Shortstops are among the most productive and coveted fantasy assets on the market. The elite shortstops in today’s game contribute all across the board for fantasy managers and are in extremely high demand. Last year, 14 infielders posted third-round value or better in 5×5 Roto formats. Eight of the 14 were shortstops. Fantasy managers are expecting a similar return in 2021 based on recent ADP data. Nine shortstops are currently being drafted among the top 50 selections in drafts. If you do not attack the position early, you may be behind the eight ball. On the other hand, the position is certainly deep enough that there are values to be had across the position. Below are some of my thoughts on the various shortstop tiers and some players to target at different points in your upcoming drafts. (ADP data is based on February NFBC drafts.)
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Shortstop Positional Tier Analysis
Tier 1: Rounds 1-4
Fernando Tatis, Jr. – ADP: 2.47
Trea Turner – ADP: 7.31
Trevor Story – ADP: 12.79
Francisco Lindor – ADP: 18.05
Adalberto Mondesi – ADP: 22.52
Bo Bichette – ADP: 25.1
Xander Bogaerts – ADP: 33.5
Corey Seager – ADP: 35.18
Tim Anderson – ADP: 43.23
Fernando Tatis Jr. took his budding stardom to another level in 2020. The Friars phenom and recipient of a brand new 14-year, $340 million contract extension flirted with the MVP award in his age-21 season. I was wary about him heading into the year due to some underwhelming metrics, but he sure proved me wrong in a big way. Having said that, Trea Turner paced the position in Roto value in 2020 and is my preferred first-round target between the two. Trevor Story is a perennial stud but has been the subject of constant trade rumors. Needless to say, a move away from Coors would not be ideal. Those in leagues with daily or biweekly transactions are still better off drafting Story as long as he remains in Colorado but prepare for a slight dip in value if the Rockies trade Story this summer.
Francisco Lindor bottomed out last year, finishing as just a 10th round value in 12-team leagues despite playing all 60 games. However, he has a proven track record and is now in a better lineup with the New York Mets. The days of him stealing 20-plus bags are probably over, but he should contribute favorably in all five categories. Adalberto Mondesi is probably the most polarizing player in all of fantasy. He finished last season 20th among hitters in 5×5 scoring, which was close to where he was drafted. But his final line does not nearly tell the full tale. Through September 3 (37 games), Mondesi floundered to a .179/.209/.231 triple slash, with nary a home run and just eight steals. The naysayers were gassed after running so many victory laps.
But over his final 22 contests, Mondesi flashed the tools that made him a coveted pick last year at this time. During that stretch, he hit .386 with 22 runs, six homers, 19 RBI, and 16 (!) stolen bases. So which player are fantasy managers getting in 2021? Advocates will argue that a long recovery from offseason shoulder surgery was the reason for Mondesi’s slow start. Even with his torrid finish, Mondesi had the 10th lowest xwOBA (expected weighted on-base average) among 257 qualified hitters. I would be all over Mondesi in Best Ball leagues, as his ceiling is nearly unmatched. However, there is a considerable risk given his inconsistency. In standard leagues, I would prioritize drafting a second shortstop in the middle rounds in case Mondesi craters on what figures to be a poor Royals team.
It feels weird to say that Bo Bichette is safer than Mondesi considering the former has a total of 340 MLB plate appearances under his belt. Still, it is hard to argue with what he has done in that time. The soon-to-be 23-year old has a .307 batting average with 16 home runs and eight steals in essentially a half season’s worth of big-league experience. Bichette has tremendous upside in what may be the toughest lineup in all of baseball for opposing pitchers to navigate. Xander Bogaerts is as steady as they come, and often goes overlooked by fantasy managers in constant pursuit of fantasy’s next big thing. He produced first-round value in 2019 and was a solid contributor in all five categories again last season.
2020 was finally the year for Corey Seager truthers. He regained the power he had seemingly lost following Tommy John Surgery back in 2018. Seager slugged 15 long balls and drove in 41 in just 52 games. I am partial to shortstops who can steal bases, but Seager should more than makeup for his lack of wheels in the other four categories. He is smack dab in the middle of a stacked Dodgers lineup. Since 2019, Tim Anderson has 234 hits, 28 home runs, 22 steals, and 203 combined runs/RBI in 174 games. Sure, he takes a hit in OBP leagues because he refuses to walk, but he more than makes up for it elsewhere. I would not hesitate to draft Anderson in the third or fourth round, though the steals are more likely to settle in the 10-15 range than they are at 20-plus.
