Mid-Season Shortstop Tier Rankings

Just a week ago, we were looking at players I ranked differently from others or disagreed with commenters on for the month of June. Well, just like that it’s July, and it’s time for a new batch of shortstop rankings. These ones aren’t any more important than any other month, but they do provide an interesting look because they come right at the mid-way point of the baseball season.

Before we look ahead, however, I want to take a brief moment to look back. Can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been, and all that.

Just as a refresher on how much things can change over half a season – and yes, randomly chosen endpoints at the midway are not mathematically sound, but they matter psychologically for fantasy players – here are the top-15 shortstops before and after July 1 from last season (courtesy BaseballMonster):

To June 30 Player AVG HR SB RBI R From July 1 Player AVG HR SB RBI R
1 Jean Segura 0.327 11 24 32 46 1 Hanley Ramirez 0.332 14 6 39 47
2 Troy Tulowitzki 0.347 16 0 51 41 2 Elvid Andrus 0.301 4 24 39 48
3 Everth Cabrera 0.305 4 31 24 37 3 Martin Prado 0.320 8 2 56 38
4 Ian Desmond 0.276 15 8 48 36 4 Jose Reyes 0.290 8 10 29 49
5 Ben Zobrist 0.273 5 5 43 44 5 Ian Desmond 0.285 5 13 32 41
6 J.J. Hardy 0.266 15 1 46 32 6 Brian Dozier 0.255 11 8 40 40
7 Jhonny Peralta 0.314 7 2 36 35 7 Jed Lowrie 0.272 10  0 41 43
8 Jed Lowrie 0.309 5 1 34 37 8 Alexei Ramirez 0.288 5 12 31 36
9 Elvis Andrus 0.243 17 28 42 9 Brad Miller 0.269 8 3 35 40
10 Alexei Ramirez 0.280 1 18 17 32 10 Andrelton Simmons 0.260 11 1 36 35
11 Asrdubal Cabrera 0.268 6 5 26 35 11 Stephen Drew 0.278 8 4 36 30
12 Zack Cozart 0.244 7  0 31 42 12 Ben Zobrist 0.275 7 6 27 33
13 Mike Aviles 0.258 5 6 26 33 13 J.J. Hardy 0.263 10 1 31 34
14 Jimmy Rollins 0.263 4 8 28 31 14 Troy Tulowitzki 0.272 9 1 31 31
15 Marco Scutaro 0.319 2 0 18 35 15 Erick Aybar 0.261 3 8 23 43

What you’ll notice is that only one name stayed in the top-five, only four stayed in the top-10 and only seven stayed in the top-15. That’s not to say heavy turnover is a certainty, but it does speak to the need to avoid creating mental anchors to performance to date.

For a similar look, here are the top-15 at the position so far and their rest-of-season Steamer projections, which we know to be pretty damn accurate, historically:

To June 30 Player AVG HR SB RBI R Steamer ROS AVG HR SB RBI R
1 Troy Tulowitzki 0.352 18 1 46 63 0.310 14 1 47 43
2 Dee Gordon 0.295 2 40 25 45 0.259 1 26 21 31
3 Alexei Ramirez 0.298 8 13 39 40 0.271 5 9 30 32
4 Hanley Ramirez 0.272 11 10 46 39 0.276 9 7 31 29
5 Starlin Castro 0.280 11 2 47 38 0.275 6 5 30 34
6 Erick Aybar 0.283 6 8 41 40 0.275 4 8 29 34
7 Alcides Escobar 0.296 2 20 24 38 0.264 2 12 25 30
8 Jose Reyes 0.264 6 16 23 44 0.283 6 12 30 42
9 Ian Desmond 0.232 14 8 46 31 0.261 9 8 36 35
10 Elvis Andrus 0.268 2 18 19 45 0.273 2 16 27 39
11 Jimmy Rollins 0.249 8 14 31 37 0.238 7 11 27 37
12 Asdrubal Cabrera 0.248 8 6 33 46 0.256 7 4 32 33
13 Jean Segura 0.244 4 14 22 41 0.271 5 14 25 31
14 Brandon Crawford 0.250 7 2 36 34 0.243 4 2 23 25
15 Jhonny Peralta 0.241 11 1 36 30 0.253 6 1 28 25

Let’s dive in, shall we.

Tier One – Tulowitzki, To The Wall
Troy Tulowitzki

“Why do you call me good. No one is good – except Troy Tulowitzki alone.”

Tier Two – RAMIREZ
Hanley Ramirez
Jose Reyes
Alexei Ramirez

I know there are still some who can’t invest in Alexei Ramirez, and that’s fine, I guess. But he’s been a top-11 shortstop in four consecutive half-seasons, little stands out to scream regression beyond what’s still a completely acceptable production level and, for that reason, I’m willing to draw the line beneath him instead of some of the riskier names in the tier below.

