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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