Previewing 2018 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: How far does Xander Bogaerts slide at shortstop?
Shortstop isn't the wasteland it used to be, and the top tier seems to grow every year. But is Xander Bogaerts still part of that group? Scott White shares his top 20 at the position.
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Shortstop has become pretty good, hasn't it?
Once a source of perpetual angst, the position has become nearly as deep as anywhere else on the infield, buoyed by the arrival of several top-flight prospects and, of course, the "juiced-ball era," which has mostly served to boost the power production of mid-level bats -- the kind that once comprised the middle infield positions.
That isn't to say no one in a 12-team league will need to chase upside at the position, but it's not an all-or-nothing sort of deal. There are plenty of competent bats to fall back on, enough that going 20 deep in this piece isn't enough to highlight them all.
Note: These rankings are intended to be just a first glimpse and aren't tailored for any specific format. In cases where the format would make a big difference, that difference is noted.
Carlos Correa Houston Astros SS
|Though a DL stint for a torn thumb ligament limited his final home run total, Carlos Correa is the preeminent power hitter at the position and is only beginning to discover himself at age 23. His bat would be first round-caliber even if he wasn't a shortstop.|
Trea Turner Washington Nationals SS
|Ranking Trea Turner ahead of Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager is risky given his speed-dependent profile in an era when stolen bases aren't exactly encouraged, but even with a disastrous line-drive rate, he was the best shortstop on a per-game basis in 2017, suggesting better days are ahead.|
Francisco Lindor Cleveland Indians SS
|Francisco Lindor showed enough pop in his first two seasons that, combined with an elevated fly-ball rate, his home run explosion wasn't so unbelievable, but it seemed to come at the expense of batting average. He made contact at the same rate as always, though, so whether that contact manifests as fly balls or line drives, you can feel confident you'll like the result.|
Corey Seager Los Angeles Dodgers SS
|As good as Corey Seager has been so far -- and it's easy to forget he's a 23-year-old who just completed his sophomore season -- he wasn't quite as good as we wanted him to be in 2017, and in fact took a small step back in a year when so many other shortstops found their stride. Still, the batted-ball data is that of an out-and-out stud, and we already know the floor is high.|
Elvis Andrus Texas Rangers SS
|Elvis Andrus' 2017 home run total is an outlier in his now nine-year career, so it'd be easy to dismiss as a fluke. But his ISO took nearly as big of a leap in 2016, and given how early he started his career, he's only now in his late 20s. He has learned to elevate the ball while playing at his physical peak, and his contact skills and stolen base prowess made him an underrated Fantasy option even before then.|
Alex Bregman Houston Astros 3B
|"These numbers don't fade" was Alex Bregman's motto on July 4. From that day forward, he performed like an elite shortstop, overcoming a disappointing start to the year. His combination of exceptional plate discipline and emerging power gives him an Anthony Rendon-like profile, but at an even weaker position.|
Zack Cozart Cincinnati Reds SS
|Zack Cozart's numbers would make him decidedly elite at a weak position if he wasn't, you know, a 32-year-old breakout. So not only does he have no basis for that sort of production, but he's also entering his decline phase – and with an already pronounced injury history. Still, his 2017 checks out peripherally, giving him a leg up on the many shortstops who've never even sniffed that kind of production.|
Xander Bogaerts Boston Red Sox SS
|Speaking of peripherals jibing with production, the same is true of Xander Bogaerts' 2017, unfortunately. A pair of unrelated aberrations – a high BABIP in 2015 and a high home run-to-fly ball rate in 2016 – may have convinced us he's better than he is. As a 24-year-old with a top prospect pedigree, he still earns high marks for upside, but we should lower our expectations for 2018.|
Didi Gregorius New York Yankees SS
|As implausible as Didi Gregorius' 20-homer 2016 seemed given his reputation as a slap-hitting glove-first shortstop, he managed to top it in 2017. It's probably the full extent of his upside, but paired with a high contact rate and the batting average security it provides, it's enough.|
Jean Segura Seattle Mariners SS
|Jean Segura's power numbers fell off in 2017, which wasn't a total shock, but along with the decline in stolen bases, it removed him from the elite class of shortstops. He's still a pretty safe source of batting average, but his batted-ball tendencies make him out to be more of a singles and doubles hitter than a home run guy. Don't expect him to bounce back in a big way.|
Trevor Story Colorado Rockies SS
|We knew Trevor Story's high strikeout rate might be an issue in 2017. What we didn't expect was for it to get even higher. Between that and him somehow avoiding the BABIP boost that comes with playing at Coors Field, everything that could go wrong did, but Story's power potential and home venue still make him worth the gamble at this point.|
Marwin Gonzalez Houston Astros LF
|The Astros lineup is getting awfully crowded, and Marwin Gonzalez may not have a permanent spot in it, especially after failing to sustain the OPS boost he saw in the first half. With a regular role, he might be a top-10 option, but as a less-than-everyday super utility man, he belongs right about here.|
Andrelton Simmons Los Angeles Angels SS
| Despite the three players separating them, the gap between Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons isn't so great. They profile similarly, each boasting a high contact rate, but Gregorius is a 20-homer man twice over while Simmons has merely flirted with that kind of power. |
Javier Baez Chicago Cubs 2B
|Javier Baez finally made real progress on the offensive side of the ball, to the point he's probably now ahead of Addison Russell in the playing time pecking order. He's still a flawed hitter whose production depends too much on the long ball, but at 25 and with a top prospect pedigree backing him, I wouldn't rule out continued improvement.|
Paul DeJong St. Louis Cardinals SS
|Baez and Paul DeJong would probably rank ahead of Simmons and Gonzalez in categories-based formats (as opposed to points-based) as obvious standouts in the home run category. I in no way question DeJong's power potential, but his horrid plate discipline -- and specifically, the high strikeout rate -- has me fearing he's Trevor Story 2.0, only without the safety net of Coors Field.|
Yangervis Solarte San Diego Padres 2B
|Injuries and a pathetic supporting cast have denied Yangervis Solarte his due credit the past two years, but a full season of shortstop eligibility should change that. He had some pretty bad BABIP luck in 2017, too, but a low strikeout rate and 20-homer power would suggest at least Gregorius-like potential.|
Amed Rosario New York Mets SS
|Amed Rosario's first taste of the majors was a disappointment in many ways (my insistence on comparing him to Lindor over and over again probably didn't help), but even though the plate discipline wasn't as advertised, he showed extra-base pop, a willingness to run and the kind of all-fields approach that should translate to a high batting average sooner than later.|
Addison Russell Chicago Cubs SS
|Poor production, a debilitating foot injury and the rise of Javier Baez have all conspired to make Addison Russell an afterthought heading into 2018, but assuming the Cubs carve out a near-everyday role for him, I still say better times are ahead. Quite simply, his batted-ball profile should yield a higher batting average, so he remains a breakout candidate.|
Marcus Semien Oakland Athletics SS
|In 2016, Marcus Semien stood out for his power. In 2017, he fell well short, but he did rediscover a fraction of the plate discipline that once resulted in a 98-walk season in the minors. The best of both worlds would probably be a top-10 player at the position, but at this point, it's fair to wonder who the real Semien is.|
Jorge Polanco Minnesota Twins SS
|I could have gone a number of directions with this final pick -- Dansby Swanson, Chris Owings, Troy Tulowitzki, Tim Beckham, etc. -- but looking at Jorge Polanco's Triple-A production and prospect profile, I'm not sure his late-season power surge isn't halfway sustainable. And his plate discipline is about on the level of Solarte, giving him similar upside overall.|
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