2013 Positional Power Rankings: Shortstop

Due to an unfortunate data error, the numbers in this story did not include park factors upon publication. We have updated the data to include the park factors, and the data you see below is now correct. We apologize for the mistake.

What’s all this, then? For an explanation of this series, please read the introductory post. As noted in that introduction, the data is a hybrid projection of the ZIPS and Steamer systems with playing time determined through depth charts created by our team of authors. The rankings are based on aggregate projected WAR for each team at a given position.

A note on what you’re going to see below. Below, in accordance with the series, you’ll see all the teams ranked 1 through 30, based on projected shortstop WAR. The team ranked #1 will be in a much better position than the team ranked #30. That’s how rankings work. However, how much separation is there? Between #1 and #30, a lot. Between #1 and #2, a lot. Between #2 and…well here’s a chart I made:

shortstopsppr

In terms of projected shortstop WAR in 2013, the gap between #1 and #2 is bigger than the gap between #2 and #15. This isn’t, of course, great science, even if it is science. This isn’t, of course, how things are actually going to work out. But this gives you a sense of the spread, and it gives you a sense you shouldn’t care about the ranking as much as you care about the WAR. This, as you might realize, is one of the issues with prospect lists — the slope is never perfectly linear. As long as you know that going in, you won’t misinterpret what you see. Let’s get on now with the actual list, so you can see who’s #1, and who isn’t.

#1 Rockies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Troy Tulowitzki 525 .297 .371 .538 .384 21.1 -0.3 4.0 5.0
Reid Brignac 140 .238 .297 .337 .277 -6.4 0.0 0.4 0.0
Josh Rutledge 35 .286 .325 .459 .337 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .285 .354 .493 .360 14.8 -0.2 4.3 5.2

This is, probably, not going to be a very special year for the Colorado Rockies. If this is to be a special year for the Colorado Rockies, however, it’ll have to do in large part with this position. Last year, due to injury, Tulowitzki got into just 47 games. This year, recovered in spring, he’s experienced no setbacks, and over the course of his career this is a guy who’s averaged nearly 5 WAR per 600 plate appearances. Since 2009, he’s averaged nearly 6 WAR per 600 plate appearances. Tulo is amazing, and he gives the Rockies something no other team has. There are questions about the depth behind him, but there are questions about the depth behind every starting shortstop, and if the Rockies are lucky, they won’t need to call on this depth that much.

#2 Blue Jays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jose Reyes 490 .293 .350 .447 .341 9.6 1.6 -2.3 3.2
Maicer Izturis 175 .266 .330 .368 .307 -1.3 0.1 -0.5 0.6
Emilio Bonifacio 35 .256 .321 .336 .291 -0.7 0.2 -0.2 0.1
Total 700 .285 .344 .421 .330 7.5 1.9 -3.1 3.9

Jose Reyes just played in 160 games. Historically, he hasn’t been quite that durable, but Izturis is a hell of a substitute, and of course when Reyes is healthy and playing, there aren’t a lot of things he can’t do. He just tripled a dozen times while drawing more walks than he had strikeouts. The Blue Jays are being talked about as a potential American League East favorite, and the trade with the Marlins is a big reason why, because Reyes is a big-time player at a big-time position. Having R.A. Dickey doesn’t hurt, and having all the other talent doesn’t hurt either, but there aren’t many shortstops like Reyes, and the Blue Jays are banking on that.

#3 Nationals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ian Desmond 595 .270 .317 .432 .323 4.0 0.8 0.3 3.3
Danny Espinosa 56 .237 .311 .400 .308 -0.3 0.0 0.4 0.3
Steve Lombardozzi 49 .265 .316 .367 .299 -0.6 0.0 0.1 0.2
Total 700 .267 .317 .425 .320 3.1 0.8 0.8 3.7

Desmond was just a 5.4-WAR player, in only 130 games. That is outstanding! He also doubled his power output and struck out nearly four times for every unintentional walk. So the forecasts are seeing a step back, even though they still think Desmond is a hell of a player. Of note is that his swing rate jumped from 45% to 54%. There was a change in approach, behind Desmond’s change in performance, and that might lead one to think it’s more sustainable. If it is, the Nationals will be even better. If Desmond regresses, the Nationals’ shortstop situation will be only quite good.

#4 Indians


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Asdrubal Cabrera 595 .271 .336 .423 .330 9.1 0.0 -4.5 3.2
Mike Aviles 91 .260 .296 .392 .299 -0.9 0.0 0.3 0.4
Juan Diaz 14 .234 .276 .350 .275 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .269 .330 .418 .324 7.8 0.0 -4.1 3.6

There’s not much question about Cabrera’s offensive level. However, shortstops don’t only play offense, and Cabrera’s defending is a little more of a mystery. According to UZR, for his career, he’s been about 34 runs below average. According to DRS, for his career, he’s been about one run above average. What you’re seeing here is a negative defensive projection, but depending on your belief, you might think he should be more negative or more positive. So this 4th ranking comes with error bars, but what’s most important is that, for the Indians, shortstop isn’t a problem. Cabrera swings a solid bat, and that establishes a high baseline.

#5 Cubs


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Starlin Castro 595 .293 .337 .440 .333 6.8 -0.1 -0.9 3.4
Brent Lillibridge 56 .220 .283 .336 .273 -2.1 0.1 -0.1 0.0
Luis Valbuena 49 .246 .322 .381 .308 -0.4 -0.1 -0.2 0.2
Total 700 .284 .332 .428 .327 4.3 -0.1 -1.2 3.6

Castro seldom walks, he’s prone to lapses in the field, and he isn’t much of an effective stolen-base threat. It is beyond easy to focus on the things that Starlin Castro doesn’t do well. But he’s a contact hitter with increasing power who plays a fine shortstop and who’s days away from turning just 23 years old. Last season he played in every game, and the season before he very nearly did the same. Castro might be one of those guys who frustrates because he doesn’t perform at his perceived ceiling, but his actual performance level is great, even if he doesn’t improve. And there’s reason to believe he’s improving.

#6 Rangers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Elvis Andrus 651 .277 .349 .366 .318 -3.7 1.9 5.6 3.4
Leury Garcia 28 .255 .296 .349 .281 -1.0 0.1 0.1 0.0
Jurickson Profar 21 .255 .327 .399 .315 -0.2 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .276 .346 .367 .317 -4.9 2.0 5.7 3.5

The Rangers project very well at shortstop, and their top prospect — one of the very top prospects in baseball — is a shortstop, and the prospect isn’t far off. The Rangers, in this way, are fortunate ones. Andrus owns a career major-league OPS of .695. He owns a career minor-league OPS of .704. There exists some possibility that his offense has already more or less topped out. But he’s still just 24, so there could be more power, and even with things as is, Andrus isn’t a guy to complain about. Andrus, rather, is a competitive advantage, and a core part of a solid team.

#7 Rays


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Yunel Escobar 595 .260 .329 .359 .304 -2.1 -0.5 2.6 2.8
Ben Zobrist 70 .261 .363 .441 .348 2.2 0.0 0.3 0.6
Sean Rodriguez 35 .232 .310 .380 .303 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.2
Total 700 .259 .331 .368 .308 0.0 -0.5 3.1 3.5

We know that Escobar is durable, and we know that Escobar is well above average in the field. Those are the certainties, but Escobar’s offense has been all over the map and of course there’s the rest of the package to take into consideration. If you figure that, at the plate, Escobar splits the middle, he’ll be fine, and the Rays won’t have to worry about their shortstop performance. They’ll have to worry about their shortstop’s other things, but here we’re not projecting attitude. Here we care about numbers, and the Rays care about numbers, and the Rays acquired Escobar on purpose. There are far worse shortstops, probably.

