I’ve shown my fondness for power hitting shortstops in this space befor; writing about Asdrubal Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. Today the focus turns to one of the most overlooked players in fantasy thus far: J.J. Hardy.
Like Peralta, Hardy had success a few seasons ago then struggled with both performance (.292 wOBA in 2009) before seemingly righting the ship this season. Hardy is injury prone, which hasn’t helped his quest to get back to All-Star status. He was released after a moderately successful season, yet injury prone, season in Minnesota that saw him hit just six home runs in 375 plate appearances. In fact, before this season Hardy had just 17 dingers over his last 840 PA’s. That’s after back to back seasons with 26 and 24 respectively. The Twins traded him to Baltimore which looks to be the perfect landing place for the 28 year-old.
He’s missed a few weeks this season due to injury – did you expect something less? – but now that it appears he’s finally healthy he’s putting up numbers that will place him near the top of the shortstop rankings. Camden Yards is a great hitter’s park and Hardy is taking full advantage. In June, his one fully healthy month, Hardy hit .362/.409/.686/.324 (ISO) with 9 home runs and a .468 wOBA. Obviously he can’t keep that up for a full season, but it shows what he can do when healthy, especially in that ballpark. Currently Hardy is ranked 13th among shortstops in Yahoo! leages after only 237 at bats, and his .361 wOBA would be 4th in baseball if he qualified. His 13 home runs put him 4th at his position, just three behind Troy Tulowitzki. As our own Mike Axisa pointed out nearly a month ago, Hardy is hitting fly balls at a career high rate (49%) which translates into good things in Camden Yards.
The ZiPS projections have Hardy hitting .269/.323/.443 with 8 home runs and 26 RBI from this point forward. That would leave him with a .349 wOBA, which would have ranked 4th among all shortstops last season. Currently Hardy is owned in just 67% of leagues. That’s a crime. Yes, he gets hurt, but with a position as scarcely populated with good players as shortstop that number deserves to be much higher.