Shortstops: An Update On Futility

Earlier this season I wrote about the crop of shortstops that came off the board after Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki in every draft and how bereft of talent it was. With over a third of the season completed, have things changed very much? Let’s take a look.

To begin the season only the catcher position had fewer players ranked in the Yahoo! top 100 than our lovable shortstops. Here are those players with their preseason and up to date rankings

  Pre Current
Hanley Ramirez 2 300
Troy Tulowitzki 3 44
Jose Reyes 24 10
Jimmy Rollins 37 132
Derek Jeter 40 201
Alexei Ramirez 62 71
Stephen Drew 92 81
Elvis Andrus 98 50

The most notable drop off is Hanley. Dave excellently detailed his struggles in a piece last month, and the problem hasn’t changed; Hanley is still hitting far too many ground balls which is killing is power. I’m never going to turn my back on Hanley,and if he has a huge second half those of you who do will regret it. But, up to this point he’s been nearly unplayable.

The drop off for Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins could, and probably should, have been expected. Both are aging and coming off sub-par seasons. Jeter had a great 2009 season, but that seems to have been a mirage, while Rollins hasn’t had a good season since 2008. Yes he hit 21 homers and scored 100 runs in 2009 but he also had an OBP of .296. Rollins will still steal you 30+ bases but the 20 home run power is out the window. The most pleasant surprise is the resurgence of Jose Reyes. Coming off two ineffective and injury pleagued seasons, he seems to be back to his old ways. He’s hitting .342, albeit with a .365 BABIP, and is on pace to steal 50+ bases for the fourth time in his career. There’s almost no way he keeps this up, but he’s also on pace for over 20 triples. We talk about players having 20-20 potential, but never in that regard.

The rest of the players on that list have produced about as well as you would have expected, though I don’t think anyone pegged Andrus for three homers thus far. Tulowitzki is suffering from some awful luck – his BABIP is .252. His plate discipline and batted ball data aren’t drastically out of line from last season so I’d expect his batting average (.270) to rebound.

Here is the current Yahoo! list of top 100 shortstops:

Jose Reyes 10  
Asdrubal Cabrera 16  
Troy Tulowitzki 44  
Elvis Andrus 50  
Alexei Ramirez 71
Stephen Drew 81

The group went from 8 players to 6, with the only new name being Asdrubal Cabrera. I extolled his virtues two weeks ago so we won’t go into them again. Suffice it to say he’s been excellent.

Twenty three shortstops began the season ranked in the top 300. That number currently sits at ninteen. What we expected to be a weak class of shortstops has only gotten weaker.

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

12 Responses to “Shortstops: An Update On Futility”

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  1. Eminor3rd says:

    I’ve been rotating Yunel/Starlin Castro. It’s worked out pretty well because they’ve both been streaky. The downfall of SS productivity has been really good for all of us who didn’t get Tulo/Hanley. You don’t lose much by punting the SS for a middle-of-the-pack guy

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  2. todmod says:

    This article oddly misses out a key point of position scarcity, seeing how the whole topic is how weak SS are. If 8 shortstops are ranked top 100 preseason, you would not expect 8 top be in the top 100 overall rank. This would only be correct if a 1B and SS putting up the same offensive stats had the same value.

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    • UncleCharlieVT says:

      todmod, you are being polite. This article is meaningless due to that oversight. Yahoo’s “player rater” is comparing apples and oranges but the pre-season rankings adjust for position scarcity.

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      • Mark says:

        The point of the article is that the position is scarce, it was weak and is getting weaker. The conclusion you should reach from this article is that SS stats are more important than stats from other positions, and the effect is becoming even more dramatic.

        You can’t analyze position scarcity while normalizing for position scarcity.

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    • jrogers says:

      Are you guys sure that the Yahoo Rank doesn’t adjust for position? I think it might, but I haven’t done anything to check that. (All you’d have to do is compare players with nearly identical stats from different positions).

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      • Dom says:

        The Yahoo Ranks do not adjust for position. They are based on the stats used in your league.

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  3. mcbrown says:

    The position looks bad if you look at the top 100 and the top 300, but coincidentally if you look at the top 150 preseason and current Yahoo rankings you will find exactly 11 shortstops in each list. There is a dearth of elite performers this year, but an acceptable number of players adding value. Overall I’d say the position has been “okay” from a fantasy perspective, especially compared to the wasteland of third base….

    Of course some players have underperformed (Ramirez, Rollins, Jeter), but there have been a good number of positive surprises as well (Cabrera, Peralta, Aybar). Really the main issue seems to be that Ramirez and Tulowitzki haven’t performed like people would have hoped, but “top 3″ is a pretty tough standard to meet, and of course two other shortstops (Reyes and Cabrera) have indeed been elite players so far.

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  4. cs3 says:

    Surprised there wasnt even a mention of Starlin, who was drafted in the 13th-16th rounds and has performed at an 8th-9th rd level.

    I realize he falls out of your arbitrary parameters used for this article, but since it IS about shortstops, shouldnt the 7th ranked SS at least deserve a mention, especially since hes turned out to be such a great bargain?

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  5. Fletcher says:

    Drew is talented, young, and consistently improving… and universally ignored.

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  6. Yuni B says:

    Why am I not on the list? Is it just because Latin ballplayers don’t like to walk?

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  7. GT says:

    Starlin Castro is top 50 overall, top 30 in NL only. Errors dont count in fake sports!

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