Well, I've changed out of my memorial service clothes and into some optimistic ones. Shortstop doesn't look terribly great either for fantasy baseball drafts. I think the concern is generally focused more on what's going on at the top. Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, and Starlin Castro are all fine names, but Tulo had the injury last year, Reyes always has the injury issue, and Castro plays for the Cubs. Hanley Ramirez is a gamble, Ian Desmond is iffy, and Elvis Andrus is...well, I'm not sure what the issue is with him, but he's easily lasting into the 8th round on average in the early mocks. All of them have pretty good upside, but since I'd rather talk about later picks, I'll ignore these guys. Forget I mentioned them.
Now let's say you don't like Rollins or Jeter. You're looking for someone new, with or without a good deal of experience. Both, we have in abundance, at least if you ask me. To isolate a few of these guys, let's play South Pocatello, Idaho's favorite game, Love 'em, Like 'em, Leave 'em.
Erick Aybar, Josh Rutledge, Alexei Ramirez
At MockDraftCentral, these guys are just outside the Top 10 Shortstops (as of the time I'm writing this.) I'll start with Ramirez. Oh if only he were comparable to the Highlander Ramirez. This one has a few holes in his sword and a lot less promise. His upside may be limited, as every source of mine seems to be convinced that he'll hit no higher than 7th. Tough to get much more than RBI's in that spot, even if the lineup is decent.
Rutledge took over for Tulowitzki last year and was impressive, although the dreaded “sophomore slump” looms. Plus side with him, he may hit 2nd in that Rockies' lineup, and he'll (likely) be starting at 2B, which gives you depth there. Possible problem, there may be good competition behind him; a bad Spring could, I stress could, result in some platooning.
Aybar is somewhere in-between. I've seen him as low as 6th in the Angels' lineup and as high as 2nd. If you're like me and think the latter is more likely, then you should have a solid source of Runs with guys like Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, and Josh Hamilton behind him.
When it comes to deciding these things, as I've said before, I often consider the Batting Average. Get on base, they'll score once in a while or they'll knock someone in. In a good lineup, maybe both will happen.
BA, I like Aybar.
Team lineup, I like Rutledge.
Spot in the lineup, I like Rutledge again.
So...why do I still wanna put the “Love” tag on Aybar? Because I like BA that much? Yes. Because I'm more certain that Aybar won't get the boot if he's in a funk? That helps. In fact, I think that's the thing. Despite Rutledge potentially giving me depth at a weak position (2B), I think by draft season, he'll be going higher than Aybar because many Fantasy owners love young talent.
Love Aybar, Like Rutledge, Leave Ramirez.
Looking for SS depth and thinking you'll go Andrelton Simmons, Stephen Drew, or Zach Cozart?
Simmons, you draft for Runs, maybe BA. Cozart, you draft for power in a great hitter's park. Drew, you draft for power...I guess.
If I really had to, I'd bank on Simmons. While all three will probably get more than their chances at SS if they struggle, the Braves are most likely to stay with Simmons. They need the Uptons and Heyward to deliver later in the lineup, but I'll take my chances with that over the inconsistency I predict for Drew and Cozart. Unless a plague descends on the Reds organization, Billy Hamilton will not play SS for the Reds, although he could still qualify there...and maybe...just maybe he'll actually get to play early in the year.
If you're down here, I have to say I'd Love Simmons, Like Drew (eh, he's in Boston, where weird things happen), and Leave Cozart. I grant you, gotta have a lot of faith to draft Drew, but if you're down this low...eh...I'd rather roll with him over Cuisinart or whatever his name is.
Even if you skip over a mess of guys I haven't touched on like Alcides Escobar, Hardy, and Danny Espinosa, there are still intriguing names worth giving a chance. I like Nakajima of the A's late in the draft (hit over .300 in Japan and he played on Japan's WBC team, just like Norichika Aoki,) and the more I hear that Billy Hamilton could play sooner rather than later, the more dehydrated I get from drooling on my keyboard.
Written by David Bobke