Fantasy Baseball 2015 Shortstop Preview

by Tyler Gettmann
Position Previews C 1B 2B 3B SS OF SP RP

As I examine the shortstop position this year, I notice a big theme. The position is not deep at all. I would say if the top shortstops are taken this year, your best bet is to wait on a shortstop and load up on other positions. Toward the middle rounds of your draft are a whole bunch of guys that I would be willing to fill my shortstop position this year. You do not want to reach on a shortstop in 2015.

1. Why are people so low on Jhonny Peralta?

Credit: Keith Allison

Credit: Keith Allison

One reason I think people are so low on Peralta is because he is not one of those flashy players in the majors. He isn’t that fast, does not hit a lot of home runs and you do not see a lot of fans wearing his jersey, but he is player that you would want to have on your fantasy team. He is a player that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Peralta is a very serviceable shortstop to insert into your lineup for 2015. As stated before, shortstop is not a very deep position and if the top five guys are gone, I would gladly wait for a guy like Peralta to be on my team. In 2014, he posted his forth-lowest K% (17.8%), his forth-highest BB% (9.2%), and his third highest HRs (21 HRs) of his career. Peralta’s power is back. Shortstop position players do not offer a lot of power this year. Ball clubs in general are going to place players in their lineups based on overall performance rather than just what they are doing at bat. This means with Peralta’s defensive prowess, he is more likely to be in a lineup on a daily basis. In the past five years, playing for both the Tigers and the Cardinals, Peralta has been a key component to the overall success while not drawing a lot of attention to himself. Peralta is a player that is certainly serviceable and I still don’t understand why people are so low on him. In 2015, I would take him over the likes of Jimmy Rollins, Asdrubal Cabrera and Alcides Escobar.

2. Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez and Ian Desmond are off the board. Who do you take next?
For the most part, you could make an argument for many different players into who would go next after these three. Most articles that I am looking at so far have these three in some type of order followed by a whole mix of players. At this point, I would probably draft Alexei Ramirez. This is probably not a sexy pick, but it makes the most sense for me. Ramirez re-found his power stroke in 2014 (15 HRs), while adding a willingness to steal bases. He is getting up there in age (33), so who knows how many good years Ramirez has left in him. I say go with the hot hand though and Ramirez would be the next shortstop off of my board.

3. Will Jean Segura have a bounce back year?
Segura certainly caused many fantasy owners to shed a few tears. Coming in the 2014 season, Segura was regarded as a top 5 shortstop pick. His stock has certainly dropped in 2015, after the type of season he had in 2014. Let’s first compare his 2013 stats with his 2014 stats. In both years he played exactly 146 games. In 2013, Segura hit .294 with 12 HRs, 74 Rs, 49 RBIs and 44 SBs. In 2014, he hit .246 with 5 HRs, 61 Rs, 31 RBIs and 20 SBs. Towards the end of 2014 he was starting to become a player that was hardly playable in some fantasy formats. Call it a hunch, but I do believe that Segura has a bounce back year this year. Segura became a father in October and has grown up since then. Ron Roenicke, the Brewers Manager, states, “I think just mentally and maturity-wise, I think he’s in a lot better place than he was last year for a lot of the season.” He better be in a better place because the Brewers are deep in this position. Hector Gomez could end up taking his place and Orlando Arcia is lurking in Segura’s shadow. I believe this motivation is going to pursue Segura into top ten potential. I do not see top 5 potential this year, but definitely see better numbers than 2014. He will most likely start in the bottom of the Brewers lineup to begin the season. The team does not really have a prototypical leadoff hitter; which is a good sign for Segura. Most fantasy owners probably view the stats from 2014 as the real Jean Segura, so you could probably get him very cheap in the later rounds of your draft. I am willing to take that risk/reward chance on him.

