August shortstop rankings

Most fantasy rankings are forged on “gut calls” and the whimsical notions of whoever is compiling the list. Some experts don’t pay for saves, some don’t pay for steals, some wait on pitching, some value upside, some value reliability, and so on. While it might be nice to see plenty of different opinions, it probably doesn’t truly help unless you understand the biases of each individual ranker. This is why some of the writers here at The Hardball Times have created their own, objective valuation methods, outlined here and here (reading, or at least skimming, these introductory articles will give you a much better understanding of the rankings that follow and should help to answer most potential questions).

In accompaniment with Oliver’s ZiPS’ rest-of-season forecasts, we will use these objective formulas to create objective rankings. You may not agree with a particular rank, but you will know how the ranking was calculated and you won’t have to guess what the ranker was thinking. This should make adding your own personal adjustments and biases much easier. And perhaps this type of ranking will introduce some potential buys and sells that you may have otherwise overlooked.

These rankings will assume a 12-team league in adjusting for league average. The ordering of players, however, is unaffected; players will rank in identical order for leagues of all sizes.

Previous installments:
First Basemen
Second Basemen
Third Base{/exp:list_maker}

1Starlin Castro2262942580.2920.711.1910.20
2Troy Tulowitzki1602682840.2940.691.0310.12
3Hanley Ramirez1762762590.2670.590.769.83
4Jose Reyes18227315120.2970.520.809.62
5Elvis Andrus21331119120.2820.480.849.52
6Jimmy Rollins1902752190.2580.230.238.77
7Asdrubal Cabrera2002762440.2750.200.348.68
8Alexei Ramirez2052652540.2730.070.158.31
9Ian Desmond1882352270.2660.02-0.088.17
10Alcides Escobar1992521790.281-
11Dee Gordon19123 10170.262-0.08-0.337.86
12Danny Espinosa2002762270.235-0.11-0.357.77
13Derek Jeter2022831940.282-0.16-0.047.64
14Emilio Bonifacio1562219120.263-0.47-0.836.71
15Erick Aybar1782221670.27-0.49-0.756.66
16J.J. Hardy18624721 0.253-0.55-0.856.49
17Jhonny Peralta18421525 0.266-0.56-0.826.45
18Rafael Furcal1552431550.265-0.57-0.826.43
19Zack Cozart1872751630.251-0.57-0.836.42
20Trevor Plouffe1642371910.25-0.58-0.946.40
21Mike Aviles1581841940.266-0.64-1.066.22
22Yunel Escobar1862441810.269-0.68-0.926.09
23Brian Dozier1882221750.25-0.86-1.335.57
24Andrelton Simmons1621911450.278-0.87-1.285.53
25Cliff Pennington1722121570.238-0.90-1.505.44
26Marco Scutaro1772121530.266-0.96-1.395.26
27Yuniesky Betancourt1631642110.258-0.99-1.585.18
28Ryan Theriot16920 1450.272-0.99-1.425.18
29Pedro Ciriaco1221511450.262-1.17-1.844.67
30Sean Rodriguez1381841630.225-1.18-1.954.62
31Everth Cabrera117161990.231-1.18-2.014.62
32Willie Bloomquist122161850.279-1.23-1.864.49
33Ruben Tejada1611811320.273-1.27-1.834.37
34Alexi Amarista1521711540.25-1.27-1.974.36
35Eric Sogard1381921330.246-1.27-1.944.36
36Stephen Drew1241631510.258-1.28-1.974.33
37Jed Lowrie1111441410.252-1.33-2.124.19
38Elliot Johnson1111221160.243-1.34-2.254.16
39Cody Ransom1211451810.215-1.37-2.314.07
40Brendan Ryan1391811240.23-1.50-2.343.69

*Full season = the raw (non-adjusted) full season pace roto score using the roto points-above-replacement method. This is, essentially, the amount of expected roto points each player would score above an empty spot in a lineup over a full season.


Troy Tulowitzki – Tulo took batting practice Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery on his groin. There is still no timetable for his return, however, and with the Rockies’ position, 29 games below .500, it would be prudent to make sure he is fully healthy before bringing him back. There is no indication that the Rockies are planning on, or considering, shutting Tulowitzki down for the remainder of the season, so without any major setbacks, he should see action at some point in 2012.

ZiPS projects Tulowitzki to play in 43 of the Rockies’ remaining 57 games. Since there is still no timetable for his return, this seems overly optimistic.

Arbitrary adjustment: Taking my best guess, I would project around 34 games for Tulo. This would move his value to 0.05 (rPAA) and 0.03 (EYES), ninth among shortstops.

