|Our top ranked shortstop hit .223 last season, which says it all. (US Presswire)|
If, after checking out the available free agents at second and third base, you thought, "wow, these are terrible options," you haven't seen anything yet. This shortstop class will absolutely blow you away.
Here's all we need to know. Last year the top two options were Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins. This year we have Stephen Drew and Alex Gonzalez. Last year, Rafael Furcal was ranked fourth in our free agent shortstop rankings. This year? Ronny Cedeno.
Without further ado ...
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1. Stephen Drew | 2012 teams: Diamondbacks, Athletics
2012 stats: .223/.309/.348, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 38 R, 13 2B
A broken ankle in 2011 meant Drew was only able to play 165 games in the last two seasons combined, and he wasn't very productive with the bat in either campaign. Still, he had previously appeared on his way to being an All-Star-caliber player in 2008 and had a good year in 2010. Being that he's only 29, there's hope he'll end up similar to 2008-10 and that the other options are terrible, it's possible Drew gets a decent deal, but let's not go overboard. He's not making eight figures a season or landing anything long term.
2. Alex Gonzalez | 2012 team: Brewers
2012 stats: .259/.326/.457, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 8 R, 4 2B
A torn ACL limited the 35-year-old to just 24 games in 2012, yet here he sits, ranked second. We know Gonzalez still has some power (23 HR in 2010, 15 in 2011), so that'll land him a job somewhere, maybe even as a starter.
3. Jason Bartlett | 2012 team: Padres
2012 stats: .133/.240/.193, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 8 R, 5 2B
After 29 games, Bartlett was placed on the DL with a right knee strain, but then later was released by the Padres, who decided to go young. He's still not overly old at 33, and the hunch is he'll find work as a backup based upon the memory of his excellent 2009 season.
4. Ronny Cedeno | 2012 team: Mets
2012 stats: .259/.332/.410, 4 HR, 22 RBI, 18 R, 11 2B
We're firmly into "no chance in hell he gets a job as a starter" range. Cedeno is a fine backup, though. He actually had a 104 OPS-plus last season, which was the first time in his eight-year career he was over 100 (which is league average).
5. Cesar Izturis | 2012 teams: Brewers, Nationals
2012 stats: .241/.254/.343, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 13 R, 7 2B, 2 3B
And now we move into "he may be forced into retirement" range. There really isn't much to say. Izturis is a fine defender, but not outstanding, and can't hit.
6. Yuniesky Betancourt | 2012 team: Royals
2012 stats: .228/.256/.400, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 21 R, 14 2B
He's posted a negative WAR in each of the past six seasons (Baseball-Reference version). Last year it was -1.2 in just 57 games, which is just all kinds of atrocious. Yuni only played one game at shortstop last season, but he was full-time there in 2011.
And that's it. Horrible, eh? It almost makes second base look like a group of All-Stars.