#8 Dodgers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Hanley Ramirez 490 .269 .341 .444 .337 11.3 0.6 -5.4 2.9
Dee Gordon 105 .255 .300 .316 .271 -3.1 0.5 -1.0 0.1
Nick Punto 105 .230 .323 .316 .288 -1.7 0.1 0.6 0.4
Total 700 .261 .332 .406 .320 6.5 1.1 -5.7 3.4

At issue here is how much Hanley Ramirez actually plays at shortstop, given the Dodgers’ third-base situation. Behind Ramirez, Gordon is a player people have loved who doesn’t project well at all, because he hasn’t performed well at all. Punto is adequate defensively and versatile and can’t hit for any beans. Ramirez is clearly a bat-first player who isn’t going to slug in the .500s anymore, but as someone who can post a well above-average wRC+, he works as an offense-first shortstop. And there might be something to his playing better away from the Marlins, in a more competitive setting.

#9 Phillies


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jimmy Rollins 595 .255 .322 .412 .318 1.3 1.8 0.3 3.1
Freddy Galvis 70 .253 .290 .370 .289 -1.5 -0.1 0.6 0.2
Yuniesky Betancourt 35 .257 .286 .388 .287 -0.8 0.0 -0.4 0.0
Total 700 .255 .317 .406 .313 -1.0 1.6 0.5 3.4

What we have here is a contact-hitting starting shortstop with some power and terrific defense. Rollins was just a five-win player, and before that he was a four-win player. One concern is that his strikeout rate just jumped. A bigger concern is that he’s 34 years old, which is the oldest he’s ever been. You can’t predict when an aging middle infielder is going to start going downhill in a hurry. But most recently Rollins was great, and what matters the most is what happened most recently. Rollins could realistically be better than this, which would help propel the Phillies into legitimate contention.

#10 Orioles


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.J. Hardy 595 .255 .304 .422 .312 -3.2 -0.6 6.3 3.0
Alexi Casilla 84 .249 .306 .339 .283 -2.4 0.3 -0.2 0.1
Manny Machado 21 .252 .312 .415 .315 -0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .254 .305 .412 .309 -5.7 -0.3 6.2 3.3

This is a somewhat lofty standing for a team whose starting shortstop just posted a .282 OBP. But the first time Hardy posted a wRC+ in the 70s, he came back with a wRC+ of 103. The next time Hardy posted a wRC+ in the 70s, he came back with a wRC+ of 94. His career level is 95, he’s not old, and his profile isn’t different. Hardy’s a good defensive shortstop with power, and that gives the Orioles an above-average position player at a critical position. Even without walks, even without a good BABIP, Hardy makes it work. And he just played in 158 games, easing some concerns about his durability.

#11 Athletics


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Hiroyuk Nakajima 420 .272 .328 .377 .308 -1.2 -0.6 0.3 1.8
Jed Lowrie 245 .250 .330 .418 .325 2.7 -0.2 -0.8 1.3
Adam Rosales 35 .236 .298 .363 .288 -0.7 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .263 .327 .390 .313 0.9 -0.9 -0.6 3.2

On one hand, this is tricky — Nakajima is a fresh import, and we don’t know what he’s going to do as an everyday player. At present, his stock in spring training is sinking, but it’s just spring training, and Ichiro didn’t impress in his first spring training, either. So Nakajima might be perfectly fine. If he isn’t, that would be bad news, but the A’s have Lowrie as positional insurance. If Nakajima is a disaster, the A’s won’t play that much Nakajima at shortstop, helping to mitigate their downside. Not that Lowrie has historically been the most durable, reliable player, and after him things get messy, but this isn’t an awful setup. And Nakajima could hit, and/or field.

#12 Braves


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Andrelton Simmons 595 .276 .324 .384 .308 -3.2 -0.8 5.5 2.9
Paul Janish 84 .231 .301 .320 .277 -2.6 0.0 0.4 0.2
Ramiro Pena 21 .238 .296 .310 .268 -0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .270 .321 .375 .303 -6.5 -0.8 6.0 3.1

Here’s a case with a lot of upside, because just last season Simmons was worth 2.2 WAR in fewer than 200 plate appearances. He didn’t hit a lot in the minors, and the projections foresee an offensive decline from last year’s level, but offense also isn’t Simmons’ calling card. This defensive projection is likely modest, as Simmons might be the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Right now, he might be a defensive +15, raising him another win. And if he actually hits a little, suddenly he’s a borderline star player at a young age. This is one of the reasons why the Braves might be able to keep up with the Nationals.

#13 Angels


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Erick Aybar 595 .276 .320 .395 .311 0.5 1.4 -0.6 2.9
Andrew Romine 91 .244 .302 .319 .276 -2.5 0.0 -0.1 0.2
Luis Rodriguez 14 .252 .328 .354 .300 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .271 .318 .385 .306 -2.0 1.4 -0.8 3.1

Aybar’s not a mystery. He’s going to make contact with almost everything, he’s going to put balls in play on the ground, and he’s going to run. He’s going to field his position with competence, and he’s going to play most of the time, which is good, given the lack of ability behind him. That Aybar doesn’t walk is offset by the fact that Aybar doesn’t really strike out, and his modest power/speed combo makes him acceptably solid. Aybar is a very classically Angels player, and, classically, the Angels were good.

#14 Tigers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jhonny Peralta 595 .259 .322 .406 .315 -1.1 -1.7 2.8 2.7
Ramon Santiago 105 .249 .316 .347 .292 -2.2 -0.2 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .257 .321 .397 .312 -3.3 -1.8 2.8 3.0

The Tigers spent some of the offseason searching for a shortstop upgrade, but ultimately they settled on keeping the guy they already had. The guy they already had is perfectly adequate, and though there are questions about his defense, he has reportedly worked himself into better shape at a reduced weight. There’s nothing outstanding about Jhonny Peralta, but there’s also nothing disastrous, so an upgrade wasn’t necessary for a team that plans to contend. Peralta ought to be a player who doesn’t hold the Tigers back.

#15 Reds


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Zack Cozart 595 .251 .299 .396 .301 -7.9 0.6 4.4 2.4
Jason Donald 105 .240 .308 .368 .299 -1.6 0.0 -0.5 0.3
Total 700 .249 .300 .392 .301 -9.5 0.6 3.9 2.7

Cozart is projected to be just about identical to what he was last season, when he was worth 2.7 WAR in 600 plate appearances. There’s not a lot of discipline here — Cozart finished with 113 strikeouts and 31 walks — and that’s reflected in his low projected OBP, but Cozart does make above-average contact and he helps himself and the team in the field. We’re at the section of these rankings where the players are fine without being super helpful or super troublesome. That describes Cozart, and thus that describes the Reds’ shortstop situation. If Cozart gets injured, look out. If just about any starting shortstop in the league gets injured, look out.

#16 White Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alexei Ramirez 595 .267 .309 .391 .304 -8.5 0.0 3.9 2.3
Angel Sanchez 105 .261 .324 .344 .295 -2.2 -0.1 -0.4 0.2
Total 700 .266 .312 .384 .303 -10.8 -0.1 3.5 2.5

There was a time that Ramirez was a legitimate star, even if nobody knew about it. Dave Cameron once wrote about how Ramirez might’ve been the best shortstop in the American League. But last year, though Ramirez was healthy, he lost almost all of his walks and he additionally lost a chunk of his power without making any gains. Now he’s more into his 30s and we may simply be observing the decline of a quality player. The projections see a bit of an offensive bounceback, which the White Sox would appreciate, but Ramirez probably isn’t the player he was. Eventually, they never are. Ramirez is simply fine enough.