Tier Three – Sweet Dee
Ian Desmond
Starlin Castro
Elvis Andrus
Dee Gordon

Believe in Gordon. Just do it. I said it from the hop this year and continue to stand by the fact that he’s not a sell-high, because nobody is going to pay an expectant price, anyway. He may not finish with 80 steals and hit .300, but the changes to his discipline profile have him on base more and putting more balls in play, which is all he needs to retain value.

Tier Four – Rollins in the deep
Jean Segura
Erick Aybar
Alcides Escobar
Jimmy Rollins
Asdrubal Cabrera
Jhonny Peralta

I had Jimmy Rollins a tier higher last time around and I figure I should explain the drop (although I also split six tiers into seven, which spreads some names out). Rollins is still having a strong bounce-back season, bumping his wRC+ back to average, where he’s more or less sat in his “good” fantasy years. For whatever reason, though, his walks disappeared in June and his isolated slugging dropped appreciably, thanks in part to a dip in line drive rate that coincided with a decline in HR/FB rate and an upswing in infield fly rate. Using month splits to find a trend is tricky business in one paragraph, but let’s just say his status warrants watching closely.

Tier Five – Hardy, Boy
J.J. Hardy
Xander Bogaerts
Ben Zobrist
Brad Miller
Jed Lowrie
Andrelton Simmons
Jonathan Villar
Brandon Crawford
Chris Owings

J.J. Hardy will, I suppose, hit another home run at some point. BREAKING: As I write this, Hardy just went yak. Things are looking up! I wrote about his mysterious drop in power a few weeks back, and he’s since hit two balls out, so maybe if I just keep writing about him, he’ll be great. In reality, projection systems just don’t see his power completely disappearing like it has, and while they’re not privy to possible explanations like an early-season neck issue, they are privy to the effects of aging and variance. The bet here, by me and the systems, is that the early-season outage is at least in part due to variance, and the HR/FB will be higher than two percent in short order.

Tier Six – San. Tana. Hey.
Danny Santana
Yangervis Solarte
Derek Jeter
Everth Cabrera
Yunel Escobar
Stephen Drew

It’s looking like Danny Santana now has a path to playing time the rest of the way, at least in more than a 50-50 share, which would mean 200-plus plate appearances. That could be enough for him to sniff double-digit steals in the second half, which itself would have value this low, even if his average didn’t project as one that won’t sink you (.265-ish). There’s only mild pop in the bat, and he’s not the 129 wRC+ guy he’s been so far, but he’s a decent speed gamble.

Tier Seven – I look at yours, you laugh at mine
Josh Rutledge
Zack Cozart
Jordy Mercer
Rafael Furcal
Adeiny Hechavarria

If you’re reaching this far, Rutledge is the obvious play. His playing time is tenuous but he’s easily the most likely of this group or any other shortstop available to hit for power, add steals and make a positive difference. I invested earlier and it hasn’t paid off as I’d hoped, but he does have 32 plate appearances in the past two weeks as the Rockies continue to judge whether Rutledge’s offense or Charlie Culberson’s defense is the better play.




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Blake Murphy is a news editor at The Score, and is a freelance sportswriter covering baseball, basketball, hockey and more. Think Bo Jackson, without the being good at every sport part. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.


15 Responses to “Mid-Season Shortstop Tier Rankings”

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  1. rafi says:

    I think Eugenio Suarez merits a tier 6 placement.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Tuscan Chicken says:

    As a frustrated Everth owner please give me something to be happy about.

    Can he even be dealt at this point?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. bdsparty32 says:

    Since Villar was optioned to AAA last night, I would replace him in Tier 5 with D. Santana and put Eugenio Suarez in Tier 6.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. SB12 says:

    Tier 3 robbed of a name, which is criminal considering some of the brilliance of the others…

    Me, Andrus, Your Momma and Your cousin, too?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Atreyu Jones says:

    “a top-11 shortstop in four consecutive half-seasons”

    humorously faint praise

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. MDS says:

    Where does Mookie Betts fall?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. TM says:

    Since this is the first year in 3 years I missed out on Tulo I’m going to go ahead and predict that HanRam has a better second half. Heard it here first.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. ace_hunter1982 says:

    Alexei Ramirez: 21.7 IFFB%. Walk rate decreasing and strikeout rate increasing every month of the season. As far as things that “scream regression,” those would be high on my list.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. yosoyfiesta says:

    Can you drop Steffie Drew down a couple tiers? He couldn’t buy a hit in slow pitch softball, he better keep a close eye on his glove, if he leaves it somewhere, he’s done!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Za Warudo says:

    No Ruben Tejada?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. atoms says:

    Is Bogaerts just slumping, or is there a bigger problem?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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