Shortstop Tiers: Breaking Them Down

The shortstop position has held pretty steady over the past year. There’s been no impact rookies that have hit the scene and sky rocketed up the rankings. We break them down into tiers below which we will update periodically throughout the season.

First Tier:

Troy Tulowitzki
Jose Reyes
Hanley Ramirez

Barring any type of injury, Tulowitzki is going to hold the crown as the top fantasy shortstop for some time. His combination of power and average is unrivaled at the position. He’s a top five overall pick regardless of league format. Reyes came on extremely strong last season after a rough two years, hitting .337 with 16 triples and 39 steals in just 126 games. His hamstrings will always be a concern, and are a major reason why Tulowitzki is going to keep his shortstop crown for years to come. Even though he’s sliding over to third to accommodate Reyes, Ramirez retains his shortstop eligibility for at least one more season and picks up another. He’s included in this first tier thanks to a stellar track record and hope he can come back healthy after injuries nagged him last year. If healthy there’s no reason he can’t put up a 20HR/30SB season at minimum.

Second Tier:

Elvis Andrus
Starlin Castro
Asdrubal Cabrera
J.J. Hardy

Castro was a tough omission from the first tier. He hits for a good average, but doesn’t stand out in any other category enough for me to give him the bump. He hit ten home runs last year while stealing twenty two bases, and has the potential to easily eclipse those numbers. As long as Andrus can keep his average in the .280 range and above he’s going to be an asset thanks to his legs. Batting lead off for the Rangers never hurts ones totals, either. If Cabrera’s new found power is legit then he’s a star. Only three shortstops hit 25+ homers last year and he was one of them. I’m still a bit skeptical, though. Hardy is ranked higher than his average draft position (10th) would suggest. I believe in his power (30 HR in 2011) more than I believe in the old legs and bats of Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins.

Third Tier:

Jimmy Rollins
Derek Jeter
Dee Gordon
Erick Aybar

Rollins and Jeter are the old guard, slipping from where they once were but still valuable commodities. If you could combine the two you’d have a damn fine player, with Rollins providing more power and speed and Jeter bringing the average and on base percentage. Gordon is the wild card, with the potential to make his inclusion in the third tier look smart or very, very dumb. No one possesses his speed, so if he can get on base at a decent clip he should be an easy lock for fifty stolen bases. It’s getting on base that’s the key. A low walk percentage forces him to rely on a high batting average to sustain value. Underrated for years, Aybar has sneaky 10HR/30SB capability. The addition of Pujols to the lineup will only help the most talented of the Aybar brothers.

Fourth Tier:

Yunel Escobar
Jhonny Peralta
Alexei Ramirez
Stephen Drew (injured)
Emilio Bonifacio
Marco Scutaro
Ian Desmond
Alcides Escobar
Jed Lowrie

There’s nothing wrong with these players. They’re fine in their own right. None of them will submarine you, though none will dazzle, either. They’re cheaper options, though there are some question marks included on most of them. Can Peralta duplicate his 2011? Will Bonifacio have a position in Miami? How much can Drew contribute once he comes back?

The Rest:
Cliff Pennington
Rafael Furcal
Clint Barmes
Zack Cozart
Alex Gonzalez
Sean Rodriguez
Alexi Casilla
Brandon Crawford
Tyler Pastornicky

The bottom of the barrel. There may be some surprises here, like Zack Cozart and possibly Sean Rdoriguez, but for the most part these players are not going to hit enough to earn a spot in your lineup, let alone your bench.

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

25 Responses to “Shortstop Tiers: Breaking Them Down”

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  1. lmb says:

    no Bartlett?

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  2. Pat says:

    For where you would have had to draft HanRam this year (early 2nd round) that rock bottom floor he showed us last year is too scary.

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  3. st says:

    yea i would take bartlett over Pastornicky

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  4. Ron says:

    I’m surprised to see Escobar so low in the Tiers. What’s the justification for a player who produced 4.0+ WAR last year?

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  5. Coach Mike says:

    Mike Aviles? I have high hopes (natural high hopes. not the herb variety) for him this season. Your thoghts? TIA

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    • Chris K says:

      Agreed. Aviles should be taken before anyone in the fourth tier save for the Cuban Missile (and maybe Scutaro). I’d imagine this was just an oversight.

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    • MustBunique says:

      I don’t share your high hopes, but I have medium hopes. Would take him for sure over a bunch of guys in the last tier here (especially now that Iglesias was sent down, phew). Position flexibility will make him more valuable, too.

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    • Eric says:

      I’m also curious about Aviles (I wound up taking him after missing the top 10 or so ss’s, and I figured the difference between any of the rest and him wasn’t worth multiple draft rounds)

      In ESPN, Eric Sogard is SS eligible – any thoughts on whether he’s likely to stick & get enough AB’s to be worth using a SS spot for? (If he can get AB’s, I’d be shocked if he can’t outperform many of the 4th tier & below here)

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    • theeiffeltower says:

      Yeah Aviles and Cozart should both be around the bottom to the middle of the fourth tier. Definitely better than Pennington, Crawford and the like.

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  6. JoeC says:

    Isn’t Kinsler batting leadoff for the Rangers and not Andrus?

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  7. Mike S says:

    Lol no Met even gets recognized. I love my team.

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  8. mcbrown says:

    The problem with J.J. Hardy is that people overestimate the value of HRs and underestimate the value of BA and SB. If he hits 25 homeruns in c. 650 PAs, I peg him as the 9th best SS in 5×5 formats, just about even with Alexei Ramirez who should bring 10 fewer HR, but compensate with 10 SB (vs. Hardy’s 0) and a higher BA.

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    • Anthony says:

      Except he hits his 25 in only about 400 PA cause he is never healthy for a whole season. Platoon him with a better AVG SS that will get you 8-10 SBs in the 30 games or so hardy misses, and you get a pretty nice player.

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      • AJ says:

        Oh yeah, no problem, just pair him with a shortstop that can steal 8-10 bases with a good average in 30 games. That projects out to 43 steals in 162 games, plus a good average. You aren’t finding that unless Elvis Andrus is sitting on waivers in your league dude.

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  9. AJ says:

    “Barring any type of injury, Tulowitzki is going to hold the crown as the top fantasy shortstop for some time.”

    I disagree with this statement. Hanley has outproduced Tulo in the past and could easily do so again in the future. In fact, I think it’s likely that he does this year.

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  10. Guru says:

    Castro is overrated in yearly fantasy leagues. He’s gold in a keeper, but I’d rather take a more proven player over him.

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  11. DrBGiantsfan says:

    Good to see Brandon Crawford finally making the bottom of a list like this. He’s a sleeper of sleepers. I wouldn’t draft him , but he should be watched closely by people who have 3’rd and 4’th tier SS’s. Don’t be shocked if he puts up better numbers than some of those guys.

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  12. sirvlciv says:

    Peralta undervalued, second year in a row. Don’t mind if I fill up my SS slot with a 12th round pick, thankyouverymuch.

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    • dkmin says:

      Right, is there any reason to expect major regression from last year’s numbers? Haven’t seen any. Seems like he’s morphed into a player with a fairly stable skill set. Even if we assume some downward projections in his numbers, he’s still a pretty good bat.

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    • Soria bout the STD says:

      That’s if you choose to ignore last seasons .325 BABIP that was 50 points higher than the previous season, which had declined 4 consecutive seasons prior to last year

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