#17 Padres


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Everth Cabrera 525 .241 .315 .324 .285 -7.8 3.4 -1.4 1.8
Logan Forsythe 105 .242 .330 .355 .304 0.0 0.1 -0.8 0.4
Alexi Amarista 70 .252 .294 .369 .288 -0.9 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Total 700 .242 .315 .333 .288 -8.7 3.4 -2.3 2.4

Cabrera isn’t a great defender, he doesn’t make a ton of contact, and he doesn’t hit for power since he puts almost everything on the ground. He’s not all that young, and he’s saved by the fact that he can walk and that he gets a park adjustment from Petco. He’s also saved by the fact that he doesn’t have a quality backup, as Forsythe isn’t a shortstop for a good team. Cabrera has averaged 1.4 WAR per 600 plate appearances over his modest career, and I think that gets the right point across. If you don’t know a lot about Everth Cabrera, you probably won’t need to.

#18 Mets


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ruben Tejada 560 .267 .328 .340 .296 -6.1 -0.3 2.3 2.2
Omar Quintanilla 119 .241 .305 .353 .285 -2.4 -0.1 -0.3 0.2
Brandon Hicks 21 .207 .282 .356 .279 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .261 .323 .343 .294 -9.1 -0.4 1.9 2.4

Young shortstop, contact, limited power, defensive adequacy. I’m getting tired of writing about this although in fairness I’ve been sitting in one spot in a hotel lobby for hours and I might be in need of a break. (Ed. note: upon updating this post, the ranking order shifted, so the caption order shifted, so that explains why this caption began as it did. I have chosen to include this note instead of just changing the caption into something else.) Last season Tejada doubled his career home-run total, by hitting one. He had some injury problems but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be fragile or not down the road. He is patient, so he has the ability to draw a walk, but pitchers don’t have many reasons to walk him. Tejada’s a startable player who’s also an upgrade-able player.

#19 Brewers


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jean Segura 595 .272 .321 .388 .307 -4.1 1.5 -2.3 2.2
Alex Gonzalez 70 .238 .280 .380 .286 -1.6 -0.1 0.0 0.1
Jeff Bianchi 35 .256 .304 .342 .282 -0.9 0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .268 .316 .385 .303 -6.7 1.4 -2.3 2.4

Last year, Segura was legitimately above average in double-A at 22. But he was in double-A, and his major-league experience was far from particularly impressive. He put two-thirds of his balls in play on the ground, and he doesn’t have much power or extraordinary defensive ability. Segura is something of a low-ceiling shortstop, made more remarkable by his age and historical prospect hype. That he makes contact keeps him from being an offensive nightmare but this year, at shortstop, the Brewers are striving for adequacy.

#20 Pirates


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Clint Barmes 560 .237 .292 .359 .283 -12.5 -0.7 6.0 1.8
Josh Harrison 105 .262 .303 .380 .298 -1.1 0.0 -0.2 0.3
Jordy Mercer 35 .241 .294 .373 .292 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .241 .294 .363 .286 -14.2 -0.8 5.8 2.3

One year Clint Barmes posted a .342 wOBA. The next year he knocked 23 dingers. Barmes isn’t on the Rockies anymore, and now he’s 34 years old. His last three years look like Brendan Ryan’s last three years, and you’ll notice you haven’t yet seen Brendan Ryan and the Mariners on this list. Barmes is gifted in the field, and that’s the reason he stays in the lineup, but you wonder how much more he might’ve been able to accomplish had he not elected to play all the time with a partially broken bat. You can use another bat, Clint Barmes. Some bats aren’t broken and terrible. For the record, this is a substantial projected wOBA bounceback. Last year was really bad.

#21 Royals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alcides Escobar 595 .271 .315 .370 .298 -8.4 2.0 -0.8 2.0
Elliot Johnson 91 .246 .303 .366 .294 -1.6 0.0 -0.5 0.2
Irving Falu 14 .266 .309 .351 .289 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .268 .313 .369 .297 -10.3 2.0 -1.3 2.2

Young shortstop, contact, groundballs, defensive adequacy. We’ve already talked about this sort of player, and it’s a safe sort of player without wild, lofty upside. Escobar should be steady for the Royals, and he should stay on the field, but he’ll be as good as his batting average and his career mark is .266. Considered a part of the Royals’ young core, Escobar isn’t about to make or break what the Royals hope will be a competitive season. He’s a guy at a critical spot, but he’s not a critical player.

#22 Giants


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Crawford 595 .238 .302 .353 .286 -10.7 -1.4 4.5 2.0
Joaquin Arias 70 .259 .294 .360 .282 -1.5 0.1 -0.2 0.2
Tony Abreu 35 .255 .289 .373 .289 -0.6 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .241 .300 .354 .286 -12.8 -1.4 4.3 2.2

Young shortstop, limited power, below-average contact offset by above-average defense. Crawford is a defensive specialist who isn’t a complete offensive black hole, thanks to his ability to draw the occasional walk and drill the occasional extra-base hit. Crawford did get better at the plate in the second half, jumping from a .271 wOBA to a .300 wOBA. That wasn’t a BABIP thing, so Crawford might have a little life. But his strengths and his weaknesses are very well known. This is not the guy who’s going to carry the Giants’ lineup, nor would anyone ever make that accusation.

#23 Yankees


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Derek Jeter 490 .283 .342 .378 .316 -0.9 -0.5 -4.2 1.7
Eduardo Nunez 175 .266 .309 .366 .294 -3.5 0.5 -1.3 0.3
Jayson Nix 35 .226 .293 .387 .296 -0.6 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .276 .331 .375 .310 -5.0 0.0 -5.7 2.1

It’s Derek Jeter! Now 38 years old and recovering from injury. He’s still projected to be a decent bat, but he’s projected to be a worse bat, and his defense isn’t improving. Note the playing time, as well — Jeter might see significant time at designated hitter, with Eduardo Nunez filling in. There’s life in Nunez’s bat but there isn’t a lot else to his overall skillset. Nix is a guy who might be on the team at some point. If Jeter comes back and looks something like his old self it’ll be laughable that they once ranked #23 on this list, but he is old and he was just hurt, and he’s Derek Jeter in the field. This probably isn’t a team strength.

#24 Red Sox


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Stephen Drew 490 .249 .325 .391 .313 -3.7 -0.7 -0.8 1.7
Pedro Ciriaco 154 .263 .284 .358 .277 -5.6 0.2 0.4 0.2
Jose Iglesias 56 .253 .302 .315 .274 -2.2 0.1 0.6 0.1
Total 700 .252 .314 .377 .302 -11.4 -0.4 0.2 2.0

One time, Drew slugged .502. One other time, Drew was worth 5.1 WAR. One of those times was 2008, and the other of those times was 2010. The forecasts haven’t completely forgotten about Drew’s performance upside, but it’s been a while, and Drew also doesn’t have durability on his side. Behind Drew, Ciriaco doesn’t have much of anything on his side, and as much as the Red Sox love Iglesias’ defense, that’s how much nobody likes Iglesias’ bat. You could say this is a volatile position for Boston, but this spot in the rankings seems just about appropriate. Other teams have far better situations, even if Boston’s isn’t the worst.

#25 Diamondbacks


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Cliff Pennington 560 .256 .319 .374 .304 -8.5 0.5 1.0 1.9
Willie Bloomquist 91 .264 .304 .350 .286 -2.7 -0.3 -0.8 0.0
Didi Gregorius 49 .264 .303 .384 .296 -1.1 -0.1 0.2 0.1
Total 700 .258 .316 .371 .301 -12.2 0.1 0.4 2.0

A big deal was made about the Diamondbacks trading for Gregorius, but right now he’s not going to be their starter. He’s also presumably not ready to be their starter, which makes it a good thing they have Pennington around. Pennington just slugged .311, which is awful, and he had Brendan Ryan’s wRC+, but that was basically all BABIP so Pennington should bounce back some. He stands to be an uninteresting part of a very interesting team, but at least he shouldn’t be a black hole. Willie Bloomquist is now 35 years old. He just got caught stealing ten times in 17 attempts. Now you know those things about Willie Bloomquist.

