Positional Power Rankings: Shortstop

For an explanation of this series, check out the the introduction courtesy of Dave Cameron.

I think it’s important to remember a couple of things here:

(A) The WAR estimates are kind of ballpark figures. As Cameron notes in his intro above, a 2.0 WAR projection should be considered nearly the same as a 2.5 WAR prediction.

(2) Each of these projected playing times have been researched as diligently possible, but there are bound to be mistakes. Things happen and things change, plus, I’m like a human, bro; chill out.

(D) The danger of ordinal rankings is that we intrinsically assume the distance between each point is the same or close to the same. That’s not always the case. The middle group is pretty similar with lots of gray area. The top 10 or 12 are pretty much on a much higher tier that the following 18 or so. ALSO: Keep in mind: These rankings: They are not about long-term quality, just 2012.

Without any more of this ado, here’s the 2012 Shortstop Positional Power Rankings:

No. 30 — Milwaukee Brewers

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Alex Gonzalez R 550 .245 .282 .399 2.0 1.5
Reserve Cesar Izturis S 150 .248 .291 .306 N/A 0.0

Oh brother. A pair of defense-first veteran shortstops in the sunsets of their largely mediocre careers (more so for Izturis than Gonzalez). If one of these wily old veterans goes down with an injury, the team likely will turn to either Jeff Bianchi or Edwin Maysonet, both of whom figure to start the year in Triple-A.

No. 29 — Washington Nationals

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Ian Desmond R 500 .256 .304 .378 -5.0 1.5
Reserve Andres Blanco S 100 .259 .300 .351 N/A 0.0
Prospect Danny Espinosa S 100 .229 .309 .400 4.0 0.5

If the Nationals braintrust deems that Steve Lambardozzi is done cooking, then there’s a very real chance that Ian Desmond loses his starting job as Danny Espinosa moves over from second base. I put Espinosa here as a prospect, though he’s already a veteran of two seasons, so that we can at the very least see his projected stats. I think I would be mildly shocked if Espinosa isn’t playing shortstop by the season’s end, which should improve the stock here considerably.

No. 28 — Pittsburgh Pirates

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Clint Barmes R 500 .249 .305 .374 5.0 1.5
Super Utility Josh Harrison R 150 .271 .308 .377 N/A 0.5
Reserve Chase d’Arnaud R 50 .236 .297 .356 N/A 0.5

I’m still scratching my head over the Pirates’ signing of Clint Barmes, but at least they have some interesting young guys waiting wing-wise behind him. Harrison seems like the favorite to break camp as the utility player, despite having pretty much no experience at shortstop in the minors (as in: 1 game), but if Barmes, who will be 33 in 2012, goes down for an injury, I imagine the 25-year-old d’Arnaud — who likely will start the season at Triple-A — gets his go.

No. 27 — San Francisco Giants

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Brandon Crawford L 500 .225 .291 .336 6.0 1.5
Reserve Ryan Theriot R 100 .272 .323 .337 -4.0 0.5
Super Utility Mike Fontenot L 100 .245 .308 .367 0.0 0.5

Brandon Crawford could very well be one of the better defensive shortstops going into the 2012 MLB season. Let me re-phrase that. Brandon Crawford’s defense should be among the best going into the 2012 season. In other words: If we want to stay positive about Crawford, let’s not talk about his offensive ambitions. When a 32-year-old Ryan Theriot is expected to school you offensively, then you kind of need to be one of the top defenders at your position.

No. 26 — Atlanta Braves

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Tyler Pastornicky R 550 .261 .311 .363 N/A 1.5
Reserve Brandon Hicks R 75 .202 .272 .348 N/A 0.5
Super Utility Jack Wilson R 75 .257 .289 .330 N/A 0.5

Wilson is going to miss an early hunk of the season and Brandon Hicks likely wins the backup SS job on the sole merit of his placement on the Braves’ 40-man roster, so the rookie, Tyler Pastornicky, appears to have an unimpeded route to the starting role. Don’t get your hopes too high, though. Over the last 10 seasons, rookie shortstops have average 0.8 WAR per 550 PAs. Pastornicky should be good, but, y’know, still a 22-year-old rookie.

No. 25 — Tampa Bay Rays

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Sean Rodriguez R 450 .230 .315 .391 5.0 2.0
Reserve Reid Brignac L 150 .239 .281 .338 2.0 1.0
Super Utility Elliot Johnson S 50 .237 .287 .361 N/A 0.0
Prospect Tim Beckham R 50 .239 .294 .336 N/A 0.0

It appears that the shortstop position battle from 2011 has just moseyed on over to 2012. The Rays still have not produced a true shortstop to replace Jason Bartlett, but at least they have the lefty-mashing Rodriguez who is the favorite to win the opening day position this spring. But with a potential B.J. Upton trade looming, the team may well move Ben Zobrist to right, Rodriguez to second, and suddenly have a major opening at short again. Don’t be surprised — assuming he does well in Triple-A this year — if former No. 1 overall pick Tim Beckham makes a late-season showing this year.

