A lot has happened since the May consensus shortstop rankings were published. Those will be updated around the All-Star break, but until then here are my tiered rankings for June.
Castro was a pretty valuable player last year when he hit 10 home runs, stole 22 bases and hit .307. We’re through 60 games this season and he already has five homers and 16 steals and is hitting .308. Our ZiPS updated season projections have him swiping 32 bags with 11 homers. He’s being far more aggressive than last season, swinging at 41.6 percent of balls outside the zone, but it’s possible he goes 15/30/.300 with 80 RBI and 80 runs. Not many players, let alone shortstops, are going to have those totals. The biggest surprise in this group is Jed Lowrie. We’ve all been teased by his potential before. He’s getting regular playing time now, and has avoided injury thus far, and the results are speaking for themselves. His 12 homers lead the position, though he’s driven in himself nearly half the time. He’s become more selective this season, swinging less and walking more. I’ve always been a Lowrie believer and it’s paying off right now.
The real surprise of this group is Seager. The 24-year-old has impressed all around and is going to finish with double digit steals and home runs while maintaining a decent average and OBP. He already has 17 doubles as well, pushing his Isolated Slugging (SLG% – BA) to .210, second behind Jed Lowrie. Reyes had a rough April in his new environment, but has been returning to normal levels since. Every one of his main slash numbers has gone up from April to May and May to June. If he keeps it up he’ll get bumped into the first tier. Andrus is hitting for a higher average, getting on base more, and slugging more than ever. He’s on pace to have the lowest stolen base total of his career, but should still get to 30 bags.
I’m not a believer in Aviles, as I’ve written lately. He had a decent start but doesn’t have the plate discipline I like to push him any higher. Hardy has great power for the position, but you have to be ok with giving up some batting average in exchange for home runs. The same goes for Desmond, though he’ll steal you ~15-20 bases. Peralta has been a disappointment after a great 2011 season. He’s started to rebound, though, posting a .756 OPS in May and a 1.054 OPS in 23 June plate appearances. If he keeps it up he will easily move up a tier in next month’s rankings.
Gordon has been a disappointment, not getting on base enough to use his amazing speed. He does have 17 steals, but how many could he have if his on base percentage wasn’t .280? Of the two Escobars, Alcides is playing the best. He’s been much better than his last two seasons, raising his average and OBP to respectable levels. That success is partly due to an increase in his BABIP of .345 when it hadn’t cracked .290 in 2010 or 2011. When you’re not fast, having a 63.2% ground ball rate is rarely a good idea. Yunel Escobar is finding that out the hard way. After a very good 2011 he’s hitting just .250/.307/.329.
These players shouldn’t be owned in standard mixed leagues. They simply don’t provide enough value to sustain ownership.