#26 Mariners


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brendan Ryan 560 .225 .295 .307 .268 -17.0 0.7 7.1 1.6
Robert Andino 119 .230 .295 .322 .275 -3.0 -0.1 -0.4 0.2
Carlos Triunfel 21 .246 .287 .336 .273 -0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .226 .295 .310 .270 -20.5 0.6 6.6 1.8

As it was with Clint Barmes, so it is with Brendan Ryan. Ryan is a fantastic defensive shortstop, even at his age, but he offers nothing at the plate aside from his occasional ability to coax a walk. There will be stretches where he looks productive because he hits for a decent average, but his average will be empty, and unless tweaks to his swing make a real difference, he’s going to hit a maddening amount of pop-ups. The Mariners like Andino some and he’ll get time if and when Eric Wedge finds Ryan obnoxious, but if the Mariners could tolerate Ryan’s bat before because of his defense, then he’ll find time with something of a bounceback. Half of the time, Ryan is a real treat to watch. Half of the time, Ryan’s when you get up to use the restroom or make a phone call.

#27 Astros


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ronny Cedeno 385 .241 .295 .355 .282 -9.7 -0.1 -0.1 0.7
Marwin Gonzalez 245 .252 .299 .346 .282 -6.1 -0.5 -0.1 0.4
Jake Elmore 70 .256 .338 .331 .299 -0.8 0.0 -0.2 0.2
Total 700 .246 .301 .350 .284 -16.7 -0.6 -0.4 1.4

The original blurb here talked about a brewing competition between Marwin Gonzalez and Tyler Greene. Since then, the Astros have grabbed Cedeno, and it looks like Greene won’t make the roster. Cedeno was dropped by the Cardinals, who prefer Pete Kozma. So that says a lot about Ronny Cedeno. Gonzalez is pretty much exactly what you think he is, and he might end up getting a lot of time. Whatever happens, shortstop isn’t going to be a strength for the Astros, because the Astros aren’t going to have strengths. They’ll have relative strengths, to the rest of the positions on the Astros. So there’s that going for them.

#28 Marlins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adeiny Hechavarria 560 .251 .292 .353 .281 -15.2 -0.6 0.7 1.0
Donovan Solano 70 .258 .304 .341 .283 -1.8 0.0 0.2 0.2
Nick Green 70 .238 .290 .357 .280 -2.0 -0.1 -0.4 0.1
Total 700 .251 .293 .352 .282 -18.9 -0.6 0.4 1.2

Hechavarria’s young and he’s been a decent prospect, but his triple-A numbers are inflated by the ballpark environment and his approach is going to limit his offensive upside. He posted a .637 OPS in double-A, and a .509 OPS in single-A, and he just put up a .645 OPS in a big-league cup of coffee. As always, there’s upside for Hechavarria to be a half-decent non-power hitter, but without incredible defense he looks like he could be fringey, so, basically, hey, the Marlins are near the bottom at another position. Stop the internet presses. Additionally, move minor-league teams away from Las Vegas.

#29 Cardinals


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Pete Kozma 525 .227 .285 .322 .265 -19.3 -0.2 2.2 0.6
Daniel Descalso 175 .253 .324 .360 .298 -1.9 0.0 -0.7 0.5
Total 700 .233 .295 .331 .273 -21.1 -0.2 1.5 1.2

The Cardinals insist they’re happy with Kozma for the time being, what with Rafael Furcal now unavailable. Kozma is coming off an impressive cup of coffee. Something I didn’t know is that Kozma is a former first-round pick, having been selected 18th in 2007, but something I did know is that Kozma posted a .610 OPS in triple-A over nearly a thousand trips to the plate. He’s at .652 in his minor-league career, with decent power but not much else. He’s not a whiz, laterally or with the glove, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cardinals shortly re-enter the shortstop trade market. They could potentially be stubborn, or Kozma could potentially impress, because what we’re thinking about are averages and half the time the average is beat. But Kozma’s short-term track record doesn’t match up with his long-term track record, and it’s the long-term track records that are most meaningful. The Cardinals intend to be good, and shortstop could easily be a real problem for them.

#30 Twins


Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Pedro Florimon 525 .234 .290 .333 .275 -16.4 -0.8 -0.5 0.6
Jamey Carroll 105 .267 .341 .330 .301 -1.1 -0.1 0.2 0.4
Eduardo Escobar 70 .242 .285 .337 .273 -2.3 -0.1 0.3 0.1
Total 700 .239 .297 .333 .279 -19.9 -1.0 0.0 1.0

Florimon was once a waiver grab, and he’s a 26-year-old with a .675 minor league OPS. He didn’t hit in the majors, but he did field a bit and the Twins don’t have superior options so here’s Florimon again, standing to get a ton of playing time. He’s coming off one home run and 58% groundballs, which tells you plenty. To his credit, he’s not a hacker, and he is good with the glove, but this is another low-OBP, low-slugging middle infielder who’s going to look okay during the stretches when he’s hitting .275. Try not to think about when he isn’t in one of those stretches.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


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Ty
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Ty
3 years 5 months ago

That darn short stop position…. I’m glad Mo didn’t sell the farm to get a shortstop, but dang! We have to do better than this

Sparkles Peterson
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Sparkles Peterson
3 years 5 months ago

Not expecting any moves to shore up SS. The kind of upgrade that would make the Cardinals equal to the Reds in projections would cost a fortune. Mozeliak’s M.O. is going to mid-season with the grab bag he’s got and looking at upgrades when he knows whether or not he should be going for it this season. Obviously we’d rather he go all in on the team now, but don’t expect it.

Josh
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Josh
3 years 5 months ago

Why is Ryan Jackson never even an afterthought for the Cards? He’s a better hitter than Kozma, certainly, and his defense is superior as well. Is he secretly a Cubs fan or something?

Sparkles Peterson
Guest
Sparkles Peterson
3 years 5 months ago

Apparently the front office was extremely nonplussed with his defense in Memphis and St. Louis. I have to imagine that he’s a better defender than Pete Kozma (As is anyone who can keep his head out of his ass for a 9 inning stretch), but they disagree.

Unfortunately, the fact that the Cardinals are focused on Kozma’s defensive tools, and not the fact that he’s a screw-up in the field, doesn’t bode well for Greg Garcia ever getting a shot.

BookBook
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BookBook
3 years 5 months ago

Nonplussed doesn’t mean not impressed. I take that back: “totally befuddled” makes sense.

Sparkles Peterson
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Sparkles Peterson
3 years 5 months ago

Well, I meant they were unhappily surprised more than unimpressed so I used “nonplussed,” but admittedly it’s an awkward turn of phrase.

Basically, what I’ve heard is that they got nothing but raves about his defense in the lower minors. Then he got to Memphis, their most trusted talent evaluators got a look at him, and now the front office is convinced that he can’t play shortstop at this level.

Bryce
Member
Bryce
3 years 5 months ago

Is anyone else not getting this series on RSS? I hadn’t seen any power ranking posts since the intro before I checked the main page this morning.

King of the Byelorussian Square Dancers
Guest

I heard Google stopped supporting RSS, maybe that’s it?

Jaack
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Jaack
3 years 5 months ago

I’m going to make a guess that there will be at least one outraged Braves fan about Andrelton Simmons being ranked 12th, and not as supreme overlord of all Shortstops.

bballislife17
Member
bballislife17
3 years 5 months ago

Dear Jeff,

Is Andrelton Simmons the best defensive SS of all time or just the best defensive SS of our generation?

Sincerely,

Every Braves Fan

Anon21
Guest
Anon21
3 years 5 months ago

As Jeff says, there’s a lot of upside there. He’s going to blow through that fielding projection sometime in May, so as long as he’s not hurting the team with his bat (relative to a league-average shortstop) he should be an above-average player, borderline All-Star.

