Shortstop tiers for Draft Day 2013
The unbridled Fantasy enthusiasm that once surrounded names like Tulowitzki, Reyes and Ramirez is gone, but don't overlook them either on Draft Day. Scott White shares his shortstop tiers.
Whew. Second base was rough. Glad we can leave that barren wasteland of a position behind us.
Tiering is a method of doctoring positional rankings so that players
of similar value are bundled into groups. A new group begins
whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different
projected outcome from the player preceding him. Reducing a position
to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a
blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the
position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to
completion. -- Scott White
Oh right. Shortstop isn't much better.
In fact, the breakdown of the two positions is virtually identical. Each lists only 11 players before The Last Resorts, with the exact same number in each of the preceding four tiers: one in The Elite, three in The Near Elite, five in The Next Best Things and two in The Fallback Options.
But unlike second base, shortstop offers some light at the end of the tunnel. The difference is in The Last Resorts themselves. They're not so lacking in number, and most of them have something legitimate to offer in Fantasy.
The Elite: Troy Tulowitzki
So should the goal, then, be to punt at shortstop and take the best of what's available among The Last Resorts when the appropriate time comes? You could certainly make the argument. And I personally would make the argument if the right opportunity to select one of the players from the first two tiers doesn't present itself in the early rounds.
Yes, I still have a fondness for Tulowitzki that teeters on madness, but it's as fractured now as the wrist that started this string of injury-plagued seasons in 2010. I mean, it only teeters on madness. I'd like to think I'm professional enough to keep it from toppling over. Tulowitzki's dominion over the rest of the position isn't quite like Robinson Cano's at second base or Miguel Cabrera's at third, meaning I see him as more of a top-10 pick than a top-five. His statistical superiority at his position is comparable, but the heartache of his many injury-shortened seasons is oh so real.
True, you could argue his propensity for injury puts him on equal footing with Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, but those two aren't exactly models of health either. Reyes' 160-game season last year was his first with more than 135 since 2008, and Ramirez played only 92 games in 2011. If they're all in danger of missing significant time anyway, I'll take the one still putting up first-round numbers, thank you.
Like at second base, the second tier at shortstop is so small and in play so early in the draft that you might feel tempted to dip into it even when a decent number of first-tier players are still available at other positions. It's not necessarily wrong, especially if those other positions are loaded with second-tier players, but if it's a panic move rather than one that follows a logical process of elimination, you undermine your team's potential by making it.
Keep in mind Zobrist might still be available as late as the fourth round, so if you, like me, value him at about the same level as Reyes and Ramirez, you might as well load up on the first-tier players while you can. To rehash the example from the second base tiers, I'll take Prince Fielder over Reyes any day of the week.
Because they're numerous enough to last into the middle rounds, The Next Best Things give you a chance to catch your breath at shortstop, just as they do at second base. But unlike at second base, if you whiff on them, you're not staring into a dark abyss.
It's a strange phenomenon, really. Even though shortstop offers more late-round alternatives than second base, Fantasy owners seem far more willing to shell out for The Next Best Things at shortstop, sometimes reaching into the fourth or fifth round to nab them. Because of that, I often find myself skipping that tier and The Fallback Options entirely, content to fill the void with a steals specialist like Alcides Escobar or Everth Cabrera, a risk-reward type like Simmons or Lowrie, or the steady-but-unspectacular Aybar. I like the value better. It's not that I wouldn't prefer Rollins or Castro. It's just that if I can only choose one middle infield spot to fill at the point in the draft, when I'm scooping up whatever higher-tiered first basemen and outfielders slipped through the cracks and filling out the bulk of my pitching staff, I choose second base.
And I don't feel like I'm sacrificing much upside in the process. With the exception of Desmond and maybe Castro, I don't think those middle-tier shortstops have the potential to be anything more than middle-tier shortstops. They're blah solutions for a blah position.
Among The Leftovers, Hamilton, Segura, Nakajima and Greene are worthy of distinction, especially for those Rotisserie league owners that have a middle infield spot to fill. Even if he's stuck in the minors until July, Hamilton might lead the majors in steals.
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