2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Shortstop
As I was growing up during the mid to late ’90s, a shortstop revolution changed the way we thought about the position’s offensive capabilities. Guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejeda blazed onto the scene and quickly proved that shortstop was more than just a position for defensive prowess. Over the last few years, another wave of dynamic offensive talents has graced the shortstop position.
Just look at the top-10 of these rankings. The “old” man of the top-10 is Elvis Andrus at 29, and the majority are 25 and under. You can’t help but get excited about all these young rising stars at this position. You have established studs like Carlos Correa and Trea Turner as well as intriguing prospects like Gleyber Torres and Brendan Rodgers. The shortstop position in fantasy is going to be deep and electric for many years to come.
Player notes can be found below the rankings.
EARLY 2018 RANKINGS
Shortstop Player Notes
#1 Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
Mark my words. There’s going to be a season in the near future where Carlos Correa is going to be in the discussion for the top overall pick in fantasy drafts. Correa was demolishing AL pitching all season until a thumb injury brought that to a screeching halt for a month and a half. At the time of the injury, Correa was slashing .320/.400/.566/.966 with 20 home runs, 67 RBI, and 64 runs scored. That was through just 84 games, too. His final .941 OPS led all shortstops by a mile. In fact, he led all shortstops in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage as well.
.@TeamCJCorrea smacked four base hits off pitches 99+ mph in the postseason — as many as any player had in the regular season.
— #Statcast (@statcast) November 28, 2017
The only concern with Correa is that he stole only two bases (on three attempts) last season after reaching double-digits in each of his first two seasons. But hey, who cares when you’re on a .320-40-135-130 pace, right? At 23, Correa is already a fantasy stud and seems poised to hold down this top spot for years to come.
#2 Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
Some in the industry have Turner at No. 1 and Correa at No. 2, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just don’t agree with it. Turner is a phenomenal player, but in a much different way than Correa. Per 162 games in his career, Turner is hitting .304 with 20 home runs, 70 RBI, 109 runs, and 66 stolen bases. Obviously, the number that jumps out and smacks you in the face is the 66 steals. First off, damn! That’s a ton of steals. See that, Billy Hamilton supporters? That stat line is what you want from an elite speedster. His power is likely capped in the 15-20 HR range, but the speed and hit tool are both plus-plus. Don’t let him slip out of the first round.
#3 Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
Do you hear that roar? That’s fantasy baseball managers around the world rejoicing that Manny Machado will be playing shortstop for the Orioles this season. He’s now a top-three option at both short and third, which adds to his already high value.
From my third base rankings:
“On the surface, last season might appear to be a down season for the superstar third baseman. And if you compare it to Machado’s previous two seasons, it was to a degree. However, if you look at his numbers in the second half of the season, there’s plenty of hope that Machado can bounce back in 2018. After hitting just .230 with a .741 OPS in the first half, Machado was back to his old ways in the second half with a .290 average and .826 OPS.”
#4 Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians
Owning Francisco Lindor in fantasy is just as sweet as biting into a Lindt Lindor truffle. When Lindor was working his way through Cleveland’s farm system, his glove, throwing arm, and overall defensive abilities were what caught everyone’s eye. He did have a 60-grade hit tool, but his power was considered below average and speed barely above average. Fast forward a few years and Lindor is now a 30-home run hitter.
Last season he slugged 33 dingers with 89 RBI, 99 runs, 15 steals, and a .273 average. The 28-point drop in average was concerning, but the added power certainly made that easier to bear. Overall, I believe his average and power will settle in between his 2016 and 2017 numbers. Something around .290 with 20-25 home runs. He’s not quite on the level of Correa and Turner, but Lindor is an all-around dynamo and shouldn’t make it past the second round of drafts this spring.
#5 Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
The overall stat line, while good, doesn’t jump out at you. However, what does stand out is how much better he got as the season progressed.
- 1st Half: 8 HR, 27 RBI, 40 R, 8 SB, .256/.338/.419/.757
- 2nd Half: 11 HR, 44 RBI, 48 R, 9 SB, .315/.367/.536/.903
Don’t let his small stature fool you, either. There’s 30 home run power in his bat to go along with a solid batting average. When you look at his splits above, the second half splits are more indicative of Bregman’s skills. His 85.7% contact rate was top-10 in MLB, so assuming he doesn’t run into some bad batted ball luck, Bregman should eclipse .300 next season. A .300+ average with 25 home runs and 20 steals in 2018 seems very attainable. Plus, runs and RBI will be bountiful hitting high in Houston’s dangerous lineup.
For more on Bregman, check out Keith Farnsworth’s 2018 player profile.
#6 Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
The shine on this rising star dulled just a tad in 2017. The younger Seager had a fine season but failed to live up to pre-season expectations. After swatting 26 home runs with 105 runs, 72 RBI, and a .308 average during his 2016 rookie season, 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI seemed inevitable in 2017. Again, 22 and 77 respectively are nothing to scoff at, but that’s not what you want from a player you drafted with a top-25 pick. There’s still top-25 talent here, and his so-so 2017 will likely make him slide a tad in 2018 drafts to the point where he could return some solid value. Seager might not be quite in the Correa/Turner tier, but he’s not that far off.
#7 Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
Oh, look. Another player that had a career high in home runs last season. What a shock. I’ve tried to not believe that baseballs were slightly changed to create more offense, but when you look at Elvis Andrus’ numbers, it’s hard not the think that. After hitting just 35 home runs in his first 4,625 career at-bats (one every 132.1 AB), Andrus hit 20 last season in 642 at-bats, or one every 32.2 at-bats. For those keeping track at home, that’s a 99.9 at-bat drop from his career rate. He also easily set career-highs in doubles and total bases. Did Jose Canseco juice these balls himself or something? Long story short, don’t expect 20 home runs again. But if Andrus can still crack double-digits with 25-30 steals, close to 100 runs, and a near .300 average, he will still be an easy top-10 fantasy shortstop.
#8 Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
To be considered an elite fantasy asset, you need to be elite in a category, mainly power or speed, or be pretty damn good across the board. This is exactly why Xander Bogaerts is no longer considered an elite fantasy shortstop. That’s not to say he isn’t a good player, but his power simply hasn’t progressed like many had hoped and expected. After a great 2016, Bogaerts regressed across the board in 2017. His final line of .273/10/62/94/15 would be fine for most, but not for a guy that was supposed to be an elite fantasy shortstop. A slight uptick in homers wouldn’t shock me, but he’s likely never going to be more than a 15/15 type of player. He’s still a starting fantasy shortstop, but the upside here is dwindling.
#9 Jean Segura, Seattle Mariners
Segura was all over the place statistically in Milwaukee, but he has established himself as a fantasy asset over the last two seasons in Arizona and Seattle. His 2017 numbers were down from 2016, but he also was limited to only 125 games played. If you extrapolate his stats to give him the same amount of at-bats as 2016, you’d have 13 home runs, 55 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 27 steals to go along with his .300 average. Plus in three categories and average in the other two. Like with Bogaerts above, the upside is limited, but Segura still makes for a decent starting fantasy shortstop.
#10 Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
Meet the biggest boom or bust pick of this top 10. After bursting onto the scene in 2016 with 27 home runs in just 372 at-bats, Story came back to earth in 2017. Both the power and average dropped dramatically and he led the National League in strikeouts with 191. The drop in average can directly be linked to the drop in power. All of his advanced stats stayed rather consistent. It’s the power that was the noticeable difference. He was on a 44 home run pace (over 600 AB) in 2016 and only a 29 home run pace in 2017. Fifteen fewer home runs equal 15 fewer hits, which can explain a 24-point drop in average. No need to get cute with the stats here. Expect a slight bounce-back season from Story with numbers in the vicinity of .250 with 30 home runs and 10 steals.
