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Shortstops: ADP’s Up In Here

It’s that time of year again; College basketball is revving up, teams are preparing for spring training and fantasy leagues are gearing up for their drafts. In preparation we’re going to be looking at some average draft positions and the trends that occur, according to mockdraftcentral.com. Today we’ll focus on shortstops. There aren’t many surprises, but there is one pick that intrigues me (more on that later). Here’s the top 10 based on a standard five by five mixed league.

Average Draft Position:

1. Troy Tulowitzki

2. Jose Reyes

3. Hanley Ramirez

4. Starlin Castro

5. Elvis Andrus

6. Asdrubal Cabrera

7. Jimmy Rollins

8. Derek Jeter

9. J.J. Hardy

10. Dee Gordon

There’s not room for too much contention. Tulowitzki has earned the top spot. You could flip flop Ramirez and Reyes without causing too much of a stink, but the latter is coming off a terrible season while the former had one of his best. I’m not as big on Andrus as others — I like at least a little power from shortstop– but appreciate the amount of runs and steals he provides. Cabrera had a breakout season thanks in large part to a huge uptick in his power numbers. He’s been quoted as saying he changed his plate approach last season, so perhaps, like a mini-Jose Bautista, the power is real. Our own Mike Podhorzer gives reason for concern, however:

The biggest red flag can be found on the pages of ESPN Hit Tracker. If you take a look at its home page, you will notice a “Just Enoughs – AL” box in the middle of the second line of data boxes. Look whose name is second. In 2006 (the data has never been updated on the page), the league average was for 27% of home runs of the “just enough” variety. Cabrera, however, hit 15 of 25 home runs classified in the category, or 60%.

That’s not a good predictor of future success. If his home runs drop from 25 to a more reasonable 15-20 that, combined with his 15 steal potential, leaves him in good company.

You absolutely know what you’re getting from Rollins and Jeter. They’re no longer the stars they once were but put up solid numbers, for shortstops that is. Despite his 30 home runs being split evenly between home and road, Hardy benefited greatly from Camden Yard where his OPS (.856) was .104 points higher. He’s someone who is likely better than Rollins and Jeter but is being drafted lower due to the name value of the former stars. The big surprise, to me at least, is the inclusion of Dee Gordon.

The son of former pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, the 23-year-old has only 233 plate appearances in the majors but is being handed the starting position. The only asset he brings to the table is speed. He has 50 steal potential and nabbed 24 bags in 56 games last season. Yes, he hit .304 last year but I’m not optimistic he hits .300 in 2012. He’s hit seven professional home runs, and none above Double-A. The Dodgers don’t have a great offense so it’s not as if he’ll be scoring runs like Andrus. If his bat falters at all, meaning fewer times on base and fewer steal opportunities, his value drops dramatically. Stealing 50+ bases certainly puts him in the top 10, but that’s becoming a rarer and rarer feat these days as only three players approached it last season. He’s the highest risk/highest reward pick amongst shortstops heading into this season.