Sure, he had all of one extra base hit in July, and his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is significantly lower than it has been in previous years, but ESPN’s player rater shows he has been the best shortstop to this point. His current BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is 44 points lower than his career average, and he is striking out less while walking more. He is going to be fine.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies, 100 percent owned
The only thing to worry about with Tulo is him missing more time due to injury, because he has been fantastic when in the lineup. The numbers he has put up in 2010 would look like this scaled out to a full 162 game season: .315, 23 HR, 16 SB, 114 RBI, 98 R.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets, 100 percent owned
The majority of Reyes’s fantasy value is in his ability to steal bases. As we all know, you have to get on base to steal bases. Unfortunately, Reyes currently has his lowest OBP since his rookie year primarily because he is swinging at more balls outside of the strike zone and walking less. As a result, his SB/AB percent is .052, which is significantly lower than his previous career low of .081 in 2008.
Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox, 100 percent owned
Take away Alexei’s awful month of April (.221, 1 HR, 1 SB, 13 K, 1 BB), and the South Side shortstop has a line of .293, 10 HR, 7 SB, 48 R, and 35 RBI.
Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers, 100 percent owned
Andrus has plenty of value because he leads all shortstops in steals with 27 and is second in runs with 67. However, his groundball rate is up and his fly ball rate is down, which has led to 100 singles (out of 115 hits), zero homers, and an embarrassingly low slugging percentage of .316.
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, 100 percent owned
Some might argue that Jeter’s lower-than-usual batting average is a result of his BABIP being 45 points lower than his career average. However, if you read the Fix’s latest sabermetrics article BABIP For Dummies, you know that a hitter can influence his BABIP by legging out infield singles and shooting the gaps between defenders. Unfortunately for Jeter, he may be slowing down with age, and he is not driving the ball like he used to because, according to Fangraphs, his line drive rate is down almost three percent from his career average.
Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies, 100 percent owned
Since winning the NL MVP in 2007, Rollins has hit just .260 in 1,434 AB with 36 homers and 87 steals (only nine this year in 239 AB). Going forward, he is still a 15/30 candidate, but not the elite player he used to be.
Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers, 100 percent owned
In 76 games, Furcal has hit .316 with eight HR, 18 SB, 57 R, and 39 RBI. All of those numbers look great except one. The 76 games. Furcal has missed 32 games this year and six in a row. If he was not such an injury risk, then he would be much higher on this list.
Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs, 82.5 percent owned
Over the last 30 days, the rookie has hit .390 with 13 R, one HR, 11 RBI and four SB. Sure, the average is likely to come down, but Castro gives you a little bit of something in all five categories.
Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 89.6 percent owned
There are quite a few speed options still to come on this list, but Aybar (16 SB) is the best of the bunch because of his run production (62 so far this year) and an average that will not kill you (.276).
Juan Uribe, San Francisco Giants, 91.9 percent owned
Odds are Uribe is not available in your league, but if he is and you need power, then Uribe and his 15 home runs are just what the doctor ordered.
Jeff Keppinger, Houston Astros, 40.8 percent owned
As unexciting as Keppinger is, he is a guy who provides decent counting number production (45 R, 40 RBI), and his .290 average is here to stay because he walks more than he strikes out and has a very normal BABIP of .303.
Marco Scutaro, Boston Red Sox, 89.8 percent owned
As unexciting as Keppinger is, Scutaro is even less exciting. However, he has seven homers, a decent .275 average, and is third among SS’s with 65 runs.
Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks, 79.2 percent owned
Maybe Drew will eventually turn into the elite player many thought he would be, but for now, he is basically Jeff Keppinger with a little more power/speed and a poorer average due to a 19.9 strikeout percentage.
Jerry Hairston, Jr., San Diego Padres, 15.2 percent owned
Three homers, three steals, 17 runs, 14 RBI, and a .278 average over the last thirty days make Hairston a pretty decent option the rest of the way.
Yunel Escobar, Toronto Blue Jays, 49.8 percent owned
Alex Gonzalez, Atlanta Braves, 98 percent owned
Here is what the two have done since they were traded for each other on July 14:
Yunel Escobar Alex Gonzalez
Batting Average .253 .259
HR/SB 3/0 3/0
R/RBI 10/13 7/9
Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals, 8.4 percent owned
Desmond is a decent power/speed option with seven homers and twelve steals if you can handle the .260ish batting average.
Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays, 64.9 percent owned
Bartlett has been a disappointment this year, but he does have five steals
and a .282 average over the last thirty days, so maybe the guy who hit .320 and stole thirty last year is still in there somewhere.
Cliff Pennington, Oakland Athletics, 10.5 percent owned
Pennington is extremely streaky, but if you need speed, he has 17 steals on the year and is likely available in your league.
Omar Infante, Atlanta Braves, 40 percent owned
The injury to Martin Prado has opened up some playing time for Infante. So far, he has taken advantage of the extra AB’s by hitting .388 over the last fifteen days. He does not provide much else, but ride the hot streak while it lasts if you are desperate for average.
Just missed the cut: Asdrubal Cabrera (35.6 percent owned), Ryan Theriot (78.9 percent owned), Ronny Cedeno (1.4 percent owned), J.J. Hardy (32.3 percent owned)
(Percentages taken from ESPN. Stats current through 08/08)
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