The start of baseball may be in jeopardy thanks to a lockout with no end in sight, however, Fantasy Baseball draft season is approaching fast. With drafts season upon us, welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview!
Shortstop has always been a deep position, even going back before the time of Fantasy Baseball. Ask anyone the most important position on the baseball diamond, and most will answer by saying shortstop. The captain of the infield.
Players like Honus Wagner, Derek Jeter, Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith, and many others have shown the importance of having a great shortstop. Often the most athletic player on the field, most professional players spend time at short growing up at some time.
It is no different in today's game, as the shortstop position is loaded. Sixteen players have shortstop eligibility in the Fantasy Six Pack Top 100 redraft rankings. There are plenty of viable options. How does this impact draft strategy?
The lockout will end, and free agents will sign which will impact rankings and the draft, but there is no current end in sight for the lockout. Either way, the 2022 Fantasy Baseball season is upon us, and with it comes the 2022 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop preview.
2022 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview
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Should Fernando Tatis Jr. shoulder injury concern fantasy players in 2022?
Fernando Tatis Jr. is a top dynasty asset, but there is concern about his shoulder issues. It was originally thought to be a season-ending injury in early 2021, but he returned to play through the pain. In November, it was announced Tatis will not undergo surgery.
The shoulder may heal without surgery, but it will be a concern for this season. Especially considering Tatis as a top 2-3 pick. Shortstop is deep, and other guys are safer at shallower positions. He does carry some risk at the top of the draft.
However, in 130 games in 2021, Tatis hit .282/.364/.611 42 HR, 99 R, 97 RBI, 25 SB, .403 wOBA, and a 156 wRC+. He might miss time, but he will provide elite production in 5 categories when healthy.
Tatis is one of maybe two guys (Ronald Acuña Jr.) that could provide 45+ HR and 25+ SB over a full season. The risk is worth the reward.
Shortstop is deep, and others have a case for being the top pick, but there is no reason to worry about Tatis' shoulder issue. Even if he misses a couple of weeks, he will return top value.
Where will Wander Franco Finish in 2022?
Wander Franco enters 2022 after an impressive debut in 2021, hitting .288/.347/.463 7 HR, 53 R, 39 RBI, 2 SB, .348 wOBA, and a 127 wRC+ across 308 plate appearances. At 20-years-old, he has a great feel for the plate with a 7.8% walk rate and 12.0% strikeout rate.
He will only get better in the coming years; the main concern is will he always be a better baseball player than Fantasy Baseball player? It is possible, especially in the next few years. Long-term, he will be a valuable asset, especially if more power develops.
His value may also depend on the format. Franco will probably provide more value in points leagues. For category leagues, he may be slightly less valuable.
The ADP is hovering around 50 right now, near guys like Tim Anderson, Xander Bogaerts, and Francisco Lindor. The upside is there for Franco, but the other options might be safer in 2022.
When Should One Draft a Shortstop?
That is a phenomenal question. As mentioned, the depth at shortstop is incredible. Throughout the early stages of the draft, there will be shortstops available no matter the round.
One can start a draft with Tatis, Trea Turner, or Bo Bichette in the first round. Trevor Story, Tim Anderson, Xander Bogaerts, Wander Franco, and Francisco Lindor are all going from picks 40-55. A few rounds later, Adalberto Mondesi, Corey Seager, Javy Baez, Jorge Polanco, and Carlos Correa await.
Dansby Swanson, Willy Adames, Chris Taylor, and plenty others can be had after pick 100. The options are there.
One cannot go wrong by drafting Tatis or Bichette early. However, taking someone like Turner or Jose Ramirez early to satisfy a thinner position could benefit fantasy players.
Who Are Later Shortstops to Target?
As mentioned earlier, there are sixteen shortstops currently in the top 100, meaning later targets at the shortstop position come sooner. Who are some guys to target?
Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers
Willy Adames has an ADP of 137, which does not seem that late, but it is the 20th shortstop off the board. With a full season in Milwaukee, he might return a better value than his current positioning.
Adames hit .262/.337/.481 25 HR, 77 R, 73 RBI, 5 SB .349 wOBA, and a 119 wRC+. Looking at just his numbers in Milwaukee, he hit .285/.366/.521 20 HR, 61 R, 58 RBI, 4 SB, .377 wOBA, and a 135 wRC+. Adames admitted he did not really enjoy hitting in Tropicana Field, and that was evident by his performance after being traded.
He did slow down near the end of the season, but now he knows the job is his in Milwaukee rather than looking over his shoulder in Tampa. Adames could provide tremendous value at his current draft value.
Amed Rosario, Cleveland Guardians
Coming in with an ADP of 176 is the 24th shortstop, Amed Rosario. Rosario will not hit many home runs, and he is not going to take many walks (4.6% walk rate), but he is worth a look at this spot.
He is projected to hit near the top of the lineup, meaning he should score plenty of runs. He also could steal at least 15+ bases, which are already valuable. At this point of the draft, it becomes even more appealing. If Rosario can hit .265+ out of this ADP, he becomes a sneaky grab for a MI if fantasy players missed out on other shortstop targets.
