I debated leaving shortstop for last due to the amount of intrigue and offensive prowess at the position these days. But for the sake of going in somewhat of an order, I held off. Every year it seems like this position gets better and younger. Just look at the top of the rankings below. The average age of the top-10 is just 24. That’s it. Can someone please get Jean Segura a walker or a cane of some sort? The dude is ancient for this top-10 at 28 years old. Needless to say, shortstop is in a great position and should only keep getting more prolific over the next decade with many more high-upside prospects on the way.
The Top Dog
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
With all due respect to Trea Turner, the headliner at shortstop spells his last name C-O-R-R-E-A. The 2012 first overall pick was on pace for a monster season until a thumb injury put him on the shelf for over a month. He didn’t return at quite the same pace, but thumb injuries have a way of doing that to you. Even with the lesser post-injury numbers, Correa still finished the season on a .315/36/125/122/3 pace. That would’ve put him around Nolan Arenado who finished as the seventh most valuable hitter last season.
Correa could never steal another base in his career and he’d still be my top dog at short. The massive upside in the other four categories is enough to offset his drop in stolen bases. Call me crazy, but I expect him to at least chip in a handful of steals each season with the potential for up to 20 or so. There are many great shortstop options, but none more glorious than Correa in dynasty formats. Did I mention he’s still only 23?
On the Rise
Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
The six-year trend of not having a teenager in the Major Leagues could soon be coming to an end. Sorry, I misspoke. It WILL be coming to an end this season. Tatis will be playing the entire season at just 19 and is already pushing for a spot in the opening day lineup. In 23 at-bats this spring, he’s hitting .348 with a home run, three doubles, three steals, eight RBI, and four runs scored. Alright, Fernando, we see you.
All this comes on the heels of a phenomenal season in the minors where Tatis racked up 22 homers, 32 steals, and a .278/.379/.498/.877 slash line combined between Single-A and Double-A. He’s recorded only 55 at-bats above Single-A, but make no mistake about it: Tatis is coming in a hurry. His enticing blend of power, speed, and an above-average hit tool have dynasty league owners drooling. His .280/25/35 upside could have Tatis joining the elite ranks at shortstop in the next few seasons.
On the Decline
Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs and Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
Listing players this young as “on the decline” is never ideal. However, this is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and Russell and Swanson haven’t done much of anything positive. Between the two of them, they’ve had one noteworthy fantasy stat, and that was Russell’s lineup fueled 95 RBI in 2016.
You might want to have small children leave the room for this next one. Nightmares might follow if they see this. If you combine Russell and Swanson’s slash lines last season, you’d have a line of .235/.309/.363/.672. That .672 OPS would’ve ranked 24th amongst shortstops with at least 300 plate appearances. Neither one possesses above-average power or speed, either.
There’s still plenty of time for both to turn it around, but as of now, there are plenty of better options at this position.
Don’t Forget About….
Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds
There’s falling flat on your face and then there’s belly flopping off a diving board into an empty pool. Unfortunately, 2017 was a case of the latter for Jose Peraza. After hitting .324 with a 52-steal pace in 2016, Peraza could manage only 23 steals with a .259 average. What’s even more incredible is that he had only nine doubles in 487 at-bats. He’s never resembled anything close to a power threat but, damn. That’s not why you draft Peraza, though.
You come for the speed and stay for the high batting average. A .299 career minor league average and a sub-.300 BABIP in 2017 speak to me. They’re saying that Peraza’s average should be closer to 2016 than 2017 going forward. Now is a great buy-low opportunity in dynasty leagues.