No. 24 — Los Angeles Dodgers

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Dee Gordon L 550 .271 .310 .339 -5.0 1.5
Super Utility Jerry Hairston Jr. R 100 .259 .319 .373 N/A 0.5
Reserve Juan Uribe R 50 .249 .300 .401 5.0 0.5

Would you believe that Jerry Hairston Jr. has been worth a prorated 2.0 WAR per 600 PAs over the course of his career? Well the long-time backup and utility man should be the major backup to young Dee Gordon. The rookie Gordon will be getting his chance to be an every-day-er in 2012, but if something goes wrong long-term (think: injury), don’t be surprised to see Juan Uribe move from third to short with Hairston manning third.

No. 23 — Kansas City Royals

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Alcides Escobar R 550 .270 .309 .366 10.0 2.0
Reserve Yuniesky Betancourt R 150 .262 .283 .385 -8.0 0.0

Can Ned Yost and the Royals resist the temptation of giving a 30-year-old Yuniesky Betancourt too much playing time? I doubt it. Teams out there have inexiplicably given Yuni 500+ PAs for the last six seasons, and though that looks likely to end this year, I imagine the Royals find some excuse to take one of the league’s best defenders — Alcides Excobar — off the field in deference to the Great Old School Wonder.

No. 22 — Arizona Diamondbacks

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Stephen Drew L 450 .267 .330 .435 5.0 2.0
Reserve Willie Bloomquist R 150 .258 .305 .348 -4.0 0.0
Reserve John McDonald R 100 .251 .283 .374 N/A 0.0

It looks likely Stephen Drew will start the season on the DL, and judging by his recent comments, he may even miss as much as three months if he can’t heal right. Put me in the optimisitic camp, though, because he’s already returned to a lot of baseball action. Behind him, Bloomquist and McDonald will provide… warm bodies.

No. 21 — New York Mets

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Ruben Tejada R 600 .259 .329 .339 2.0 2.0
Reserve Ronny Cedeno R 100 .238 .285 .346 N/A 0.0

Ruben Tejada, the 22-year-old heir apparent to Jose Reyes, is probably offensively only a tick above average for a shortstop, and a tick above average defensively too. Altogether, that makes a swell young shortstop. If he doesn’t work out, I doubt that Ronny “Replacement Level” Cedeno gets the starting gig. Look for young Wilmer Flores or Jordany Valdespin (clearly an alias) to make an appearance.

No. 20 — Cincinnati Reds

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Zack Cozart R 550 .253 .304 .398 6.0 2.0
Reserve Wilson Valdez R 150 .253 .298 .332 N/A 0.5

Cozart is both the prospect and the starter — which is, y’know, a little terrifying usually. Wilson Valdez is out of options, so he wins the bench job by default. Don’t expect a whole lot of offense from this region, but it should be noted that Cozart was a capable hitter in the minors and Marcel predicts a .330 wOBA, which is his most optimistic projection, but still notable in that it’s Marcel, and Marcel is a dumb monkey.

No. 19 — Detroit Tigers

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Jhonny Peralta R 600 .268 .320 .423 0.0 2.0
Reserve Ramon Santiago S 100 .258 .321 .364 3.0 0.5

If Jhonny Peralta can keep his strikeout total low and continue to hit for good power, he makes a solid offensive shortstop. Otherwise, he looks more average than anything (~2.2 WAR per 600 PAs in his career). Ramon Santiago appears to have lost his only chance at a starting job when Brandon Inge moved to second base, so he once again goes into the utility role.

No. 18 — San Diego Padres

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Jason Bartlett R 550 .258 .324 .345 -2.0 2.0
Reserve Andy Parrino S 100 .207 .298 .322 N/A 0.5
Prospect Everth Cabrera S 50 .232 .307 .315 N/A 0.0

Jason Bartlett now has three consecutive seasons with a negative UZR — granted, his most recent season was merely -0.9, but still: It’s a massive turnaround from what he appeared to be early in his career. Behind Bartlett, the Padres appear to have a glut of medium-upside infielders, from Perrino to Everth Cabrera and even the replacement level Alberto Gonzalez. It’s hard to say this early which of them breaks camp with the MLB club, but it appears at the moment Parrino has not only the highest upside (his minor league numbers don’t look at all shortstopish), but the best shot at taking over for Bartlett in 2013.