Player(s) on the Rise
Starlin Castro (CHC
Starlin Castro (CHC) – This pick goes along with my whole mantra that I do believe that the Cubs will be a better ball club this year. I do love the new coach signing of Joe Maddon to go along with an ace pitcher Jon Lester to accompany the top of the rotation with Jake Arrieta. Now, I do not believe that the “Back to the Future II” prophecy will come true, but it is players like Castro that will keep them in the running this year. Entering the 2013 season, a lot of people were high on this young Dominican Shortstop. He ended up disappointing many fantasy owners though. In 161 games, he only hit .245 with 10 HRs, 59 Rs, 44 RBIs and 9 SBs. Comparing 2013 to 2014 you certainly see a jump in his production. Only playing in 134 games, he hit a career best 14 HRs, to go along with 65 RBIs, 58 Rs all while batting a nice smooth .292. With the better acquisitions for the Cubs, I see Castro playing a lot looser and freer in 2015. Despite his off the field issues in the past couple of months, he really had a nice bounce back year in 2014. I look for this trend to continue, but I will not be putting “some money on the cubbies.”

Player(s) on the Decline
Elvis Andrus (TEX) – Andrus is coming off of his two worst OBA years of his career. While two years later, he signed an eight-year extension. At the time, it seemed like a good idea for the Rangers, but this offseason posted a different picture on their feelings about the situation. It was rumored that they were listening to deals for Andrus because of their depth including Sardines, Profar and Odor. Andrus certainly does not provide much pop in his bat and with his walk rate declining each year since 2010, that’s a big problem to have. Also, his K% has ballooned back up to 14%, very close to the 14.2% of where it was when he entered the league. He is more notable for his defense than his bat, but even that is not working out for him. From 2011 to 2014, his WAR went from 4.2 to 4.0 to 2.8 to 1.3. The once sure defensive shortstop is on a quick decline. The Rangers are probably wishing they didn’t ink in that eight-year deal. 

Player(s) on the Horizon
Jung-Ho Kang (PIT) – Who? Well that is exactly what I said when I first took a look at my Shortstop Preview this year. But upon further review of Kang, you will not be saying “who,” you will be saying “wow.” The 27-year-old power-hitting Korean Shortstop signed a 4-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates this past January. In 2014, for his club team in Korea he batted .356/.459/.739 with a career-high 40 home runs. ESPN’s Keith Law expects his power to do well in the major leagues. Law states, “I see a swing that will generate legit plus power even once he leaves his hitter-friendly home park in Yangcheon District of Seoul. Kang has a huge leg kick and gets his lead foot down late, which could create timing issues, but the swing is rotational, and I don’t think the power surge he has had the past three years is strictly a function of the rising level of offense in the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization)”. Despite this, he is kind of big and slow for a shortstop. Well guess who else is big and slow at the shortstop position. A guy I talked about earlier, Jhonny Peralta, who actually posted the best WAR in baseball at the position last year. Obviously, it is going to take some time for him to get to some playing time in the majors compared to Korea. Here’s an interesting story on how Kang started playing on an everyday basis in Korea. In 2008, a team named the Woori Heroes was born. There was then a feud between the KBO and Woori Bank. This left a lot of the veteran players on the team unable to get paid. The team had to dismiss a lot of their star players and veterans. Thus, paving the way for a young 21-year-old to get regular playing time. Could this dream/irony become a reality for Kang in the states? Only time will tell. The Pirates really might have something in this kid.

Player(s) to Avoid
Jose Reyes (TOR) – Blah! I am so done with him, like I am done with really bad dried up markers I try to write on my white board with at school. They and he are dead to me. I feel that Reyes’ best years are in the past. He has not played a full season since 2012 when he was on the Marlins. He hasn’t hit over .300 and scored over 100 runs since 2011 when playing for the Mets. All statistics that are important for a lead off player of his caliber. See the trend that I am going with here. Since he went up north his statistics have gone south. You can certainly throw away him batting over .300 away in 2015. I say he hits for about .280, gets about 600 PAs, between 20-25 SBs and may score around 85 Rs. If you ask me the risk/reward luster is not there for Reyes anymore.

Ahhh….Shortstop. A position that is very near and dear to my heart. I used to anchor the position growing up and occasionally still play it on my slow pitch softball team. In honor of one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the position (and this coming from a Red Sox fan), Derek Jeter once said, “We just want to win. That’s the bottom line. I think a lot of times people may become content with one championship or a little bit of success, but we don’t really reflect on what we’ve done in the past. We focus on the present.” That’s right! It’s a new year-a clean slate. Time to start over and of course not only on the field, but off the field fantasy championships are just as important as on field championships like Jeter said.

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