Francisco Lindor is the top pick
As the MLB season approaches, it's time for fantasy baseball players to prepare for their draft. Here's a look at the best shortstops for your fantasy baseball team, along with tiers to help you prioritize during your draft.
1. FRANCISCO LINDOR, INDIANS
At 24, Lindor was the first shortstop in history with at least 35 homers, 20 stolen bases and 40 doubles. That he’s still evolving as a hitter is evident from his peripherals, so his ultimate horizons are not yet defined. As his HR% doubled from 2015-16 to 2017-18, his AVG seeped 31 points, so that’s the final frontier.
2. MANNY MACHADO, PADRES
Coming off his preeminent showings in three of five fantasy categories — not to mention an all-important quantum improvement in strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.49) — Machado is inching closer to offensive maturity. Positioned at third base, he’d be Tier 1/No. 4.
3. TREA TURNER, NATIONALS
Turner forfeits a couple of dozen RBIs by batting high in the order. Otherwise, there is a distinct tradeoff between the two: The former projects to twice as many longballs and the latter to double the thefts. Trea’s pace of one steal every 2.7 games since 2016 is a windfall in this industry-wide slowdown to its lowest larceny rate since 1972.
4. TREVOR STORY, ROCKIES
Executing a simultaneous 54% improvement in his home run harvest (to 37) and 52-point hike in batting average (.291), Story was the deal of the century in many leagues. Even more unforeseen were the 27 stolen bases. Brace for a slight rollback, but not a critical one.
5. CARLOS CORREA, ASTROS
Septum surgery in November was just one more “deviation” from Correa’s projected arc to megastardom. Don’t panic. He’s only 24, and his 550-AB extrapolations to .277-25-96-83-10 look like something he could muster in 2019.
6. XANDER BOGAERTS, RED SOX
If you want the indemnity of vigorous stats in every column and can live without the truly big number in any of them, X Gon’ Give It To Ya. (Shout out to DMX.) Bogaerts shepherded everything together in 2018 for a .288-23-103-72-8 performance that only Javier Baez, Christian Yelich, Machado and Story could match.
7. COREY SEAGER, DODGERS
Seager is reportedly on track to open the season with no restrictions from either his Tommy John surgery of May or his August hip operation. If all the altered parts work, he should pick up where he left off as a four-star general in the contemporary army of young, monster-mashing shortstops. Since his 2015 debut, he leads all of them (1,500+ PAs) in AVG (.302), OBP (.372) and OPS (.866).
8. JEAN SEGURA, PHILLIES
Three years ago, when Segura went .319-20-64-102-33 with Arizona, it was deemed an aberration. It wasn’t; he’s backtracked only modestly since then. He’s the sole non-superstar to have batted .300-plus each of the last three years (Trout, Altuve and Freeman are the others), and now that he’s returned to a hitting environment, expect more power creep.
9. MARCUS SEMIEN, A’s
Kind of a poor man’s Bogaerts, Semien is particularly poor in batting average (.260 would be a good year), but his other four categories can be comparable in any given campaign. He’ll go for about half of X’s price at auction.
10. TIM ANDERSON, WHITE SOX
Anderson is becoming a stealth resource — the player you’d most likely leave off the list when asked to name 2018’s 20/20 men. His most triumphant achievement was coaxing 30 walks after only 26 in his first two seasons combined. Progress is progress.
11. WILLY ADAMES, RAYS
While it’s a leap of faith to go all in on a player with fewer than 100 games of experience, it was Adames’ final 52 that merit the conviction. Tottering along with a .196 AVG last July 29, the Rays’ top prospect — a payoff for David Price at last — ripped .330 with an .885 OPS afterwards.
12. ADALBERTO MONDESI, ROYALS
Adalberto has opted to drop the first name he shares with his dad Raul, but he might as well go by “Lazarus.” Flaking off prospect lists as he struggled to hit in the minors and waiting out a PED suspension, he detonated (.294-13-31-37-28) from July 10 on in 2018. Pops was called “The Buffalo”; he’s “The Cheetah.”
13. AMED ROSARIO, METS
The jury is still out on Rosario, but he won over some judges with a .285 AVG, 15 SBs and roughly half of his season’s HRs and RBIs after Aug. 1. To join the shortstop position’s brotherhood of youthful heavyweights, he needs to refurbish an approach that falls apart as he gets deeper into counts.
14. JOSE PERAZA, REDS
Buoyed by the National League’s highest contact rate at 88.1%, Peraza upgraded his utility from marginally playable to decently beneficial at .288-14-58-85-23. We suspect that will hold up as his career year for maybe ever.
15. ANDRELTON SIMMONS, ANGELS
Having attained personal bests with a .292 AVG and 75 RBIs to accompany (barely) double digits in HRs and SBs, Simmons has probably reached the crest of his wave — mid-list in mixed leagues, but better in the thinner AL shortstop contingent.
16. PAUL DEJONG, CARDINALS
We peg DeJong as one of five shortstops who can furnish at least 25 longballs, but compared to the others, his on-base baggage (.313 OBP) dulls three categories. He could correct that by staring at fewer strikes, since his swing-and-miss is league-average.
17. ELVIS ANDRUS, RANGERS
Andrus’ finest season in 2017 was succeeded by his worst, chiefly due to the first DL stint of his career. It’s understandable that a fractured elbow would mess with his swing, but why nine straight 20-swipe seasons dissipated into one of just five is less explicable.
18. JORGE POLANCO, TWINS
After completing his 80-game suspension in July, Polanco picked up where he left off in his 2017 mini-breakout. At just 25 and with parts of five seasons behind him, he retains a puncher’s chance of elevating his game.
19. LOURDES GURRIEL JR., BLUE JAYS
Gurriel’s rookie year was scattershot, but his 25-for-50 spurt (beyond which he hit .226) and streak of home runs in three straight at-bats served as coming attractions. There’s space for him in Toronto, but the Jays infield has a lot of moving parts that make it imperative for him to establish himself quickly.
20. DANSBY SWANSON, BRAVES
That Swanson has a high floor is something all can agree upon, but in the hallways of baseball power, his ceiling is a point of contention. His own power strengthened to average in 2018, although his average remained well below.
21. Nick Ahmed, Diamondbacks
22. Brandon Crawford, Giants
23. Orlando Arcia, Brewers
24. Luis Urias, Padres
25. Aledmys Diaz, Astros
26. Troy Tulowitzki, Yankees
27. Jordy Mercer, Tigers
28. Addison Russell, Cubs
29. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
30, Erik Gonzalez, Pirates
31. J.P. Crawford, Mariners
32. Scott Kingery, Phillies
33. Didi Gregorius, Yankees
34. Freddy Galvis, Blue Jays
35. Bo Bichette, Blue Jays
36. Jose Iglesias, Reds
37. Tim Beckham, Mariners
38. Yairo Munoz, Cardinals
39. Richie Martin, Orioles
40. JT Riddle, Marlins