No. 17 — Oakland Athletics

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Cliff Pennington S 550 .252 .318 .359 1.0 2.0
Reserve Adam Rosales R 100 .234 .288 .347 N/A 0.5
Super Utility Eric Sogard L 50 .254 .321 .347 N/A 0.5

Cliff Pennigton had a 9.9 UZR in 2010 and a -5.2 in 2011. His Fan Scouting Reports over the last three years have been 1, 9, and -3. Frankly, it’s hard to tell whether Pennington is a great, 4.0 WAR kind of shortstop (a la 2010) or a barely league average, 1.5 WAR kinda guy (see: 2011). It would appear, though, with Eric Sogard capable of winning a super utility job or even the third base job outright, Pennington may begin to cede PAs to the 26-year-old glasses-wearer.

No. 16 — Boston Red Sox

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Mike Aviles R 500 .273 .301 .417 -4.0 1.5
Reserve Nick Punto S 150 .250 .332 .335 4.0 1.0
Prospect Jose Iglesias R 50 .251 .289 .311 N/A 0.5

Aviles has the talent to be at least a league average hitter, and if his BABIP settles at .300 like all the projection systems are suggesting, then he should reasonably hit around 100 wRC+. If he struggles, they have the surprisingly good Nick Punto waiting in the wings (~2.5 WAR per 600 PAs) as well as glove-first prospect Jose Iglesias.

No. 15 — Minnesota Twins

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Jamey Carroll R 500 .266 .341 .322 0.0 2.0
Reserve Tsuyoshi Nishioka S 150 .271 .327 .376 -4.0 0.5
Prospect Brian Dozier R 50 .254 .313 .353 N/A 0.0

At age 38, Jamey Carroll looks like he’s still got it — heck, he seems to be finally hitting his stride. He’s had a wRC+ at 104 the past two seasons and has been quietly worth 2.4 wins per 600 PAs over the course of his career. Behind Carroll is 27-year-old Tsuyoshi and 25-year-old slugger Brian Dozier. I think a lot of teams would not mind having this kind of cheap depth.

No. 14 — Seattle Mariners

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Brendan Ryan R 550 .245 .303 .322 9.0 2.5
Reserve Kyle Seager L 150 .267 .323 .372 -1.0 0.5

I would not be surprised if Ryan manages to only muster 500 or less PAs in 2012, considering he’s never exceeded 500 PAs in his career. If that trend continues into this season, don’t be surprised if young Kyle Seager gets some considerable playing time and a chance to prove his bat can translate into the bigs.

No. 13 — New York Yankees

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Derek Jeter R 650 .268 .329 .362 -6.0 2.5
Reserve Eduardo Nunez R 50 .273 .312 .379 -7.0 0.0

ZiPS projects some career-worst numbers by far for Jeter, and personally I don’t expect that happening in 2012. He is certainly in the twighlight of his undeniably impressive career, but he is at least an average starting shortstop right now and should be able to hit around league average and field like he’s in a hooveraround for at least one more season.

No. 12 — Houston Astros

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Jed Lowrie S 550 .249 .316 .414 -2.0 2.5
Reserve Marwin Gonzalez S 150 .260 .300 .351   0.5

This is certainly no dig on Mark Melancon, but the Jed Lowrie trade is already looking like a feather in the cap of the Jeff Luhnow era. Lowrie should be a plenty capable shortstop while the team waits on prospect Jonathan Villar to test the waters of the upper minor leagues. Meanwhile, they also have Rule 5 pick from the Cubs (via trade with the Phillies) Marwin Gonzalez. Luhnow’s recent comments suggest Marwin will start the season as a utility player, but he could eventually work his way into a starting role if his bat proves to be not too far behind his glove.

No. 11 — Cleveland Indians

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Asdrubal Cabrera S 550 .273 .332 .460 -8.0 3.0
Reserve Jason Donald R 100 .248 .314 .350 N/A 0.5
Prospect Cord Phelps S 50 .249 .317 .360 N/A 0.0

The Indians have a young group of quality shortstops. Cabrera isn’t much of a defender, but he has hit well in two of the last three seasons and even when he’s off, he’s at least average offensively for a shortstop. If the Indians tire of his defensive troubles or if he sustains another injury, don’t be surprised to see Cord Phelps — who started playing shortstop in the minors last year — get some looks at the middle bump. Donald is also a worthy infielder, and at age 27, he’s still a viable long-term infielder (if not for the Indians, then someone else — and maybe on the corners of the infield).

