Shortstops: Surprises and Disappointments

Let’s take a look at some early season surprises and disappointments at the shortstop position:

Surprises:

Derek Jeter

Anyone that had Jeter hitting .411 through 16 games raise your hand. Now put your hand down because you’re a liar. After two “down” seasons he’s hitting like its 1999 again. He has nine multi-hit games He already has four home runs. He hit six all of last year. It’s not likely he’ll be able to keep up this good of a pace considering his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is currently over .400. He’s swinging at more pitches inside and outside of the zone but making the same amount of contact he always has. According to Mock Draft Central he was the eighth shortstop taken on average. If he can maintain anything close to this line, say .310/.360/.400 with 15 homers and 15 steals for the season he’ll easily eclipse that pre-season ranking.

Emilio Bonifacio

Bonifacio’s good production isn’t really a surprise. He showed last year that he was capable of having a productive season, but the acquisition of Jose Reyes lead to uncertainty about the amount of playing time he’d receive. With shortstop, third and second base filled he was pushed to the outfield where he’s won the starting centerfield position, at least for now. He already has nine steals in 16 games, but no extra base hits. He’ll never have much of a slugging percentage, but to see his Isolated Slugging (ISO) at .000 is amusing to look at. Like last season he’s been able to maintain a good average thanks to a high (.386) BABIP. He’s been keeping the ball out of the air again (21.1% FB rate), allowing him to maximize his speed. With consistent playing time he should be able to steal 35+ bases again unless his bat completely disappears.

Disappointment:

Alexei Ramirez

Having a career high strikeout rate and career low walk rate are great things for a pitcher. They’re far less great when you’re a hitter. That’s what Ramirez has done so far this season. He’s normally a lock for ~15 home runs, ~70 runs batted in and ~75 runs scored, and still may very well reach those totals. So far, though, he’s been awful. His one home run and four RBI seem out of place for someone that plays his games in hitter friendly US Cellular Field. That’s not out of the ordinary for him, though. His career wOBA for March/April is .254. The lowest it is in any other month is .315.  His issues look to stem from a lack of patience. He’s swinging at more pitches outside the zone (39.0%) and more pitches period (53.2) than at any point since his rookie season. That’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

Jhonny Peralta

Coming off a 21 home run season, a bit more was expected of the pudgy shortstop. Through 15 games he has zero home runs and five runs batted in, though he does have seven doubles. His BABIP is .326 but his OBP is .298 thanks to a 5.3% walk rate. He’s a better hitter than that. Even in his worst year his walk rate was above seven percent. He’ll need his power to return, though, if he’s going to have much fantasy value. He doesn’t steal bases so he relies heavily on extra base hits to keep his head afloat. A 15 homer, 75 RBI campaign may be more realistic than the 21/86 he put up last season. If he struggles a little while longer he could turn into a nice buy-low candidate if a frustrated owner makes a rash decision.




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

18 Responses to “Shortstops: Surprises and Disappointments”

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  1. Derp says:

    This is the Hanley guy, right? How does he still have a job writing about fantasy baseball?

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    • Pizzabox says:

      Hanley is off to a fantastic start; however, there was a reason Hanley was the #1 pick for 3 years. He was a 2nd round pick this year and for good measure as many predicted he would do exactly what he is doing. Obviously he was not a lock to do what he is doing but to call Hanley raking a huge surprise would be like saying Tulo off to a relatively slow start is also a huge surprise. Both these things were in the realm of possibilities but not as shocking as the players mentioned above. At most, Hanley deserves honorable mentions.

      I don’t think, however, that is exclusion warrants you to discredit the author as a fantasy author. This IS an opinionated piece, is it not?

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      • mcbrown says:

        Derp is referencing an article from November 2011 in which Erik argued that Hanley was not a top-tier keeper.

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      • juan pierres mustache says:

        he hasn’t recanted an opinion after THREE FULL WEEKS of games! i’ll alert the townsfolk and get some pitchforks for us.

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      • cs3 says:

        The point is that the author SHOULD in fact be incredibly surprised by Hanley’s great start, since he had him ranked nowhere near the top of the SS list.
        He had Hanley lower than any other source I came across and didnt even have him anywhere in the top 2 tiers.

        Then when the comments were flooded with shots about how absurd that was, he made a separate post claiming that “Excluding Ramirez was intentional, as his ranking process deserves its own post.”

        In reality the entire point of making these rankings is to take a stand and give your opinion, but his opinion was found to be so overwhelmingly absurd that he basically claimed Hanley is impossible to rank.

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  2. Tom B says:

    At some point people have to stop being surprised when Jeter is productive when he is healthy.

    Maybe when he retires people will finally get it.

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    • ralph says:

      A hitter’s BB% and K% stabilize pretty quickly, right? If so, it’s interesting to see one area in which Jeter’s approach has undergone a fairly radical change — he’s all the way down to a 5.1% walk rate (career is 8.9%) and a 7.6% K-rate (career is 14.8%).

      So even though his current line of .411/.436/.644 is propped up by a .406 BABIP, keep in mind his career BABIP is .355 — so there might not be as big a dropoff due to BABIP regression as one might expect.

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  3. jagtrader says:

    Poor Jetes never gets any credit.

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    • batpig says:

      totally. if there’s anyone who hasn’t gotten any public credit in their career, it’s Jeter.

      would you like a gift basket?

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  4. Tvators says:

    The best is the “jeter has something to prove” narrative. I just keep asking what? that he’s a first ballot HoF, that he has 3 billion hits, 62 rings, 5 billion dollars, 16 homes and apts, unlimited trim. the nerve of some people to suggest he was declining for a moment when he was hitting .220 in June and looking like a shell

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  5. Robert says:

    Also apparently Jeter has had above-average success with attracting women.

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  6. MajorDanby says:

    i would add furcal as a surprise

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    • batpig says:

      furcal’s not surprising, he’s just HEALTHY. The dude’s been a pretty great SS for a long time….

      obviously he’s not going to keep hitting .362 with a .417 BABIP but the secondary skills are all within spitting distance of career numbers.

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  7. SteveJobs says:

    Escobar.

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  8. Zack Cozart says:

    Hey guys, can I come to the surprise party?

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  9. Sean says:

    How about Aybar?

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  10. Pat G says:

    aviles?

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