One week in the past, I used to be lamenting the state of the second base place in Main League Baseball and thus fantasy baseball. Exterior of some prime gamers, it’s now overrun with utility gamers and doesn’t have a lot depth.
This week, nonetheless, we speak about one of many deeper positions in baseball. Right now we unveil the 2023 Prime Keepers – Shortstops version.
In contrast to second base, the shortstop place is populated with extremely expert athletes who can do all of it – hit, hit for energy, run and area.
The numbers that the shortstops are placing up help that assertion, however so too does this straightforward reality: final season, 20 gamers (out of 30 MLB groups) performed 100 or extra video games at brief. One other two (Kyle Farmer and Bobby Witt Jr.) appeared in 98 video games on the place whereas a 3rd, Tim Anderson, missed half the season as a consequence of accidents. Then there may be Fernando Tatis Jr., who everyone knows missed the complete yr.
Until a group is rebuilding or simply doesn’t have an excellent participant at brief, it’s a spot on the sphere the place managers wish to have the identical participant on daily basis. And as a rule, these gamers are usually not glove-first gamers. Right now’s shortstops are anticipated to hit.
What’s Your Desire?
The purpose, each in actual life and in fantasy, is to get the good all-around shortstop. However if you wish to use a utility slot or center infield slot to spice up a particular stat, this can be a nice place to select a participant from.
Need pace? Ten shortstops stole 20 or extra baggage this previous season. Want energy? There have been 15 shortstops who walloped 15 or extra homers. What about assist along with your common or on-base share? Eight shortstops in these rankings hit .290 or higher and one other 11 had an OBP over .330.
In case your group has a particular want, a variety of shortstops can be nice keepers. Now, let’s dive in and try the 2023 Prime Keepers – Shortstops rankings.
A fast notice: Ages are as of now and the group is who they completed the season with. A participant’s group could change for 2023, ages actually will. Gamers who haven’t spent any time within the majors are additionally not ranked. Prospect rankings are for one more record at one other time.
Keep in mind when Adalberto Mondesi was stealing bases and hitting above .260? Yeah, I can barely do not forget that both. Will Mondesi ever be the participant who swipped 32, 43 and 24 bases in consecutive seasons? Or will he proceed to be the dude who can’t keep on the sphere, enjoying a complete of fifty video games the final two seasons? Will he even be a starter?
I’m hedging my bets right here and saying he’ll get sufficient enjoying time to rack up a good variety of steals, making him worthy of the ultimate spot in my rankings.
Royce Lewis and Oswald Peraza each made this tier primarily based on what I feel they are going to be doing in 2023.
Lewis appeared in 12 video games for the Twins and slashed .300/.317/.550 with two homers and 5 RBI. If the Twins don’t re-sign Carlos Correa (they gained’t) or signal one other shortstop, then Lewis ought to slide into the beginning lineup and be a stable participant.
Peraza began 11 video games at brief for the Yankees (and three at second base) and must be the shortstop of the long run. However the Yankees may commerce Gleyber Torres, transfer Peraza to second and signal a big-name shortstop or go along with Anthony Volpe. It doesn’t matter what, Peraza is a shortstop for fantasy functions this yr and he confirmed off his abilities throughout his time within the majors, slashing .306/.404/.429.
Velocity, Versatility and a Little Little bit of Pop
Jorge Mateo didn’t hit for an excellent common with the Orioles this previous season and is a .225 profession hitter. However he does have some pop and undoubtedly has a number of pace. Given the possibility to play on daily basis, he hit 13 homers and stole 35 bases in 2022. If he simply matches these numbers once more in 2023 he can be an incredible keeper at this spot.
Luis Urias is an excellent utility participant for the Brewers, topping 20 begins at third base, shortstop and second base. Whereas enjoying everywhere in the infield he additionally hit 16 homers and drove in 47 runs whereas slugging .404. I like his energy, and I like the actual fact he can play three infield positions. That makes him an incredible keeper.
CJ Abrams isn’t going to hit for lots of energy. He by no means has and sure by no means will. However he ought to finally hit for a pleasant common, get on base, and steal bases. After becoming a member of the Nationals in a midseason commerce with San Diego, he slashed .258/.276/.327 with six steals in 44 video games on the age of 21. However for him to understand his potential as a prime base stealer, he’s going to have to enhance his 1.7% stroll price with a purpose to get on base extra.
Thairo Estrada was ranked sixteenth within the second base keeper rankings, and he is available in at No. 18 right here. Not solely can he play each center infield spots, he appeared in 18 video games in left area and even noticed a while at third base. He did all this whereas hitting 14 homers and stealing 21 bases. Like Urias, I like his versatility whereas delivering a stable stat line.
