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Shortstop Tiers: Breaking Them Down

The shortstop position has held pretty steady over the past year. There’s been no impact rookies that have hit the scene and sky rocketed up the rankings. We break them down into tiers below which we will update periodically throughout the season.

First Tier:

Troy Tulowitzki
Jose Reyes
Hanley Ramirez

Barring any type of injury, Tulowitzki is going to hold the crown as the top fantasy shortstop for some time. His combination of power and average is unrivaled at the position. He’s a top five overall pick regardless of league format. Reyes came on extremely strong last season after a rough two years, hitting .337 with 16 triples and 39 steals in just 126 games. His hamstrings will always be a concern, and are a major reason why Tulowitzki is going to keep his shortstop crown for years to come. Even though he’s sliding over to third to accommodate Reyes, Ramirez retains his shortstop eligibility for at least one more season and picks up another. He’s included in this first tier thanks to a stellar track record and hope he can come back healthy after injuries nagged him last year. If healthy there’s no reason he can’t put up a 20HR/30SB season at minimum.

Second Tier:

Elvis Andrus
Starlin Castro
Asdrubal Cabrera
J.J. Hardy

Castro was a tough omission from the first tier. He hits for a good average, but doesn’t stand out in any other category enough for me to give him the bump. He hit ten home runs last year while stealing twenty two bases, and has the potential to easily eclipse those numbers. As long as Andrus can keep his average in the .280 range and above he’s going to be an asset thanks to his legs. Batting lead off for the Rangers never hurts ones totals, either. If Cabrera’s new found power is legit then he’s a star. Only three shortstops hit 25+ homers last year and he was one of them. I’m still a bit skeptical, though. Hardy is ranked higher than his average draft position (10th) would suggest. I believe in his power (30 HR in 2011) more than I believe in the old legs and bats of Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins.

Third Tier:

Jimmy Rollins
Derek Jeter
Dee Gordon
Erick Aybar

Rollins and Jeter are the old guard, slipping from where they once were but still valuable commodities. If you could combine the two you’d have a damn fine player, with Rollins providing more power and speed and Jeter bringing the average and on base percentage. Gordon is the wild card, with the potential to make his inclusion in the third tier look smart or very, very dumb. No one possesses his speed, so if he can get on base at a decent clip he should be an easy lock for fifty stolen bases. It’s getting on base that’s the key. A low walk percentage forces him to rely on a high batting average to sustain value. Underrated for years, Aybar has sneaky 10HR/30SB capability. The addition of Pujols to the lineup will only help the most talented of the Aybar brothers.

Fourth Tier:

Yunel Escobar
Jhonny Peralta
Alexei Ramirez
Stephen Drew (injured)
Emilio Bonifacio
Marco Scutaro
Ian Desmond
Alcides Escobar
Jed Lowrie

There’s nothing wrong with these players. They’re fine in their own right. None of them will submarine you, though none will dazzle, either. They’re cheaper options, though there are some question marks included on most of them. Can Peralta duplicate his 2011? Will Bonifacio have a position in Miami? How much can Drew contribute once he comes back?

The Rest:
Cliff Pennington
Rafael Furcal
Clint Barmes
Zack Cozart
Alex Gonzalez
Sean Rodriguez
Alexi Casilla
Brandon Crawford
Tyler Pastornicky

The bottom of the barrel. There may be some surprises here, like Zack Cozart and possibly Sean Rdoriguez, but for the most part these players are not going to hit enough to earn a spot in your lineup, let alone your bench.