logo


no avatar

Top 15 fantasy shortstops for 2017

By Casey Musarra • Mar 16, 2017 at 2:30 PM

A ranking of the 15 best shortstops to target in fantasy baseball drafts for the 2017 MLB season.

1. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Machado gained dual eligibility at shortstop and third base for the first time in his career after he logged 45 games at shortstop last season when J.J. Hardy went down with an injury. He just keeps getting better, and he's only 24. He had career bests in average (.294), slugging percentage (.533), home runs (37), RBIs (96) and runs (105). Though he had zero steals a year after swiping a career-high 20, he still has the speed to do it. Plus, with 100/100 potential, owners won't really need steals.

2. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

After winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, Correa turned in another strong year in 2016 but didn't take a major step forward. He slashed .274/.361/.451 with 20 home runs, 96 RBIs, 76 runs and 13 steals in 153 games despite dealing with minor shoulder and ankle injuries. Correa's strikeout rate increased by 3 percent, but his walk rate also increased by 2.1 percent. Still just 22, Correa has high expectations for 2017 and beyond.

3. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

A strong five-category player, Lindor slashed .301/.358/.435 with 15 home runs, 78 RBIs, 99 runs and 19 steals in his sophomore season. The 23-year-old boosted his contact and walk rates, which bodes well for the future. The youngster has 20/20 potential, and with Edwin Encarnacion likely hitting behind him, he could break the 100-run threshold.

4. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

Following an impressive display as a September call-up in 2015, Seager won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 after posting a .308/.365/.512 with 26 home runs, 72 RBIs and 105 runs. Compared with a small sample size in 2015, Seager's strikeout rate increased and his walk rate decreased, so there's a chance of regression this season. But even a small dropoff would make Seager a top-five fantasy shortstop.

5. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

Bogaerts sacrificed some average for power in 2016, and it led to career highs in the other major categories: home runs (21), RBIs (89), runs (115) and steals (13). Despite the dip from .320 in 2015 to .294 in 2016, Bogaerts also had a career-high .356 OBP as he increased his walk rate. At just 24, it seems like you'll either get 20-homer power or an above .300 average, but it could take some time until he provides both.

6. Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers

Villar has played 14 games at second base in his young career, but with the emergence of shortstop Orlando Arcia and the addition of third baseman Travis Shaw from the Red Sox, Brewers manager Craig Counsell intends to play the natural shortstop at second. That would give him eligibility at second base, third base and shortstop after he logged 42 and 108 games, respectively, at the latter two positions last season. In his first full season, the speedster led the league with 62 stolen bases and hit .285 with 19 home runs, 63 RBIs and 92 runs.

7. Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies

Story was the story of the start of the 2016 season as he hit eight home runs in his first four big-league games and set multiple records along the way. In 97 games, Story totaled 27 home runs (an NL rookie record), 72 RBIs and 67 runs despite missing the last couple months of the season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb that required surgery. The lingering effects of the injury could mean a slow start for Story in 2017, especially compared with his breakout 2016. The 24-year-old slugger struck out at an extremely high 31.3 percent rate, but playing half his games at Coors Field helps to mask his subpar batting average. Story slashed .313/.393/.693 in 46 games at home compared with .235/.292/.454 in 51 games on the road.

8. Jean Seagura, Seattle Mariners

The move to Arizona worked wonders for Segura, but after one season there, he's on the move again. Playing half the season at hitter-friendly Chase Field, Segura led the NL with a career-high 203 hits. He also slashed a career-best .319/.368/.499 with career-highs in home runs (20), RBIs (64) and runs (102). Segura has been a stud on the basepaths with at least 20 steals in each of the past four seasons. Safeco Field often is considered one of the least hitter-friendly parks, but it actually had the most homers of any stadium in 2016 with 234. It also ranked in the bottom 10 in runs and hits the past five seasons, though, according to ESPN Park Factors. The transition to a less hitter-friendly park likely will hinder Segura to some extent. Though Segura primarily played second in Arizona, he'll move back to his natural shortstop with Cano manning second. He has eligibility at both middle infield spots after logging 142 games at second and 23 games at shortstop.

9. Addison Russell, Chicago Cubs

With Starlin Castro in New York, Russell was able to make the full-time switch to shortstop last season after playing the majority of his rookie year at second base. The youngster will lose dual eligibility this season, but his numbers still warrant a top-10 shortstop ranking. Despite a .238 average, Russell improved his strikeout and walk rates and had 21 home runs, 95 RBIs and 67 runs. While the 95 RBIs will be hard to repeat -- he benefited from the sixth most at-bats with runners in scoring position -- Russell still is in a stacked Cubs lineup, so he should be good for at least 80 RBIs.

10. Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto Blue Jays

As expected, Tulowitzki's average took a significant hit since getting traded from the Rockies to the Blue Jays at the 2015 deadline, but his power numbers haven't been affected as dramatically. Tulowitzki slashed .254/.318/.443 last season compared with his career averages of .292/.364/.501, but he hit 24 home runs, his most since 2013. The oft-injured Tulo was limited to 131 games after landing on the DL with a strained right quadriceps in May. At 32, those injury concerns aren't going away.

11. Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft made it to the majors rather quickly, but not before he was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Braves in the Shelby Miller deal. After getting called up by Atlanta in mid-August, 14 months after he was selected by Arizona, Swanson impressed with a .302/.361/.442 slash line in 38 games. He's projected to be a solid five-category contributor, but he's still 23 and on a mediocre team.

12. Eduardo Nunez, San Francisco Giants

After six seasons as a utility man with the Yankees and Twins, Nunez finally got a chance to play every day and it paid off. He hit .288 with career highs across the board in home runs (16), RBIs (67), runs (73) and steals (40) in 141 combined games with the Twins and Giants. While the Giants have him slotted in at third base, Nunez still has dual eligibility after playing 55 games at shortstop last season. As long as he continues in his regular role, Nunez will be a fantasy asset, especially in steals.

13. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

Andrus' stolen bases have declined every year since he reached a career-high 42 in 2013, but his decrease in speed has led to an increase in power. Yes, his career-high eight home runs are modest, but he's had at least 31 doubles the last three seasons after hitting that number just once in his first five seasons. Andrus, who's always had an above-average contact rate, had never hit better than .286 before last season when he hit .302. If Andrus can hit .300 with 10/25, which he's capable of, fantasy owners should be happy.

14. Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals

Diaz is yet another young shortstop who got off to a hot start in his 2016 rookie season after earning the Cardinals' starting job when Jhonny Peralta went down with a thumb injury last March. Diaz slashed .300/.369/.510 with 17 home runs, 65 RBIs and 71 runs, despite being limited to 111 games after suffering a fractured right thumb. The 26-year-old likely will hit second in the Cardinals' lineup, which will give him a good chance to eclipse 500 at-bats if he's healthy.

15. Brad Miller, Tampa Bay Rays

In his first year with the Rays, Miller looked like a different player from his Seattle days. He hit .243 with career highs in home runs (30), RBIs (81) and runs (73). But, he also saw his strikeout rate increase and his walk rate decrease. Miller's nearly-150 strikeouts hurt his average, but they aren't enough of a deterrent from his 30 homers, especially from a position not known for power. Plus, Miller still has first base eligibility.

Enter your email address to subscribe to Newsday's Sports Now newsletter

ND_edit_sports_now_masterlist sign up

___

(c)2017 Newsday

Visit Newsday at www.newsday.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Recommended for You