Sunday, March 17, 2013

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rankings - Top 20 Shortstops

Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is one of the game's most productive players on a per-game basis.

Based on his career numbers, he averages 103 runs scored, 102 runs batted in, 28 home runs and 13 steals in 162 games.

That said, how close will he come to playing 162 games?

Since he played a career-high 155 games in 2007, Tulowitzki has played at least 125 games in only two of the past five seasons.  Last year, he played his fewest games (47) since his rookie season.

With Tulo, that is the dilemma.

Currently he is the 19th player off the board in fantasy drafts based on average draft position data from Mock Draft Central.  If he plays 150 or so games, he'll be a steal.

If you draft Tulowitzki, make sure you have an adequate back-up plan for if/when he misses time.

The Other Rockies Shortstop (in Fantasy)

When it comes to fantasy sports, eligibility at multiple positions for the players on your roster is never a bad thing.

Provided he can stay healthy for a full season, Tulowitzki is the Rockies' everyday shortstop and Josh Rutledge will be the team's second baseman to open the year.  That said, Rutledge spent more time at shortstop in 2012 than second base, and therefore has eligibility at both relatively thin positions.

In the minors and big leagues combined last year, Rutledge hit 21 home runs and stole 21 bases.

While I don't expect a 20/20 year in his first full big league season, a 15/15 season for Rutledge seems more than likely.  If you use his big-league numbers of eight homers and seven steals in 73 games last year, he was on pace for 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases.

Likely to hit second in the lineup in front of Tulo, Rutledge will have a shot at scoring 90 runs.  Considering he plays half of his games at Coors Field, it's also reasonable to expect him to hit close to .275 like last year.

After the top 12 or so (fantasy) shortstops are off the board, Rutledge is a solid option to target later in your draft.  His ADP is currently 252 overall (via Mock Draft Central).

Another 20/20 season for HanRam

Speaking of eligibility at multiple positions, Hanley Ramirez has position eligibility at third base as well.  While shortstop is a shallower position than third base, the flexibility is an added bonus for owners that draft HanRam.

While Ramirez once stole 51 bases in back-to-back seasons and hit a career-high 33 homers in 2008, he is unlikely to come close to either number.  That said, he should repeat as one of the few shortstop-eligible players to post another 20/20 season.

Ramirez has stolen 20-plus bases every season since 2006.  Meanwhile, he has 20-plus homers in five of the past six seasons.  The only exception was 2011 when he played just 92 games and hit 10 home runs.

In addition to Ramirez, Washington's Ian Desmond and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins were the only other players eligible at shortstop to have 20/20 seasons last year.

From 2006 to 2010, Ramirez has a BABIP of at least .327 each season and hit .300-plus in four of those five seasons.  In 2011 and 2012 (before the trade to the Dodgers), Ramirez had a BABIP of only .275 and .271, respectively, with the Marlins.

Assuming that his BABIP is closer to his rate with the Dodgers last year (.319), Ramirez should see his average bounce back to the .280 range (or perhaps a bit higher).

Reyes Moves to the AL East

Moving to the American League, Jose Reyes will be playing with his third team in the past three seasons.  For Reyes, that is good news.

With all of their offseason moves, the Toronto Blue Jays have one of the most potent lineups in all of baseball.  As the table-setter for an explosive offense, Reyes will have an opportunity to score a lot of runs provided he stays healthy.

Coming into the 2013 season, Reyes has averaged 110 runs scored over 162 games.  Since 2009, however, Reyes has played close to that number only once (last year).  From 2009 to 2011, Reyes missed at least 29 games per season and a total of 191 games during that span.

Although he is a career .291 hitter, Reyes won the NL batting title (.337) in 2011.  The only other season he hit above .300 was his rookie year (2003).

Provided he stays healthy for 150 games or so, which is no lock considering his injury history, Reyes should hit around .290 with 100 runs scored and 40 steals.

Here are my shortstop rankings for the 2013 fantasy baseball season (based on Yahoo! eligibility):

1. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
2. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays
4. Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
5. Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
6. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
7. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
8. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
9. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians
10. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks
11. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
12. Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
13. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
14. Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
15. J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles
16. Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels
17. Alcides Escobar, Kansas City Royals
18. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
19. Alexei Ramirez, Chicago White Sox
20. Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres

For a second opinion, check out Duncan Sanford's shortstop rankings. (Or view our consensus shortstop rankings here.)

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

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