Random Thoughts on Shortstops

Stealing Jeff’s format from his post yesterday, I’ll be looking at some various shortstops around the fantasy landscape. It’s been a few weeks since shortstops were discussed in these pages, aside from going over how bad they are, and while not much has transpired, there is something to be said.

Stephen Drew

The only major news coming out of the shortstop community lately is the concern over Stephen Drew’s availability for opening day due to anĀ  abdominal injury. The MRI results were negative, and while it doesn’t look like he’ll be put on the disabled list, he could still be held out a few days as a precautionary measure. The problem for the Diamondbacks, and potentially for fantasy owners, is that the team doesn’t have a suitable backup for Drew. They recently put Tony Abreu on waivers, so he could potentially be claimed by another team. That leaves utility man Willie Bloomquist, but his .299 OBP last year isn’t appealing on any level.

We have Drew rated as the sixth best shortstop this season, and we know the SS talent pool isn’t very deep so any loss to an upper tier player will be felt more so than positions.

In case Drew is out for any extended period of time here are some shortstops to consider that are owned in less than 10% of all ESPN or Yahoo! leagues.

Yuniesky Betancourt (7% Yahoo!)

I never thought I’d be writing a blurb Yuniesky, but here I am. Somehow in 2010 he managed to hit 16 home runs after never showing that much power potential anywhere throughout his career. If you believe he magically found a power stroke and will continue to hit 10+ homers then by all means pick him up. He does have a full time gig, which most players with such a low ownership percentage do not, so if anything he’ll get the at bats. His average won’t kill you (.272 career), but he doesn’t run or provide relevance in any other category.

Cliff Pennington (1.1% ESPN)

Another shortstop with job security, Pennington’s only asset is his ability to steal bases. He only hit .250 and got on base at a .319 clip in 2010, but managed to swipe 29 bases. Oakland’s offense is fairly weak once again, so Pennington should get the green light to run whenever he feels the need. For someone with no power, he would be well served to try and flip his GB (35.6%) and FB (43.0%) percentages this season. If, and it’s a big if, he’s able to do that his value will surely increase.

Jerry Hairston Jr. (3% Yahoo)

A player with multipositional eligibility (2B, SS, OF), Hairston is once again in a part time job, this time with the Nationals. He should see some at bats in a platoon with Rick Ankiel in centerfield, and will undoubtedly see action at the other up the middle positions as well. The past two seasons Hairston has averaged roughly 450 at bats and hit 10 home runs in each campaign. That type of power plays at a weak hitting position like shortstop. Playing time will be hard to pinpoint, but in a pinch there are worse options.

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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

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