No. 10 — St. Louis Cardinals

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Rafael Furcal S 450 .263 .331 .389 -3.0 3.0
Reserve Tyler Greene R 150 .233 .309 .364 0.0 0.5
Defensive Rep Alex Cora L 100 .245 .307 .310 N/A 0.0

Furcal has struggled with injuries so vociferously over the last four years that my 450 PA prediction is actually optimistic. Fortunately, they have some serviceable backups in Tyler Greene and Alex Cora (5.5 UZR/150 on his career at short), who will likely start the season stashed away in the minors.

No. 9 — Los Angeles Angels

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Eric Aybar S 600 .275 .320 .392 3.0 3.5
Reserve Maicer Izturis S 100 .268 .327 .377 3.0 0.5

Eric Aybar now has two strong hitting seasons out his last three and collected a total of 9.2 WAR in the last three seasons. I imagine the Angels will want to play Aybar, who’s only 28 this year, every day they can, but if he’s not able go, they can slot in the strong-defending Maicer Izturis and barely have a drop off in production — putting the Angels in a most enviable position.

No. 8 — Chicago Cubs

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Starlin Castro R 650 .304 .343 .422 -4.0 3.5
Reserve Adrian Cardenas L 50 .272 .323 .360 N/A 0.5

Why was Adrian Cardenas put on waivers? Do the A’s have that much depth? I dunno, but now the Cubs have a recent Top 10 prospect on their 40-man roster, and he’s backing up the 22-year-old phenom Starlin Castro. That’s pretty cool. Especially if Castro’s defense continues to poo the bed — because now the Cubs can shift Castro to second and give young Cardenas a shot at the middle while Darwin Barney transitions into a super utility role or a different team’s roster.

No. 7 — Philadelphia Phillies

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Jimmy Rollins S 600 .268 .330 .410 3.0 3.5
Reserve Michael Martinez S 50 .231 .277 .339 N/A 0.0
Prospect Freddy Galvis S 50 .261 .299 .359 N/A 0.0

Jimmy Rollins may be past his prime, but he’s still a solid shortstop with some good years left to play. In 2011, he once again showed his durable, productive self, but I would not be surprised to see the Phillies call up prospect Freddy Galvis this September and start thinking long term — especially if Rollins starts looking mediocre again.

No. 6 — Texas Rangers

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Elvis Andrus R 650 .275 .348 .350 8.0 4.0
Super Utility Alberto Gonzalez R 50 .254 .288 .337 N/A 0.0

I’d pencil Alberto Gonzalez in for the backup infielder job, but if anyone other than Andrus is getting back-to-back starts at shortstop, then something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. There’s a chance Michael Young mimics a shortstop at some point in the season, but if recent history holds, Andrus won’t share many PAs.

No. 5 — Baltimore Orioles

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter J.J. Hardy R 550 .268 .316 .446 10.0 4.0
Reserve Robert Andino R 100 .249 .301 .358 3.0 0.0
Prospect Ryan Flaherty L 50 .238 .289 .376 N/A 0.0

A healthy J.J. Hardy is a really dangerous J.J. Hardy. He’ll amazingly be only 29 in 2012, so there’s no real pressure on the Orioles to have a shortstop coming up the pipes, but still, if Hardy goes down for any extended period of time, the Orioles shortstop situation still has options: Manny Machado is only 19 and Mychal Givens hasn’t reach Double-A yet, so Andino and Flaherty would likely fight over the playing time. My bet is on the Rule-5 pick and top prospect Flaherty getting the most looks in the event of an injury.

No. 4 — Chicago White Sox

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Alexei Ramirez R 600 .274 .321 .412 8.0 4.0
Reserve Eduardo Escobar S 50 .256 .290 .344 N/A 0.5
Super Utility Brent Lillibridge R 25 .230 .299 .378 N/A 0.0
Prospect Osvaldo Martinez R 25 .241 .295 .314 N/A 0.0

Osvaldo Martinez really hit a wall at Triple-A last year, so I imagine the White Sox send Ozzie (who they got for Ozzie) back to the minors to start the season. That leaves the reserve and utility roles to Escobar and Lillibridge. If Martinez crushes Triple-A, then we should see him some time near September. Meanwhile, Alexei Ramirez continues to be one of the — if not THE — best defensive shortstops in the league, as well as an above average hitter for his position. Altogether, the White Sox have an enviable state, to say the least.

