Troy Tulowitzki is the gold standard for shortstops in fantasy baseball. The question is, who are the silver and bronze standards?
Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez? Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes?
The Marlins thought so highly of Reyes that they brought the National League batting champion in to supplant Ramirez, their own All-Star shortstop. And by shifting Ramirez to third base, they accomplished a couple of things: they put a middle-of-the-order hitter at third base and they provided him with plenty of incentive, something that the talented Ramirez has shown little of in the past.
Oh, yeah. They increased his fantasy value, too, because Ramirez also will become eligible at third base in about a week’s amount of games.
So, in a way, Miami has two superstars who are newly motivated this season. Reyes will try to live up to his contract, and the team’s decision to make him its shortstop. Ramirez, who still thinks of himself as a shortstop, will try to show the Marlins that he’s a better all-around player than Reyes.
If the two shortstops can co-exist on the left side of the diamond, Miami has quite a one-two punch in their lineup. And you can, too, but don’t count on getting both of these guys. You’re probably going to have to choose: the power of Ramirez vs. the speed of Reyes. For me, I’d give Reyes the silver and hope he stays healthy. It’s a long season, and I’m not sure Miami can keep Ramirez happy enough to produce without causing problems in the clubhouse.
No matter where you stand on Reyes and Ramirez, there’s a steep drop in talent after the Top 3 shortstops are off the board.
CBSsports.com ranks the rest of the Top 10, in order, as: Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians; Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies; Starlin Castro of the Cubs; Elvis Andrus of the Rangers; Emilio Bonifacio of the Marlins; J.J. Hardy of the Orioles and Erick Aybar of the Angels.
Not exactly A-Rod, Jeter and Nomar. Alex Rodriguez is now a third baseman, Derek Jeter is in the autumn of his years at shortstop (ranked just outside the Top 10) and Nomar Garciaparra is retired.
For my fantasy dollars, there’s too many questions in the lower end of the Top 10 and I believe I can find value a little deeper on the list. I’ve included the following players’ preseason ranking by CBSsports.com and stats from the 2011 season:
Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox, No. 12
15 HRs, 70 RBI, .269 BA, 7 SB, .727 OPS
Ramirez has a world of talent and is ready for a bounce-back year. Although last year’s numbers were disappointing, they were better than most. He’s been moved from second to sixth in the lineup this season to take advantage of his power.
Yunel Escobar of the Blue Jays, No. 14
11 HRs, 48 RBI, .290 BA, 3 SB, .782 OPS
The 29–year-old Escobar has star potential. He can only benefit from having the ultimate pro, Omar Vizquel (16 years his senior), pushing him to get better.
Dee Gordon of the Dodgers, No. 16
0 HRs, 11 RBI .304 BA, 24 SB, .686 OPS in 224 at-bats
Gordon is a speed demon who this spring is learning from two of the very best base stealers in the history of the game, Maury Wills and Davey Lopes. His father is former major-league pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, and he’s the starting shortstop for the Dodgers, a team that is on its way back to prominence.
He just can’t stay healthy: There’s no question that Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks can play this game, but he’s been susceptible to injuries. This season is no exception. He’ll start the year on the disabled list, still recovering from a fractured ankle and torn ligaments that he suffered in a game last July.
Keep an eye on: Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers and Jed Lowrie of the Astros.
Peralta strikes me as the kind of player who elevates his game when the competition gets stronger. He left Cleveland for Detroit and became the starting shortstop on one of the favorites in the American League. Last season’s numbers: 21 HRs, 86 RBI, .299 BA. …
Lowrie, who is enjoying a solid spring, will get his chance to play every day with Houston. He came over from Boston, where a shoulder injury hampered his play last season. Lowrie is a switch hitter with plenty of upside, expected to bat second in the Astros’ lineup.
This is the seventh of eight fantasy baseball reports concerning best market value for each position. Check back for the final edition: outfielders.