Let’s take a look at fantasy Shortstops headed into 2009. This group is very top heavy. My strategy is, if you don’t get one of the top three, then wait. There is a Cecil Fielder sized drop off after you get past the big three. So in honor of the of some of the best (and worst) Shortstops of all-time, let’s see who are the best fantasy Shortstops in 2009.
Honus Wagner Division
The best of the best, Wagner is the greatest SS of all-time (Arod doesn’t count because he is a cheater) and these three Shortstops are by far and away the best Shortstops in this fantasy draft.
Ramirez is the #1 SS
1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. One of the top 5 players in the game, Ramirez will go top 3 in most fantasy drafts. He can do it all. Hit for avg (.301 in 08), hit hr’s (33 in 08), get on base (.400 obp in 08) and steal a base (35 in 08). The only thing you can say he doesn’t do well is drive in runs. That will change in 2009 because Ramirez will be moved down to the 3 spot in the order.
2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies. After winning the MVP in 2007, Rollins had a very disappointing 2008. I think he bounces back in 2009 and will have a better fantasy season than Jose Reyes. Look for Rollins to put up a .285/20/80 with 40+ sb’s and over 110 runs scored
3. Jose Reyes, Mets. While I question Reyes as a player (I don’t think he is a winner), there is no questioning his fantasy value. Reyes is a look for 110+ runs scored, 15+ hr’s and 50+ rbi
Alan Trammell Division
It’s not that Alan Trammell was a bad player. A matter of fact, Trammell was one of the better Shortstops in the game from 1983-1990. The point is that there is a major drop off from Honus Wagner to Alan Trammell. These next 10 guys are the last 10 guys you want to draft before you have to scramble.
4. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks. I have Drew ranked higher than Jeter and Furcal because 1. He can stay healthy and 2. In Keeper Leagues he is a much better option due to his age (26). Drew seems to be getting better with age and it’s not out of the question that he approaches a 30 hr season.
5. Derek Jeter, Yankees. Jeter’s runs, hits, hr’s, rbi’s, avg and obp have declined in each of the last 3 years. But in the weak category of SS, Jeter still provides value. Expect Jeter to put up a .305/10/65 with 10 sb’s.
6. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers. Furcal was off to a rip roaring start in 2008 before his back gave out. Furcal hit double digit hr’s from 2003-2006 but with a bad back I am not sure he can reach double figures again. The Dodgers should have a very good offense, so 100+ runs and a .300 avg should be expected from Furcal in 2009.
7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies.I had asked in a post, “Can Tulo Bounce Back?” My answer back then was yes and my answer no is yes. Will Tulowitzki be as good as his rookie year? Probably not but he can certainly put up a .285/20/80.
Don't sleep on Hardy
8. JJ Hardy, Brewers. Hardy has really come on with the power slugging 50 hr’s in the last 2 years. Hardy seems to be underrated in most drafts but he is good for a .280/28/80 in 2009.
9. Michael Young, Rangers. Young will qualify as a 3B and a SS but has move value as a SS. Last year was the first year since 2003 that Young didn’t have 200 hits. Will his switch from SS to 3B hurt his offense? I don’t think it will but his days of 200+ hits and 100 rbi are gone.
10. Jhonny Peralta, Indians. Peralta had a career year in 2008 putting up a .276/23/89 with 104 runs scored. Peralta is tearing up Spring Training hitting .435/3/11 in 46 ab’s. The Indians lineup looks to be improved in 2009 with the returns of Martinez and Hafner, so it’s possible Peralta could improve on his 2008 performance. If only he stole bases he would be much higher up on the food chain.
11. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox. Alfonso Soriano part 2. A tall, lanky 2B who has all the potential in the world? Sounds like Alfonso Soriano part 2 to me. Ramirez had a solid rookie year putting up a .290/21/77 in just 480 ab’s. Now moving over to SS, Ramirez still will qualify at 2B for fantasy purposes which raises his stock even more. The only stat Ramirez hurts you in is obp(.317 last season) but a .300/25/90 with 10+ sb’s is not out of the question for Ramirez.
