Not everything went right at shortstop in 2020. Power went missing for Gleyber Torres and Carlos Correa. Javier Baez's volatile profile finally came back to bite him. Francisco Lindor was surprisingly ordinary.
But the position had built up so much high-end depth, becoming arguably the most star-studded in the game, that it could afford to take a few hits. And with Fernando Tatis, Corey Seager and Tim Anderson becoming more trustworthy, it doesn't feel any weaker now.
And it's not like we'll be writing off Torres, Correa or Baez because of a bad couple months. We knew certain players' numbers would be skewed — on both the low and high end — because of the small 60-game sample, and so to overreact to it, particularly for well-established players still in the prime of their careers, would be folly.
But where exactly should we slot them among the star-studded? Let's examine it together.
We discuss the top players at shortstop on the Fantasy Baseball Today podcast. Follow all of our podcasts and subscribe here.
Note that these rankings are intended for 5x5 scoring (such as Rotisserie leagues), but I note distinctions for points leagues where applicable.
Fernando Tatis San Diego Padres SS
|Though a bumpy finish left Fernando Tatis with a fairly ordinary batting average, it's a minor gripe for an explosive two-month period that saw him fulfill his best-case scenario and emerge as a top-five overall player, complete with a power/speed combo rivaled only by Ronald Acuna.
Trevor Story Colorado Rockies SS
|The three-year trend pretty much tells the story for Trevor Story, who further ingratiated himself to Fantasy Baseballers with a better-than-ever steals pace during the pandemic-shortened season. It's his contributions in that category that make him a first-round lock in 5x5 play, though there may be room for argument in a points league.
Trea Turner Washington Nationals SS
|Though it took him a while to get the wheels turning, Trea Turner ultimately made the sort of steals contribution he's known for, but it's what he did with the bat that should raise eyebrows. If he can sustain that sort of power production, he's closer to Tatis than Story in overall value and in fact out performed Tatis in Head-to-Head points per game this year.
Francisco Lindor Cleveland Indians SS
|Francisco Lindor underwhelmed in 2020, particularly for a first-round pick, but part of what made it underwhelming were the outlier performances by others that surely would have normalized over a 162-game season, pulling them closer to his level. It's still true he underachieved some, but his xBA, xSLG and xwOBA were almost dead in line with 2019.
Corey Seager Los Angeles Dodgers SS
|Another year of recovery from Tommy John surgery brought us the best Corey Seager we've seen yet, his Statcast readings putting him in the top five percent of every batted-ball metric. As good as he was, he actually underperformed his .330 xBA and .653 xSLG, but it's fair to assume those outlier readings would have normalized some over a full-length season.
Tim Anderson Chicago White Sox SS
|Clearly, the strides Tim Anderson made as a pure hitter in 2019 were legitimate -- nobody's doubting that now -- which is why he ranks in elite company here. Where he lands in terms of home runs and stolen bases is still slippery for me, though, since he doesn't elevate the ball so well and doesn't run as much as he could.
Adalberto Mondesi Kansas City Royals SS
|The steals potential earns Adalberto Mondesi special distinction in 5x5 leagues since he could exclusively carry you in that category, but the batting profile is so ugly that I'd rank him only like 14th in a points league, where steals aren't essential. Then again, his big September serves as a reminder we still don't know the full extent of his upside.
Xander Bogaerts Boston Red Sox SS
|Xander Bogaerts' power took a slight step back in 2020, which wasn't entirely unexpected, but remained good enough that, combined with his plus plate discipline, I'd slot him ahead of both Anderson and Mondesi in points leagues. The contribution in stolen bases was surprising, and if it continues, he'll be a nice value here.
Bo Bichette Toronto Blue Jays SS
|Assessing Bo Bichette would be easier if he didn't lose a month of the already pint-sized season with a sprained knee. He seemed poised for a massive breakout before the injury but was ineffective after returning, struggling to make contact and elevate the ball. In the end, 29 games aren't enough to tell us much, so we have to revert to our priors here.
Gleyber Torres New York Yankees SS
|Gleyber Torres' value was already certain to take a hit just by virtue of him no longer manning second base, but the stunted production was a strange twist. He had yet to know failure as a big-leaguer, and the power especially seemed well-established. I'll chalk it up as a fluke of sample size and enjoy the discount.
Javier Baez Chicago Cubs SS
|Unlike with Torres, I had been warning what a worst-case outcome might look like for Javier Baez, his production being built on an outlier BABIP and home run-to-fly ball rate. I suspect it was more a case of his volatile profile coming home to roost than a loss of talent for the 27-year-old, so again, I'll enjoy the discount.
Carlos Correa Houston Astros SS
|Astros hitters as a whole seemed to be putting more pressure on themselves to deliver in 2020, and Carlos Correa wasn't immune, his short season defined by as a curious reduction in power. He blew up in the postseason, though, which should relieve many of those concerns, and I'd be tempted to slot him ahead of Baez and Torres if not for his injury history.
Dansby Swanson Atlanta Braves SS
|The popular narrative for Dansby Swanson -- how he was en route for a breakout season last year before a heel injury derailed it -- was more or less upheld by his 2020 performance, when he for the first time ranked among the leaders at the position. He doesn't stand out at any one thing, but the whole is better than the sum of the parts.
Didi Gregorius Philadelphia Phillies SS
|Another year removed from Tommy John surgery, Didi Gregorius got back to his usual numbers in his one season with the Phillies, showing he wasn't just a product of Yankee Stadium. His fly-ball approach still may not work outside of a smallish park, making his free agency a matter of interest, but solid power production with a low strikeout rate remains the hope.
Marcus Semien Oakland Athletics SS
|In terms of how hard he impacted the ball and how much contact he made, Marcus Semien was pretty much back to normal a year after taking an MVP turn, making it tempting to say his 2019 was a fluke. A full season would be more conclusive, though, and since he's hitting the market, he may land in a more hitter-friendly venue.
Jake Cronenworth San Diego Padres 2B
|A big August was enough to earn Jake Cronenworth the starting second base job, and a miserable September wasn't enough to cost him that position. His .324 xBA and .541 xSLG both suggest he left some production on the table, but how much does it mean coming from a 26-year-old rookie in a greatly shortened season? His second base eligibility counts for a lot here.
Chris Taylor Los Angeles Dodgers SS
|The ability to man second base is also a big part of Chris Taylor's appeal, but more than anything, this ranking reflects that the 30-year-old's playing time has never been more assured, what with Justin Turner and Enrique Hernandez looking at free agency. He's earned his at-bats anyway with a more selective approach that also improved his power output.
David Fletcher Los Angeles Angels SS
|David Fletcher's strengths are as evident as his weaknesses, so while it's true he won't make a significant impact in home runs and stolen bases, you won't find a much safer bet for batting average given how good he is at making contact and keeping the ball out of the air. There are clear limits to his ceiling, but as long as he's batting ahead of Mike Trout, he has value.
Willi Castro Detroit Tigers SS
|You could safely assume Willi Castro wouldn't hit .349 with a .932 OPS again even before you made note of his poor plate discipline and low exit velocity, and as it is, he barely had a better point-per-game average than Chris Taylor. Temper your expectations to something more Jean Segura-like.
Jorge Polanco Minnesota Twins SS
|I'll take Jorge Polanco ahead of Castro in points leagues even though he basically had nothing to offer in 2020. He still made tons of contact with the sort of line-drive rate and all-fields approach that would normally yield a high batting average, and coming off shortened season, virtually anyone with a somewhat favorable history deserves the benefit of the doubt.