No. 3 — Toronto Blue Jays

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Yunel Escobar R 600 .272 .351 .393 3.0 4.5
Reserve Luis Valbuena L 50 .251 .313 .377 N/A 0.0
Defensive Rep Omar Vizquel S 50 N/A N/A N/A N/A 0.5

Escobar has really developed into one of the league’s best hitting-shortstop. In fact, I find it surprising ZiPS has predicted a line beneath his career average… It’s mysterious… The Blue Jays will presumably attempt to maximize Omar Vizquel’s playing time while minimizing his plate appearances, so they might be able to get some 60+ games out of just 50 or so PAs. Meanwhile, Luis Valbuena is out of minor league options, so I suspect Toronto will find a way to keep him on the roster and give him a super utility / backup SS role — what with his crushing of Triple-A pitching and ability to play the whole infield plus left field.

No. 2 — Miami Marlins

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Jose Reyes S 600 .302 .353 .471 -2.0 4.0
Reserve Emilio Bonifacio S 50 .263 .326 .347 -2.0 0.5
Super Utility Donnie Murphy R 50 .226 .287 .428 N/A 0.0

By signing Reyes, the Marlins can now boast quite a few shortstop-capable players on their roster. I imagine if the injury bug really takes ahold of Reyes, we will again see Hanley Ramirez at short, but even if they choose to bring Emilio Bonifacio in from the outfield, they should still get decent production.

No. 1 — Colorado Rockies

Role Player Bats PA ZiPs BA ZiPs OBP ZiPs SLG Fielding WAR
Starter Troy Tulowitzki R 600 .294 .367 .533 7.0 6.0
Reserve Marco Scutaro R 50 .289 .350 .415 1.0 0.5
Super Utility Chris Nelson R 50 .261 .303 .408 N/A 0.0

Behind Tulo, there’s a bit of a competition this spring, and I’m wagering the lack of minor league options for Nelson helps him beat out Jonathan Herrera and D.J. LeMahieu. If Tulowitzki goes down for more than a day or two, Marco Scutaro probably takes the shortstop duties and Nelson goes to second.

Altogether, though, the team has two starting shortstops — one of them playing second base — and one of them is great, the other is elite.




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Bradley writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times, Cubs Stats, DRaysBay and Homebody Abroad. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.

83 Responses to “Positional Power Rankings: Shortstop”

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  1. astrostl says:

    Cards fan here, very surprised to see them so high.

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  2. Fred says:

    In which universe is Marco Scutaro great?

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    • The one where he’s been worth 2.5 wins annually in.

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      • Fred says:

        So there are no less than 15 great shortstops by your count?

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      • Over the last four year’s Scutaro has posted 12.7 WAR. That’s pretty great in my book:

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=ss&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2008&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&players=0

        Putting up 2.5 next year and doing it year-after-year are two totally separate value measures.

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      • Woodrum's UZR Article says:

        But I still think it’s easy to see Fred’s confusion. Take Jeter for instance (and I’m by no means a Jeter apologist)… he’s put up 16 WAR the last 4 years, yet yankees are at #13 on this list. scutaro is only 1 year younger, and obviously not the consistent hitter/player jeter’s been.

        look, its certainly a nitpick, but calling scutaro great was an odd comment given his skillset relative to his peers. especially considering a wealthy, well-run organization didn’t feel he was worth $6M, and the defense for it was “he puts up 2.5 WAR annually”

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      • Fred says:

        I am definitely nitpicking, but there is no way that Scutaro is great. Even if we pick the best four year period in his career, there are 9 other shortstops that have been as good or better than him, including JJ Hardy. I certainly wouldn’t consider JJ Hardy great

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      • At some point, we’re just defining the word “great.” I’d say being the 10th best makes you great; being the 5th to 1st best makes you elite.

        As for Jeter, he and the Yankees are ranked so low because he’s — true-talent wise — only about 2.5 to 3.0 WAR at most, but far more importantly, Nunez inspires no confidence whatsoever in me. We may hem and haw about Scutaro’s value, but he’s still the starting second baseman, Tulo’s emergency plan.

        Going into 2012, I’d take Scutaro over Jeter, and Scutaro over a number of second basemen too.

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      • AA says:

        The point is that Scutaro is backing up Tulowitzki – who destroys Jeter, and just about everyone else.

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    • dont be cautious says:

      you must not watch him play. the dude is pretty great for a 36 year old

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  3. CabreraDeath says:

    Navarro is almost a shoe-in to be the MIF reserve, not Josh Harrison. If Harrison makes the team (not likely) he will be a 3B reserve and, at most, a reserve at 2B. More likely (as in almost definitely) he will be down in AAA, w/ Navarro as the MIF reserve and Casey McGhee playing the 3B reserve if Alvarez is ineffective.

    Josh Harrison isn’t even the 3rd option, either, as that would be Jordy Mercer at SS, after Navarro and D’Arnaud if Barmes is out considerable time.

