2024 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview

by Corey Pieper
2024 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview

It is now time for the 2024 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview.

Be sure to check out the rest of the position previews here at Fantasy Six Pack while you're here to get all the info you need for your upcoming drafts.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Previews
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The 2024 fantasy baseball shortstop preview shows just how much the landscape of shortstop has changed in the last few seasons. The shortstop position has been infused in the past few seasons with young talent. It's a position where you should be targeting all five categories of production to build your lineups around. You can see just how good it is by looking at how many shortstops are ranked highly in our Fantasy Baseball Rankings.

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2024 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview

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Which Shortstops should go in the first 30 picks?

Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals

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Bobby Witt Jr. was one stolen base away from the ultra-exclusive 30 HR 50 SB season. Still, a 30 HR, 49 SB season with just under 100 runs and RBI each is unbelievably valuable. He showed encouraging improvements in his plate discipline metrics. He dropped his K% by almost 4% and raised his BB% by a full point. It led to a 275 average, backed up by a 284 expected average.

The only real knock on Witt is the team context with Kansas City. That may be improved too, though. The team brought in outfielder Hunter Renfroe as a proven power commodity with at least 20 HR in his last six full seasons. The team is expecting a full season of health from first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino. With more production around Witt, it's reasonable to expect his first 200 combined runs and RBI season, along with the fantastic HR and SB production. Take him as high as number two overall in your fantasy drafts.

Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies

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It was a tale of two seasons with Trea Turner in his first season in Philadelphia. On August 3rd, 107 games into the season, Turner had only 10 HR, 21 SB, and was hitting only 235. Manager Rob Thomson had moved the star shortstop to 8th in the batting order. Then, something miraculous happened. The notoriously difficult-to-please Phillies fans gave Turner a standing ovation showing their unwavering support.

From that point forward, Turner was back to his first-round fantasy baseball shortstop self. Over the final 48 games, he would hit 16 HR, steal 9 bases, and maintain a 337 batting average. The last month he never left the two spot in the batting order.

Expecting him to maintain that pace over a full season is unlikely. However, this is one of the best skill sets in the game for five-category production. Turner is not in contention for first-pick overall this season, as he has been in the past. He is still a first-round pick though, as he has been for the last five seasons.

Francisco Lindor, New York Mets

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There were four players last season who had a 30 HR-30 SB season last year. Three of those players (Ronald Acuna Jr., Bobby Witt Jr., and Julio Rodriguez) are currently the top three in FantasyPros ADP. Francisco Lindor is the fourth member of that exclusive club. Lindor also led all shortstops in both runs and RBI with a combined 206. So a 30-30 player with over 200 combined runs and RBI? That sounds like an early first-round pick in all fantasy drafts.

Surprisingly, Lindor's FantasyPros ADP is at pick 25. That means that in a 12-team league, his draft position is at the back of the second round. While some regression to the mean seems inevitable, at that value, Lindor should be a target of fantasy owners.

Corey Seager, Texas Rangers

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Corey Seager's injury woes reared their ugly head again last season. Just a few weeks into the season, he strained his left hamstring and missed a month. He would also go on the IL later in the season with a thumb injury. The injuries limited him to 119 games played, but you wouldn't know it from his production. Even with all the missed games, Seager still had 88 runs scored, 33 home runs, 96 RBI, and a 327 average. He also led the American League in doubles with 42 of those pointing to possibly even more power production.

Seager is a four-category stud in the mold of Houston Astros outfielder Yordan Alvarez when he is healthy. If playing in a rotisserie league, you have to have a stolen base plan in place if you take Seager. If Seager does stay healthy this season, this could very well be his first 40 home run season. Feel comfortable taking him anywhere in the second round.

Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles

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Gunnar Henderson's rookie season got off to a slow start. At the end of May, he only had five home runs, 14 RBI, 2 stolen bases, and was hitting a substandard 201. There may have even been some leagues where jumpy owners dropped Henderson. That would have been a mistake. From the start of June through the end of the season, Henderson played like a future star. He hit 23 home runs, drove in 68 runs, stole eight bases, and did that while hitting 276.

Henderson's FantasyPros ADP is actually outside the first 30 picks. His current ADP is 36.3. Getting him at the end of the third round is a fabulous value. It would not be surprising if, at the end of the season, he improved in four of the five rotisserie categories (HR, RBI, SB, and AVG). Don't be afraid to go ahead of ADP to have Henderson on your roster.

With the depth of the shortstop position, should I wait to draft one?

In shortstop position appears deep. Outside the top 24 in FantasyPros ADP includes usable pieces such as Colorado Rockies' Ezequiel Tovar, Milwaukee Brewers' Willy Adames, and Boston Red Sox's Trevor Story. Tovar will be covered later in the article. Adames can be a drag to your team's average, but has hit over 20 home runs in the past three seasons. Story has extreme health concerns, but with health, could still be a 20 home run and 20 stolen base threat.

But is it really that deep? Yes and no. Technically, yes it is. However, many of the shortstops are multi-eligible and will be played elsewhere. Different leagues have different games played thresholds for keeping eligibility going into the next season. Some notable names that maintain shortstop eligibility but may be played elsewhere include Elly De La Cruz (3B), Gunnar Henderson (3B), Nico Hoerner (2B), Ha-Seong Kim (2B and 3B), and Matt McLain (2B). If all of those high-end players are being played elsewhere, suddenly shortstop isn't as deep anymore.

Is Oneil Cruz healthy?

Oneil Cruz only played nine games in his 2023 season. He broke his ankle sliding into home plate. While there was some optimism about a late-season return, it never materialized. The beginning of this month was the yearly PiratesFest. Cruz offered up the following update.

Nine games is a minuscule sample size to be sure. Even so, there were positive signs. Cruz walked seven times in only 40 plate appearances. Compare that to the 28 walks he had in 361 plate appearances the season before. If he is going to walk more, it could be a boon to his stolen base potential. In his short season last year, Cruz was able to steal three bases. The year before, he only stole 10 bases in his half-season.

There is no real discount on Cruz this season. His ADP is currently 72.8 meaning you are taking him in the 6th round. It's understandable given his tantalizing power-speed combination. If the plate discipline from last season remains, it might include a decent batting average too.

What happened to Bo Bichette's stolen bases?

In his still young career, Bo Bichette has already established as one of the safest bets for batting average in all of baseball. The lowest batting average he has posted in a season is 290. He also is a proven power threat from the shortstop position having hit over 20 home runs in the past three seasons. Runs and RBI are somewhat dependent on the lineup around you, but they have fallen for Bichette the last two seasons. Part of that can be explained by him missing about a month of games last season with quadriceps and knee injuries. Can the injuries also explain the precipitous drop in stolen bases?

Just two seasons ago, Bichette stole 25 bases. In 2022, the stolen bases dropped nearly in half to 13 steals. Then, they dropped by more than half again last season down to just five stolen bases. The Statcast sprint speed has declined in both of the last two seasons. The leg injuries likely had some effect on his speed which in turn caused his stolen base attempt numbers to dip. Expect a slight rebound, but the 25 stolen bases from just a few seasons ago seem unlikely to return.

Players on the Rise

Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees

It's not very often that a season with over 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases from a 22-year-old is viewed as a disappointment, but that is what it seems has happened with Anthony Volpe. As a rookie last season, Volpe hit 21 home runs and stole 24 bases. Unfortunately, he only managed a 209 batting average. The runs and RBI were also surprisingly low with 62 runs scored and 60 RBI.

Look for progression in the batting average from Volpe in his sophomore season. His lowest batting average in a full minor league was 249. If he can get to even that range, it means that counting stats should follow suit. In the current stolen base environment in the MLB, if Volpe can hit 250, he has the speed to steal over 40 bases. If Volpe gets off to a hot start, the Yankees may move him up in the lineup which could lead to a massive breakout. The 2024 fantasy baseball shortstop preview could be the last time he is available outside the top 50 picks.

Ezequiel Tovar, Colorado Rockies

Ezequiel Tovar's first big league season showed that he can be a power-speed threat.  It never hurts when you also happen to play half your games in the best ballpark to hit in by Statcast Park Factor. In his first full big-league season, Tovar scored 79 runs, hit 15 home runs, drove in 73 runs, stole 11 bases, and maintained a palatable 253 batting average. That's already five-category production from a 21-year-old.

Expect to see a similar season from Tovar again in year two. Seeing decidedly improved numbers would require him to show better plate discipline. Last season, he struck out 166 times and only walked 25 times. Time is on his side to see his plate discipline improve as he will play the majority of this season at just 22 years of age.

Players on the Decline

Xander Bogaerts, San Diego Padres

Xander Bogaerts' first season in San Diego saw some changes in his batting profile that were unexpected. It's doubtful that anyone predicted that he would steal 19 bases for a new career high as a 30-year-old. It was his first time stealing double-digit bases since 2017. His 285 average, while still helpful for fantasy, was also his lowest since that 2017 season. His RBI also hit its lowest point since 2017, but as pointed out earlier, those can be fickle.

Bogaerts played in 155 games last season but was battling a wrist injury that happened in spring training. During the season, he had to have two different cortisone injections into his wrist to help with the pain. While he played better in the 2nd half (9 HR, 10 SB, 321 avg), he outperformed all of his expected statistics by a considerable margin. Bogaerts should be usable again for fantasy, but should no longer be a top-100 pick in fantasy.

Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins

Last off-season, Carlos Correa agreed to three massive contracts. The contracts with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants were each voided due to ankle injury concerns. It wasn't ankle injuries that cost him time last season with the Minnesota Twins, but an injury to his foot in plantar fasciitis. He played through the pain until the last few weeks of the season when he finally went on the injured list.

At this point, we know that drafting Correa means hoping for four-category production as he hasn't stolen a base since the 2019 season. His runs, home runs, and RBI were fairly consistent in his two Minnesota seasons. The one substantial change in his second season was a drop in batting average from 291 to 230 which can be partially explained by a career-low 272 batting average on balls in play. Still, plantar fasciitis is an injury that lingers. Look no further than Colorado Rockies' outfielder Kris Bryant to see the effects of plantar fasciitis, so draft Correa with caution.

Players on the Horizon

Jackson Holliday, Baltimore Orioles

Jackson Holliday has all the makings of a future major league star. He was the first pick overall in the 2022 MLB Amateur draft. His father is former All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday. Jackson Holliday progressed through four levels of the minor leagues just last season. In totality, he finished with 113 runs, 12 home runs, 75 runs batted in, 24 stolen bases, and an average of 323. That season from a 19-year-old has fantasy managers salivating at what could be.

The assumption is that we will see Holliday break camp with Baltimore as the starting shortstop which will push Gunnar Henderson to third base. Predicting Holliday to replicate his minor-league production from last year at the major-league level before he can legally drink alcohol seems foolhardy. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if he delivers more value than his current FantasyPros ADP of 196.

Masyn Wynn, St. Louis Cardinals

Masyn Wynn saw 122 at-bats at the major league level to end the 2023 season. While he hit two home runs and stole two bases, he only hit 172. It's an extraordinarily small sample size to make harsh judgments. Instead, look at the totality of his age-21 season between Triple-A and the major leagues. Between both levels, he scored 107 runs, hit 20 home runs, drove in 73 runs, stole 19 bases, and hit 262. That's the across-the-board production fantasy managers are looking for.

Wynn is likely to spend the majority of the season batting at the bottom of the St. Louis Cardinals lineup which will limit some of his counting stats. That being said, it wouldn't be surprising to have a similar season from Wynn to what we saw from Ezequiel Tovar last season. Then, he can find himself in 2025's fantasy baseball shortstops preview in the on the rise section.

Players to Avoid

Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays

This recommendation will seem obvious if you've been keeping up on the news since the end of last season. On talent alone, Wander Franco would be a top-25 overall selection. However, it feels more unlikely all the time that he will be playing in Major League Baseball. Franco finds himself in the Dominican Republic with his US Visa likely revoked. He is accused of sexual and psychological abuse of a minor for his alleged relationship with a 14-year-old girl.

Even in the deepest of leagues, there is no reason to draft Franco. The 2024 fantasy baseball shortstop preview may be the last time he is discussed.

Javier Baez, Detroit Tigers

It has only been two seasons since Javier Baez had a 31 home run, 18 stolen base season where he still hit 265. That was the season where he was traded midseason from the Chicago Cubs to the New York Mets. That offseason he signed a six-year $140 million contract with the Detroit Tigers. It has been downhill ever since.

Baez finished last season with nine home runs, 12 stolen bases, and hit 222. Optimists will look at his career-best K% as a reason to be hopeful for more. That seems to be a trade-off for hitting the ball hard though as he posted a career-worst barrel %. The most discouraging aspect of Baez's season was that by the end of the season, he was losing playing time. Javiez Baez was a fantasy stalwart not look ago, but that time has passed. Look elsewhere.

2024 Fantasy Baseball Previews
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The 2024 Fantasy Baseball Shortstop Preview is in the books. Keep checking back on Fantasy Six Pack for more fantasy baseball content!

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