That said, I’m certainly not outraged. Projection systems have a hard time with players who have little major-league experience, and everyone has a hard time projecting and measuring defense. If Simmons is able to maintain his ridiculous defense from 2012* over a full season, the Braves should be comfortably in the top 5 in the next edition of these rankings.

*And that’s not taking his advanced fielding stats at face value. Regress the hell out of them, and you’ve still got game-changing defense.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

There are perfectly rational reasons to think the projection systems are underselling Andrelton here. As the author himself discusses, they could very well being underselling his defensive value. If you think 12-15 runs saved is more realistic, you’re already up to the second highest projected WAR among SS, which is kind of the point Braves fans have been trying to make that some FG readers seem to take such offense to.

Additionally, there are strong arguments to be made for both his projected baserunning value and offensive value being underrated. As far as baserunning, he was a +1.4 in less than 1/3 of a season last year, but they have him falling to -0.8 in the projections. Offensively, the systems can’t really consider his rapid progress over the past 3 years, from being drafted as a pitcher because his hitting was considered so raw to being roughly league average at the plate in the majors last year. As an international player that went the route of playing JuCo ball in the US there aren’t a whole lot of points of comparison for what to expect development wise as the only other guys I know of who went that route is Pujols (and no I’m not implying Simmons will be anything like Pujols offensively).

Jay
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Jay
3 years 5 months ago

You started that comment trying to argue that Braves fans weren’t overrating Simmons, then you insisted that he will beat his projections in offense, defense and baserunning… and then you ended with a Pujols comparison.

Anon21
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Anon21
3 years 5 months ago

The Pujols thing is just dumb. Learn to read.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

No I didn’t. Try reading my comment again, especially the first sentence.

“There are perfectly rational reasons to think the projection systems are underselling Andrelton here.”

Those are just the rational reasons to think the systems may be underselling Simmons. That doesn’t mean I’m saying he will definitely outperform his projections in all 3 categories.

And like I said, because I knew someone would willfully disregard the purpose of the Pujols comparison, I’m not saying they will be anything alike offensively. I was only comparing them from a developmental standpoint, as they are the only 2 foreign players I know of who were drafted out of American junior colleges.

Jaack
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Jaack
3 years 5 months ago

My original point was comedic, but I’ll bite.

First, assuming anyone is a 12-15 run defender already shaky. 5 shortstops, including Simmons, broke the 10 run line last year, the others being Brendan Ryan, Clint Barmes, JJ Hardy, and Jamey Carroll. Ryan, who has a considerable defensive reputation, has had only 2 of his last four seasons break the 10 win line. Barmes’ best season before last was in 2009 with a 8.7 run season. Throughout his career, he has also had many seasons in the 2.5-3.5 run range. Carroll had an 11.6 defensive run season in 2006, but also had a -5.1 run season in 2011. JJ Hardy is probably the best case scenario, and he has a career UZR/150 of 10.9, still considerably below that 12-15 run range you state.

While 5.5 runs may be a little low, projecting any shortstop for 12-15 runs is pretty insane.

And this is all assuming that Simmons meets and/or exceeds his batting projections. Last season, Simmons had an ISO of .127 and a 6.6% BB rate. While this is obviously a small sample size, there is nothing in his minor league background to suggest anything better. In 2011 he had a .097 ISO and a 5.1 BB% in Lynchburg. Without power or walks, his offensive value becomes more BABIP dependant. You say that the systems can’t consider his rapid progress, but you offer no real evidence to say he can improve as a hitter beyond what he is right now.

What are the rational reasons for his offense improving. One anecdotal reason involving one of the greatest players of this generation is pretty weak. While his path to the majors may somewhat resemble that of Albert Pujols, it proves nothing.

Finally, his baserunning might also be projected a bit low, but he’s not a good enough baserunner to get anything higher than maybe 3 runs that way.

If you give him an extra 6 runs from defense and baserunning over his projection, and assume he keeps up his offensive pace, he’s still about a 3.5 win player. And that’s good, but not as good as many Braves fans are saying. And that is a best case scenario.

Anon21
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Anon21
3 years 5 months ago

Why is Hardy the best-case scenario? Brendan Ryan has a career UZR/150 of 12.2 at shortstop. And given Simmons’ age, he might well be expected to put up a truly ridiculous number that would not make sense if extrapolated out to a full career, but is plausible for an amazing defender in the prime of his skills.

Baserunning and offense, I agree that some fellow Braves fans are expecting too much. I’ll be happy if he manages to carry a league-average stick for a shortstop. Even if he’s a below-average offensive player for his position, he’s an above-average player overall.

Jaack
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Jaack
3 years 5 months ago

Expecting truly ridiculous numbers? I could see Simmons breaking 12 runs at SS a couple of years in along career, but it makes no sense as a projection, which is what these are supposed to be.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

On the defense thing, it is certainly possible Simmons is only +5 or defender, but I would argue there is considerably more evidence that he’s better than that. First things first, take Carroll off your list, as he was only +1.7 at SS (most of his runs saved came at 2B and 3B). Your argument against Barmes is weak, because those 2.5-3.5 runs seasons came playing SS only part time (his UZR/150 the past 3 seasons: 14.9, 10.8, 15.3). Looking at DRS, it also appears that UZR is likely overrating him a bit relative to his peers and his past performances. As for Brendan Ryan, it is mostly a lack of playing time that has kept him from averaging 12-15 runs saved per year.

Now we come to the major thing you seem to be missing, and that is scouting reports. The only guy you mentioned who could be argued as having similar scouting reports to Simmons defensively is Ryan. As KLaw mentioned before Simmons came up, he had multiple scouts throw 80 grades on both Simmons glove and his arm. He said Simmons had the best defensive tools of any SS in baseball. All the numbers backed up these scouting reports since Simmons entered the league. His UZR was great and his DRS was just insane. You say Hardy is Simmons best case scenario, but in just 49 games Simmons posted a higher DRS than Hardy has in any of his 8 seasons in the majors. Simmons is a completely different animal defensively than a guy like Hardy.

Sure, Simmons could struggle offensively once MLB teams see him more and find his weaknesses. I don’t find any argument centered on his MiLB numbers to be very convincing. You talk about his Lynchburg performance as if that were a mark against him, but he was a year removed from coming out of JuCo and being considered so raw that he should switch to pitching full time. He got thrown right into the fire with that high-A assignment, and he posted well above average offensive numbers. Most guys from major colleges don’t transition to high A that easily and he did it as a raw JuCo player. He didn’t miss a beat moving up to AA, posting even better offensive numbers, showing some actual power (backing up scouting reports of good bat speed) and walking significantly more often than he did the year before. Improving numbers like that while making the jump to the high minors is a big plus. The fact that he was able to more than hold his own in the majors when he was making his debut less than 2 years after being drafted out of junior college as a pitcher really points to just how impressive his abilities are.

I don’t think you’d see any real complaining if Simmons were projected for 3.5 WAR like you mention at the end, that would place him 3rd among MLB SS. No Braves fan is going to say people are wrong for ranking him only 3rd. They said people were wrong for talking about him as if he were only average to slightly above average.

Anon21
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Anon21
3 years 5 months ago

I agree, so far as projecting the central tendency goes. I’m pointing to what’s within the realm of reasonable possibility for Simmons if he performs as well as he possibly can. For Yuniesky Betancourt, his 90th percentile defensive projection is probably league average or slightly below. For Simmons, the 90th percentile projection is probably 15 runs. 5 looks pretty conservative as a central tendency, but obviously projections are hard and defensive projections are harder, so I’m not going to pretend that this is some kind of obvious error in the methodology. But I definitely expect better things.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

Jaack,

We will just have to wait and see. However, if I could get even odds on Simmons posting a +12 UZR next season, I’d take that bet in a heartbeat. He was nearly that high in just 49 games, and actually faired better under DRS (2nd in MLB despite only 49 games played). All this does is support the insane defensive scouting reports he has gotten consistently throughout his career. Honestly, what reason do you have to think he isn’t a +12 run defender? Just saying it is rare isn’t an argument. You would have been using the same argument against Andruw Jones as a consistent 20+ run defender in CF.