Tier 2: Rounds 5-12
Gleyber Torres – ADP: 69.31
Javier Baez – ADP: 74.74
Dansby Swanson – ADP: 104.31
Marcus Semien – ADP: 124.27
Carlos Correa – ADP: 124.73
Tommy Edman – ADP: 126.94
Gleyber Torres and Javier Baez were being drafted much higher a year ago at this time. Both had brutal 2020 seasons, and Torres no longer carries dual eligibility. If you are among those who believe that last year should be discounted due to the unprecedented circumstances, there are discounts to be had here. Speaking of discounts, I mentioned early in this piece that six shortstops posted top-36 value last season. Five are in Tier 1. The sixth is Dansby Swanson. Swanson is hitting in a loaded lineup, is 27 years old, and a former number-one overall draft pick. He is also one of three shortstops (Tatis and Turner being the others) who provided above-average production in all five Roto categories last year, per BaseballMonster.com. I will happily scoop him up around pick 100 and slot him into my MI spot if I have already secured an elite shortstop earlier.
Marcus Semien also figures to be a potential bargain in 2021. Semien posted second-round value in 2019 and now joins a loaded Blue Jays lineup. He will also gain dual eligibility early this season, as he will man the keystone for Toronto. Semien should be even more valuable in Points leagues, as he has played at least 155 games in four of the last five full MLB seasons. Carlos Correa finally played a “full” season last year, but the results were not up to snuff. I would prefer to let someone else take that risk. I found it interesting that Tommy Edman posted negative value in all five categories per Baseball Monster last year. On the bright side, he was at least serviceable in all categories except homers, and he provides elite eligibility. I would only target Edman if I had a very specific early-round build.
Tier 3: Rounds 13-20
Didi Gregorius – ADP: 151.98
Jonathan Villar – ADP: 159.47
Andres Gimenez – ADP: 176.68
Jake Cronenworth – ADP: 189.44
Ha-seong Kim- ADP: 201.13
Chris Taylor – ADP: 209.06
Paul DeJong- ADP: 219.5
David Fletcher – ADP: 220.58
Jorge Polanco – ADP: 223.97
Willi Castro – ADP: 238.37
While Edman is the only shortstop in either of the top two tiers who is eligible at more than one position, the remaining tears have plenty of multi-positional players. Though not among that subset, consider Didi Gregorius in the middle rounds if you’re looking for a cheap source of RBI. The 31-year old finished as a fourth-round value last season and has now driven in 101 runs over his last 142 games. Andres Gimenez is an intriguing option in his new digs in Cleveland, but it remains to be seen whether he can secure a full-time gig. If he does, he can be a nice source of steals. The Mets just signed Jonathan Villar to help fill the super-utility role vacated by Gimenez during the club’s acquisition of Lindor. Villar has stolen 176 bases since 2016, but his playing time figures to be sporadic in New York.
Jake Cronenworth and Ha-seong Kim will join Jurickson Profar as interchangeable pieces in the Padres lineup. All three figure to be solid on a per-game basis, but they will likely cannibalize each other’s playing time to a degree. Therefore, it will be tough to trust any of them early in the season until we get some more clarity on their usage. Chris Taylor may finally see close to a full season’s worth of plate appearances now that Kike Hernandez is gone. But Gavin Lux remains very much in play, and Dave Roberts loves him some righty/lefty platoons. Paul DeJong probably has the most secure role of anyone mentioned in this tier so far, except for Gregorius. If you can afford the potential batting average drain, DeJong should be a solid source of power at a decent price.
If you have a surplus of power heading into the back half of your draft, David Fletcher could be a nice fit. He hits for a high average and should score a lot of runs hitting ahead of Mike Trout. Managers can also deploy Fletcher at second and third base if necessary. Jorge Polanco has been a decent (if boring) fantasy player for the past few years. He will likely shift to second base with the team’s acquisition of Andrelton Simmons, so he is yet another player who should receive dual eligibility relatively quickly. He may lose some at-bats depending on what happens with Luis Arraez and/or Alex Kiriloff, so do not overpay. Willi Castro hit .349 in 36 games in 2020. He also hit .230 in 30 games the year before. Castro should get a crack at the everyday gig, so he is a decent speculative pick.
Tier 4: Rounds 21-30
Mauricio Dubon – ADP: 276.69
Wander Franco – ADP: 287.61
Isiah Kiner-Falefa – ADP: 289.94
Amed Rosario – ADP: 294.76
Joey Wendle- ADP: 318.39
I was convinced a year ago at this time that Mauricio Dubon was going to be a thing last year. (Narrator: he was not.) Dubon did recover nicely after a slow start to the year, so it was not all bad. But I am not convinced that Gabe Kapler will ever give him more than 450 plate appearances to show off his offensive wares. There are far worse dart throws late in drafts than Wander Franco. The uber-talented shortstop should be an asset from the day he steps onto a Major League field. However, I am just not convinced that happens this spring. Tampa Bay already has a surplus of moving parts as it is and Kevin Cash tinkers like no other Major League manager. So even if Franco does break camp with the club, he will likely be a part-time player for the foreseeable future.
