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Dokken’s Dudes & Don’ts: Shortstop Bargains And Busts

Nathan Dokken continues his yearly tradition of Dudes and Don’ts, an annual look at players he is targeting and avoiding. Today he looks into his favorite shortstop bargains and busts for 2020 fantasy baseball.

We’re scooting around the diamond with the greatest of ease! Last time I dished out my Second Base Dudes & Don’ts, and now it’s onto the shortstops. Shortstop is a deep and sexy position this year, so frankly there are plenty of bargains to be had. I like the sticker price on Elvis Andrus (ADP145) and Amed Rosario (ADP150), but neither were quite as enticing as the actual Dude. This position is full of speed, but there isn’t a ton to be had with either of my Dudes. Keep that in mind during your draft. As much as I like these values, you have to construct a proper roster.

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Dokken’s Dudes & Don’ts: Shortstop Bargains & Busts

The Dude: Javier Baez

Whereas a year ago I was preaching caution with Javier Baez, this year the pendulum has swung the other way. It was no surprise that following a year in which he posted career highs in every offensive category, Baez didn’t quite live up to his very early ADP. He also dealt with a thumb injury late in the season that cost him some time. His on-pace numbers were still very good overall though, so why has his ADP plummeted all the way to SS10/ADP66?

As I mentioned in the intro, part of the price drop is simply due to the embarrassment of riches at the shortstop position this year. Why settle for a crusty old Javier Baez when you can have a bright shiny bauble like Fernando Tatis, Jr. or Adalberto Mondesi? While Baez does tend to miss time here and there, he has established consistent five-category production in recent years.

Baez actually posted a career-high 91 MPH exit velocity in 2019 to help him maintain a 12.7% barrel rate. With a few more at-bats than he had a year ago, he should crack the 30-homer mark again. While we shouldn’t expect another 20+ stolen bases as we saw in 2018, double-digit steals are a near-lock for him over a full season. He may hit closer to .275 than the .280-290 area he has been in recent years, but he has always lived on a high BABIP thanks to the loud contact he makes. He takes a ding in OBP and points formats for his lack of walks, but his average should remain above .270. Factor in that he is the every-day three-hitter for the north side, and his R+RBI floor is very high as well.

With a clean bill of health heading into the season, I expect Baez to finish closer to the fourth-best SS than his ADP at SS10, which would give you one of the top shortstop bargains of 2020 and have you doing backflips and exclaiming “Javi-yay!!”.

Projection: 625 PA, 100 R, 32 HR, 110 RBI, 10 SB, .275 AVG


The Don’t: Gleyber Torres

It’s hard for me to transition from extolling the virtues of the Cubs number-three hitter and then call the Yankees projected three-hitter a Don’t, but here we are. Gleyber Torres established himself as a mighty fine player in 2019. He followed up a strong rookie season with 38 home runs and a .278 average, racking up 96 R and 90 RBI over 604 PA. He even chipped in five steals, making him a “not-nothing” stolen base contributor. So what’s not to like?

First off, let me say that I like his value a lot more at second base. However, at short, he doesn’t give you the stolen base production that the other premium draft picks (Bregman excluded) do. He is also not nearly the hitter that Bregman is, at least not yet. Shortstop is one of the few positions where you can get plenty of speed for your team, and drafting Torres early cancels out that perk at an early SS6/ADP35 price.

There are also several reasons to be concerned that Torres will be able to repeat his 2019 numbers. Honestly, I can’t get past his Baseball Savant page.

Gleyber Torres Savant

Someone call Mariska Hargitay because that chart is particularly heinous. A 49th percentile exit velocity, 33rd percentile hard contact rate, 61st percentile xwOBA, and 50th percentile XBA (.262) all quite frankly give me the heebie-jeebies. None of his supporting metrics provide much hope of another 38 bombs.

The hope here is that he can hit .270 again with 30 HR, strong R+RBI, and minimal speed. If that’s what you’re looking for, why not wait 23 picks  – nearly two full rounds in a standard mixed league – for Manny Machado, who could also conceivably steal double-digit bases? I don’t expect Marcus Semien to repeat his own 2019 numbers. However, at pick 71, he could finish with similar numbers to Torres. Even Corey Seager at pick 148 could push Torres production, but he is an undeniably riskier bet.

I expect Gleyber Torres to be a fine player in 2020, but not good enough to justify his 35th overall price. Power is the easiest thing to find in today’s game, and it’s his strongest asset.

Projection: 625 PA, 85 R, 28 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB, .270 AVG


The Deep League Dude: Didi Gregorius

Oh, I do love a good injury discount. Typically we are talking about starting pitchers getting the discount coming off of Tommy John surgery. Today, we have Didi Gregorius. He played just 82 games after recovering from the surgery in 2019. While the power was there (16 HR/.204 ISO), he hit just .238. As a player who walks rarely, his OBP was a brutal .276. His .297 wOBA was well below his .335 and .350 marks from the previous two years.

Let bygones be bygones, I say! Gregorius is donning Phillies gear for 2020. He’ll be in a great ballpark to suit his pull-side power. I mean, seriously, he only has pull-side power. Look at his career spray chart.

Didi Gregorius Spray Chart

330′ down the line in right should suit him nicely. He is slated to bat fifth behind a ton of OBP studs in Andrew McCutchen, JT Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Rhys Hoskins. That should provide him with plenty of RBI opportunities. Additionally, while he isn’t a huge stolen base contributor, he could net you 5-10. That drops him into that handy not-nothing bucket. As just the 21st shortstop off the board with a 196 ADP, you can slot him into your middle infield slot and turn a nice profit.

Projection: 600 PA, 75 R, 26 HR, 85 RBI, 6 SB, .265 AVG

Who are your favorite shortstop bargains for 2020 fantasy baseball? Let us know in the comments below.

For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2020 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!

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