Shortstops With Potential Second-Half Playing Time Gains

A lot can change between now and July 31, whether due to trades, injuries or a shift in a team’s set of goals for the remainder of the season. That can have an impact on shortstop playing time, and for those who play in deeper leagues and/or those with a middle infield roster spot, playing time surges at the margins kind of force their way onto the radar.

What follows is a brief look at the potential value of a handful of names who could see more playing time coming out of the All-Star break.

Boston Red SoxStephen Drew, Mookie Betts
The Red Sox have received the league’s No. 9 wOBA from the shortstop position, but that number is heavily inflated by the 229 plate appearances of Xander Bogaerts at the position. Stephen Drew is the guy now, with Mookie Betts hanging on the bench for extra playing time. Meanwhile, Will Middlebrooks has struggled at Triple-A (and now jammed up a finger), so the idea of him returning and Bogaerts sliding back over probably isn’t realistic.

The issue, then, is that Drew’s been atrocious so far, with a wRC+ of just 24 in 101 plate appearances. For fantasy purposes, owners should probably just be hoping that Drew puts things together out of the break, as the other options here don’t have quite the upside of Drew’s mid-double-digits power. Should he continue to stumble, though, Betts could provide some low-end stolen base value. Brock Holy Holt would be even better for owners, but it’s tough to see the Sox committing to him in one spot when he holds value as a super-utilityman. The Sox are also probably also far enough out of the race – they have a projected record of 78-84 – that acquiring a shortstop wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

Minnesota TwinsEduardo Escobar, Danny Santana
The Twins have received middle-of-the-pack production from their shortstops, but for them it’s been a balanced set of contributions, not one player solidifying things. Who gets the most playing time from here on out is anyone’s guess.

Eduardo Escobar has had a solid season, pushing to a league-average mark at the dish. For the Twins, they also need him at third and for spot duty around the diamond, but the job seems to be his once again right now. Unfortunately, Escobar’s league-averageness doesn’t carry over to the fantasy realm, where he’s not a threat to contribute much beyond runs.

Fantasy players would probably prefer Danny Santana get the gig back when he returns from a knee injury sometime after the break. Santana stole six bags in 37 games earlier in the year, and while his .328 average was well above where he’ll settle in, he has easy 20-steal potential over a full slate.

Pedro Florimon, once thought to be a power-speed fantasy asset in the making, isn’t even getting it done at Triple-A any longer, while Eduardo Nunez has somewhat limited value given he’s a multi-position backup if Santana returns.

Detroit TigersEugenio Suarez
Has Eugenio Suarez now done enough to take the job and run with it, beating out Andrew Romine as the official Jose Iglesias replacement? With nine starts in 12 July games, that seems to be the case. Unfortunately, there’s not a ton to be excited about for fantasy. Over a full season, Suarez could maybe be looked at optimistically as a 10-10 candidate, so if he’s going to get 200 plate appearances down the stretch, he’s worth keeping an eye on, at least.

Of course, the Tigers could be in the market to acquire someone to fill the role, too.

Arizona DiamondbacksDidi Gregorius, Cliff Pennington, Chris Owings
There has to be a pretty good chance that one of these names gets moved to a team looking for a reserve shortstop at the deadline, as the Diamondbacks have little use for all three. Unfortunately for the team, two are on the disabled list, limiting their flexibility in that regard.

Gregorius was initially thought to have the highest long-term upside, so it would make sense for Arizona to give him extended run to find out for sure since they’re out of the race. Projection systems aren’t optimistic that it would move the needle much for owners, though, as Gregorius’ seven home runs last season seem like an outlier and he hasn’t stolen many bases since 2011. Cliff Pennington is on the shelf after thumb surgery, but if he found his way to any late-season playing time, he can steal a base.

Chris Owings, also on the disabled list, forced the team’s hand early in the year and was playing pretty well before his shoulder injury. He’s the best fantasy player of the bunch, the only one who can really offer a speed-power combo, so cross your fingers that Gregorius is the one who gets moved and Owings can return in short order.