When you’ve got been holding onto Nico Hoerner in your dynasty league the previous a number of seasons, your endurance was rewarded this yr as Hoerner hit 10 homers, drove in 55 runs and stole 20 bases whereas slashing .281/.327/.410. I anticipate these quantity to get even higher in 2023.
Excessive expectations adopted Amed Rosario from New York to Cleveland when the Guardians acquired him within the Francisco Lindor commerce. Is he pretty much as good as Lindor? No, if he was, he can be ranked a lot greater. However Rosario is a constant hitter. In 2021 he slashed .282/.321/.409 with 11 homers, 57 RBI and 13 steals. This previous season he slashed .283/.312/.403 with 11 homers, 71 RBI and 18 steals. It’s protected to pencil him for across the identical season in 2023.
Wander Franco arrived with large fanfare when he joined the Rays in 2021. In 70 video games he slashed .288/.347/.463 and completed third within the Rookie of the 12 months voting. Accidents restricted Franco to 83 video games in 2022, however whereas on the diamond he slashed .277/.328/.417 with six homers and 33 RBI. So, in 153 profession video games, he has 13 homers, 72 RBI and 10 steals whereas slashing .282/.337/439. Not nice numbers, however at solely 21, greater than sufficient to see that Franco has expertise and can solely get higher.
Tommy Edman slugged .400, hit 13 homers and stole 32 bases in 2022. These are good numbers for a shortstop, particularly the pace. If he stays at brief, this rating is greater than truthful for Edman. But when the Cardinals herald one of many prime free agent shortstops and slide Edman out to proper area, then his pace turns into his greatest instrument as his energy gained’t match different proper fielders.
The Tier 3 Stars
I like Willy Adames, Jeremy Pena and Oneil Cruz, and all three could possibly be (and finally will likely be) Prime 10 shortstops. Nevertheless, the depth of the group has them residing in Tier 3.
I perceive the pondering behind the Rays buying and selling Adames to the Brewers in 2021 – they have been making room for Wander Franco. Brewers’ followers are loving the commerce. Since heading to Milwaukee, Adames has hit 57 homers and pushed in 166 runs in 238 video games. This previous yr he slugged .458 with 31 homers and 98 RBI and his profession 162-game common is 27 homers and 80 RBI with a .255/.322/.448 slash line. I’ll take that on daily basis on my fantasy group.
If folks didn’t know who Jeremy Pena was earlier than the beginning of the postseason, they actually know who he’s now after incomes MVP honors within the ALCS and World Sequence. Pena had an excellent rookie season for the Astros, hitting 22 homers, driving in 63 runs and stealing 11 bases whereas slashing .253/.289/.426.
Pena’s season took off when supervisor Dusty Baker moved him into the No. 2 gap within the lineup. Hitting behind Jose Altuve and in entrance of Yordan Alvarez, Pena slashed .290/.315/.522 with 13 homers and 31 RBI in 207 at-bats. Over 150 video games that tasks to 39 homers and 92 RBI.
Right here’s a information flash – Oneil Cruz hits the ball actually arduous. He ranked within the 91st percentile in common EV, the a centesimal percentile in max EV, and within the 96th percentile in barrel share. In 331 at-bats with the Pirates this previous season he smashed 17 homers and drove in 54 runs. However Cruz isn’t all energy on the plate as he stole 10 bases and his dash pace ranked within the 98th percentile.
I got here near dropping Tim Anderson into Tier 3, however I’m not going to penalize him for being harm and lacking half the season as I anticipate him to rebound. When wholesome he slashed .301/.339/.395 and nonetheless stole 13 bases in 332 at-bats. A wholesome Anderson will seemingly maintain the identical slash line however return to hitting 18 homers as an alternative of the six he had this previous season
The Free Agent Group
By the point the 2023 season begins, Dansby Swanson, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts all could possibly be enjoying on completely different groups than the place they performed in 2022.
Swanson has picked the proper time to change into an excellent hitter. After slashing .248/.311/.449 with 27 homers, 88 RBI and 9 steals in 2021, he adopted that up by hitting 25 homers this previous season with 96 RBI and 18 steals whereas slashing .277/.329/.447. The most important cause why he isn’t ranked greater is because of the truth that he has posted an OPS+ over 100 solely 3 times in his profession.