Fantasy managers used Isiah Kiner-Falefa as a bit of a cheat code as a catcher who could steal bases. Though IKF retains dual eligibility heading into 2021, catcher is no longer one of the two positions he qualifies at. That saps a lot of the value he may have had. He could still be serviceable if he sticks atop the Rangers lineup, but that is not set in stone by any means. I like Amed Rosario as a pivot from/supplement to Andres Gimenez. Rosario is still just 25 years old and is two years removed from a .287/75/15/72/19 campaign. Given the 10 round difference between the two, I will gladly take a flyer on Rosario. Joey Wendle is yet another player in Tampa who is productive when on the field but may platoon more often than fantasy managers would like. Still, the upside is there this late in drafts.
Tier 5: Deeper League Dart Throws
Willy Adames – ADP: 382.53
Elvis Andrus – ADP: 402.55
Nick Ahmed – ADP: 442.69
Luis Urias – ADP: 458.21
Miguel Rojas- ADP: 463.76
Jose Iglesias – ADP: 482.32
Niko Goodrum – ADP: 504.52
J.P. Crawford – ADP: 505.58
Andrelton Simmons – ADP: 508.6
Nico Hoerner – ADP: 536.55
Freddy Galvis – ADP: 552.39
Kevin Newman – ADP: 556.26
Orlando Arcia – ADP: 562.18
Jazz Chisholm – ADP: 570.77
Willy Adames makes more sense than Wander Franco considering Adames comes 100 picks cheaper and, y’know, has the job. Elvis Andrus should be Oakland’s everyday shortstop, as he was acquired to replace Marcus Semien. He may even lead off, according to manager Bob Melvin. If that comes to fruition, Andrus profiles as a decent bargain. Nick Ahmed should continue to man the position in the desert for the Diamondbacks. The upside is limited, but in deep leagues, Ahmed should be a steady hand. Luis Urias will get a chance to be Milwaukee’s starting third baseman in 2021. Urias is still just 23 years old, but it feels like his star has fallen in recent years since his heyday as a Padres prospect. Urias has just six home runs and three steals to go along with a .226 batting average in 422 Major League plate appearances.
Miguel Rojas served fantasy managers well (myself included) last season as a waiver wire add who paid off. He still feels a bit underpriced, but his true value is in daily leagues against left-handed pitching. Jose Iglesias will be the new starting shortstop for the Angels this season. He has hit .307 over the last two seasons and could be a nice value, particularly if he were to somehow work his way towards the top of the order. Niko Goodrum has double-digit home run and steals potential, but his playing time is very much in doubt after Detroit signed Robbie Grossman and Nomar Mazara to free-agent deals. If Renato Nunez fails to secure a job out of Spring Training, the Tigers could move Jaimer Candelario to first base and Willi Castro to third, potentially leaving an opening at short for Goodrum to cover.
J.P. Crawford was the everyday leadoff hitter and shortstop in Seattle last year, and his role should remain the same. Crawford hit .295 over his final 25 games while reducing his strikeout rate to 15 percent. If those gains stick, he will have value in deep leagues. Andrelton Simmons has landed in Minnesota and should hit near the bottom of the Twins lineup. His modest power and speed have all but dissipated as he enters his 30s. Simmons can still hit for a solid batting average, but it will be an empty one. Nico Hoerner should see playing time all over the field for the Chicago Cubs in 2021. The former first-round draft pick is more adept with a glove than a bat, so he should not make much of a fantasy impact anytime soon.
Freddy Galvis inked a one-year contract with Baltimore, and projects to be the team’s starter at short. Galvis has 30 home runs since the beginning of the 2019 season. He could be a dirt-cheap source of power at the tail end of deep drafts. Kevin Newman was a top-20 shortstop in 2019 before the bottom fell out last year. He is another endgame flyer who could pay off dividends if you believe that last year was the anomaly. Orlando Arcia is an uninspiring option, but he should get everyday reps at shortstop once again for the Brewers this season. Jazz Chisholm is a favorite of mine at the end of deep drafts. He had at least 20 homers and 15 steals in consecutive Minor League seasons. The 23-year old will have a chance to earn the team’s starting role at second base this spring.
For more great rankings, strategy, and analysis check out the 2021 FantraxHQ Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit. We’ll be adding more content from now right up until Opening Day!
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First and foremost congrats on the continued fantasy baseball experts rankings in the SP/ RP for experts the last couple years. Also high in both the C and 2B rankings as well. Do you have your list of the pitcher SP/RP compiled for this upcoming 2021 season? I did not see you included in the Fantrax staff rankings for pitching rankings for 2021? Just wondering where I can find that information as your track record speaks for itself when it comes to pitching projections lately!
Thanks Ernie! Much appreciated. I was included in the staff rankings last month but have not updated my personal rankings as of yet. Those should be done in the next few days and posted by this coming weekend.