12. Mike Aviles, Royals. Aviles qualifies at SS and at 2B but has more value at the 2B position. The New York native burst on to the scene last year and hit .325 with 10 hr and 51 rbi in just 102 games for the Royals. I like Aviles to hit .300 again but not .325. Look for a .310 avg with 15 hr and 60 rbi from Aviles in 2009.
13. Miguel Tejada, Astros. Tejada looks to be on the downside of his career as his avg, hr’s and rbi’s have declined each of the last 3 seasons. Tejada is going to bat 5th this year so a rebirth in rbi’s is possible. A .280/14/80 should be expected from Tejada this season.
Kevin Elster Division
Elster was mostly a good glove, no hit SS with the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Pirates and Dodgers. Elster did have one magical year by his standards in 1996, when he hit 24 hr’s and knocked in 99 runs for the Rangers. Most of these next 19 guys are either good glove, no hit or can marginally help your fantasy team in 2009.
14. Jed Lowrie, Red Sox. Now the starting SS will get you runs scored and a solid obp. Might lose ab’s when Lugo returns from the DL.
15. Orlando Cabrera, A’s. A very consistent player, you know what you are going to get. .280 batting average with 8 or 9 hr’s, 60-70 rbi and 20 sb’s.
16. Yunel Escobar, Braves. Don’t give up on him just yet. He is still only 26 and has has shown good patience at the plate in his short time in the majors.
17. Ryan Theriot, Cubs. Good average, solid obp and will get you 20+ sb’s.
18. Elvis Andrus, Rangers. The new starting SS in Texas, Andrus has good value in Keeper Leagues. He will probably go threw some typical rookie struggles but he can run (54 sb’s in Double A). Expect 25-30 sb’s in 2009.
19. Edgar Renteria, Giants. Clearly on the downside of his career but he is back in the NL where he belongs. Still capable of hitting 10 hr’s and driving in 55.
20. Jason Bartlett, Rays. Zero power what so ever but he will get you stolen bases (53 in the last 3 years).
21. Khalil Greene, Cardinals. An obp killer (.276 combined last 2 years) but leaving Petco should help him get back to the 20 hr mark in 2009.
22. Christian Guzman, Nationals. Will get you a .300 avg and maybe 50 rbi’s and that is about it.
23. Erick Aybar, Angels. 15+ sb potential but will have to hold off Izturis and perhaps Brandon Wood for playing time.
24. Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners. See Khalil Greene but without the 20 hr potential.
25. Cesar Izturis, Orioles. Very much like Jason Bartlett and will get you 20 + sb’s.
26. Jeff Keppinger, Reds. Will replace Gonzalez at some point during the season. Is a better offensive option than Gonzalez
27. Alex Gonzalez, Reds. After missed all of 2008 with a fractured knee (ouch!!) he will be competing for playing time with Keppinger. Gonzalez could hit 10 hr’s but is an obp killer.
28. Nick Punto, Twins. One of the dubbed “Piranhas,” Punto is a typical good glove, not hit SS. He will get your team 15 – 20 sb’s
29. Jack Wilson, Pirates.At 31, Wilson is headed towards the end of his career. Not that he was any better when he was 26. Wilson might move into a platoon role to make room for Brian Bixler.
30. Adam Everett, Tigers. The only reason he is still in the league is because of his defense. The Tigers version of Jason Bartlett?
31. Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays. A better offensive option than John McDonald and that is not saying much.
32. Luis Rodriguez/David Eckstein, Padres. Uglier and ugliest. Neither of these players add any value to your team.
Keep An Eye On
Brandon Wood, Angels. I didn’t rank Wood because I have no idea what the Angels plan on doing with this guy. He is killing the ball this spring to the tune of .347/4/13 in 49 ab’s but the Angels have Figgins at 3B, Aybar at SS and Rivera at DH. Keep an eye on this situation. If he is able to get playing time over any of the above names, then Wood is a pick up you should make.