MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Shortstops

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2017

MLB Position Power Rankings: B/R's Top 30 Shortstops

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    The shortstop revolution is in full swing.

    Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson have taken the major leagues by storm in recent seasons, and there's plenty more talent in the pipeline with J.P. Crawford, Amed Rosario, Gleyber Torres and others rapidly approaching the majors.

    Ahead, we've set out to identify the top 30 shortstops in the league heading into the 2017 season.

    A few things to consider before we get started:

    • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league average triple-slash line for a shortstop last season was .262/.317/.406.
    • Eligibility: A player must have played at least 300 innings at shortstop last season to be eligible for inclusion on this list. The exception to that rule was players set to make a position change this coming season. That notably included Matt Duffy, Jean Segura and Turner.

    The other important thing to note is that the goal here was to identify the 30 best shortstops for the 2017 season—and the 2017 season alone.

    Someone like Dansby Swanson has more upside than Elvis Andrus going forward, but is he going to be better this year?

    For draft fans, think of this as a big board for the position if the entire league was doing a redraft for one all-or-nothing season in 2017.

    Previous top 30 series entries: CatchersFirst Basemen, Second Basemen

30. Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .218 BA, .564 OPS, 62 H, 14 XBH (4 HR), 20 RBI, 26 R

    2016 Defensive: 13 DRS, 14.9 UZR/150, 12.3 DEF

    WAR: 0.2

    Player Outlook

    Nick Ahmed is a .221/.268/.329 career hitter, and his .564 OPS last season ranked 267th among the 268 players with at least 300 plate appearances.

    He's never going to be an asset offensively.

    However, there's little question he's an elite defender, and his glove work at a premium position is enough to earn him a spot on this list.

    His 32 DRS over the past two seasons rank 10th among all position players and third among shortstops, trailing only Andrelton Simmons (43) and Brandon Crawford (39).

    Honorable Mentions

    Hanser Alberto (TEX), J.P. Crawford (PHI), Stephen Drew (WAS), Eduardo Escobar (MIN), Ketel Marte (ARI), Cliff Pennington (LAA), Miguel Rojas (MIA), Amed Rosario (NYM), Luis Sardinas (SD)

29. Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins

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    Age: 23

    2016 Offensive: .282 BA, .757 OPS, 69 H, 23 XBH (4 HR), 27 RBI, 24 R

    2016 Defensive: -8 DRS, -32.3 UZR/150, -8.8 DEF

    WAR: 0.6

    Player Outlook

    There are legitimate questions whether Jorge Polanco can stick at shortstop long-term, and the Minnesota Twins didn't do him any favors by playing him exclusively at second base in the minors last season before promoting him.

    "I think myself, a lot of other people, realized we didn't handle it the right way," manager Paul Molitor told Derek Wetmore of 1500 ESPN.

    His struggles in the field didn't carry over to the plate, though, as he hit a solid .282 with 23 extra-base hits in 270 plate appearances as a rookie.

    With Brian Dozier headed for free agency after the 2018 season, a future middle infield with Polanco at second base and prospect Nick Gordon manning shortstop could be how things ultimately unfold.

    For now, Polanco looks like the everyday shortstop heading into 2017.

28. Adeiny Hechavarria, Miami Marlins

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    Eric Espada/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .236 BA, .594 OPS, 120 H, 26 XBH (3 HR), 38 RBI, 52 R

    2016 Defensive: 9 DRS, 8.5 UZR/150, 14.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.2

    Player Outlook

    Adeiny Hechavarria has always been known more for his glove than his bat.

    However, after hitting .281 with a 92 OPS+ during the 2015 season, it looked like he might at least be capable of providing league-average offensive contributions.

    Instead, his triple-slash numbers fell across the board last season to .236/.283/.311 and his .594 OPS was worst in the majors among 146 qualified hitters.

    Still, he's provided 9 DRS each of the past two seasons, and an unusually low .269 BABIP provides some hope that his batting average could rebound closer to its 2015 level.