Chicago White SoxMarcus Semien
If the White Sox were to move Alexei Ramirez, or even Gordon Beckham, Marcus Semien could find his way back into the mix. Capable of playing four positions and having torn off a solid 40 games at Triple-A since his demotion, he’s probably deserving of a second look from the club as is. For fantasy owners, Semien offers a nice power-speed combo, one that ZiPS sees providing five home runs and five steals if he were to get into 50 games down the stretch. The average will hurt, but he’s one of the best bets on this entire list to contribute in the counting categories.

Javier Baez has hit just .240 with a .305 OBP in the PCL, but he’s got 14 home runs and 15 stolen bases. If the Chicago Cubs were to unexpectedly move Starlin Castro, Baez would be a must-add on speculation. In a similar vein, Arismendy Alcantara could hang around the big club, and he’s shown appreciable wheels at every stop, with a bit of pop to boot. Tyler Saladino is no longer a prospect, but if the White Sox either made multiple moves or passed on a Semien promotion, Saladino has flashed power and speed through the minors, though not always at the same time. It’s hard to imagine the Pittsburgh Pirates risking the service time issue, but Alen Hanson has been solid at Double-A and the NL Central hopefuls are 24th in wOBA from their shortstops and 23rd in WAR. Hanson probably isn’t major league ready just yet, but his power-speed profile would make him a spec add.

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Blake Murphy is a news editor at The Score, and is a freelance sportswriter covering baseball, basketball, hockey and more. Think Bo Jackson, without the being good at every sport part. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

18 Responses to “Shortstops With Potential Second-Half Playing Time Gains”

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  1. chri521 says:

    Holt’s been amazing, but let’s not call him Brock Holy yet ;)

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  2. Poor Man's Rick Reed says:

    I assume you mean Brock Holt in the Red Sox write up. However, Holy might be he better descriptor for what he’s been to the Sox this year. “Don’t worry about it, Brock Holt’s around!” – Don Orsillo

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  3. Lindor's Truffles says:

    Do you see Lindor getting 50+ PA’s in September?

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    • Blake Murphy says:

      He’s an All-Star at Double-A, on his 2nd partial tour, so he’s probably ready for a bump to Triple-A to see how he handles it.

      As for MLB, I only see him getting more than a cup of coffee if the Indians drift out of the race. That’s a big jump for a kid to make in the middle of a pennant, especially since he’s been good, but not lighting the world on fire.

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  4. Ty Wiggington says:

    you said Brock Holy it Holt with a “T”

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  5. Brock Holy says:

    because someone had to do it.

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  6. Russ says:

    What’s the thinking on Enrique Hernandez in the 2nd half? Does he stick in the bigs and where?

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  7. Spa City says:

    Chris Taylor has been tearing up AAA this year, and he tore up AA last year. Meanwhile, Mariners incumbent SS Brad Miller has not been tearing up much of anything. I wonder why Taylor does not get more attention. Is it his size? If so, Mookie Betts is no bigger. Is it his defense? I have read conflicting reports, some of which claim he is a decent fielder. Regardless of the reason, My take is that Taylor deserves a look in Seattle.

    Taylor is fast, hits pretty well, draws a ton of walks, and has more power than you would think based on his size. If his defense is reasonably good, he should get a look in the second half.

    even as a Pirate fan, I do not see anything Alen Hanson does better than Chris Taylot.

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  8. cnote66 says:

    Thoughts on SD? Or maybe just punt that situation.

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  9. JB says:

    Great article. However, *Brock Holy should be spelt Block Wholly.

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  10. Mike Wimmer says:

    If Holt attains SS eligibility, would you rather have him or Jed Lowrie? They seem to have similar skill sets, Lowrie has shown more power in the past, but has been struggling in that area this year. Holt has been a decent fantasy asset so far, but him getting SS eligibility would likely boost his value quite a bit since that spot is an offensive black hole outside of the top couple guys.

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  11. lutz says:

    Eugenio Suarez — you mean he’s NOT the real deal? I was kinda hoping I’d lucked into something. He’s been a big upgrade over Brad Miller, at least.

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