Looking at his line, he is arguably a poor man's Javy Baez. In batting average leagues, consider Rosario as a later option.
Jonathan Villar, Free Agent
Jonathan Villar is intriguing with a 288 ADP. Of course, this changes depending on where he signs. If he signs somewhere that will give him consistent playing time, this could end up being a steal near pick 300.
In 2021, he hit .249/.322/.416 18 HR, 63 R, 42 RBI, 14 SB, .320 wOBA, and a 105 wRC+. If he gets playing time, he could easily replicate that line.
The cost is minimal at this point in the draft. Villar could provide 15/15 value near the backend of the draft.
Shortstops on the Rise
Jorge Polanco, Minnesota Twins
Following a disappointing shortened 2020 season, Jorge Polanco bounced back nicely in 2021. Polanco hit .269/.323/.503 33 HR, 97 R, 98 RBI, 11 SB, .349 wOBA, and a 122 wRC+. That season vaulted Polanco into the top 100 for Fantasy Baseball.
While Polanco bounced back, the Twins took a step back as a team and underperformed. However, the Twins should still have a solid offense, especially with a few bounce-backs from certain players.
Polanco may have another slight step forward in his counting stats, even if he loses a few HRs.
Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves
Did the Dansby Swanson breakout finally come? The former top prospect had a career year in 2021, one that was overshadowed by his teammate, Austin Riley's phenomenal breakout campaign. Swanson has risen in rankings, but still could provide great value at his current ADP (122).
He may not provide a great average or OBP, but Swanson hit 27 HR, 78 R, 88 RBI, and 9 SB in 2021. The Braves' offense will be good again in 2022, meaning the opportunity for an increase in counting stats will be there.
Swanson is worth a look as a backend starting shortstop.
Players on the Horizon
Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals
The obvious answer here. Bobby Witt Jr. is on the near horizon. There is a shot he could be in the majors extremely soon, and the fantasy community is banking on that with Witt's ADP sitting at 102.
Witt is arguably the number one prospect in all of baseball, and the hype is real for his impending debut. Across AA and AAA in 2021, Witt hit .262/.361/.576 33 HR, 99 R, 97 RBI, and 29 SB. That has fantasy owners salivating.
When he is ready, the spot is his in Kansas City. He will be given every opportunity to shine as a starting shortstop at the major league level. He has the potential to be a fantasy stud for years but will obviously carry some risk in redraft leagues for 2022.
Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates
If Witt is on the near horizon, Oneil Cruz is standing on the line. He appeared in two games for the Pirates in 2021, hitting a home run over nine plate appearances.
Cruz carries ridiculous power potential; he just needs to harness that power. The biggest concern will be his hit tool. At 6'7, there could be holes in the swing that major league pitching can exploit. The long limbs are of concern as well.
The Pirates will give him every opportunity to prove himself. If he hits, he has the potential to provide excellent power and speed numbers. At an ADP of 235, he could be a steal.
Bryson Stott, Philadelphia Phillies
Bryson Stott could also be listed as a riser or as a late-round target. Currently going near pick 500 (53rd SS), he is essentially free at the end of deeper drafts or will be on the waiver wire.
Stott may never be elite at any skill, but projects as someone who will do a lot of things really well. A jack of all trades. His power will never jump off the board, but he should hit/walk enough to get on base. Imagine if he finds himself on base ahead of Bryce Harper soon? The runs could pile up fast.
He might not be someone drafted in lots of leagues, but he should be a name to watch on the waiver wire. Stott has a shot to be an excellent value in Fantasy Baseball in 2022.
Players to Avoid
Javier Baez, Detroit Tigers
Javy Baez is an exciting player but comes with his flaws at the plate. He has the power to hit 30+ HR and steal 15+ bases, however, he also is not going to walk (4.8% career walk rate) and will strike out a lot (29.3% career strikeout rate). This leads to Baez being extremely streaky at the plate. He can carry fantasy lineups for weeks, or he will drag down lineups for weeks.
In season-long roto leagues, Baez is fine because the highs will probably outweigh the lows, but in weekly H2H formats, there will be weeks he is unplayable. There are safer players than Baez or guys who provide a similar value (Rosario) at a discount.
Add in he will now play half of his games in Comerica, meaning it is possible his counting stats take a hit. I will probably avoid Baez in most drafts.
Carlos Correa, Free Agent
Carlos Correa was phenomenal in 2021, hitting .279/.366/.485 26 HR, 104 R, 92 RBI, .364 wOBA, and a 134 wRC+. Correa had a career year. So why am I avoiding him?
Correa played 148 games in 2021, which he has only done once before. He hit career highs in both home runs and runs scored. All in a contract year. Now he figures to have a new home in 2022, leaving the Astros who were statistically the best offense last season.
Correa is a great player, but he is overrated for Fantasy Baseball in my opinion. He provides no steals, and the counting stats should take a step back. He also has the injury concern. I will look elsewhere. Guys like Dansby Swanson and Willy Adames are more appealing to me several rounds later.
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