By Adam McGill
The shortstop position is only a year or two away from having the biggest turnover in the history of the position. Many relics are close to hanging it up, including Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins, J.J. Hardy, Jhonny Peralta, and Marcus Scutaro. This will seemingly give several young players the spotlight for the most important position in the infield, such as Texas’ Elvis Andrus and Chicago’s Starlin Castro. Below is my fantasy baseball off-season report for shortstops:
1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL – “Tulo” is the best power hitter from the shortstop position, as he led the position with 30 home runs and 105 RBI. Tulowitzki can also hit for average, as he hit for .302 last year and coupled with his strength it makes him the most valuable player at the position.
2. Jose Reyes, MIA – Reyes’ saved his best for last, as he had a career season in his last year in the “Big Apple”. He led the NL with a .337 batting average, capturing his first batting title in his career. Reyes also swiped 39 bases throughout the year and his 41 strikeouts showed how much he is maturing as a hitter. He now moves to Miami to join a lineup filled with stars, featured by future All-Stars Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton.
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE – Cabrera, the guy with more Web Gems than Ozzie Smith, really showed his talent last season on the field as well as with his bat. The Venezuelan hit 25 home runs and drove in 92 RBI in 2011, quickly becoming the only formidable source of runs in Cleveland. It is rare to find a shortstop who can hit 30 homers and win a golden glove, but Cabrera has a realistic shot this year.
4. Elvis Andrus, TEX – The 23-year old has become one of the leaders of the next generation of shortstops, as Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter, and J.J. Hardy continue to age. Andrus scored an amazing 96 runs in 2011, which shows how smart of a base runner he is considering he only hit .279. He may not hit 20 home runs, but he is a player who can steal 40 bases and hit 160 balls throughout a full season. Andrus is still a top-five option at the position and is one of the best keeper options in a veteran dominated position.
5. Starlin Castro, CHC – Castro stood out in his first year in the majors, hitting .307 and scoring 91 runs. The 21-year old also led the position with 674 at bats in his first full season, and quickly showed that he is a capable major league shortstop.
6. Jimmy Rollins, PHI – The veteran looked very spry for a 33-year old, as he hit .268 and swiped 30 bags in 142 games in 2011. He looks healthy again heading into spring training and will come even cheaper than he did last April.
7. Derek Jeter, NYY – Jeter had an even worse season in 2011 than he did in 2010. He batted a respectable .297, but he only hit 6 home runs with 61 RBI. He also only scored 84 runs in the Yankees’ high paid offense, which was his worst total since his rookie year of 1995.
8. J.J. Hardy, BAL - Hardy blasted 30 homers last year, tying the MLB lead at the position. He has the advantage of hitting at the short porch in right, as the right field wall is a shallow 318 feet away from home plate. Hardy will be able to at least hit 20 homers in Camden’s small park and is a low-end starter in any league that is bigger than 10 people.
9. Yunel Escobar, TOR – If there is one thing that Escobar can do well, it is hit the baseball. He rattled off 149 hits in 513 at bats, a .290 average, and also added some surprising pop with 11 home runs. Escobar has a career On Base Percentage of 36.9% and will be a strong source of runs with Jose Bautista constantly clearing the bases. Escobar is a guy to grab late, who will provide everything in roto-leagues except steals.
10. Erick Aybar, LAA – Aybar had an up and down 2011 season. Some games he looked like a future MVP, while others he struggled to even make contact with the ball. However, he still had an all-around successful year, as he batted .279 with 30 stolen bases. He will only score more runs with King Albert coming to town, so expect him to score over 85 runs with Pujols changing area codes to 310.
2012 MVP: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
2012 Rookie: Dee Gordon, LAD
2012 Breakout Player: Starlin Castro, CHC
2012 Bust: J.J. Hardy, BAL
Best Source of Home Runs: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Best Source of Batting Average: Jose Reyes, MIA
Best Source of Stolen Bases: Jose Reyes, MIA