Starlin Castro – At the end of April, Castro had 10 stolen bases and looked like he might be on his way to a 30-steal season. He followed that up with five steals in May, but since then he has stolen just one base in six attempts over the past two months. ZiPS has Castro down for eight more steals the rest of the way. Steals can come at random, but unless his current stolen base trajectory takes an drastic turn, paying for eight steals the rest of the way might not be the wisest move.

Arbitrary adjustment: Four steals? Does that sound fair? That is what I am going with. This would move his expected roto score down to 0.36 (rPAA) and 0.76 (EYES), also sliding him down to fourth at shortstop.

Ian Desmond – Desmond is currently on the disabled list and, as with Tulowitzki, there is no timetable for return. Players with this type of oblique injury collectively miss an average of 26 games, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ senior director of medical services, Stan Conte, who has studied this sort of injury extensively.

Desmond was placed on the DL on July 22, so look for him to return sometime close to the end of August, which would leave the Nationals with about 40 games left in the season. Assuming he plays all of those games, his new expected roto value becomes -0.53 (rAA) and 0.95 (EYES), moving him back to 15th at the position.

Dee Gordon – Gordon suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb on July 4. According to Gordon’s original timetable, he is expected to miss at least two more weeks. That timetable was announced about three weeks ago, so it might be outdated by now.

Assuming he is still on course for a five-week recovery, a reasonable expectation might be 35-40 games from this point forward, much less than the 47 games that ZiPS projects. And that is also assuming that the Dodgers don’t get tired of his .280 on base percentage, and .263 wOBA, and cut his playing time now that they have added Hanley Ramirez.

Arbitrary adjustment: With 35 games played, and that might be a bit volatile, his expected roto value moves down to -0.75 (rPAA) and -1.35 (EYES), which makes him the new 22nd ranked shortstop.

Josh Rutledge – ZiPS does not have a projection for Josh Rutledge. However, since he was called-up on July 13, Rutledge has hit .329/.348/.659, with six home runs and three stolen bases, so he is merits mentioning.

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Can Rutledge continue at this pace? No. But, there are reasons to believe that he could be useful for owners in need of a middle infield option down the stretch. His .349 BABIP is probably a bit high, but he has maintained a high BABIP throughout his minor league career and is seen as having the hitting tools that might foreshadow a high BABIP. He is also controlling his strikeouts (15.5 percent), as he did in the minors, so while a .329 average is probably out of his reach going forward, we shouldn’t expect a complete free-fall either, especially when he plays half of his games in Coors Field.

Coors Field will help his home run totals, too, but he is more of a gap hitter than a home run hitter. Rutledge is also a solid runner and has stolen 30 bases in the minors since the beginning of 2011 (902 plate appearances), so look for a modest contribution on the base paths as well.

The Rockies won’t be taking Rutledge out of the lineup while he has a .445 wOBA, but Tulowitzki will be returning at some point this season. With the way Rutledge is hitting, that could mean he moves to second base, pushing DJ LeMahieu to the bench, or, if Rutledge comes back to earth, he and LeMahieu could split time at second. Tulo’s return will make this situation much more hazy if Rutledge does begin to slump, but right now he is playing, and playing very well. I’d be skeptical about going all-in, though.

Arbitrary projection: A fantasy line of 21/4/17/4/.272 in 182 at-bats. This would give him expected roto values of -0.53 (rPAA) and -0.86 (EYES), ranking him as the 16th best shortstop for the remainder of 2012.

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Morgan Conrad
Morgan Conrad

Maybe I’m too much of a pessimist (since I have one each on my 2 teams), but I think you guys are rating players like Tulo and Jose Bats *way* too high here.  I fear that neither will play much the remainder of the season.  At most a week or two in September in limited use, swinging and running gingerly.

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

Yeah, I think ZiPS and other projection systems have trouble projecting players that are currently injured. I wrote about what I thought about Tulowitzki in my explanation section, though. With injured players, especially at this point in the season, nobody really knows when they will return and how healthy they will be when they do return, unless they have proprietary information of some kind.

Tulo makes for a good trade target if you need to take risks to make up ground, but if you’re on first, you probably want a safer option.


The dude behind me in the standings just dropped Rollins for Espinosa… Oh well! Do I drop Rutledge immediately, or wait until after the next Rockies homestand?


I also have Starlin Castro and the injured/uncertain Plouffe.

Jesse Sakstrup
Jesse Sakstrup

Drop either Plouffe or Rutledge for Rollins now, don’t risk him not being available after the Rockies’ home-stand.