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    • Ah okay, that makes more sense than what I was seeing. It seemed strange that Harrison would be the leading candidate considering his limited shortstop exposure.

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    • matt w says:

      Rule 5 pick Gustavo Nunez is also in the mix for backup MI. He’s on the 60-day DL, which may mean that the Pirates are jumping through hoops to try to keep him.

      Nunez was the really headscratching Pirates move at short for me this offseason. Considering their other options I don’t think it was a bad idea for the Pirates to get someone who’s put up about 2 WAR/year for the past four. The Brewers seemed to be their big competition for Barmes and look where they are in these rankings.

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  4. Slartibartfast says:

    Table formatting is meh.

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  5. Shaun says:

    Before I even read the rankings, I’d like to give you a thumbs up for the Home Alone reference.

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  6. dont be cautious says:

    scoo is good. he walks a lot and is a table setter.

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    • Woodrum's UZR Article says:

      what does scoo stand for?

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      • I think Marco Scutaro.

        Nice name, by the way. Are you hoping to get all your comments deleted? (Get it?)

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      • Woodrum's UZR Article says:

        ive just been too lazy to find or come up with a new one… but your willingness to make fun of the situation (and yourself) is appreciated. im not clever enough to come up with anything too witty, but ill work on getting something else.

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      • Fred says:

        Could someone explain the situation? I don’t get it.

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      • TFINY says:

        Bradley Woodrum wrote an article about UZR that got deleted (I can’t remember why, and I didn’t get a chance to read it) very soon after it was posted. Bradley was poking fun of himself while calling out the handle of “Woodrum’s UZR Article says.”

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      • The gist of is: I wrote an article about UZR, which generates a lot of controversy to begin with, and then suggested some pretty radical things.

        Unfortunately, because it was part of a series entitled “Fangraphs Official Position on…” and it wasn’t something necessarily agreed upon (see: radical), we pulled not only my article but also all the subsequent articles.

        I’m so good, I get other author’s articles pulled before they even publish them.

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  7. bstar says:

    Escobar is projected for a lower BA because a year and a half ago he hit .230ish for the Braves. Is he past that and actually, I don’t know, concentrating at the plate now? It seems so, but a regresssion could be imminent.

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    • siggian says:

      I think the .230ish BA was a result of the unhappy situation he found himself in in Atlanta. His offense immediately picked up after he was traded and then in 2011 it went back to his career norms. I’d say for 2012, it’s likely to be similar to 2011. I discount that year in Atlanta because there’s an obvious and rational reason for the dip in performance.

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  8. The Ancient Mariner says:

    So ZIPS projects both the M’s shortstops to have slugging percentages lower than their batting averages? Is that even possible?

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  9. sc2gg says:

    Valbuena disappoints me. I was looking forwards to another season of Mike McCoy’s back and forth travel numbers. Does anyone know if he’s set some sort of record yet for most distance traveled?

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  10. colin says:

    You are not a human you are a robot, now shut up and crunch my numbers!!!

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    • colin says:

      Also did I read correctly that the wonderful combination of Aviles, Punto and Iglesias ranks in the middle of the league? Also that Jed Lowrie is almost top 10?

      Will there be a team management ranking and if so will your combined love of the Cubs and apparently the Red Soxs result in a “God. Theo Epstein” ranking at the top?

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  11. Will says:

    #2 and #3 should be switched. The Jays have 5.0 WAR total and the Marlins have 4.5 WAR total.

    But I think this list really shows the pathetic state that is MLB shortstops these days. The worst team is only 3 WAR worse than the 2nd best team. Tulo is the only guy who really stands out here…

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    • Because they have Hanley Ramirez if needed, I feel like the Marlin’s overall situation is better.

      Also, I didn’t really rank these teams on their WAR totals, more on my overall feeling towards them. It’s very subjective and welcome to debate.

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      • Dougal says:

        Jays will have Hechavarria in AAA if needed, even if he doesn’t hit the glove is supposedly as good as they come. I think the Jays situation is better.

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  12. Nate says:

    Seems like a tier system would be better. Almost any of 14-30 could be switched, reversed, and no one would be the wiser, other than Detroit and KC, both seem too low.

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  13. kid says:

    Jose Reyes slugging .471 looks pretty whack.

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  14. jp_on_rye says:

    Giants are waaaaaay too high!

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    • BX says:

      I think the last 4 teams are essentially interchangeable. They’re all equally bad at SS.

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    • Baltar says:

      I agree. Woodrum said not to make too much of small ordinal differences and small WAR differences and even then the ratings are subjective. However, I’d still be willing to bet that Giants get the lowest WAR from their SS position in 2012.
      They probably got the lowest in 2011, but I’m too lazy to calculate for every team, so this is just subjective.

