FANTASY PLAYS: Lots of depth at shortstop this season
Shortstop offers depth and diversity this season for fantasy baseball owners, who will have the opportunity to use a top 30 pick or significant auction funds on a quartet of players that can become cornerstones of success.
Trea Turner’s versatility and value in the stolen base category makes the Nationals standout a top 5 overall pick while Carlos Correa of the Astros has the potential to emerge as the position’s most dominant power hitter since Alex Rodriguez’s peak years. Indians star Francisco Lindor is a half-notch below Turner and Correa and Corey Seager of the Dodgers has enough pop in his bat to join Correa as a possible member of the 30-homer club.
Fantasy owners who miss out on the top 4 should not lament as the position goes around 10-12 players deep before a noticeable drop. Even then, middle-tiered shortstops like the Rockies’ Trevor Story, Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Eduardo Nunez of the Red Sox can provide above-average production while players like Jose Peraza (Reds), Addison Russell (Cubs) and Brandon Crawford (Giants) are in position for rebound campaigns.
The position is in a golden age of sorts but unlike the late 1990s and early 2000s when Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Miguel Tejada played, shortstop is filled with more options. A next wave, led by Gleyber Torres (Yankees), Bo Bichette (Blue Jays), Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) and J.P. Crawford (Phillies) aren’t far from making their impact while Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) and Royce Lewis (Twins), last year’s first overall pick, loom in the distance.
Amed Rosario, Mets: The crown jewel of the Mets minor league system, Rosario struck out 49 times in 165 at-bats last season, but his scary speed could translate to 30-35 stolen bases over a full season. He’s not going to give fantasy players more than 8-10 homers, yet Rosario can be an under the radar gem if he can produce more hits.
Tim Anderson, White Sox: He’s shown he’ll hit for double-digit power, but what makes Anderson a sleeper is his 10-for-11 stolen base numbers after the All-Star Break. A 20-20 season isn’t out of the question, especially if he can improve his .289 OBP.
Franklin Barreto, Athletics: A blistering start to spring training gives him an outside chance to make the opening day roster. Once he does stake claim to a starting job, Barreto can become an extra base hit machine. His plate discipline will determine if he can be closer to Jose Altuve or Jose Hernandez.
Paul DeJong, Cardinals: No one questions his power. The problem lies with his 0.17 strikeout to walk ratio, a number that screams regression. If DeJong can’t improve his plate adjustment, there won’t be much of a difference between him and Story.
Zack Cozart, Angels: The poster boy of career years last season, Cozart comes to a new league in a division dominated by pitcher-friendly ballparks along with moving to his new position at third. With a .305 OBP and 92 OPS+ in his career, don’t expect Cozart to approach last year’s .385 OBP and 141 OPS+.
Marwin Gonzalez, Astros: His versatility will make him overvalued and while he can repeat his 23-homer output from last year’s World Series run, it’s the other numbers that are cause for concern. Gonzalez’s OBP was 84 points higher than 2016 while his OPS was 213 points better. There’s regression waiting to happen.
TOP 20 FANTASY SHORTSTOPS
1.Trea Turner, Nationals
2.Carlos Correa, Astros
3.Francisco Lindor, Indians
4.Corey Seager, Dodgers
5.Elvis Andrus, Rangers
6.Alex Bregman, Astros
7.Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
8.Javier Baez, Cubs
9.Jean Segura, Mariners
10.Orlando Arcia, Brewers
11.Chris Taylor, Dodgers
12.Didi Gregorius, Yankees
13.Jorge Polanco, Twins
14.Trevor Story, Rockies
15.Marcus Simien, Athletics
16.Marwin Gonzalez, Astros
17.Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox
18.Tim Anderson, White Sox
19.Amed Rosario, Mets
20.Jose Peraza, Reds
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com