El Vigilante
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El Vigilante
3 years 5 months ago

Yep, just adjust Andrelton’s projections to match your own favorable viewpoint, and don’t touch any of the other SS on the list. 2nd best!

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

The article’s author was the one who brought it up.

That’s not at all just my own favorable viewpoint either. Simmons has always received glowing scouting reports on his defense, he’s already in the discussion for the best defensive SS in baseball, and he posted absolutely ridiculous defensive numbers in his first 49 games (DRS/inning 46% higher than any single season where a guy had a DRS of at least 19 in the decade DRS has been around). But hey, since zips disagrees, obviously we should blindly trust i

El Vigilante
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El Vigilante
3 years 5 months ago

No, instead we should trust a truly historic by several SD rating based on a tiny sample size. And not adjust projections for any other player.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

Do you just skim comments? I didn’t say we should trust the SSS as representative of his true talent level. If that were the case, I’d be arguing he was a +30 to +60 run defender. My argument is that combining the numbers WITH THE GLOWING SCOUTING REPORTS, it is not that crazy to think he is a +12 to +15 run defender in terms of his true talent level. Not everything needs to be based entirely on numbers.

El Vigilante
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El Vigilante
3 years 5 months ago

Other players with glowing scouting reports: Andrus, Ryan, Hardy. Feel free to adjust those players’ projections also.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

They have great scouting reports, but not quite to Simmons level. He’s the only guy I have ever heard of getting 80 grades on both his glove and arm. KLaw talked about him having the best defensive tools of any SS in baseball around the time he debuted in the majors.

Additionally, Andrus and Hardy have struggled to put up the sort of numbers over an entire season that Simmons managed to post in just 49 games. Neither of them have ever managed a +19 in DRS, something Simmons did in just 49 games. There career best UZR (12.1 for Andrus and 12.9 for Hardy) barely surpass the 10.4 Simmons posted in just 49 games.

So in summary, Simmons in his first 49 games saved approximately as many runs as Hardy and Andrus in their career best seasons. He also comes in with appreciably better scouting reports than either of them. Perhaps you can see why I might treat his as a slightly different animal?

And I’m not adjusting Simmons up to try and argue he is already the second best SS in baseball. My point is simply that if you believe in his defense, he is clearly in the picture of second tier SS behind Tulo, who is a tier unto himself at this point.

El Vigilante
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El Vigilante
3 years 5 months ago

All of Mike Newman’s sources say that Andrus is the best defensive SS in baseball. Rangers reportedly tried to trade for Andrelton just to flip him. No he is not an entirely different animal.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

I have never seen Mike say. I believe he has said that he personally believes Simmons to be the better defender, but I could be wrong.

The fact that the Rangers tried to trade for Simmons to flip him doesn’t mean they think Andrus is the better defender. It simply means they think he is the better all around player (or at least they are more confident/comfortable with him which isn’t surprising as he’s spent ~5 years in their organization compared to 0 for Simmons).

And again, the numbers point to Simmons being on a completely different level defensively than Andrus. In 49 games he posted a higher DRS than Andrus has in any of his full seasons. His UZR was almost as high as anything Andrus has done. Unless you want to regress Simmons to league average for ~100 games (which makes no sense given his scouting reports), he just posted a more impressive defensive season in his first try than Andrus has in four tries.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

Found the comment we were both thinking of. Mike agrees that at the very least Simmons will give Andrus a run for his money, but he does mention all the scouts he has talked to putting Andrus #1. It is worth noting that many of these scouts may have had limited, if any, exposure to Simmons at the time of these conversations.

matt w
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matt w
3 years 5 months ago

Pujols went to high school in the US and Simmons didn’t, so their development paths aren’t similar in the way that you’re citing.

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

He is the most similar that I know of. Feel free to find other international players drafted out of US junior colleges who made the majors within 2 years of being drafted. I’ll gladly compare Simmons to those guys instead if any others actually exist. Until then, Pujols is the most similar, despite having the advantage of playing 2 years of HS ball in the US, unlike Simmons.

TKDC
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TKDC
3 years 5 months ago

The “Braves fans overrate Simmons” shtick is a thousand times worse than Braves fans actual overrating of Simmons. Wow, Braves fans really like one of their young players who just had a great first year. Get the fuck over it.

Anon21
Member
Anon21
3 years 5 months ago

I prefer to look at it this way: there are joys to be had in being a fan of a team with a super-talented young shortstop, and there are joys to be had in taunting those same fans for being excited, perhaps excessively, about said shortstop. I will happily concede the second set of joys to dudes like Jaack while I have fun watching Andrelton Simmons make impossibly hard and accurate throws as he falls to the ground.

BookBook
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BookBook
3 years 5 months ago

You miss the point. I think Zunino could come into the majors and be the best catcher in the league this year. I really do. Looking around the league, in some ways that wouldn’t even be all that impressive a feat.

But every time projection systems take a more conservative route–as we all know they are designed to do–I don’t flip out about the vile anti-Mariners bias of the world.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter a whit what the projections say, or what our favorite commentators think. He’ll get to play the games, and make fools of us all (or wear down in the course of 162 games, or make an occasional mistake, as we humans do).

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

“But every time projection systems take a more conservative route–as we all know they are designed to do–I don’t flip out about the vile anti-Mariners bias of the world.”

Who said anything about anti-Braves bias, or anything of the sort? All that was talked about is why the projection systems may be underrating him. We understand their limitations and why they’re not aggressive with his projections. Why can’t we realize and still discuss the reasons to think he will outperform them?

TKDC
Guest
TKDC
3 years 5 months ago

No dude, you missed the point. When this post came up, I knew with near certainty that there would be a comment talking about “Braves fans going nuts” well before there was an actual comment of a Braves fan going nuts.

Looking at your situation, though it is a bit different, Mariners fans seem to overrate some of your players, too, by believing guys like Smoak and Carp are actually decent players with something resembling a future, and not scrap heap AAAA duds. But people at least let you actually make your ridiculous claims before jumping on you for it.

wilt
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wilt
3 years 5 months ago

Thanks saying this. Most of the people I’ve seen harassing Braves fans for being high on Simmons are on some petty, whiny bullshit. I guess Andrelton will do the talking soon enough.

An Atlanta Idiot
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An Atlanta Idiot
3 years 5 months ago

Sure, if he doesn’t get a hangnail and miss 3 months …

Nitram Odarp
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Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

“Most of the people I’ve seen harassing Braves fans for being high on Simmons are on some petty, whiny bullshit”

“Sure, if he doesn’t get a hangnail and miss 3 months …”

Thanks for the example

Tomcat
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Tomcat
3 years 5 months ago

What is amazing is that Josh Rutledge projects to roughly the same value as Starlin Castro over 600PA

Andrew Wolfe
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Andrew Wolfe
3 years 5 months ago

In all honesty, I believe Castro will become the better shortstop in the long run because of two reasons:
1. Rutledge will not play SS his whole career because of Tulowitzki
2. Castro’s ceiling is ridiculously high

Tomcat
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Tomcat
3 years 5 months ago

Oh I agree, I just think that was kind of crazy quirk

King of the Byelorussian Square Dancers
Guest

Rutledge has a higher projected wOBA than every SS except Tulo, Reyes, and Hanley. Wow.

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
3 years 5 months ago

I find that graph amazing, even if it isn’t useful. The difference between Tulo and any other SS in the game is the same as Elvis Andrus compared to Tyler Greene.

Just think about that.