    As he enters his age-28 season, he'll need to convince the Miami Marlins that he can continue to hold down the position going forward.

27. Jordy Mercer, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Age: 30

    2016 Offensive: .256 BA, .701 OPS, 133 H, 36 XBH (11 HR), 59 RBI, 66 R

    2016 Defensive: -9 DRS, -10.1 UZR/150, -2.0 DEF

    WAR: 0.9

    Player Outlook

    A good glove and occasional pop have been enough for Jordy Mercer to see the bulk of the playing time at shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates each of the past four seasons.

    He's coming off the worst defensive season of his career, though.

    The 30-year-old did manage to slug 22 doubles and 11 home runs, and he's still reasonably priced at $4.325 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility.

    If he rebounds with the glove, he's still capable of being a 2-3 WAR player.

    That said, it won't be long now before he's pushed by top prospect Kevin Newman, who hit .320/.389/.426 between High-A and Double-A last year and enters the season as a consensus top-100 prospect.

26. Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals

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    Age: 30

    2016 Offensive: .261 BA, .642 OPS, 166 H, 37 XBH (7 HR), 55 RBI, 57 R

    2016 Defensive: -6 DRS, 0.7 UZR/150, 8.1 DEF

    WAR: 0.3

    Player Outlook

    Even with his limited on-base skills, Alcides Escobar was an integral catalyst for the Kansas City Royals during their back-to-back World Series appearances.

    Escobar turned in a stellar all-around performance in 2014, when he hit .285/.317/.377 with 34 doubles and 31 stolen bases on his way to a 2.5 WAR.

    His triple-slash numbers dipped to .257/.293/.320 the following year, but he caught fire in October and took home ALCS MVP honors when he went 11-for-23 with six runs scored against the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Then he followed that up with similar numbers this past year, sans postseason heroics.

    Now the 30-year-old is facing a contract year and a likely trip into free agency as Raul Mondesi is viewed as the shortstop of the future for the Royals.

25. Chris Owings, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Age: 25

    2016 Offensive: .277 BA, .731 OPS, 121 H, 40 XBH (5 HR), 49 RBI, 52 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, -11.6 UZR/150, -2.9 DEF

    WAR: 1.6

    Player Outlook

    The Arizona Diamondbacks asked a lot of Chris Owings last season.

    While he still saw the bulk of his action at his natural position of shortstop, he also played center field for the first time in his pro career, lining up there for 49 games as part of a committee approach to replacing the injured A.J. Pollock.

    With Pollock back to 100 percent and Jean Segura traded to Seattle during the offseason, Owings will be back at shortstop on an everyday basis.

    If his .330/.359/.482 line and 51 extra-base hits in a full season at the Triple-A level in 2013 is any indication, he still has some offensive potential to tap into.

    As it stands, he posted a solid .731 OPS and led the NL with 11 triples a year ago.

24. Freddy Galvis, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .241 BA, .673 OPS, 141 H, 49 XBH (20 HR), 67 RBI, 61 R

    2016 Defensive: 5 DRS, 14.6 UZR/150, 22.0 DEF

    WAR: 1.3

    Player Outlook

    A total of 111 players hit at least 20 home runs last season.

    Aside from San Diego Padres second baseman Ryan Schimpf, the most unlikely member of that group had to be Freddy Galvis.

    Galvis looked like little more than a placeholder when the 2016 season began, as top prospect J.P. Crawford looked poised to supplant him as the everyday shortstop by midseason.

    Instead, Crawford struggled to make the jump to the upper levels of the minors and Galvis quietly turned in a productive season on both sides of the ball.

    There are still some obvious holes in his gamemost notably a .274 on-base percentage that ranked dead last among 174 qualified hitters—and he's still going to be overtaken by Crawford in the not-too-distant future.

    However, his newfound power and stellar glove work could give him some trade value and starter appeal elsewhere.

23. Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Age: 22

    2016 Offensive: .219 BA, .631 OPS, 44 H, 17 XBH (4 HR), 17 RBI, 21 R

    2016 Defensive: -1 DRS, -8.7 UZR/150, -0.4 DEF

    WAR: -0.2

    Player Outlook

    It's important to remember that not every shortstop prospect explodes onto the scene the way guys like Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager have in recent years.

    Case in point: Orlando Arcia.

    The 22-year-old began last season as the Milwaukee Brewers' top prospect and the No. 8 prospect in the majors, per Baseball America. He hit .307 with an .800 OPS and 52 extra-base hits while showing off a good glove in Double-A the previous season.

    However, his first taste of MLB action was a struggle.

    "It was two months that will help him this year. That was the takeaway for me," manager Craig Counsell told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "(He learned) how he has to play and his persona out there. What he has to commit to as far as preparation. Those are going to be important things for him and the challenges we need to put in front of him."

    Despite the rocky start, Arcia still looks like a big part of the rebuilding Brewers' long-term plans.

22. Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers

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    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .255 BA, .643 OPS, 119 H, 30 XBH (4 HR), 32 RBI, 57 R

    2016 Defensive: 3 DRS, 11.4 UZR/150, 17.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.8

    Player Outlook

    After hitting .303 and .300 his first two seasons in the league, Jose Iglesias saw his batting average dip to .255 last year.

    With little in the way of powerhe has a .353 career slugging percentageand middling speed, his offensive value is tied almost entirely to his ability to hit for a high average.

    Luckily, he's was still a standout defender.

    His 3 DRS didn't quite stack up to the elite-level shortstops, but he still ranked sixth in overall defensive value at the position.

    The 27-year-old puts the ball in play as much as anyone with a 5.5 percent walk rate and 9.7 percent strikeout rate last season. Provided his .276 BABIP climbs back toward the league average, he should again be able to complement his steady defense with a strong batting average.

21. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles

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    Age: 34

    2016 Offensive: .269 BA, .716 OPS, 109 H, 38 XBH (9 HR), 48 RBI, 43 R

    2016 Defensive: 6 DRS, 14.3 UZR/150, 16.3 DEF

    WAR: 1.9

    Player Outlook

    J.J. Hardy was one of the best all-around shortstops in baseball not all that long ago.

    Acquired from the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2011 season at little cost, Hardy posted a .720 OPS and averaged 28 doubles, 22 home runs and 69 RBI while racking up a 14.5 WAR that ranked second only to Troy Tulowitzki (17.2) during his first four seasons in Baltimore.

    He also won three straight Gold Glove Awards from 2012 to 2014.

    Now 34, he's clearly on the downswing of his career and no longer the offensive threat he was in his prime. He's hit just .244/.281/.359 the past two seasons while averaging 22 doubles, eight home runs and 42 RBI.

    Injuries have played a role in that decline as he played in 114 games in 2015 and 115 games this past season.

    That said, he remains a well-above-average defender, and if he can stay healthy enough for 500 plate appearances, he's a safe bet for double-digit home runs and a respectable average.

20. Matt Duffy, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .258 BA, .668 OPS, 86 H, 21 XBH (5 HR), 28 RBI, 41 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, 6.9 UZR/150, 1.4 DEF

    WAR: 1.6

    Player Outlook

    The Tampa Bay Rays are hoping for the 2015 version of Matt Duffy in his first full season with the team after he was acquired from the San Francisco Giants last summer in the Matt Moore trade.

    A fringe prospect while he made his way through the San Francisco system, Duffy surprised more than a few people by hitting .295/.334/.428 with 28 doubles, 12 home runs and 77 RBI for a 4.9 WAR to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2015.

    This past season proved considerably less fruitful, though.

    A nagging Achilles injury limited him to 91 games and eventually ended his season in early September, when he finally underwent surgery.

    He's questionable for the start of the regular season as he continues to recover from the operation, but a healthy Duffy could be a huge addition to the Tampa Bay lineup.

19. Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics

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    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .238 BA, .735 OPS, 135 H, 56 XBH (27 HR), 75 RBI, 72 R

    2016 Defensive: -6 DRS, -3.3 UZR/150, 3.4 DEF

    WAR: 3.0

    Player Outlook

    Let's recap:

    • July 5, 2014: Oakland trades SS Addison Russell, OF Billy McKinney, SP Dan Straily and cash to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for SP Jeff Samardzija and SP Jason Hammel.
    • Sept. 30, 2014: Oakland loses to Kansas City in the Wild Card Round.
    • Dec. 9, 2014: Oakland trades SP Jeff Samardzija to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for SS Marcus Semien, C Josh Phegley, SP Chris Bassitt and 1B Rangel Ravelo.

    Not the best series of events in Oakland Athletics history to be certain, but Semien is trying his best to keep it from being a complete disaster.

    The 26-year-old finished second among shortstops with 27 home runs last season and a modest uptick in his walk rate from 7.0 to 8.2 percent helped him finish with a 102 OPS+.

    Semien might never win a Gold Glove, but he's a decent defender. Combined with his 20 HR/10 SB offensive abilities, he's a useful piece.

18. Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

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    Age: 31

    2016 Offensive: .252 BA, .732 OPS, 117 H, 46 XBH (16 HR), 50 RBI, 67 R

    2016 Defensive: 8 DRS, 14.6 UZR/150, 14.6 DEF

    WAR: 2.0

    Player Outlook

    It looked like Zack Cozart was on his way to a breakout season and the Cincinnati Reds were on their way to cashing in a valuable trade chip when things fell apart last season.

    Cozart was hitting .271/.322/.495 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs and 38 RBI in 323 plate appearances on July 6, making him one of the league's most productive two-way shortstops.

    It was all downhill from there, though, as he batted .219/.283/.302 with just nine extra-base hits over his final 185 plate appearances before being shut down in early September with a right knee injury.

    The Reds nearly traded Cozart to the Seattle Mariners over the summer and his name popped up again during the offseason, but he wound up staying put for his contract year.

    While Cozart has limited batting average and on-base skills, he's a slick fielder with decent pop, and he should land on his feet once his time in Cincinnati comes to a close.

17. Asdrubal Cabrera, New York Mets

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    Age: 31

    2016 Offensive: .280 BA, .810 OPS, 146 H, 54 XBH (23 HR), 62 RBI, 65 R

    2016 Defensive: -7 DRS, -4.7 UZR/150, 1.8 DEF

    WAR: 2.7

    Player Outlook

    The New York Mets signed Asdrubal Cabrera to a two-year, $18.5 million deal last offseason in the hopes he could provide a bridge to top prospect Amed Rosario at the shortstop position.

    He proved to be much more than that in his first year with the team as he ranked fourth among qualified shortstops with an .810 OPS and reached the 20-homer mark for just the second time in his career.

    The 31-year-old has never been anything more than a slightly below-average defender and that was the case once again last season, but his bat more than made up for his shortcomings in the field.

    The ascent of the aforementioned Rosario could push Cabrera to third base at some point during the upcoming season, especially with the health of David Wright once again in question.

    For now, he remains the team's starting shortstop and a potential bargain with a reasonable $8.25 million salary.

16. Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

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    Age: 23

    2016 Offensive: .283 BA, .738 OPS, 116 H, 37 XBH (9 HR), 30 RBI, 57 R

    2016 Defensive: 6 DRS, 10.9 UZR/150, 10.8 DEF

    WAR: 2.8

    Player Outlook

    Before the Chicago White Sox significantly bolstered their farm system with a productive draft and a busy offseason, it was Tim Anderson who checked in as the team's top young talent heading into the 2016 season.

    Now he's looking to take the next step toward stardom after a productive rookie season.

    "That man can hit," hitting coach Todd Steverson told Scott Merkin of "In my opinion, an up-and-coming star at some point. If not this year, it's coming, in terms of hanging that star behind his name."

