In terms of the strength of the position top to bottom, third base is what shortstop used to be, and shortstop is what third base used to be. Actually, that might be underselling it. Shortstop may just be the best position in Fantasy these days.
And you're going to pay a lot for whichever shortstop you end up with, in all likelihood. There are at least a half-dozen guys at this position now who will be fundamental, core pieces of any Fantasy team they are on. But there's also plenty of depth if you don't want to pay full freight; in terms of average draft position, I can go all the way down to 129.7 before I stop feeling confident about my starter in a 12-team league.
Here's my breakdown of the players being drafted inside of the top-300 overall in NFBC drafts and how I feel about their price:
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The big caveat here is that Tatis' ADP is going to crater from here. He was my choice for the No. 1 overall pick prior to his wrist injury – and you shouldn't take him off your draft boards entirely even though he may miss two months of action – but he's going to fall several rounds from here. I would bet he settles in below 75th overall, but we'll get a better sense of that once we know whether he is going to have surgery or not.
That probably makes Turner the clear top choice for most drafters, though I have it more as a top tier with him, Juan Soto, and Vladimir Guerrero. Turner's stolen bases obviously make him stand out, and it's enough for him to be a perfectly viable No. 1 pick – though you may end up using him in the second base spot anyway.
- Bo Bichette - 5.32
Bichette is probably going to go fifth or sixth in most drafts, and I do have him ranked fifth. However, I'm never thrilled when I end up in the spot where I'm taking him. There's a clear drop off from Jose Ramirez to Bichette in my eyes in both power and speed production – Bichette really stands out in counting stats thanks to the Blue Jays lineup. There's nothing wrong with him as your first player – he gives you a solid foundation across the board with no real weaknesses, I'm just not sure he'll be quite as good as the guys just ahead of him, that's all.
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One thing you'll notice here is that this is a pretty arbitrary tier break – there are around five spots in ADP separating each of Anderson, Semien, Story, Bogaerts, Lindor, Franco, and Baez. I'm drawing the line here because this is where I think the gap in expected production is. Just so you know.
Anderson does it in an unconventional way, but we're three years in on him sporting a high batting average, so I don't see much reason to be skeptical anymore – .284 expected average in 2021 isn't quite as good as his .309 actual average, but we can probably chalk that up to Anderson's speed helping him leg out a few hits the algorithms don't expect. He's reached the point where his quality-of-contact metrics are at least average across the board, and in Guaranteed Rate Field, I think that means that a 25-home run season isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility. Add in 20-ish steals and a bunch of runs, and Anderson is a legitimate four-category stud. Injuries have been the only thing really holding him back in recent years.
I wrote about Semien in the 2B ADP review piece, and I generally think he's a fine option in this range. There seems to be an awful lot of skepticism around him, and while I don't think that's undeserved – his underlying numbers don't come close to backing up what he did in 2021 – I also think it's also worth keeping in mind that he's been an elite Fantasy option in two of the past three seasons, with the lone exception being the COVID-shortened campaign.
Bogaerts is probably viewed as the safe, boring type in this group, and at a time when there are so many interesting names at shortstop, he kind of feels like an afterthought. But this may be a case where reliability and consistency are being mistaken for a lack of upside. Bogaerts has hit between .288 and .309 in four straight seasons, with at least an .863 OPS in each season. His 2021 season totals look a bit disappointing, but it's worth remembering he had 100-plus RBI in both 2018 and 2019 and was on a 30-homer pace in 2020, too. Bogaerts doesn't necessarily stand out in any one place, but he can absolutely be a rock-solid four-category contributor who isn't a zero in steals.
Story is perhaps the most interesting player in this group, because we just don't really know what to expect from him. This is likely to be the first time we see Story outside of Coors Field full time, but we don't actually know where he's going to play. Story has been a legitimate five-category contributor in his time with the Rockies, but without the BABIP-inflating effects of Coors, where does his average end up? South of the .251 mark he posted in a down season in 2021? Is he a low-20s homer guy, or does he make up for whatever he loses in average by getting back to the 30 range? There's a lot of uncertainty, and it's been enough to make me avoid him, but maybe I'm just a coward.
Franco is on the rise, but it's fair to wonder if he's the high-upside guy in this tier. His .288/.347/.463 line as a 20-year-old rookie was very impressive, and I don't think there's much risk of him being bad this season. But I do think it's fair to wonder how conducive his present skill set is for Fantasy – he had just seven homers in 70 games last season, and his StatCast data shows that he didn't necessarily drive the ball with authority all that often. Of course, he's also one of the youngest players in the league even in his second season and projects as one of the best hitters in baseball in the long run.
However, if he doesn't take a big step forward in power in 2021, I do worry he may disappoint some players hoping for a star outcome – especially because I'm not counting on him for even double-digit steals on the Rays, given that he had just three attempts in 2021 and ran at a 56% success rate in the minors. I'll draft Franco at this price in a points league, but probably not in Roto.