Hurtlockertwo
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Hurtlockertwo
3 years 5 months ago

I’m thinking the Twins will really suck this year.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 5 months ago

2013 Cool Name Power Rankings: Shortstop
1. Adeiny Hechevarria
2. Jurickson Profar
3. Hiroyuki Nakajima
4. Didi Gregorius
5. Elvis Andrus
6. Asdrubal Cabrera
7. Yuniesky Betancourt
8. Reid Brignac
9. Irving Falu
10. Alexi Amarista
11. Pedro Florimon
12. Troy Tulowitzki
13. Emilio Bonifacio
14. Jordy Mercer
15. Steve Lombardozzi
16. Leury Garcia
17. Starlin Castro
18. Paul Janish
19. Omar Quintanilla
20. Carlos Trunfel
21. Pete Kozma

DAMN what a deep position for awesome names. Even after listing out a top 21, I’m leaving out great last names like Desmond and great first names like Yunel. The entire top 13 are All-Star calibre, 5-Awesomes-Above-Replacement players.

Notes:
– Omar Quintanilla would have been ranked much higher had his name been actually used on Breaking Bad, rather than sounding like a name that should be used on Breaking Bad
– I personally find “Andrelton Simmons” more fun to say when the stress is on the first syllable
– I also expected to rank Elvis Andrus #1, but as the list continued, I kept saying to myself, “Damn, what a name.” And Adeiny Hechevarria is a near-miraculous capper

SS is easily the deepest position named so far.

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 5 months ago

*Triunfel
Let the record show this is the only misspelling I’ve made so far.

(And how does FanGraphs have “Hiroyuk”?)

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

As a Braves fan I’m utterly outraged that the pure awesomeness that is Andrelton did not make your list!!!

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 5 months ago

Oh Christ, I was so convinced I put him on the list that I almost flamed you for lying. Here’s what happened: after the first 15, I deleted all the names I’d used from the text file, and apparently deleted Simmons because I thought I’d put him in the top 15.

Nitram Odarp
Guest
Nitram Odarp
3 years 5 months ago

It’s okay, I forgive you. You can only pray that the all-mighty Andrelton is as forgiving as me.

King of the Byelorussian Square Dancers
Guest

I’m as henotheist as the next MLB fan, so I feel your outrage, but Mike Trout should’ve been at the top of everyone of these lists, position be damned.

I liked “Irving Falu” best. Couldn’t help thinking about

They called him Irving.
Big Irving.
Big, short Irving.
Big, short, fat Irving.
The hundred and forty-second fastest gun in the West.

A hundred and forty-one could draw faster than he,
But Irving was looking for one forty-three.
Walked into Sol’s Saloon like a man insane,
And ordered three fingers of two cents plain.

Tomcat
Guest
Tomcat
3 years 5 months ago

My favorite part
” The James Boys was comin’ on a train at first sun,
And the town said, “Irving, we need your gun.”
When that train pulled in at the break of dawn,
Irving’s gun was there, but Irving was gone.

Irving.
Big, fat Irving.
Big help, Irving.”

Ruki Motomiya
Guest
Ruki Motomiya
3 years 5 months ago

Tulo is a Top 10 Name IMO.

Izzy Hechkoff
Guest
Izzy Hechkoff
3 years 5 months ago

I have an issue with the PA projection for Jose Reyes. I don’t see how Tulowitzki could be projected to have more PA than Reyes. Both ZIPS and Steamer project Tulo at below 500 PA and Reyes above 600.

rusty
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rusty
3 years 5 months ago

As a Rockies fan, I don’t think it’s safe to project Tulo OR Reyes above 500 PAs.

Izzy Hechkoff
Guest
Izzy Hechkoff
3 years 5 months ago

Reyes the last three years has put up 603, 586, and 716 PAs. I suppose that’s why ZIPS and Steamer like him.

Dillon
Guest
Dillon
3 years 5 months ago

You forgot Russell Martin on the Pirates’ SS depth chart.

DJ Tofu
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DJ Tofu
3 years 5 months ago

Hiroyuk Nakajima seems to be missing an “i”.

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
3 years 5 months ago

That’s because he’s a consummate team player

Asmo
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Asmo
3 years 5 months ago

I laughed.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

There’s no “I” in team, which is why I am not in any.

King of the Byelorussian Square Dancers
Guest

But there is “me” in team, so…

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

Not to be that Yankees fan bitching that they’ve been ranked too low, but…they’ve been ranked too low.

Nunez’s projections are just wrong, his wOBA hasn’t been below .300 since he was a 19 year old in A-Ball, the projected wOBA should be ~.010 higher. Not to mention that, honestly, Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter. The only career shortstop with more wRC is Honus Wagner. Normal aging rules don’t apply, so I’ll believe he’s done when I see it. I still expect him to have more PA on a broken ankle than Stephen Drew will going into the season completely healthy. I’d put the Yankees just above the Athletics, especially if Nakajima, who scouts think will have Jeterian defense (albeit without the arm) at short, is projected as the starter.

Also, Andrelton Simmons is way too low. He is a top 3 shortstop in the league defensively and I really won’t be surprised when he outhits that projection significantly.

jim
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jim
3 years 5 months ago

you must be the only person who thinks nunez is even worth projecting, let alone that he’s projected “wrong”

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

Well, seeing as how Jeter is expected to be DHing a lot, the performance of the Yankees’ backup SS is absolutely worth projecting.

And seeing as how you disagree with that, you problem don’t find it at all weird that a 26 year old is projected to have career worst numbers across the board.

That Guy
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That Guy
3 years 5 months ago

The fact that he’ll be DHing a lot is going to sap his value as a shortstop. I have a tough time seeing Jeter get 490 PA at SS and his WAR projection is roughly a 3 year average of what he’s done, which might be generous given his age.

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

He’s Derek Jeter, aging curves are different for elite players.

I expect a .290 average and a .350 OBP, and I expect closer to 100 than 200 of his PAs to come at DH.

Even so, Nunez should hit for a 20 point higher average than he’s projected to.

tberger87
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Member
tberger87
3 years 5 months ago

YansFanInBeantown:

You’re begging the question. Jeter is not an elite player anymore. Saying he’s elite doesn’t make it so. He just broke his ankle. He’s 38 and hasn’t been good defensively in years. I can see a wOBA closer to .330 than what he’s projected but it isn’t likely. Be realistic, that’s what projections try to do.

Jason H
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Jason H
3 years 5 months ago

Derek Jeter was certainly an elite shortstop last year. You have to really believe the defensive numbers to think anything else.

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

Damn, Tberger. Way to miss my point entirely. Derek Jeter is one of the best shortstops ever to play the game. Players like that don’t age the same way.

gabriel
Member
gabriel
3 years 5 months ago

Even if one accepted the idea that elite hitters have a less steep ageing curve, Jeter is still older, and we should expect decline. This projection is actually incredibly generous, as it only projects Jeter for -4 runs defensively, which would not only be one of his best defensive seasons ever, but remarkable for any 38-year-old shortstop coming off an ankle injury.

In addition to Nunez’s 100 respectable mlb plate appearances last year, he also had 172 AAA PA with a .544 OPS, which shouldn’t be ignored, either by the projection systems or by us.

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

Nunez had a significant thumb injury that cost him about two months. I’m willing to give him a mulligan considering that was, by far, the worst offensive performance he’s ever had. I expect something resembling his career line out of him in his age 26 season.

And I don’t expect another ~.350 wOBA season out of Jeter. I do expect one around .335, however. The only year Jeter hasn’t hit at least .290 with a .350 OBP is 2010. I’m going to keep expecting that baseline until he proves me wrong. I think Jeter will probably be worth about 2.5 wins, with a .335 wOBA and a -12 UZR. I’d take that over Jed Lowrie and Hiroyuki Nakajima 8 days a week.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
3 years 5 months ago

Aging curves are not different for elite players. They say valuable longer because falling to 70% your ability from being the best is still pretty good. As opposed to falling to 70% of your peak ability when your peak was league average.