Accidents plagued Correa early in his profession. He didn’t prime 110 video games performed from 2017-2019. However he then performed in 58 of the 60 video games in 2020 and has appeared in 136 video games or extra the previous two seasons. When wholesome, Correa is likely one of the prime hitting shortstops within the league with a profession OBP of .357 and .479 slugging share. His 162-game common is 28 homers and 101 RBI by his age 27 season, and his worst OPS+ was a 93 through the COVID yr. The final two years it has been 131 and 140.
Bogaerts had a down season (for him) in 2022 as his residence run manufacturing dropped to fifteen, down from 23 in 2021 and 33 in 2019 and his slugging share was the bottom since 2017. However one yr doesn’t make a pattern. His common OPS+ during the last 5 seasons is 132, together with a 131 this yr, which was higher than 2020 and 2021.
Nonetheless Slugging the Ball
Should you view Corey Seager by his slash line in 2022, his 2022 marketing campaign didn’t examine to earlier seasons. He slashed .245/.317/.455 whereas his profession common is .287/.357/.494. Nevertheless, Seager did hit a career-high 33 homers and his 83 RBI have been his second-best complete.
Hurting his slash line was a BABIP of .242, manner down from his profession common of .317. He really had the second-best residence run price (5%) of his profession and his 15.5% strikeout out was the second lowest of his profession. What does this all imply? He may have a greater slash line in 2023 and nonetheless hit a number of homers and drive in a number of runs.
This tier is amazingly good and may actually be ranked in nearly any order. On this group, of the 4 gamers who really performed a sport, Francisco Lindor had probably the most RBI final yr with 107. Conversely, Lindor had the second lowest batting common and slugging share. After all, I’ll take a .270/.339/.449 slash line with 26 homers, 107 RBI and 16 steals from my shortstop in any yr.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is probably the most gifted participant on this group. Simply have a look at what he did in 2021 as he hit 42 residence runs, drove in 97, stole 25 bases and slashed .282/.364/.611 on the age of twenty-two! I initially ranked him first. However he missed time as a consequence of accidents in 2021 and all of final season with accidents and the PED suspension. He’ll nonetheless be serving that suspension to begin 2023 and who is aware of if he’s going to remain wholesome. In contrast to what I did with Anderson, I’m penalizing Tatis for being AWOL in 2022.
The Prime Three
After I moved Tatis out of the highest spot, I had Trea Turner ranked there. However when in comparison with Bobby Witt Jr. and Bo Bichette, I finally moved him down to 3rd. The primary cause is his age as Turner is 29. His numbers are nonetheless nice (.298/.343/.466, 21 homers, 100 RBI, 27 steals in 2022), so for those who solely care about subsequent season and possibly 2024, then I can simply argue he’s the top-ranked shortstop.
However what about three to 5 years from now? In case you are trying that far forward, like I’m, then Bobby Witt Jr. and Bo Bichette are the shortstops to maintain on the prime of this record.
Witt had an incredible rookie season, slashing .254/.294/.428 with 20 homers, 80 RBI and 30 steals. Wanting purely at his numbers from final yr, he’s the fifth-best participant on this group and will even be ranked Seager. However he’s solely 22. I anticipate all of these numbers to solely get higher, particularly the OBP and slugging share as he hits for extra energy.
Bichette has been excellent since becoming a member of the Blue Jays in 2019 on the age of 21. His profession OPS+ is 127. This previous season he slashed .290/.333/.469 with 24 homers, 93 RBI and 13 steals. These numbers fall according to his profession 162-game common (.297/.340/.491, 28-99-19). Bichette will likely be 25 all of subsequent season and is primed to take his sport to yet one more stage.
Jose Iglesias is 32, Brandon Crawford is 35 and Elvis Andrus is 34. All three are nonetheless serviceable in case you are in dire want of a shortstop. Iglesias did hit .292 final yr, however that’s about it. Andrus really had a good season with 17 homers and 18 steals.
Bryson Stott was on the Simply Missed record for second baseman and that is the place he falls for shortstops. That is what I mentioned about him final week: Stott did hit 10 homers and steal 12 bases. However is he going to be the Phillies’ second baseman, shortstop, or platoon at each? He additionally solely slashed .234/.295/.358.
I totally anticipate him to slip to second base fulltime in 2023 as Philadelphia provides a free agent shortstop. However that also doesn’t transfer Stott up the rankings.
I like Ezequiel Tovar, however he made solely 9 begins for the Rockies and slashed .212/.257/.333. However I totally anticipate him to win the beginning job this spring and shortly go from Simply Missed to Tier 5 fairly shortly.
Thanks for studying and be looking out for Prime 2023 Keepers – Third Basemen subsequent week. Should you missed any of the earlier Prime 2023 Keepers articles, you’ll find them right here: