Welcome to the next installment of my positional previews for the 2020 fantasy baseball season. We are finishing up the infield positions today. I have broken down catcher, first base, second base and third base and now I will be discussing and breaking down the shortstop position.
I will break down my top 30 shortstop rankings as they now stand. Not only am I ranking my top 30 Shortstops, but I also provide tiers and discuss players individually. Shortstop definitely has the deepest high-end talent pool but is it truly as deep as everyone thinks? There’s only one way to find out. It is time to dive in.
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2020 Positional Preview: Shortstop
Tier 1: Elite
This tier highlights the clear-cut, elite options at the position. Shortstop really starts off strong and is very heavy with talent at the top. This is the one and only infield position that has four elite level options.
Every one of these names is arguably a first-round player. These players are solid, foundational pieces or difference makers of some kind.
Trevor Story as my number one shortstop over Francisco Lindor is where people tend to disagree. Story now has back-to-back seasons of AT LEAST 35 home runs, 23 steals, and a .291 BA. He is a five-category producer with Coors Field as his home park. He has proven the concerns to be a thing of the past and I am fully confident taking him ahead of Lindor for fantasy purposes. I am betting on the ceiling here more than the high floor that Lindor seems to offer
Francisco Lindor missed part of the 2019 season but then came back and just continued where he left off from 2018. He is a five-category producer and seems to have arguably the highest high five-category floor.
Trea Turner is in a perpetual state of “what if”. The big knock on Turner is health. However, it is widely accepted he is a 50 stolen base threat. He also offers you a solid floor elsewhere to build off of. The elite speed is highly coveted and Turner can carry you in the stolen base category. In points formats, he does take a hit in value and would not be an elite level option.
As far as Alex Bregman goes, he is similar to Nolan Arenado for me. He offers a slightly lower ceiling than Arenado but still gives you a very high floor in four categories. Bregman really is just a solid player overall to build your fantasy team around.
Tier 2: Make or Break
This is a first! I have yet to have a player in a tier of their own at any position prior to this. Then we have Fernando Tatis Jr. coming in and making a mess of things.
By “make or break” I simply mean Fernando Tatis Jr. is being drafted where there is a huge chance for disappointment. However, there is a real chance that Tatis Jr. can finish as a top-five to ten player overall in fantasy leagues this year. He will ultimately be a make or break player for a lot of teams.
He has the ceiling to be among the elites, but a floor to be placed among the players a tier or even two tiers below. We saw what Tatis Jr. can do last year. He has all the tools to be a special player for both fantasy purposes and non-fantasy purposes. All indications suggest that he will be ready to roll for the 2020 season with no concerns of any lingering issues from the season-ending injury he endured.
This is the big lottery ticket pick in the early rounds of fantasy drafts coming into the 2020 season. Will it cash for a big payday? Or are we going to look back in pain and agony? Both outcomes are very much within the realm of possibility. Regardless, you have to be in on Tatis Jr. to land him this year. If you are even slightly out or low on him you won’t get him on any of your teams. I usually play it very safe with young players and avoid the high draft cost. With all this said, I cannot believe I am saying this but I am in on Fernando Tatis Jr.
Tier 3: The Next Best Thing
This tier offers two names that provide a great floor. These players also still provide a high ceiling as well. I view these players very similar in value even though they offer different skill sets.
Xander Bogaerts is as solid and safe as they come. You know what you’re getting and there is nothing wrong with that. He is not exciting, but lack of excitement is not a category to worry about filling. Just take him on draft day and cash in on the high, solid floor.
The first thing you really notice with Javier Baez is that the steals in 2018 may have been the outlier. The speed is there but other than that 2018 season, he’s only averaged 11 steals per season from 2016 to 2019. He still offers five-category upside and is a solid overall producer. The ceiling is not as high as I once thought it to be but at his price, you’re paying for the floor while having a chance at an elite ceiling.
Tier 4: High Floor and High Upside
This is where shortstop separates itself from the rest of the infield positions. Every player in this tier is basically a top 10 round pick and can be plugged in to your starting shortstop slot with confidence. If you grab your starting shortstop and middle infielder from this tier you would be in great shape.
Many will have Gleyber Torres higher than I will, but I actually had a hard time putting him ahead of Carlos Correa. My concerns remain with not totally buying into the power. I understand he is in one of the best lineups as well as one of the best hitter’s parks in all of baseball. Unfortunately, his metrics do not completely back the near 40 home run total he posted in 2019. At his current price, I won’t have many, if any, shares of Torres in 2020.
I am a huge Carlos Correa guy. The upside remains there and he flashes just enough every year to keep him on your mind. The health concerns are well documented at this point. That is why I have him ranked where I do. I love the value he is falling to. I hope he just avoids those massages next season.
Bo Bichette is really intriguing. He offers five-category upside and is starting to get priced up. He could be fantasy gold, but I just have a hard time taking him at his current ADP due to the more well-known and established producers going behind him.
Johnathan Villar is now with the Miami Marlins. Playing time is secured and he will likely remain atop the lineup in Miami. The most important thing is that the steals should not be affected. That was the biggest concern. Unfortunately, I feel every other category took a hit. He hit two-thirds of his home runs last season at Camden Yards. He loses power production and likely counting stats across the board. His draft cost has fallen compared to earlier drafts and it is now something I can get behind. I’ve yet to get A share of Villar but I’m not necessarily avoiding him either.
Manny Machado’s splits at and away from Camden are well known at this point. There is a chance that middling batting average with plus power is just who he is. I believe he will still improve on last year. Another year in the system cannot hurt. There should be less pressure after being a year removed from the mega-deal. The Padres have also made the lineup better around him. This all lines up just right to vault him into a bounce-back year. Although I laid out the narrative, I still have my reservations.
I typically fade Adalberto Mondesi. He has terrible plate discipline and that is a big reason I never expect any strides in batting average. It also allows pitchers to make him chase more which in turn induces more weak contact and saps the power potential a bit. The speed is about as real as it gets but it feels as though he lacks true upside in the rest of the categories. Where Mondesi earns his price tag is in category formats. That is because he can carry you in steals almost by himself.
Something worth noting is that Mike Matheny has never been much of a stolen base type of manager. Mondesi is also coming off surgery for an injury that could push into the regular season. Not to mention, a run-first player is more prone to soft tissue injuries as well. If you are in a points league or OBP format he moves down the ranks considerably. Lastly, there was a chance he’d be ready to start the season and now recent reports suggest that may not be the case. This is still a situation to monitor.
Tim Anderson is similar to Mondesi when it comes to plate discipline but he is not quite as bad. The track record of the power/speed combo is there. I do not completely buy into the gains he made in the batting average department in 2019 but there is definitely a chance he has taken the next step and can be a .270 hitter or better. The more I look into him and where he is falling in drafts, I do like the value. I expect to have a few shares as long as his ADP remains where it currently is in these early drafts. He is another player that falls a good amount in my ranks if it is a points league format.
Marcus Semien is starting to feel like a real value this draft season. There were legitimate changes and overall growth in his profile. I think him falling this far in the shortstop ranks is a testament of just how great and deep the position is as a whole. Semien is a solid “fall back” option if you pass on these other names. I would have no issue making him my starting shortstop entering 2020.
Tier 5: Solid and Safe
Solid and safe says it all. There is a lot to like here and all these players you can grab on draft day, set in your lineup and forget them.
Jorge Polanco had a hot start to the 2019 season. The stat cast data suggests some of it was real but the power was definitely an outlier. I would anticipate a few fewer home runs. I am hopeful that fewer home runs means a few more steals. He is a good source of batting average and someone who is a good stabilizer to a riskier lineup.
Corey Seager fits the same description as far as a roster stabilizer. Most people, including myself, believe he just won’t live up to the hype he once had. I think he offers a high floor but the ceiling is limited.
Elvis Andrus is another player who started off strong and then came back down to earth. He proved all of us wrong about his speed concerns last season. If you need speed and solid overall production, this is your guy.
Amed Rosario is essentially an Elvis Andrus 2.0 for me. He offers a slightly higher ceiling I would say but the floor is also lower. If you need five-category potential then Rosario is another target to aim for.
Tier 6: Fallback Options and Later Round Targets
These are all late-round targets. There are still a few options with solid upside as well as a few others with somewhat of a high floor. This is a good place to address your middle infield spot if you waited to do so.
There are a lot of interesting players to be had in this tier. Kevin Newman offers late speed in drafts. Newman seems to be in line for a sure thing as far as playing time goes with the Pirates. That carries value and all but assures the opportunity for the steals.
Dansby Swanson is growing on me. He has even made my sleeper list. There is five-category upside here. He can easily get to 20 home runs and 10 steals. Swanson is only 25 years old and can still make strides to improve. He is a steal at his ADP.
Scott Kingery is more relevant now that the Phillies have released Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco. This currently allows Kingery to get everyday at-bats and that definitely boosts his upside. There is a power/speed aspect to his game but the batting average is a true concern. He is more than worthy of grabbing late and hoping for the upside to hit.
The power production is why you’d target Paul DeJong. The issue is the potential for DeJong to provide a negative for batting average. He appeared to be having a breakout in the early part of 2019 but then the regression occurred. DeJong hit just .202 in the second half. The good news is that the power remained but it is a reminder at how low the batting average can drop. He remains a solid source of late power.
Didi Gregorius may have left Yankee Stadium but going over to Philly is one of the best landing spots we could of asked for. His pull-ball tendencies should play up well in Philly and he is likely slotting into the 5-hole behind a lot of guys who get on base if he can be what he has showed us he can be in New York, we should see a bounce back season from him.
Jean Segura did not live up to expectations in his first season in Philly. With that said, he now comes at a discount and remains a late source for some steals and batting average.
Carter Kieboom has just as much breakout potential as anyone in this tier. My reservations remain in the playing time. He is getting the chance to win the job. He hasn’t flashed much this spring and the team is loaded with depth so my confidence in every day playing time is growing a bit wary.
Willy Adames is just a safe player. He is actually one of only a couple players I expect to be regulars in the Rays lineup this year. Nothing fancy or exciting here. He is a perfect candidate for your middle infield spot in 15-team leagues or deeper.
Tier 7: Deep League Dart Throws
If you’re in a deep league, these guys are for you. These aren’t league winners by any means but they can be decent and two of three are pretty well known commodities.
Nico Hoerner was fast-tracked to the major league level last season. With that aggressive move, you have to believe the Cubs truly believe in the talent and do not see Hoerner being held down much if at all next year. The upside is really good to chase at this point. If he does earn a starting spot out of spring training he will move up my ranks.
Nick Ahmed is the everyday shortstop for the Diamondbacks and should bat either 6th or 7th in the lineup. He offers a little bit of a power and speed combination. There is not much of a ceiling here but there is still value in his skill set, especially this late in drafts.
Andrelton Simmons is just the type of player you set and forget in lineups. Simmons is expected to hit towards the bottom of what is a good lineup this year. He won’t necessarily help you in many categories but he definitely won’t hurt you and that has value too.
That is going to do it for the shortstop preview. Stick around for updates as the off-season continues. Fantasy baseball season never ends over here for us at Fantrax.
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