Lindor and Baez are the two established veterans in this tier, but it feels like we don't really know what to expect from them. Baez's skill set is just inherently volatile – he swings and misses so much that there are going to be valleys in his performance that are unbearable, but the peaks are also incredibly high. I'm worried about how his approach is going to play in the less hitter-friendly environs of Comerica Park, so I'm not drafting him at this price.
Lindor is probably going just a tad too early for my taste, though I am expecting a bounce back from his disappointing first season in New York. He was dreadful to start the season, hitting .158/.296/.200 through May 6, but looked more or less like himself from that point on – Lindor hit .249/.330/.468 with a 31-homer, 98-RBI, 101-run, 16-steal pace. You'd like a better batting average, but you'd take every single one of those other numbers from him at this price, no question.
Chisholm is one of the riskiest players in the top-100 in ADP at any position. There's no doubting the tremendous upside he has – he hits the ball really hard and is super athletic – but it's fair to wonder whether his skill set is refined enough to make the most of it. You can see this in performance before and after his trip to the IL in late-May:
Through 5/25: .300/.361/.509, 27-homer, 59-SB pace
After 6/1: .232/.385/.398, 22-homer, 21-SB pace
Maybe the injury is to blame, but given his swing-and-miss woes, I don't think it was a fluke. If Chisholm takes a step forward, he could be a superstar, but I don't like this price enough to find out.
Polanco is another of the more boring safe types, and I don't have much interest in him at this price – his career high in homers before last season's 33 was 22. Seager is the most interesting to me in this tier, and someone I'm pretty happy to get if I have stolen bases already taken care of by this point in the draft. The move from Dodger Stadium to Globe Life Park is a negative one, for sure, but that shouldn't matter too much for someone who hits the ball like Seager does. His skill set should play anywhere, and his 2020 and 2021 results combined show the upside: .306 average, 31 HR, 98 RBI, 92 R in 147 games. Injuries are the concern here, but his absence last season was due to a hit-by-pitch, not a recurrence of the elbow and hip issues that derailed him circa 2018. I just don't necessarily think he's as risky as everyone else, I guess. Seager is my No. 5 SS and a top-40 player for me.
Correa has similarly managed to put his injury woes behind him over the past couple of seasons, and he managed 26 HR and 196 combined R+RBI as a result. That doesn't seem like the ceiling for a 27-year-old who had 21 homers in 75 games in 2019. His price will rise whenever he signs somewhere, and it should.
Witt's price is probably about right, bordering on a bit too high. He's arguably the top prospect in baseball and has a real chance to be on the Opening Day roster for the Royals, with a skill set that could be incredibly valuable for Fantasy. He hit 33 homers and stole 29 bases while hitting .290 last season, and his ultimate upside rests inside the first round of Fantasy drafts. Of course, he's also a 22-year-old with a limited track record in the minors, which means he's not a sure thing yet. He's worth taking the flier on at this price, especially if you're looking for some SB upside at something less than a premium.
This is some of the excellent depth at the position. Cronenworth is seemingly eligible everywhere, and while he's not a Fantasy standout at any one position, that versatility has value. You can say something similar about Taylor, whose stolen bases also make him a fine piece for a CI or MI spot especially. And Swanson … well, he's settled in as a jack of all trades, master of none type who will help in all five categories without being a standout anywhere.
But Adames is my favorite of the group. In retrospect, it seems pretty clear that Tropicana Field was holding him back in his time with the Rays, and he looked like a real difference maker following his trade to the Blue Jays. He hit .285/.366/.521 with a 33-home, 95-RBI, 100-R, 7-SB pace in his final 99 games. I'm buying in, and he's the last player I feel good about if I end up with him as my starting SS.
Rosario is someone I find myself somewhat interested in – he's shown flashes of being a better hitter recently and the stolen bases are nice. I just wish he was closer to 200th overall than 150. All in all, this is a fine tier for MI or bench options, though I prefer to take these guys when they slide rather than reaching for them at price. One exception is Urias, who showed some real gains as a power hitter in the second half last season, as he focused more on hitting the ball in the air to the pull side. With his contact skills, that could make him a sneaky-good option, and I don't see a significant difference in skill set between him and Jonathan India.
- Eugenio Suarez - 195.69
- Brandon Crawford - 206.05
- Oneil Cruz - 218.85
- Josh Rojas - 229.53
- Gavin Lux - 230.39
- Nicky Lopez - 242.81
- Andres Gimenez - 265.75
- Gio Urshela - 275.31
- Jonathan Villar - 275.6
I'll just single out the guys I like in this tier: Cruz, who I added to my most recent breakouts column and who is starting to remind me a lot of Aaron Judge as a rookie – that's not an entirely unreasonable comp; Crawford, whose bounceback started in 2020 before he cemented it in 2021. Everyone else in this tier feels like an afterthought for me, or someone you're only targeting for a specific need late in drafts; cheap power, in the case of Suarez, average with Lopez or Urshela, or cheap speed from Rojas, Jimenez or Villar.