The shortstop position was once one of the weakest positions for fantasy baseball players. That all changed when Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra arrived. Now the shortstop position is a pretty good position in fantasy baseball.
1. Jose Reyes – Jose Reyes is the cream of the crop when it comes to shortstop in fantasy baseball. Reyes has the ability to steal 50 – 70 bases and score 120 runs while also hitting 20 HR and driving in 80 – 100 runs. Last year Reyes batted .300 for the first time and his batting average has improved drastically the last two years, a twenty point improvement in 2005 and thirty point improvement in 2006.
2. Derek Jeter – Jeter had a career year last year despite many injuries in the Yankees lineup. On one hand Jeter’s numbers will come back down this year, but on the other hand his lineup will be better. I expect that it will result in individual numbers like steals, homeruns and batting average decreasing but his stats that have to do with teammates, like runs and RBI, probably won’t be hurt.
3. Jimmy Rollins – Jimmy Rollins doesn’t hit as well as Jeter or Reyes but when he does get on base he has an awfully good chance of scoring with Howard and Utley batting after him. Rollins should produce a lot of runs and steals and contribute fine in homeruns and RBI for any fantasy baseball owner.
4. Hanley Ramirez – Many fantasy baseball owners may suspect a drop-off with some of the Marlins rookies. That certainly might be the case with Dan Uggla but I think Hanley Ramirez will have about the same fantasy baseball numbers. Like Jeter I think Ramirez’s individual stats could drop but I think stats depending on his teammates could improve as the Marlins get more experienced and become a better team.
5. Miguel Tejada – Miguel Tejada reached 100 RBI for the sixth time in his career, but just barely. Tejada still has the ability of hitting the ball at a .320 or higher clip but without any protection his homerun and runs batted in could continue to suffer. Fantasy baseball owners who have Tejada want to keep an eye on how the Orioles play. If it looks like a horrible season you might want to trade Tejada before it gets too bad.
6. Michael Young – Michael Young actually knocked in 100 RBI for the first time. That’s pretty odd considering Young hit less homeruns, had a lower batting average and Teixeira had a down season. If all things return to normal and Kinsler continues to improve then Young will be a very good option for any fantasy baseball owner.
7. Rafael Furcal – Word is that Furcal will still lead off for the Dodgers even with the acquisition of Pierre. If Furcal hits well with Pierre batting after him they could be a scoring machine for fantasy baseball owners. I’m still not convinced that the middle of the lineup is going to be very powerful though or Furcal could be even better.
8. Carlos Guillen – Carlos Guillen might not have the gaudy stats of a top ranked shortstop but like a lot of the Tigers Guillen will give his fantasy baseball owner some solid stats. Guillen hit 19 HR, 85 RBI and scored 100 RBI. Guillen also stole a career high 20 bases in 2006 so his knee injury from 2005 shouldn’t be a concern.
9. Julio Lugo – Julio Lugo must be as happy as any fantasy baseball owners that decide to draft him this season. Lugo went from the awful Devil Rays, to the offense challenged Dodgers and now the Red Sox. With Lugo leading off in the Red Sox potent offense fantasy baseball owners expect him to get more runs and RBI than ever before.
10. Edgar Renteria – Edgar Renteria is a hard fantasy baseball player to project. You can lock Renteria in at about a .280 average, 15 HR and 15 steals but his RBI and runs depends on his teammates how healthy Chipper Jones is and whether Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur decide to swing at everything under the sun (or moon).
11. Stephen Drew – Stephen Drew may be a shortstop for fantasy baseball owners to keep an eye on. Drew only played 59 games last season so he may have gone under the radar but the Diamondbacks shortstop is projected to hit in the 80 runs and 80 RBI range by many experts.
12. Jhonny Peralta – Jhonny Peralta had a disappointing fantasy baseball season hitting .257 and 13 HR after a .292 and 24 HR season the year before. Unfortunately the shortstop group starts to get weak after Drew so taking a chance on Peralta reverting back to 2005 is your best option at this point.
13. Khalil Greene – Khalil Greene is capable of hitting 25 homeruns and knocking in 90 runs but there are question marks. Greene gets injured quite a bit and hasn’t had a 130 game season yet. Also Greene is very streaky and his batting average suffers because of it.
14. Wilson Betemit – Wilson Betemit is more likely to play third base than shortstop but I’m listing him as a shortstop just because he still qualifies for shortstop and ranks higher on the shortstop list. If you wait until the third basemen get in the 20s where Betemit would be then he may already be off the market since someone could draft him as a shortstop.
15. Bobby Crosby – Bobby Crosby was expected to be a big time player by fantasy baseball experts. So far Crosby has been a bust, he’s been injured every season he’s played and even when Crosby does play his numbers aren’t that great. Crosby does have some talent though so you might want to draft him and hope this is finally his year.
16. Orlando Cabrera – Orlando Cabrera showed a little improvement his second year with the Angels but I wouldn’t expect another big jump. Cabrera’s fantasy baseball numbers this year will be similar to his stats last year, 95 R 72 RBI and 27 steals.
17. J. J. Hardy – J. J. Hardy didn’t play much in 2006 due to an ankle injury that required surgery. Hardy should return to the starting shortstop position in 2007. Hardy isn’t going to wow anybody but could have a decent 70 R 70 RBI season.
18. Juan Uribe – Juan Uribe should continue to be the Chicago Whitesox everyday shortstop. The Whitesox lineup should provide plenty of opportunities for Uribe to follow up the 2006 season with another 20 HR 70 RBI performance.
19. Jason Bartlett – Jason Barlett was called up by the Twins last season and won the chance to start at shortstop. Barlett doesn’t have much power but does have the ability to bat over .300. Barlett’s ability to hit will at least give him some RBI chances in that Twins lineup.
20. Troy Tulowitzki – Tulowitzki is a possible Rookie of the Year candidate and many fantasy baseball experts project that he will have around 70 runs and 70 RBI. Tulowitzki might struggle to start the season so you might want to only pick him up as a backup until he starts to play well.