    He'll need to develop a more patient approach to deliver on those expectations after walking just 21 times in 687 total plate appearances between Triple-A and the majors last season.

    On the plus side, the 23-year-old was much better than advertised defensively, and there's no reason to think he won't stick at the shortstop position throughout the White Sox's rebuilding efforts.

15. Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees

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    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .276 BA, .751 OPS, 155 H, 54 XBH (20 HR), 70 RBI, 68 R

    2016 Defensive: -9 DRS, -3.4 UZR/150, 3.8 DEF

    WAR: 2.2

    Player Outlook

    The continued development of Didi Gregorius is setting the New York Yankees up for a good problem to have once uber-prospect Gleyber Torres is ready for the majors.

    Originally billed as a glove-first shortstop with some concerns about his offensive ceiling, Gregorius put those questions to rest with a breakout 2016 season.

    After hitting .252 with a .685 OPS and 22 home runs total over his first three full seasons in the league, he raised his OPS to .751 last year and slugged 32 doubles and 20 home runs last year.

    While he did have slightly better numbers at home, only 11 of his 20 long balls came at Yankee Stadium, so his power surge was not simply a byproduct of the short porch in right field.

    A move to second or third base is coming at some point, but he should have at least one more season as the primary shortstop.

14. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

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    Age: 28

    2016 Offensive: .302 BA, .800 OPS, 153 H, 46 XBH (8 HR), 69 RBI, 75 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, -14.6 UZR/150, -8.7 DEF

    WAR: 3.7

    Player Outlook

    Perhaps that eight-year, $120 million extension won't be so bad after all.

    The Texas Rangers locked up Elvis Andrus with that hefty long-term deal prior to the 2013 season, but it didn't kick in until 2015. After he hit a combined .261/.312/.345 with a 3.1 WAR in 2014 and 2015, it was quickly shaping up to be an overpay.

    Then came the always pivotal age-27 season.

    Andrus turned in new career highs in batting average (.302), on-base percentage (.362), slugging (.439), OPS (.800), home runs (eight) and RBI (69) while topping the 20-steal mark for the eighth consecutive season.

    But while his offensive game reached new heights, his defensive work continued to trend in the opposite direction.

    He recorded negative DRS for the third consecutive season, and his UZR/150 (-14.6) was the worst of his career.

13. Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

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    Age: 23

    2016 Offensive: .302 BA, .803 OPS, 39 H, 11 XBH (3 HR), 17 RBI, 20 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, -2.4 UZR/150, 1.1 DEF

    WAR: 0.9

    Player Outlook

    Dansby Swanson is going to be a star.

    The question is just how good he'll be in his first full season in the majors as he takes aim at NL Rookie of the Year honors.

    The projection systems have been guarded at best:

    • Steamer: .259/.322/.395, 27 2B, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 66 R, 1.8 WAR
    • ZiPS: .253/.323/.403, 28 2B, 12 HR, 64 RBI, 71 R, 2.4 WAR

    Those numbers might still be good enough to take home top rookie honors, but they're well shy of the offensive ceiling most are predicting for the former No. 1 overall pick.

    "Swanson is one of the most promising young shortstops in the game, but he's still developing offensively," wrote FanGraphs. "Temper your expectations for him in 2017, keeping in mind that an offensive breakout is possible."

    If we were ranking long-term value he'd be pushing for a spot inside the top five, but since the focus is solely on 2017, it's tough to rank him any higher at this point.

12. Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .300 BA, .879 OPS, 121 H, 48 XBH (17 HR), 65 RBI, 71 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, -11.4 UZR/150, -3.7 DEF

    WAR: 3.5

    Player Outlook

    The St. Louis Cardinals signed Aledmys Diaz to a four-year, $8 million deal in March 2014, and by July 2015, that looked like a wasted investment after he was designated for assignment and then removed from the 40-man roster after going unclaimed on waivers.

    However, he jumped back on the team's radar when he hit .380/.448/.620 over 58 plate appearances at the Triple-A level down the stretch in 2015, and an injury to incumbent shortstop Jhonny Peralta last spring gave him the big break he needed.

