It’s been over a month since we debuted the shortstop player rankings. We’re only a little over a week into the season so it’s too early to make any significant changes to the rankings, but there have been many surprises among the position. Let’s take a look at a few of the more interesting players that have emerged thus far:
If I gave you 100 guesses at naming the third ranked overall player so far according to Yahoo! I’m betting no one would guess its Willie Bloomquist. The usually light hitting shortstop, who has never ended a season in which he gathered 100+ PA’s with an OPS over .700, is tearing the cover off of the ball. Originally filling in for the injured Stephen Drew, Bloomquist’s triple slash line of .394/.429/.524 with six stolen bases looks like a misprint. Now that Drew is back, Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson has tried to find ways to keep Bloomquist’s bat in the lineup, playing him in left field the past two games. There’s zero reason to believe he’ll keep hitting anywhere close to this pace. His K% is only 6.1 so far, down from 17.5% for his career. The reduced strikouts are resulting in more line drives falling for hits; his LD% is up ~9% from last season. His ownership numbers are jumping by the day, but if you want to ride a hot hitter who will pick you up some cheap steals at a weak position there are worse options than Bloomquist. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type.
Although he’s owned in only 4% of Yahoo! leagues, Sanchez is currently the 114th ranked overall player and 7th ranked shortstop. Replacing an injured Clint Barmes, Sanchez is making the most out of his current opportunity, racking up four multi-hit games already. He’s a contact hitter who will provide a decent average – combined .285 over AAA and MLB the past two years – but little in terms of power and speed. In fact, he has totaled only 12HR and 21SB in 2132 professional PA’s since 2006. If you’re in an NL only league or extremely deep mixed league Sanchez makes for a suitable replacement player in this thin crop of shortstops.
Somehow, Escobar is owned in only 66% of Yahoo! Leagues. Even if you’re in a 10 team league, Escobar should be picked up as a bench bat at the least. I’ve been a big proponent of his all off season and he seems to be getting back into his 2007-2009 shape after a terrible 2010. He obviously won’t keep hitting at a .476/.556/.810 clip, not unless he has voodoo powers and can sustain a .529 BABIP all season. Unlike Bloomquist and Sanchez, Escobar has a good career track record and is more likely to ride his hot opening week into a productive season. If he can do that he should be able to move up into our second tier of shortstops.
Other shortstop notes:
–Asdrubal Cabrera is also hitting the cover off of the ball to start the season, slugging .605 thus far and matching his home run total from all of 2010. Don’t expect the power numbers to last, but if he’s healthy all season a ~.285 AVG isn’t out of the question. The only drawback is Cleveland’s lack of offense around him.
–Hanley Ramirez seems to have avoided major injury after Bill Hall took out his legs sliding into second base over the weekend.