#11 Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees
The man that replaced the beloved Derek Jeter just keeps improving each year in the Bronx. Last season, he set career highs in home runs, RBI, runs, AVG, SLG, and OPS. He might not still hit cleanup like he did a lot in 2017, but he will still be somewhere in the top half of the order with guys like Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez hitting around him. The power might have peaked, but don’t be surprised if he sets career-highs again in runs and RBI with the studs in this lineup. If you don’t want to invest heavily in your shortstop early, Gregorius is a fine selection in the middle rounds.
#12 Chris Taylor, Los Angeles Dodgers
From my second base rankings:
There were plenty of breakout players at this position in 2017, and Chris Taylor was at or near the top of them all. After three seasons as a backup totaling just 291 at-bats, Taylor suddenly transformed into arguably the most productive hitter for the Dodgers in 2017 after Cody Bellinger. There are a lot of reasons to expect some regression in 2018, but with Taylor hitting near the top of a strong Dodgers lineup, he should still flirt with top-10 second baseman numbers.
For more on Taylor, check out Keith Farnsworth’s 2018 player profile.
#13 Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs
From my second base rankings:
“Personally, I’ve never understood why Javier Baez gets valued as high as he does each year. Sure, the potential is there, but he’s yet to start more than 127 games in a season. In 469 at-bats last season, Baez swatted 23 homers and swiped 10 bags. He’s got 30-15 upside but needs about 100 more at-bats to reach that. The upside is certainly worth a selection, but don’t get crazy and take him in the single-digit rounds.”
#14 Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees
Take this ranking with a grain of salt since Torres’ return date from Tommy John surgery isn’t set in stone. However, regardless if he’s ready on opening day or June 1st, you’re going to want Torres on your fantasy squad. His 65-grade hit tool should keep his average high from the get-go, and he should post plenty of 25/15 seasons once he gets his footing. Depending on where the Yankees slot him, Torres should have eligibility at shortstop plus either second or third, giving him an added boost in fantasy value. He doesn’t have the offensive pedigree of Correa or Turner, but Torres is talented enough to become a top-five fantasy shortstop in the near future.
#15 Amed Rosario, New York Mets
The overall offensive profile of Rosario has never overly impressed me, but he gets ranked this high due to the fact that he’ll be starting on opening day at short in Queens. His offensive game is good enough to get him drafted in fantasy, but is limited overall. He has 10-15 home run pop at best and his strong averages in the minors were inflated by high BABIP rates. The best case comparison I see for Rosario is 2015-2016 Andrus. Someone that can hit around .270 with 10 home runs and 25 stolen bases. That’s fine and all, but more as a middle infielder or utility player than your starting shortstop.
#16 Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals
From my second base rankings:
“The 25 home runs DeJong hit in 417 at-bats last season shouldn’t come as a surprise. During his minor league career, he hit 44 homers in 929 at-bats. With Aledmys Diaz now out of the picture, shortstop in St. Louis is DeJong’s for 2018. He’s not much of a speedster, but has .275-30-80-80 potential, which makes him a solid selection to fill your middle infield or utility slots.”
#17 Eduardo Nunez, Free Agent
From my second base rankings:
“It’s remarkable what going from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park can do to a player’s fantasy value. If it wasn’t for the different body type, ethnicity, and 92-year gap in birth year, you would’ve mistaken Eduardo Nunez for Babe Ruth for the first few weeks after his trade to the Boston Red Sox. His 2018 value largely hinges on if he signs with a team that wants to make him their starter at second or third base. If that does happen, bump him up a few spots.”
#18 Zack Cozart, Los Angeles Angels
I broke down Cozart’s 2018 fantasy value when he signed with the Angels.