    The 26-year-old was an offensive sparkplug all season, and after some early struggles in the field, he settled in as a steady defender.

    The Cardinals have now committed to Diaz as the everyday shortstop, leaving Peralta and Jedd Gyorko to battle for playing time at third base.

    The former Cuban defector might not have the same superstar ceiling as some of the league's other young shortstops, but there's nothing in his peripheral numbers to suggest significant regression is coming.

11. Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies

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    Age: 24

    2016 Offensive: .272 BA, .909 OPS, 101 H, 52 XBH (27 HR), 72 RBI, 67 R

    2016 Defensive: 4 DRS, -4.5 UZR/150, 1.6 DEF

    WAR: 3.1

    Player Outlook

    If not for a torn UCL in his left thumb, Trevor Story would have shattered the rookie record for home runs by a shortstop.

    He finished his debut with 27 long balls, just three short of the record set by Nomar Garciaparra back in 1997.

    It took him just four months to reach that total, as he suffered a season-ending thumb injury on July 30, with just 97 games and 415 plate appearances under his belt.

    There's no question his overall offensive numbers were aided by playing at Coors Field, as he hit .313/.393/.693 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI at home.

    However, his power would play anywhere, and he turned in some solid defensive work as well, landing him just outside the top 10 in these rankings.

10. Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2016 Offensive: .319 BA, .867 OPS, 203 H, 68 XBH (20 HR), 64 RBI, 102 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, -11.9 UZR/150, -0.7 DEF

    WAR: 5.7

    Player Outlook

    The Arizona Diamondbacks decided to sell high on Jean Segura this offseason, flipping him to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a package built around young right-hander Taijuan Walker.

    Time will tell if that was the right move.

    An All-Star in 2013, Segura followed that up by hitting a combined .252/.285/.331 with a 0.6 WAR in 2014 and 2015 before breaking out in a big way last season.

    The 26-year-old led the NL in hits (203) and ranked among the league leaders in batting average (.319, fifth), doubles (41, fifth), triples (7, eighth), runs scored (102, seventh), stolen bases (33, fifth) and total bases (318, sixth).

    A .353 BABIP could be tough to duplicate, and his 20-homer performance was out of nowhere after he entered the season with 23 career long balls.

    That raises enough regression questions that it's tough to rank him any higher, but given his age, it's not out of the question to think he could duplicate his breakout performance setting the table for a stacked Seattle lineup.

9. Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels

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    Age: 27

    2016 Offensive: .281 BA, .690 OPS, 126 H, 28 XBH (4 HR), 44 RBI, 48 R

    2016 Defensive: 18 DRS, 25.1 UZR/150, 20.8 DEF

    WAR: 4.2

    Player Outlook

    It's been two years since the last time Andrelton Simmons won a Gold Glove Award, but many around the league still consider him to be the game's best defensive player, regardless of position.

    Just how good is he?

    Over the course of his five seasons in the league, he's piled up a ridiculous 131 DRS.

    To put that into perspective, the next highest totals during that span belong to Jason Heyward (92), Nolan Arenado (84), Alex Gordon (78) and Manny Machado (75).

    He also hit a career-high .281 last season while continuing to put the ball in play at a staggering rate with just 28 walks and 38 strikeouts in 483 plate appearances.

    Truth be told, anything he provides with the bat is gravy.

8. Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Age: 32

    2016 Offensive: .254 BA, .761 OPS, 125 H, 45 XBH (24 HR), 79 RBI, 54 R

    2016 Defensive: 10 DRS, 5.4 UZR/150, 10.8 DEF

    WAR: 3.3

    Player Outlook

    Before all is said and done, Troy Tulowitzki will go down as one of the best offensive shortstops in recent memory.

    The former Colorado Rockie staple and current Toronto Blue Jays starter enters the 2017 season with a .292/.364/.501 career line that includes 1,329 hits, 217 home runs and 753 RBI.

