NL King - NL Only Shortstops Rankings
The Shortstop position in the National League has many questions marks. Will Hanley Ramirez bounce back and be a top 3 fantasy player? Will Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins be great again? Can a young guy like Ian Desmond or Starlin Castro break through and become a big time roto player? Let's break it down.
Tier 1: The Elite:
Hanley Ramirez - FLA - How Good is Hanley Ramirez? When you go 21HR, 76RBI, 92R, 32SB and hit .300 and it's considered a disappointment that's when you know you are great. Hanley did miss 20 games last season so keep that in mind in terms of his numbers last year and the whole Fredi Gonzalez saga couldn't have helped. I would expect Hanley to bounce back in 2011 and be one of the top 5 hitters in the NL. I would expect more power and less speed in 2011.
Troy Tulowitzki - COL - Some "experts" might knock down Tulowitzki and tell you be careful of him because he had a crazy September and that's why he had great numbers. I disagree. First, it is not uncommon for a hitter to have a big year as a result of a monster four to six week stretch. Secondly, in his four year career Tulowitzki has been a $30+ player every year other than his sophomore season (Remember what I said about sophomore slumps in talking about Buster Posey). Finally due to injury, Tulowitzki missed 40 games last season. At the end of the day Tulowitzki is a stud. I wouldn't count on 20 steals like in 2009 but he is still good for low double digit steals with huge numbers across the rest of the board.
Tier 2: Can They Be Great Again?:
Jose Reyes - NYM - Earlier this off-season wrote a whole article on Reyes. Again in the prime of his career and playing for a monster contract. Can he stay healthy ? I wouldn't count on 50 plus steals anymore but good bet for low 40's.
Jimmy Rollins - PHI - Coming off a poor injury plagued season. Rollins turned 32 in the off-season so you are going to hear a lot about wear and tear for Mr.Rollins. Rollins is in the last year of his contract so big financial incentive involved for him just like Reyes. I believe the 2007 MVP season for Rollins are a thing of the past but keep in mind in 2009 Rollins did have 21HR, 77RBI, 100R, 31 SB but did hit . 250 (last 2 years has hit .250 and .243). So IF Rollins can stay healthy in that lineup in that ballpark no reason he can't hit high teens in HR's, 100 runs scored, close to 70 RBI's and 25 steals while hitting somewhere between .250 and .270. The problem with guys like Rollins on draft day in an auction draft is because of his name they very rarely go their true value and usually go for $5 to $7 more than they should. A gamble but for the right price one worth taking. Follow his spring training closely in terms of his health.
Stephen Drew - ARZ - Was a poor man's 5 category player last year. Not bad for a shortstop. Gives you good numbers across the board but not great in any one category but can help compile numbers for you.
Rafael Furcal - LAD - I know he had 22 steals in just 97 games last year but I don't trust him. He is now 33 so there is a bit of wear and tear in him plus in 08 just played in 36 games and last year played in 97 games. If you can get a bit of a discount okay I can see it but to a lesser degree like Rollins because of name recognition always goes a few ticks higher than he should in most leagues.
Ian Desmond - WSH - Finished the season strong but I would like to see those K's come down (109 last year in 525 AB's). The last couple of months hit at the top of the lineup which helped his numbers immensely. If Desmond is going to hit in the two spot again and can make strides bringing those K's down his numbers can drastically improve.
Starlin Castro - CHC - Was rushed to the majors in my opinion as he was just 20 years old last year (turns 21 at the end of the spring training). While his numbers where not eye popping again he was just 20 years old and for a while was hitting towards the bottom of the lineup last season. I love the fact the kid hit .300 and 71K's in 125 games all things considering is really good sign. I expect Castro to hit towards the top of the lineup all season and therefore I believe Castro will be a $20 player this coming season. I see low double digit HR's with 20 steals, a good average and strong amount of runs. In a couple of years Castro could be one of the NL studs.
Miguel Tejada - SF - Qualifies at 3B as well. He is going to be 37 in May so that is a red flag for me but if Tejada is in a good spot in the lineup no reason he can't do what he did last year which was 15HR, 70 R and RBI and hitting around .270.
Juan Uribe - LAD - Was in the 2B article, again as long as he doesn't get complacent from his new fat contract and you can live with his average, gives you really good pop and great roster flexibility.
Clint Barmes - HOU - Again in the 2B article he is inconsistent year to year but at $10 a worth while gamble.
Alex Gonzalez - ATL - Forget his overall numbers last year as a lot of those power numbers came while he was in Toronto. When Gonzalez was in the NL before was a solid $10 SS in an NL only league and that is what I would expect this year.
Yuniesky Betancourt - MIL - The NL King is not an expert on AL guys but based on his numbers the last few years you can do worse for $10.
Ryan Theriot - STL - Mentioned him in the 2B article I think he is one of the most overrated NL hitters.
Bargain Bin - Don't spend more than $2 - $3 on these guys and they should be your 3rd middle infielder
Jason Bartlett - SD
Edgar Renteria - CIN
Ronny Cedeno - PIT
Minor League Prospects:
Zack Cozart - CIN - Had a real good year at AAA last season (17HR, 67RBI, 91R, 30SB, .255 Avg, .310 OBP, 107K's in 553 AB's). I am not a believer that Edgar Renteria or Paul Janish long term are starting shortstops. Personally I think Renteria is shot and found lightning in the bottle for the World Series. Watch this kid progress in the spring, I am sure the Reds would like to see Cozart's K's come down first but come Memorial Day Cozart maybe the starting shortstop for the Red Legs.
Chase d'Arnaud - PIT - Had a bit of disappointing year in AA (hit . 247) and may start 2011 there again. But when Ronny Cedeno is the starting SS a strong 1st half in the minors by d'Arnaud could mean a call to the show after the all star break.
NL King - C.Lizza