Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball Shortstops to Buy, Sell, or Hold: April Showers


You know what they say – April showers bring May flowers…

What about snowstorms? They just bring us weather delays and postponed games. What a gross way to start the fantasy baseball season. It’s been such a pain to set daily lineups in leagues this season. The precipitation of that variety can hit the road.

What about the figurative showers provided by fantasy baseball shortstops this April? After a long preseason of poopooing the shortstops in the fantasy game, they have showered us with statistical glory in the early going. It’s been a pleasantly surprising sight to see!

Ironically though, it’s not the guys who were getting drafted highly pulling the weight. The ‘Fantastic Four’ in Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager have all mostly underperformed to this point. It also doesn’t help that Elvis Andrus and Xander Bogaerts have suffered early-season injuries.

So who have the guys that have been representing the sixth position well? And, more importantly, can they continue their success into the heart of the fantasy baseball season? Let’s analyze some of the hot-hitting fantasy baseball shortstops in April.

Fantasy Baseball Shortstops to Buy, Sell, or Hold

Position ranking based on an ESPN five-category player rater with OBP instead of AVG. The ‘Pace’ row in each table signifies a full season’s worth of statistics based on their current production.

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Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees, SS1


First off, I love when I get an easy number to do ‘pace’ stats with – 60 PA is so perfect.

‘Perfect’ is the only word to describe Didi’s play here in April. He’s in the top 10 on the overall player rater and that’s without his two-homer night on Monday. We’ve been giving him plenty of love here on the site as well with our own Greg Benson pointing out his success last week. Sir Didi has been knighted the team’s cleanup hitter and has shown no signs of turning back.

Verdict: Hold

At this point in time, you aren’t going to be able to sell him at his on-pace numbers. Those are gaudy totals and other people in your league won’t believe Didi can match those numbers.

Additionally, what if Didi can actually match those statistics? Now, I’m not crazy – there’s no chance he matches the triple slash over the course of a season. However, the counting stats aren’t too far off from what he put up last year. Consider this, less than 35% of his 2017 at-bats came in the cleanup spot. He was missing out on quality run-scoring opportunities in the early part of the season when the Yankees were scared to throw him in a more pronounced role.

Now that he is established in the order, the counting stats should come almost automatically. The Yankees bats haven’t even fully woken up yet and Didi is putting up video game numbers. With elite contact skills and Statcast data to back him up, Gregorius is becoming a top-tier shortstop before our eyes. While he doesn’t have the name recognition of the ‘Fantastic Four’, he should be treated like one until further notice.

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Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels, SS7


If you get fantasy points for UZR or DRS, Simba is a first rounder. The perennial Gold-Glover could hit like a (non-Ohtani) pitcher and still provide positive value (see his final three seasons with Atlanta).

However, what the elite defender has done at the plate the last season-plus has been anything but subpar. Especially from a fantasy perspective, Simmons was very valuable with the bat and became one of the waiver wire dandies of the 2017 season. Based on his start in April, is there another gear this guy can reach offensively?

Verdict: Buy

While I don’t believe there is ‘another gear’, the reason I say ‘buy’ here is that I largely believe he can provide a floor of what he did in 2017. The batted ball profile is the exact same as seen by his GB/LD/FB splits. According to Statcast, he’s actually hitting the ball harder than last year (by just 1 MPH, but still). As with Didi, the contact skills haven’t worn at all and, while his 0.333 BABIP won’t hold up, I don’t see it falling too far down.

This early hot start really just proves to me that 2017 was no one-off fluke. A 15-20 HR-SB season is bankable for Simba and, when comparing to his on-pace numbers, I still think people will underrate him. If you can buy him at a value below what he was worth last year, go for it.

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Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox, SS10


HOLY BLEEP! Did Rickey Henderson die and send his soul to Anderson this offseason?

Seriously though, a 36-72 HR-SB season would be what all the Turner-truthers would say was possible if Trea was on steroids. Hell, this is what Byron Buxton wishes he could do on MLB The Show. No matter how you put it, Timmy has been on fire in 2018. There are tons here to analyze with Anderson, so I don’t want to fluff this up even further. What can we expect from him moving forward?

Verdict: Sell

Let’s start with the walk rate because this is where I stumble the most when looking at him. Looking at FanGraphs, his plate discipline stats are actually worse this year than in 2017. While he’s getting more first-pitch strikes, he’s swinging and missing more frequently. I can’t find any cheesy preseason stories regarding him wanting to take more pitches either, which is usually a thing. He’s automatic on the basepaths in his career (91% success rate). If we can’t keep his BB% above at least 5.0% though, we will never see that potential. See one Billy Hamilton.

Now that we’ve got the negatives out of the way, let’s express some optimism. While the walk rate is unsustainable, what about his power output to this point? Again, we ask Statcast data! With a three-degree increase in average launch angle (small sample, yada yada), he may have committed to getting more lift on the ball. However, he’s only hit one dinger since that double-dong performance on Opening Day. With a career SLG of 0.417, forgive me if I’m not quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Ultimately, the transition to power could overcome the inevitable shortcomings of his plate discipline, but I would honestly rather see the opposite from a player profile like Anderson has. Not outside the realm of possibility here is Tim Anderson becoming the lite version of Whit Merrifield in 2017. Also not outside the realm of possibility could be a slightly better version of Jose Peraza in 2017. I would prefer to let someone else find out which one they get if I can attract more dependable talent in return.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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