    Those impressive numbers, coupled with solid defensive work, add up to a 43.7 WAR that already ranks in the top 40 all-time at the position.

    The 32-year-old has four years and $74 million left on his current contract, so he'll continue to add to those totals north of the border for the foreseeable future.

    At this point, he's probably not going to play more than 130 or so games in an effort to keep from adding to the laundry list of injuries he's suffered over the course of his career.

    He played in 131 last season and that was still enough for him to reach 20 home runs and 75 RBI for the sixth time in his career to go along with a double-digit DRS.

7. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

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    Age: 24

    2016 Offensive: .294 BA, .802 OPS, 192 H, 56 XBH (21 HR), 89 RBI, 115 R

    2016 Defensive: -10 DRS, -2.8 UZR/150, 4.2 DEF

    WAR: 3.7

    Player Outlook

    Xander Bogaerts is another example of a highly touted shortstop prospect who didn't exactly light the world on fire when he first entered the league.

    The heavy favorite for AL Rookie of the Year honors at the start of 2014, he instead hit an uninspired .240/.297/.362 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI on his way to a 0.3 WAR.

    A year later he arrived as expected, hitting .320/.355/.421 with 35 doubles and 81 RBI to win Silver Slugger honors, despite the fact that his over-the-fence power disappeared and he hit just seven home runs in 654 plate appearances.

    The power fell into place last season with 34 doubles and 21 home runs for a career-best .802 OPS, and there's a good chance that's the type of production we'll see from the 24-year-old for the better part of the next decade.

    He's searching for a bit more consistency on the defensive side of things, but the tools are there for him to be an above-average defender as well.

6. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals

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    Age: 23

    2016 Offensive: .342 BA, .937 OPS, 105 H, 35 XBH (13 HR), 40 RBI, 53 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, -46.6 UZR/150, -0.3 DEF

    WAR: 3.5

    Player Outlook

    Just for fun, let's extrapolate Trea Turner's 73-game rookie performance over a full 162 games:

    • .342/.370/.567, 233 H, 31 2B, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 118 R, 73 SB, 7.8 WAR

    Not bad.

    A .388 BABIP and a .225 ISO are both unsustainable so some level of regression is coming, but the 23-year-old has legitimate superstar potential.

    A .300 average with 20 homers and 50 stolen bases is well within reach, and that's no small feat.

    In fact, only nine times in MLB history has such a season been recorded, with the most recent coming from Hanley Ramirez in 2007.

    After splitting last season between second base and center field, Turner will return to his natural position of shortstop following the offseason trade of Danny Espinosa.

5. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    2016 Offensive: .238 BA, .738 OPS, 125 H, 49 XBH (21 HR), 95 RBI, 67 R

    2016 Defensive: 19 DRS, 14.3 UZR/150, 21.9 DEF

    WAR: 4.3

    Player Outlook

    Did Addison Russell deserve to start the All-Star Game?


    Does that make him overrated?

    Absolutely not.

    The 23-year-old is already one of the game's elite defensive players, and he's just scratching the surface of his tremendous offensive potential.

    His .238 average wasn't anything to write home about, but do you know how many shortstops have posted a 20-homer, 90-RBI season before their age-23 campaign?


    If his huge month of August (.829 OPS, 7 HR, 23 RBI) is any indication, bigger and better things are coming for Russell in 2017.

4. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants

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    Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    2016 Offensive: .275 BA, .772 OPS, 152 H, 51 XBH (12 HR), 84 RBI, 67 R

    2016 Defensive: 19 DRS, 22.1 UZR/150, 28.0 DEF

    WAR: 4.5

    Player Outlook

    The starting shortstop for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Brandon Crawford has emerged as the latest homegrown star for the San Francisco Giants.

    The 30-year-old was in the lineup specifically for his glove in the early stages of his career, hitting .242 with a .669 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors.

    Then his OPS jumped from .713 to .782 in 2015 when he slugged a career-high 33 doubles and 21 home runs on his way to a 5.6 WAR, and with that, he's emerged as one of the best two-way players at the position.

    Crawford has won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards and he finished 12th in NL MVP voting last season, tops among Giants players.

    His offensive breakthrough earned him a six-year, $75 million extension last offseason, and that already looks like a steal for San Francisco.

3. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    2016 Offensive: .274 BA, .811 OPS, 158 H, 59 XBH (20 HR), 96 RBI, 76 R

    2016 Defensive: -3 DRS, -3.0 UZR/150, 4.7 DEF

    WAR: 5.9

    Player Outlook

    When you post an .811 OPS with 20 home runs and 96 RBI as a 21-year-old and it's widely considered to be a disappointing season, you know expectations are high.

    Carlos Correa was a popular pick to win AL MVP heading into last season, but the gaudy home run total that many were predicting after a 22-homer rookie season didn't happen.

    It will.

    This may seem like hyperbole, but Correa has as much raw power as anyone to ever set foot at the shortstop position—and that includes a young Alex Rodriguez.

    There's no reason to think he won't become a perennial 30-homer, 100-RBI producer in the middle of the Houston lineup, and the fact that he's already been so productive at such a young age only furthers the hype.

    Also, don't overlook what a season working with fellow Puerto Rico native and future Hall of Famer Carlos Beltran could do for the development of his game.

    Is there such a thing as a post-hype MVP?

    Count me in.

2. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Age: 22

    2016 Offensive: .308 BA, .877 OPS, 193 H, 71 XBH (26 HR), 72 RBI, 105 R

    2016 Defensive: 0 DRS, 11.1 UZR/150, 17.5 DEF

    WAR: 6.1

    Player Outlook

    Talk about a smooth transition to the majors.

    After hitting .337/.425/.561 in 113 plate appearances down the stretch in 2015 to seize the starting shortstop job heading into the postseason, Corey Seager was an overwhelming favorite for NL Rookie of the Year at the start of last season.

    Not only did he deliver on those expectations, but he emerged as a legitimate NL MVP candidate, ultimately finishing third in the voting.

    His 71 extra-base hits led all shortstops and were the second-most ever by a Los Angeles Dodgers rookie, which is saying something for a franchise that has won 17 Rookie of the Year awards.

    On top of his impressive offensive numbers, Seager was also stellar defensively, and that no doubt came as a surprise to those who expected the 6'4" slugger to move to third base in short order.

    Seager will be counted on to anchor the Dodgers lineup going forward alongside Joc Pederson, Justin Turner and up-and-coming prospects Cody Bellinger and Alex Verdugo.

1. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    2016 Offensive: .301 BA, .794 OPS, 182 H, 48 XBH (15 HR), 78 RBI, 99 R

    2016 Defensive: 17 DRS, 20.7 UZR/150, 27.8 DEF

    WAR: 5.7

    Player Outlook

    If we're building a team for the long haul, Carlos Correa and Corey Seager both have a higher ceiling than Francisco Lindor.

    But at this moment in time, Lindor is the best all-around shortstop in the game.

    The 23-year-old was never an offensive standout in the minors, and that includes an easily overlooked .284/.350/.402 line in Triple-A prior to his midseason promotion in 2015.

    That immediately changed when he reached the majors, as he hit .313/.353/.482 with 22 doubles, 12 home runs and 51 RBI in 99 games to finish second in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

    He then quickly silenced anyone calling for significant regression with an equally impressive first full season in the league that included his first All-Star Game, first Gold Glove and Platinum Glove honors and a ninth-place finish in AL MVP voting.

    The cherry on top was a terrific .310/.355/.466 line with three doubles and two home runs over 62 plate appearances in his first postseason action.

    The Cleveland Indians will enter the 2017 season with lofty expectations, and Lindor is expected to be the catalyst once again.

    Standard stats and WAR totals courtesy of Baseball Reference. Other advanced stats (DRS, UZR/150, BABIP, etc.) courtesy of FanGraphs. Contract information via Spotrac.