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    • jerbear1985 says:

      They may be interchangeable, but the Giants have to be the worst in the majors by a long shot. If you look at the Brewers at 30, Gonzalez has power and a still-good glove, while the Giants’ Crawford has no bat and the backups are horrible offensively and defensively.

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  15. themiddle54 says:

    Does Ryan Theriot get a 0 for Fielding, or did you break FanGraphs trying to put a number on his negative defensive value?

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  16. tom says:

    No matter what happens with Ruben Tejada, Wilmer Flores will not be called up as he’s in Single A and really can’t play SS and will likely be transitioned off the position this year.

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    • Franco says:

      Yeah, it’s kind of been known for years that he would never stick at SS. The front office has now openly said he would start to get time at 3B.

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  17. YanksFanInBeantown says:

    A .268 AVG seems a little low for Jeter.

    Looks like ZiPs isn’t a big believer in his second half.

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  18. epoc says:

    You’re probably scratching your head about the Barmes signing because you’re drastically underrating him. It’s not your fault that the Fans have projected him as +5 at SS despite him being at least twice that good (according to UZR, TZ, and DRS) in each of the last three years, but it is your fault that you’re not including baserunning in your player evaluations and that you’re doing some weird kind of rounding that makes Brandon freaking Crawford look just as good as Barmes. (Seriously: I know the WAR figures presented aren’t supposed to be precise, but Crawford projects for -15.1 wRAA in 479 PA according to the ZiPS projection on his player page, while Barmes projects for -7.6 in 493 PA, yet you’ve for some reason projected them for the same WAR total in the same amount of PT. [And yes, I know this is petty.])

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    • Sorry, I never really clarified why the Barmes signing confused me. On a good day, the Pirates are the third best team in their division and still probably not good enough for a wild card run. I think Barmes is a strong defender and a decent hitter for a shortstop — I don’t think his contract necessarily makes sense though.

      And: As far as playing time and whatnot, he’s only twice been over 500 PAs and once over 550. Does that mean he can’t get 700 this year? Of course not, but I won’t be the one to guess that. Also, over the course of his career, he has been worth 1.4 WAR per 500 PAs, so one could even accuse me of being too optimistic about his age 33 year.

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  19. deadpool says:

    I still don’t see the wisdom of the Braves decision not to bring in a short stop. I get that they want to give Pastornicki a shot and eventually hand the position to Simmons, but they’re taking a huge gamble (potentially whether they make the playoffs or not) when a relatively small investment would have helped a lot. Right now Pas looks like an average glove who is at best an average bat, seems like they could have found somebody with a for of that at least for cheap.

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  20. jeff_bonds says:

    So Dee Gordon hits worse than Elliot Johnson and fields much worse. So are the Dodgers above the Rays because Jerry Hairston is just that good?

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    • I don’t necessarily agree with the hitting and fielding projections. My input is only the WAR and the rankings, so that’s a little bit of what you’re detecting there.

      Also, Johnson will be playing a lot of second base, so that’s why his UZR is so high. If he played only short, it would probably be lower.

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  21. skipperxc says:

    I can’t help but notice that the Brewers are ranked dead last and yet most everyone considers this setup superior to last year’s disaster at the position.

    Yuni is so terrible.

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  22. Michael Scott says:

    Jack Wilson also has a BA lower than his SLG.

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  23. Michael Scott says:

    Are ZIPS projections known to be particularly pessimistic? It seems like it expects regression from nearly everyone. For example, last year there were 26 guys with a wOBA at .375 or above, and this year ZIPS projects there to be 13. There were also 10 guys with wOBA’s .400 or above last year, and this year ZIPS projects 2.

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    • Baltar says:

      Man, I’m really getting tired of comments as ignorant as this. ZIPS doesn’t project how many players will meet or exceed any number. It gives a medium number for any given player. Roughly half will exceed that number, some by a large margin, so a dozen or more players whose wOBA is projected to be near but below .375 will in fact end up above .375. ZIPS just doesn’t know which ones or exactly how many. Do you?
      It’s just like flipping a coin. I project that out of 20 times I flip a coin, 10 will be heads, but if I flip 100 coins 20 times each, I will get 5 or 15 or any other number of heads many times.

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  24. Stuart says:

    You don’t think Munenori Kawasaki will get a shot with the M’s?

