2014 Shortstop Tier Rankings: June

Disclaimer: After watching Randy Wolf throw six good innings on Monday night, I’m no longer sure I know anything about baseball, so what follows may just be gibberish.

And, of course, there’s no turning back from my early-May proclamation that Troy Tulowitzki is now in a tier of his own at the shortstop position. Four weeks later, the Rockies slugger has cooled some – he “only” had a wRC+ of 172 in May, compared to 211 in April, and he’s off to a horrid 1-for-4 in June – but he’s still producing far beyond what any player at the position could even dream of.

Having said that, the resurgence of Hanley Ramirez, the continued success of Alexei Ramirez and the staying power of some early-season surprises, the position remains an interesting one.

Tier One
Tulowitzki

Even if you love Hanley Ramirez, Tulowitzki projects to beat him handily in every category except stolen bases for the rest of the season. The only reason anyone would take Ramirez is a belief that Tulowitzki is “due” to get injured, which is not only impossible to know but also ignores Ramirez’ own spotty track record for healthy.

Tier Two
H. Ramirez
Ian Desmond
Alexei Ramirez
Jose Reyes

Ramirez obviously tops the second tier, then, and he’s followed by three names that you’ll probably vary on in terms of how much you like them. Desmond remains the most likely bet for 20-20 per-600 numbers and the underlying statistics suggest a batting average rise could be coming, while Reyes is always a top play when healthy, which he is for the time being. Alexei Ramirez is the most interesting name, as he’s been the number two player at the position so far and projects to keep on producing, just at a lesser level. Given the risks associated with the next tier, he slots in here for now.

Tier Three
Elvis Andrus
Ben Zobrist
Starlin Castro
Jimmy Rollins
Dee Gordon
Jean Segura

This tier is a nice reminder of how mixed a bag the spot can be. Gordon’s projections aren’t great beyond the steals but they don’t fully account for the change in his discipline profile so far, and I’d personally bet he steals another 30. Andrus and Segura, too, are good bets for another 20 steals. Castro and Rollins present a lower stolen base upside but a better balance with power, and Zobrist does a little bit of everything, making him the easiest to plug in (he’s multi-position eligible, too) but tough to rely on for anything beyond what has now been established as his standard.

Tier Four
Jed Lowrie
Jhonny Peralta
J.J. Hardy
Andrelton Simmons
Asdrubal Cabrera
Jonathan Villar
Everth Cabrera
Xander Bogaerts

This becomes kind of a specialist category, offering similar profiles to the players in tier three but with lower upsides and greater risk. Lowrie, Peralta, Hardy and Asdrubal Cabrera bring pop, Everth Cabrera and Villar bring steals, and Simmons offers a bit of each, with projections remaining bullish despite a slow start at the dish. Oh, and a prediction: Hardy, who owns an 11 percent career HR/FB rate but has zero home runs on 58 fly balls, will eventually homer.

Tier Five
Erick Aybar
Brad Miller
Alcides Escobar
Stephen Drew
Chris Owings

Can we trust Escobar at this point? Will Drew have anything left? Is Owings going to continue to get the requisite playing time for a prorated 12-15? Will Brad Miller get it together in time to avoid demotion? Some of you will have no choice but to hope on questions like these, and that’s completely fine, but you’re just splitting hairs based on how you evaluate each profile. Bogaerts and Aybar, however, are close to the fourth tier, with the former still looking like a 20-home run bat and the latter being the safest (and most boring) fantasy player of the last three seasons and the last six if you ignore his unlikely 2011 breakout.

Tier Six
Derek Jeter
Yunel Escobar
Brandon Crawford
Yangervis Solarte
Jordy Mercer
Rafael Furcal
Adeiny Hechavarria

Slim pickings here, enough so that I’ve kept Furcal on the DL for chunks of the season in a really deep league hoping that he’s eventually used. Jeter probably also has one hot streak left in him, if you can time it right, because it wouldn’t be a Jeter final season without him tricking Yankees fans into thinking he could go another year.

The table below shows the players listed here with their rank to date and their Steamer Rest of Season projections:

Player Preseason Rank Tier Rank To Date AVG R RBI HR SB
Troy Tulowitzki 1 1 1 0.305 57 63 19 2
Hanley Ramirez 2 2 4 0.274 45 48 13 9
Ian Desmond 6 2 9 0.264 45 46 12 10
Jose Reyes 5 2 10 0.282 49 34 6 15
Alexei Ramirez 11 2 2 0.273 43 40 7 12
Ben Zobrist 10 3 22 0.263 39 34 7 5
Elvis Andrus 7 3 7 0.273 51 36 4 21
Jean Segura 3 3 12 0.276 44 36 6 20
Starlin Castro 8 3 13 0.276 46 39 8 7
Jimmy Rollins 18 3 8 0.239 50 37 9 13
Dee Gordon 34 3 3 0.254 27 19 1 24
Jed Lowrie 17 4 17 0.260 41 38 8 1
Jhonny Peralta 22 4 14 0.252 33 37 8 2
J.J. Hardy 14 4 25 0.258 45 45 12 1
Andrelton Simmons 13 4 27 0.265 43 39 8 6
Asdrubal Cabrera 15 4 18 0.256 42 40 9 6
Everth Cabrera 4 4 20 0.252 46 31 4 27
Jonathan Villar 20 4 21 0.230 43 33 7 24
Erick Aybar 16 5 5 0.274 43 37 5 10
Alcides Escobar 19 5 6 0.259 41 34 3 16
Xander Bogaerts 12 5 16 0.267 45 43 9 4
Chris Owings 36 5 23 0.264 32 35 6 8
Mike Aviles 35 5 15 0.253 22 22 4 5
Stephen Drew 23 5 n/r 0.240 22 20 4 2
Brad Miller 9 5 34 0.255 48 37 9 8
Derek Jeter 21 6 29 0.276 40 28 4 4
Zack Cozart 24 6 33 0.246 39 36 8 2
Yunel Escobar 27 6 31 0.253 38 33 5 3
Rafael Furcal n/r 6 n/r 0.264 16 11 2 3
Brandon Crawford 29 6 19 0.242 33 33 6 3
Yangervis Solarte n/r 6 11 0.264 40 39 7 2
Adeiny Hechavarria 31 6 26 0.247 33 32 3 7



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Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.


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Dave
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Dave

Has Desmond just been unlucky thus far this season? The homers have been there, but he’s batting a pretty brutal .226

ashtray
Guest
ashtray

.237 BABIP over the last month.

Jackie T.
Member
Member
Jackie T.

16.7% IFFB rate this year. Not all bad BABIPs are bad luck.

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