#19 Marwin Gonzalez, Houston Astros
From my second base rankings:
“This is another breakout I’m not buying into. Gonzalez’s ISO, BABIP, FB% and HR/FB rate all jumped a decent amount in 2017 from previous years. The odds of all four of those remaining at 2017 levels are slim. He likely won’t revert back to pre-2017 numbers but something between 2016 and 2017 is more likely for Gonzalez in 2018. Early ADP data has him being taken at pick 113. That’s way too high. He’s being drafted for his 2017 numbers, and that’s like going to push the value meter over to the bust side here.”
For more on Gonzalez, check out Anthony Franco’s 2018 player profile.
#20 Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers
Everything about Arcia offensively screams average. From his batting average to his power to his speed. Everything average. He’ll get you around 15 home runs and steals, but hitting in the bottom third of the order severely limits his RBI and runs scored potential. If you like bland things without much upside, then Arcia is your guy in the late rounds.
#21 Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox
#22 Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels
Damn, after Marwin Gonzalez, this list dries up quick. Simmons is one hell of a defender but has been challenged offensively, to say the least. He did break out last year a little, but who didn’t? If you want to use a late-round pick on him to see if he can repeat 2017, go right ahead, but you’ll likely be disappointed if you do.
#23 Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays
When you’re a dominant force in the batter’s box, missing 20-30 games per year is a little easier to handle. It still sucked, but you loved the production Tulowitzki gave you when on the field. Now, not only is he still as fragile as a box full of fine china, his production has gone in the toilet. He’s averaged only 108.3 games per season since the start of 2015 and has struggled to keep his average above .240. If you want to take a late-round flier on him in hopes he can regain a little past glory, fine. But you can certainly do better.
#24 Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs
Bust? Maybe. Underperformed compared to expectations? No doubt about it. Outside of his 95 RBi in 2016, which had a lot to do with the Cubs stacked lineup, Russell hasn’t done jack squat in the majors. I hate to call a soon to be 24-year-old a bust, but that’s the way he’s trending. Unless he makes major changes, Russell’s 162-game averages of .240/18/77/72/4 are likely his 2018 ceiling. Until he starts showing us something positive, he’s not even worth a late-round flier in standard mixed leagues at this point.
#25 Jose Peraza, Cincinnati Reds
From my second base rankings:
“Peraza entered 2017 as a popular middle infield sleeper pick, but he struggled mightily throughout the season. He limped to a .259 average with five home runs, 37 RBI, 50 runs, and 23 steals. Jose, a sleeper pick means you’re supposed to break out and do good things, not put people to sleep with your poor play. Try to work on that for next season.”
This is a player I’m going to be drafting a lot in the last round as a speed upside pick with multi-position eligibility at second base and shortstop. Don’t forget about him.
Other Players of Note
#30 Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
There are still plenty of Swanson supporters out there, but I’m certainly not one of them. Scouts gave him 60-grades for his hit tool and speed. Neither of which has translated to the major league level. Swanson might be a former No. 1 overall pick, but he’s best left on the waiver wire to start the season.
#33 Franklin Barreto, Oakland Athletics
His first 71 at-bat cup of coffee didn’t go so well (.197 AVG, .602 OPS), but he did pop two dingers and swipe two bags. He’s one to keep an eye on for his power/speed combination, though his swing-and-miss tendencies will likely keep his average low.
#39 Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies
An offensive-minded middle infielder that will play half of his games at Coors Field? Sign me up, please! He likely won’t be up until later on in the summer, but this is a name to store away in the old noggin for later in the season. Rodgers could be a difference-maker down the stretch.
#40 J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies cleared up the shortstop position for Crawford when they dealt Freddy Galvis to San Diego. I’ve been very vocal about my disdain for Crawford, and I’m not changing my tune now. He’s a fine defender, but we don’t care about that in fantasy. Offensively, he’s below average across the board and is going to likely hit seventh or eighth in the order. Hard pass.
I hope you can use this article to your advantage and get a leg up on your fellow league members. Got a question that I didn’t cover here? Then follow me on Twitter @EricCross04 and ask there.