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  25. wily mo says:

    to your question, if cardenas was an adequate defender at SS i don’t think he would have been waived. the reports i’ve been seeing the past few years have sounded pretty tepid about him even handling 2B or 3B.

    rule of thumb, dudes who are cost-controlled solid all-around shortstops on the cusp of the majors don’t get released

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  26. Big Baby says:

    That Jeter is still better than most starting short stops in the league is crazy. How good was his second half last year?

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  27. Snowblind says:

    I respectfully disagree about Seager. Seager will have his shot at 3b, splitting time with the corpse of Figgins. Kawasaki seems to have the inside track on backing up Ryan at SS.

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  28. Franco says:

    Man, the days of the slugging shortstops are over. Good write up, but I doubt there’s any scenario where a healthy Jimmy Rollins with new contract is getting benched this year or next.

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  29. Phil D. says:

    Nick Punto at 1 WAR per 150 PAs?

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  30. I was excited to hear about Theriot’s new glove endorsement … with Everlast.

    Seriously I don’t know what StL was thinking with replacing Ryan with Theriot’s similar OBP, but drastically inferior glove.

    Good luck SFG fans. “Routine grounder to short” is a phrase you can remove from your vocabulary.

    It’s amazing not that long ago that some of the best players in baseball were shortstops, and I’m not even referring to the Tejada, Young, Nomar, Jeter, A-Rod years.

    Azdrubal Cabrera is confusing. How can someone make so many great plays yet be challenged with the routine?

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    • Tom B says:

      This is why someone like jEter should be way higher on this list.

      He may not get to 1 or 2 plays over the course of a WEEK that are out of his range, but he doesn’t mess up ANYTHING he can reach.

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  31. Justin Bailey says:

    It’s Erick Aybar with a K.

    Also, to add something more than a mere copy-edit, what are the odds that Jed Lowrie will get to 550 PA and not go down with an injury? I’m not implying anything, I’m really asking. Cause I’ve watched him a lot over the last four years, and dude seems brittle.

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  32. chip says:

    braves backup SS will be Drew Sutton, I guess.
    Fredi mentioned some candidate of backup SS including Josh Wilson ,Simmons,Sutton, but he didn’t mention about Hicks.
    Of course, Hicks is a candidate but not a strong candidate.

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  33. jrogers says:

    I love the spellings in the Jeter blurb. Want to call one of my fantasy teams the “Twighlight Hooverarounds”.

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  34. Tom B says:

    You just ranked Jed Lowrie ahead of another person with a pulse at SS.

    This series is a giant waste of time.

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  35. jorgath says:

    I respectfully disagree with your evaluation of Ian Desmond. I don’t contest his performance to-date, but he’s going into his third year in the majors and he’s drastically improved defensively. Yes, he had a sophomore slump year at the plate, and he’s certainly not leadoff material (though the Nationals probably are going to put him there). But I would say that your expectation that they’ll ditch him is based on faulty premises: it’s certainly what will happen if he has another terrible offensive year, or if he breaks the 30-error mark, but it’s more likely that you’ll see the Nats keep him around simply because his range is so good at short (even if he is error-prone). It’s also likely that he’ll be in the 15-20 error range this year based on his growth at the position. They’ll just bat him 8th if they can find someone to hit leadoff, and he’ll be a defense-first shortstop.

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  36. rea says:

    Peralta certainly seems to play a lot better with Detroit than he did the last few years in Cleveland. Maybe that’s imaginary, and we’ll see some serious reversion to the mean next year. If that doesn’t happen, your ranking of him is hard to justify.

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  37. Randy says:

    Texas: Too early to place Profar on the depth chart?

    Baltimore: Too early to place Macado on the depth chart? At least you mentioned him.

    Miami: You mentioned Hanley, but he should definitely still be listed as the backup IMO.

    While Hanley leaves a lot to be desired defensively, he hits enough to justify Miami being toward the top of this list without Reyes. You could make an argument that Miami should be first because they have two SS, even though neither is as good as Tulo.

    The gap between the top 2 and the rest is HUGE.

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  38. JG says:

    Not sure what source you’re hearing that Inge is definitely the Tigers’ starting 2B this year. All I’ve heard is that he’s getting a chance to win the job along with Raburn and Santiago.

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  39. camisadelgolf says:

    I think it was a big omission to talk about the Reds’ shortstops without mentioning Paul Janish. Granted, the Reds traded for Wilson Valdez, but Paul Janish has at least as likely of a shot to be the primary backup.

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  40. Subtle says:

    Is Cardenas really the shortstop backup for the Cubs? Shouldn’t Barney be the backup with Cardenas playing 2nd if Castro is out? I thought Cardenas didn’t have the arm/range for shortstop which is why the A’s waived him. They supposedly thought he could only play 2nd….

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  41. Bryce says:

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

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