Saturday, February 25, 2012

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 25 Shortstops

We noted in our first basemen rankings that the position is especially deep in A.L.-only leagues but not very deep in N.L.-only leagues as seven of our top eight-ranked first basemen play in the American League.

For shortstops, it is the opposite.

In our rankings, five of our top six shortstops play in the National League. There is a gap between the top three and the next group of shortstops and all three of those elite shortstops play in the N.L.

Here are some notes on shortstops:

- Since becoming the Rockies everyday shortstop in 2007, Troy Tulowitzki has put up great numbers when he was on the field. Tulo set a career high in runs batted in (105), hit 30 homers for the second time in his career and batted .300-plus for the second straight season in 2011. On the other hand, the 27-year-old missed 19 games last season and has averaged only 134.4 games per season since 2007.

- With the offseason acquisition of Jose Reyes, the Marlins have two of my top three fantasy shortstops. Although Hanley Ramirez will move to third base, he has shortstop eligibility as well. The good news is Reyes hit a career-high .337 and won the N.L. batting crown last year and stole 39 bases despite missing 36 games last year. Like with Tulowitzki, that's the biggest problem with Reyes, who has played 133 games or less in each of the past three seasons.

- Speaking of Hanley Ramirez, he had his worst season of his career and missed 70 games. Ramirez, who hit only .243 last year, is a career .306 hitter that averaged 25 homers and 39 steals per year from 2006 to 2010. Based on his average draft position of 20 from Mock Draft Central, HanRam could easily be one of the biggest early-round bargains after several seasons of being a top-five pick.

- Unlike many shortstops, Detroit's Jhonny Peralta won't help you on the basepaths. For his career, he has a total of nine stolen bases. Unlike many shortstops, Peralta will help you with the power categories. For the fourth consecutive season, Peralta finished with 80-plus runs batted in and he hit 20-plus homers for the fourth time in his career.

- In his four seasons in the big leagues, White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez has been solid and steady if not spectacular. There has been relatively little season-to-season fluctuation in his stats and here are his four-year averages: .279 career hitter, 17 home runs, 12 steals, 75 runs scored and 71 RBIs.

- Although he doesn't turn 22 years old until March 24th, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro already has already hit .300 in two major league seasons. In fact, Castro finished fourth in all of baseball in hits (207) after Michael Young, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Cubs will move Castro, who hit 10 homers and stole 22 bases last year, to third (from leadoff) in the batting order this year.

- Before last season, Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera hit a total of 18 home runs in four seasons (1,415 at-bats). Out of nowhere, Cabrera hit 25 home runs (in 604 at-bats) last year. In addition to his power surge, he set career highs in runs scored (87) and runs batted in (92) while tying his previous career high in steals (17).

- In 56 games last year, Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon ran 31 times and was successful of 24 of those steal attempts. While he will provide absolutely no power (zero homers and 11 RBIs last year), he has the potential to lead the league in steals if he plays 150-plus games.

Here are our top 25 shortstops for the 2012 season:

1. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
3. Jose Reyes, Marlins
4. Starlin Castro, Cubs
5. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
6. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
7. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
8. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
9. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
10. Derek Jeter, Yankees
11. J.J. Hardy, Orioles
12. Erick Aybar, Angels
13. Dee Gordon, Dodgers
14. Marco Scutaro, Rockies
15. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
16. Stephen Drew, Blue Jays
17. Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
18. Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
19. Zack Cozart, Reds
20. Ian Desmond, Nationals
21. Sean Rodriguez, Rays
22. Jed Lowrie, Astros
23. Alcides Escobar, Royals
24. Jason Bartlett, Padres
25. Cliff Pennington, Athletics

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

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Introducing our 2012 MLB Mock Draft Database

Although there are more than three months to go until MLB's First-Year Player Draft (June 4-6), we have set up our 2012 MLB Mock Draft Database this morning.

Like we do with our NFL and NBA mock draft databases, we link to other sites that have created a mock draft and include their top five picks. All of the mocks are (and will be) sorted based on their last update date listed.

As we get closer to June, more and more sites will offer mock drafts and be included in our database.

If you have a mock draft that should be included, e-mail us for more information.

Related: Our 2012 NFL Mock Draft Database - Our 2012 NBA Mock Draft Database