2011 Fantasy Ranks: SS

Athlon presents the first release of its consensus fantasy rankings.

Athlon presents the first release of its consensus fantasy rankings.

While we still have over a month until voluntary report dates (Feb. 14th can’t get here quickly enough), it is never too early for fantasy owners to start digesting mock drafts, big boards and keeper options.

With that, Athlon Sports has perused the World Wide Web for the latest and greatest positional rankings and brought them together for a one-stop shop. Big media names like ESPN, CBS, Athlon Sports and Yahoo! were incorporated as well as a variety of smaller, yet no less insightful, sites like FantasyPhenoms.com, DeepLeagues.com, RotoChamp.com, HardballTimes.com and RotoProfessor.com.

Each site’s rankings — including Athlon’s own rankings, which will be released early in February — were compiled and averaged into one “consensus” ranking. (Age on Opening Day 2011)

1. Hanley Ramirez, FLA (27)
After a colossal 2009 season that included hitting career highs with a .342 average and 106 RBIs, Han-Ram seemingly loafed through the 2010 campaign — failing to score 100 runs for the first time ever and dipping below the .940 OPS mark for the first time since his Rookie of the Year breakout in 2006. Still, if last season’s “slump” is the worst-case scenario, chalk up Ramirez as the top shortstop in fantasy. After all, he’s entering his prime with a 30-30 HR-SB year as well as a 100-RBI effort already under his belt and a career .313 average over nearly 3,000 at-bats. If Ramirez puts it all together, he could be the most valuable player in fantasy.

2010 stats: 92 R, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 32 SB, .300/.853

2. Troy Tulowitzki, COL (26)
While Han-Ram has averaged 152 games over his five-year career, Tulo has played 150 games in just two of his first four seasons — playing 101 games in 2008 and just 122 last year. But Tulowitzki only needed three-quarters of a season to put up a full season’s worth of stats last year, thanks in large part to a 15-HR, 40-RBI month of September. And the Rockies decided that former Dirtbag’s bat — along with his glove and leadership — was worth a seven-year, $134 million contract extension this offseason. If Tulo can stay healthy, he may be nearly as valuable to fantasy owners.

2010 stats: 89 R, 27 HR, 95 RBI, 11 SB, .315/.949

3. Jose Reyes, NYM (27)
After plying in only 36 games due to a calf injury in 2009, the switch-hitting speedster bounced back with a solid 2010 season. Still, as expensive as Reyes is on draft day, Reyes’ owners would like to see a return to his 2005-08 heyday. During that four-year run, Reyes averaged 113 runs, 14 HR, 66 RBIs and 65 stolen bases. Reyes is still in his prime at 27, so it’s likely that he will return to his fantasy All-Star status.

2010 stats: 83 R, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 30 SB, .282/.749

4. Derek Jeter, NYY (36)
The Captain has played in at least 148 games in 14-of-15 seasons, scored 100 runs in 13-of-15, had 14 stolen bases in 13-of-15, hit 10 home runs in 15-of-15, had 66 RBIs in 14-of-15 and hit .290 in 14-of-15. But last season’s .270 average — following a .334, 18-HR, 66-RBI, 30-steal, 107-run campaign in 2009 — caused a contract-year panic. Call him “washed up” if you will, but keep in mind the value of a shortstop whose 15-year baseline has been 148 games, 100 runs, 10 homers, 66 RBIs, 14 steals and a .290 average.

2010 stats: 111 R, 10 HR, 67 RBI, 18 SB, .270/.710

5. Jimmy Rollins, PHI (32)
J-Roll had the worst season of his career, setting or matching career lows in games (88), at-bats (350), HR, RBIs, stolen bases, average and OPS. While Rollins may never return to his 2007 MVP form — when he hit .296 with 139 runs, 20 triples, 30 HRs, 94 RBIs and 41 steals — there is a great chance that, health permitting, he bounces back to the roughly .270-hitting, 100-run, 15-HR, 70-RBI, 30-SB guy fantasy fans enjoyed from 2001-09.

2010 stats: 48 R, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 17 SB, .243/.694

6. Elvis Andrus, TEX (22)
Elvis’ rocket arm and effervescent attitude make him a more valuable real ballplayer than fantasy contributor. Elvis will likely be a target for inflated fantasy expectations due to the fact that his impact on the diamond for the Rangers far outweighs his fantasy numbers in cyberspace. Right now, the 22-year-old is a pure speed threat with a chance to score 100 runs and steal 40 bags. An improvement on the .260 average would be nice, but don’t expect any power numbers from the Venezuelan wunderkind.

2010 stats: 88 R, 0 HR, 35 RBI, 32 SB, .265/.643

7. Alexei Ramirez, CHW (29)
The “Cuban Missile” has averaged 147 games, 73 runs, 18 HRs, 72 RBIs and 13 steals while hitting .283 over his first three seasons. There may be some room for improvement — with an outside shot at a 20-20 HR-SB year and/or an average approaching .300 — but a “what you see is what you get” scenario isn’t so bad, either. A middle class man’s Han-Ram, this Ramirez won’t cost you a first round pick but could man shortstop for a fantasy title team.

2010 stats: 83 R, 18 HR, 70 RBI, 13 SB, .282/.744

8. Stephen Drew, ARI (28)
J.D.’s little brother has been on a career roller coaster of batting averages (from .238 in 2007 to .291 in ’08 to .261 in ’09 to .278 last year). But Drew’s power has been fairly consistent, as the FSU product has averaged 16 HRs and 69 RBIs over four full seasons. Last season was the first time Drew has hit the 10-steal plateau after more than doubling his attempts (from six in both ’08 and ’09 to 15 last year). If he keeps running, Drew is a decent option once the bigger names are off the board.

2010 stats: 83 R, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 10 SB, .278/.810

9. Rafael Furcal, LAD (33)
Hamstring and back injuries have allowed Father Time to catch up with the speedy Furcal. Over the last three seasons, the aging shortstop has played in 283 games — 97 last year, 150 in ’09 and 36 in ’08 — but missed 203 contests due to nagging injuries. Last season, Furcal hit .333 with an .898 OPS, six HRs, 35 RBIs and 14 steals in 58 games before the All-Star break, then went .243, .702, two HRs, eight RBIs and eight steals in 39 games after the break. If you buy him on draft day, look to sell high in June or July.

2010 stats: 66 R, 8 HR, 43 RBI, 22 SB, .300/.826

10. Starlin Castro, CHC (21)
Starlin definitely has star power and could potentially be one of the steals in this year’s fantasy draft. Castro stole nine of his 10 bags and hit .322 after the break — absolutely raking in July and August (hitting .347 over 219 at-bats). The power may be a few years away, if it ever arrives. But Castro could be a Robinson Cano-style high-average hitter, who (unlike Cano) can steal 20 or more bases. The sky is the limit for young Castro.

2010 stats: 53 R, 3 HR, 41 RBI, 10 SB, .300/.755

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<p> Athlon scours the web to compile its first consensus fantasy MLB rankings for 2011. Today, we focus on Shortstops.</p>

11. Ian Desmond, WAS (25)
A third-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 2004, Desmond is finally producing at the big-league level; fantasy owners should be happy with a repeat of last year’s line.

2010 stats: 59 R, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 17 SB, .269/.700

12. Yunel Escobar, TOR (28)
After hitting .299 with 14 HRs, 76 RBIs and 89 runs in 2009, Escobar fell out of Bobby Cox’s favor and was shipped to Canada. A once promising career is now in doubt.

2010 stats: 60 R, 4 HR, 35 RBI, 6 SB, .256/.655

13. Marco Scutaro, BOS (35)
Slick-fielding Cuban defector Julio Iglesias will make a run at the shortstop spot in Boston during the spring. Either way, expect a decline in Scutaro’s numbers.

2010 stats: 92 R, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 5 SB, .275/.721

14. Juan Uribe, LAD (31)
The big-bopping utility man played 103 games at short, 26 games at third and 24 games at second for the Giants last year. Uribe also provides Furcal insurance.

2010 stats: 64 R, 24 HR, 85 RBI, 1 SB, .248/.749

15. Alex Gonzalez, ATL (34)
The other “A-Gon” hit 17 of his 23 homers in 85 games with the Blue Jays but only six shots in 72 games after being traded to the Braves.

2010 stats: 74 R, 23 HR, 88 RBI, 1 SB, .294/.741

16. Alcides Escobar, KC (24)
A key piece in the Zack Greinke deal, Escobar hit .328 with 34 steals in Double-A in 2008 and .298 with 42 steals in Triple-A in ’09 before his .235, 10-steal MLB rookie year.

2010 stats: 57 R, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 10 SB, .235/.614

17. Jhonny Peralta, DET (28)
Close your eyes and hope for another 20-HR season (23 in 2008, 21 in ’07, 24 in ’05). Hey, it could happen.

2010 stats: 60 R, 15 HR, 81 RBI, 1 SB, .249/.703

18. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE (25)
It’s always funny to draft a guy named Asdrubal; but it’s not funny to have a mediocre shortstop who can’t stay healthy.

2010 stats: 39 R, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 6 SB, .276/.673

19. Erick Aybar, LAA (27)
Aybar hit .312 in 2009 and .253 last year, but the steals have been steady (14 in ’09, 22 in ’10).

2010 stats: 69 R, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 22 SB, .253/.636

20. J.J. Hardy, BAL (28)
Only guys who owned Hardy in either 2007 (.277, 26 HRs, 80 RBIs) or ’08 (.283, 24 HRs, 74 RBIs) will even think about taking him in 2011.

2010 stats: 44 R, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB, .268/.714

** Rookies to watch: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, MIN; Grant Green, OAK; Jose Iglesias, BOS

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