Last week we went over our second tier of shortstop keepers. This week we delve into the third tier where we run into a few players coming off bounce-back seasons.
Emilio Bonifacio ($12)
Bonifacio was a jack-of-all-trades last season, spending time at second and third base, each outfield spot, and most importantly shortstop. Bonifacio’s game is predicated on speed, swiping 40 bags in 51 attempts last season while also hitting seven triples. Playing a full season for the first time, he shined for the Marlins, hitting .296/.360/.393 in 641 plate appearances. He possessed the fifth-lowest flyball rate in baseball, slapping the ball all over the field and making the most out of his blazing speed. It’s that speed that doesn’t make me too nervous about his .372 BABIP. If he keeps the ball out of the air that number should steadily be above league-average. He’ll be 27 next season and may have finally found his comfort zone in Florida. Keep an eye out for the Marlins’ free agent shopping, since Bonifacio’s playing time depends on them standing pat or focusing their money on non-third base positions.
J.J. Hardy ($12)
Hardy enjoyed a nice 2011 season after two down years with the Brewers and Twins. His .222 Isolated Power was the highest of his career, and his 30 home runs were tied with Troy Tulowitzki for the most among shortstops. He benefited from playing half of his games in Camden Yards, with a home OPS .104 points higher than on the road. The league still required the Orioles to play road games, and Hardy suffered, although you could not tell from his home run total—rather, the canary in the coal mine was Hardy’s road on-base percentage (.286). I believe in his power, and given the position, you could do worse than Hardy.
Jhonny Peralta ($12)
This tier seems to be full of players who had big bounce back seasons, including Peralta. In blasting 21 home runs and returning to his power roots, Peralta posted his best fantasy season since 2008. His OPS of .824 was his highest since 2005. He’s kind of like the anti-Bonifacio in that he gives you zero speed, but plenty of power. Like Hardy, Peralta hit much better at home in 2011, as the difference in his home and road OPS was over .140 points. I really like Peralta for next season and think our $12 value may be on the low side. The Tigers have a good offense and the soon-to-be 30-year-old Peralta figures to be prominently involved.
Erick Aybar ($11)
Aybar also rebounded with a nice 2011 campaign. His 10 home runs equaled his previous two seasons combined, and with 30 stolen bases he was one of only four shortstops to post double-digits in both categories. Unlike Hardy and Peralta, Aybar hit much better away from spacious Anaheim—a .690 OPS versus .794 on the road. If you’re keeping Aybar you’re likely banking on his power surge being real, since the 30-steal potential is nice, but looks much nicer when combined with double-digit home run power. Tread cautiously here.
Derek Jeter ($10)
Ahhh, Cap’n Jeets. The debate about keeping Jeter comes down to which half you put weight into heading forward. Is he the pre-All-Star game Jeter that hit .270/.330/.353, or the post-All-Star game Jeter that hit .327/.383/.428? The former is not keepable in standard leagues; the latter is, however, considering only three shortstops had OPS of more than .811 last season. Hitting in the top of the Yankee order means he’ll continue to rack up gaudy runs totals if he posts a decent on-base percentage. Given his age, I’m of the belief that he’s more of the player he was in the first half than the second, but the quality of lineup around him buoys his value regardless.
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