2012 Shortstop Keeper Rankings: First Tier

As you’ve seen, we’ve started to roll out our 2012 keeper rankings. Today we look at the top tier of shortstops, which includes two unsurprising names.

Troy Tulowitzki ($22)

It comes as no surprise that Tulowitzki is in the first tier. Over the past three seasons he has the eighth highest wOBA in baseball, behind only Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Kevin Youkilis. No shortstop comes within .20 points of Tulowitzki’s mark of .396. We’re talking keeper rankings, though, so what he did three years ago may not be relevant for 2012. Let’s take a look at last season. The 27-year old had another excellent season, hitting 30 home runs while driving in 105 runs. He doesn’t steal bases anymore, going from 20 in ’09 to nine in ’11, but when you have the power he does it’s a non issue. His strikeout rate was down while the walk rate ticked up. He reverted back to hitting more line drives and fewer ground balls, seeing his LD% jump from 15 to 19.

If patience is a virtue then Tulowitzki is one of the most virtuous players in the game. His Swing, O-Swing and Z-Swing percentages are all well below league average while his Contact, O-Contact and Z-Contact percentages are all above league average. When he sees a pitch he likes, he hits it. It truly is hard to find any flaw in his game. The only time he’s seemed human was May of this year when he put up a .196 BABIP and .278 wOBA. Take out that month and his seasonal wOBA jumps from the ~.380’s to .440. He finished the season as the 28th ranked player according to Yahoo!, which isn’t too far off from his 23rd place finish in 2010. I actually think our values have him ranked a tad low at 25th overall and $22. He’s just starting the prime seasons of his career and plays a premium position in a great hitter’s park. He’s going to remain in this top tier for the foreseeable future.

Jose Reyes ($21)

As enthusiastic as I am about Tulowitzki, I’m equally as cautious about Reyes. I wrote last week about the expectations for him going into next season. I’ll give you the cliff notes; my concerns rest in his health, xBABIP and playing location. His hamstrings have caused him to miss a lot of games over the past three seasons. I’m afraid that this will begin to have an impact on his running game as well. He had a .353 BABIP last season which is way over his career norms. He’s not in the same situation as a Matt Kemp who had a high BABIP but also a high xBABIP. Reyes’ xBABIP was .318, which is in line with his career average. By the time you draft Reyes will have likely signed somewhere. Be sure to be mindful of the park and division in which he lands. Despite my concerns Reyes is a safe bet to remain in this top tier.




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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.


9 Responses to “2012 Shortstop Keeper Rankings: First Tier”

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  1. MH says:

    I understand the health concerns about Reyes, but I think the BABIP issue is overblown, you make it sound as if that was the only reason for the AVG spike. He posted career lows in K% and SwStrike% pretty substantially while posting an ISO above his career average despite a HR/FB well below his career average (suggesting he wasn’t trading contact for power, just that his XBH weren’t clearing the Citi fences). Yes, the BABIP will likely come down, but unless he winds up in SD, SEA, or OAK (very unlikely) its pretty reasonable expect his homer output to about double (including if he stays at Citi assuming the plan to bring the walls in sticks–he was a perpetual double-digit HR guy at Shea and did hit 11 in Citi in 2010) and he’d have an outside chance at 20 HR if he moved to a true hitters park. Is .300-15-40 really all that different from .330-7-40? With speed and AVG specialists such as Dee Gordon and Starlin Castro (respectively) at SS but precious little power, you could make a case you’d rather have .300-15-40. I’m not saying I’d want him as a first round draft choice, but I’d be happy to target him in the second round again and he’s definitely a keeper.

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  2. Nick V. says:

    Why is this article posted when it was only 2/3 finished?

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  3. Bob Flake says:

    Er, where’ the rest of them. My dog could have come up with Tulo-Reyes #1-2, so what good are you?

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    • batpig says:

      these articles are only covering “first tier” players at each position, pay attention.

      HanRam was a very fascinating “non mention”.

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  4. phoenix2042 says:

    i think the more interesting keeper question in HanRam…

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  5. Travis says:

    In what league can you get Tulo for $22?!

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  6. LRG412 says:

    If Tulo is $22 in keeper leagues, then Reyes should be at about $17 or $18 cuz that’s how much better Tulo is. $1 isn’t enough of a difference for a guy who does every thing great. I’d also put Hanley at like $19 (with Reyes being $18) because I think Hanley has proven he deserves to be in discussion with the elite SS and players in the league. 1 bad year isn’t enough to knock him down a tier because he’s been the best player in fantasy baseball over the last 5 years.

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  7. Math Nerd says:

    In a keeper league, I’m thinking about offering up Michael Pineda and Craig Kimbrel for Jose Reyes.

    Background: 8-team rotisserie league, 5×5 stat categories, 11 pitcher slots (any), 14 hitter slots (C, C, 1, 2, 3, SS, CI, MI, 5 OF, Util), 10 bench slots

    12 players are kept, and keeping these two might mean dropping someone on the level of Mike Napoli or Jaime Garcia (in other words I might lose them anyway).

    I tend to believe that I have a “scouting edge” in pitching. Just using basic tools here on Fangraphs like FIP and SIERA, I don’t put as much stock in guys like Vogelsong and Hellickson.

    So, am I giving too much? Am I being unfair? If anyone cares to comment on my proposal, I’d be interested to hear!

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  8. Adrock says:

    Hey Math Nerd. In an 8-team league, starting pitchers are a dime a dozen, and closers are easy enough to find. Elite talent at premium positions is far more valuable than replaceable arms. I would trade those two pitchers for Reyes 100 times out of 100.

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