Do you remember the days when shortstop was the glory position? It seems like such a distant memory when guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Alex Rodriguez provided us fantasy baseball gold from the shortstop position. Now, the MLB pendulum has swung back and elite defensive shortstops are the name of the game. Because of this, we have been left with a void in offensive talent at the position.
Because of this void, we are afforded an interesting opportunity with the shortstop positions on our fantasy rosters. Much like catchers, any production you can get from your shortstop is to be appreciated. I propose that because outside of the elite five, everyone is of similar talent level; so why not take a shot on a guy who could be among the league leaders in one category. If they produce enough in one category, it may be valuable enough to let the others slide.
Instead of taking a middle of the road guy like Erick Aybar or Danny Espinosa that will provide a little bit of everything, you should take a chance on Everth Cabrera. The San Diego Padres shortstop has the ability to lead the league in stolen bases this year and potentially single-handedly win you the stolen base category some weeks.
The case for Cabrera is simple; he’s really, really fast. In 2012, he finished third in the Major Leagues in stolen bases behind only Mike Trout and Rajai Davis. His 44 stolen bases not only paced the Padres but also the entire National League. He did so playing in only 115 games. I expect him to get way more starts in 2013.
Cabrera enters 2013 as a prime breakout candidate and is expected to get a large boost in playing time. He has never received 400 at-bats in a season, and I would expect him to do so this year. With added at-bats and an improved Padres offense, I see him vastly exceeding his 49 runs scored and 24 RBI’s from 2012.
Cabrera has also proven himself to be a patient hitter, by accumulating a .324 on base percentage, despite batting just .246. With regular at-bats and more confidence, I could easily see him hitting closer to .265 this season, as he has posted four different minor league seasons batting .284 or higher.
Potentially the best thing about Cabrera is the lack of competition for his job. He will enter spring training as the unquestioned starter and will be able to focus on getting himself ready to steal 60 bags, instead of win a starting spot.
If you miss out on the elites at the shortstop position, I strongly suggest you load up elsewhere and grab Cabrera towards the end of your draft. He looks as if he is moving towards a 60-plus stolen base season. That alone will put him inside the top-10 among shortstops, and anything he gives you in the other four categories would be a bonus. Draft him with confidence, because he should be a top seven or eight shortstop this year.