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

That’s what I meant, Antonio, although I probably could have worded it better. The only career shortstop with more batting value produced over his career is Honus Wagner. Jeter is an archetype. I don’t trust projections for archetypes, because they don’t have any accurate comparisons.

Paul Molitor wasn’t below average offensively until he was 41. Tim Raines had a down year at 39, then bounced back at 40 and was cooked at 41. Rod Carew was coming off a 101 wRC+ when he retired after his age 39 season.

Those are the types of hitters you have to look at for Derek Jeter comps. Not the Barry Larkins and Cal Ripkens of the world.

enhanced performance
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enhanced performance
3 years 5 months ago

Jeter had 216 hits last year and 99 runs scored last year. The next best hit total was 32 behind and only rollins scored more runs. Rollins batted .250.

Your 6th best shortstop combo was lead by JJ Hardy. He had a similar number of at bats in a hitter’s ball park as DJ and batted .238 with an OBP of .282! That guy is 6th and first ballot hall of famer Derek Jeter is 20th. Hardy hit 7 more homeruns than Jeter but he slugged .389 That is criminal but it gets more egregious.

Zack Cozart’s team is 14th and Jeter’s is 20th? He drove in 35 runs with 15 homeruns in 561 at bats. That is pitiful. If you hate runs batted in note that Cozart had a .288 OBP. The author of this post noted that Cozart is projected by the author to hit the same as last year. The guy had a .288 OBP and he is considered better than Derek Jeter? This is absolutely comical.

I guarantee that Zack Cozart does not think he is even close to as good as Derek Jeter. I bet his Mom, Sister, girl friend, wife, mistress, high school coach, number one fan or even his agent would never in their wildest dream think he is better than Derek Jeter. Cozart probably worries that he will be out of the league soon because he bats under .250 and has a .288 OBP.

Izzy Hechkoff
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Izzy Hechkoff
3 years 5 months ago

There’s an important lesson here. Defense matters.

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

Yeah, Zack Cozart’s defense isn’t special enough that I’d take a .298 wOBA.

Jason H
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Jason H
3 years 5 months ago

…never mind the fact that we can’t even measure defense well, let alone project it.

Hank
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Hank
3 years 5 months ago

Unfortunately Fangraphs stopped publishing defensive splits home and away, but when they used to:

Jeter’s first 16 years:
Home: ~11 UZR/150
Away: -1 UZR/150

This is strange for a couple of reasons:
1) Players usually are better at home
2) I don’t think the infield at Yankees stadium is bigger, so I’m not sure why his range is significantly worse at home…. on a 16 year sample size.

I don’t think Jeter is a great (or even good) defender at SS, but he is one of several people where there are some strange things going on with UZR. Carl Crawford when he was in TB is another one…. 15 run (per 150 games) home/road split

Synovia
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Synovia
3 years 5 months ago

“15 run (per 150 games) home/road split”

Why is that strange in UZR, but perfectly okay when looking at batting runs?

YanksFanInBeantown
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YanksFanInBeantown
3 years 5 months ago

@Synovia, is that rhetorical?

On offense the shape of the park often affects the outcome of balls in play, but an infield is an infield is an infield.

BookBook
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BookBook
3 years 5 months ago

Immobile 38-year-old coming off a major ankle injury?
I’ll take two!

Tomcat
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Tomcat
3 years 5 months ago

Why are you arguing about a 1B/DH’s SS WAR?

vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
3 years 5 months ago

I’m a little surprised that Ruben Tejada’s projections are this low. He’s only 23 years old this season, and they’re projecting him to have fewer WAR (per 150 games) than he had when he was 21 and 22, and a lower wOBA than he’s had the last two years. When he was 21, he had 1.8 WAR in less than 100 games. When he was 22 he had 2.1 WAR in 114 games. His wOBA has been in the .305-310 range. Not sure why he’d be expected to put up a wOBA under .300, and less than 2 WAR.

That Guy
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That Guy
3 years 5 months ago

I’ll repeat my comments paraphrased from the other articles.

Give Yuniesky Betancourt 35 PA at SS and he’ll produce -WAR.

O's Fan
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O's Fan
3 years 5 months ago

Can we get that graph at the start of each of these articles?

It’s nice to have a graphical representation of the spread.

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

Yes, that is one impressive piece of work. It really puts things in perspective.

Jeter
Guest
Jeter
3 years 5 months ago

DeRek Jetter is so better then all of the shortstops accept the one on the rockies. He is going to the hall of fame and you guys are idiots for doubting tha captain

Aidan Oliver Killeen
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Aidan Oliver Killeen
3 years 5 months ago

I am super drunk and have been up for 22 hrs and am currently listening to Arctic Monkeys 2nd album while chugging a Rockstar Juiced. None of that matters, it is just a preface to the real comment which is that you write amazing articles and I basically just refresh Fangraphs as a favourites page to see if you have written an article and if you have then I read it because you re a great writer. Anywho just wanted you to know that, keep on keepin’on buddy! In case you can’t tell yet from my British spelling of favourites and use of the word buddy I am Canadian so if you ever want to impress chicks with your baseball writing tell them you are an international phenom, because me and at least 2 of my brothers read you too.

Gibbo
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Gibbo
3 years 5 months ago

Totally agree on the Jeff call, he is awesome. I only just started reading him this year and wish I had started earlier, previosuly I had looked briefly at some of his stuff on other blogs, but mostly read and got my info from other sites. Add someone in New Zealand to your international fanclub Jeff, that will help with the chicks too!!!!

Baltar
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Baltar
3 years 5 months ago

That’s nothing. I live in Tobasco*, and I think Jeff is hot.

*Ohio

Randy
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Randy
3 years 5 months ago

Seems like the A’s being ranked that “high” is too dependent upon upside. They could easily end up with a player getting the most time at shortstop who is at or below replacement level.

Adam S
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Adam S
3 years 5 months ago

I guess it’s the nature of projections to regress to the mean, but the defensive projections on Jeter and Ryan seem very conservative. Will be stunned if Jeter isn’t -10 at SS and would expect Ryan to be in the +10-14 range.

wilt
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wilt
3 years 5 months ago

For reference, using WAR Andrelton Simmons had the 27th best rookie season for a shortstop 23 or younger since 1940. He did so while playing in half as many games (49) as anyone ahead of him on that list except for Jose Reyes (69 games played) and Pee Wee Reese (84 games played).

Of the 26 ahead of him, only one failed to reach the 20 win plateau in their careers– Alfredo Griffin (who?). Elvis Andrus has not gotten there, but 20 wins is essentially a given for him.

Antonio Bananas
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Antonio Bananas
3 years 5 months ago

Andrelton will get 20 wins….next year….on defense alone.

An Atlanta Idiot
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An Atlanta Idiot
3 years 5 months ago

Hey, do you know who’s 6 months older than Simmons and has over 1800 more plate appearances at the Major League level than he does?

He’s also the same player who only has 9.1 total WAR in his career so I don’t know where you pulled that second “statistic” out of your ass from.

This player has had 3 ML seasons with a higher WAR than your boy, yet is never mentioned. He also has never been on the disabled list either, something AS failed to do two months into his career.

I know your brain is addled with Braves’ love but somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of your mind, you must have heard about a minor shortstop prospect by the name of Starlin Castro …

wilt
Guest
wilt
3 years 5 months ago

Oops yeah I missed Castro. That’s probably because he was right in front of Andrelton. In his rookie season Castro put up 2.3 WAR in 506 PAs. Simmons put up 2.2 WAR in 182 PAs…

So yes, in other words, Castro has surpassed Simmons’ 1/3 of a season in each of his three full seasons, very compelling.

Another way to look at it is– Castro has never put up 2.2 WAR over any 49 game stretch in his whole career.

Hector
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Hector
2 years 3 months ago

Whatever, those are my backups.

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