Here is the fourth article in the series for our 2012 fantasy baseball rankings looking at the position of shortstop. If you are looking for a position to grab stolen bases from then you came to the right place with eight possible options at this position that could steal 30 bases or more including one (Dee Gordon) that will make a run at the stolen base title.
Here is a look at the top 20 fantasy baseball shortstops for 2012 with my comments. A longer list with 2012 fantasy baseball projections are available in the 2012 FBT Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide which is on sale now.
1. Troy Tulowitzki – third straight season where he performed much better after the All-Star Break, this time hitting .356 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 205 at bats. If he can ever put two of those halves together, it would produce an MVP type season. Stolen bases look like they are going to hold around the double digit range but not approach 20 again, but runs scored should go up after being down in 2011 with Michael Cuddyer behind him in the lineup.
2. Hanley Ramirez – underwent shoulder surgery in September and is expected to be 100% by Openeing Day so it pays to listen closely for any news on issues during his rehab leading up to that point. We’ll throw out his batting average last season due to some bad luck, but his power looked the same as 2010 due to an increase in his groundball rate from 2009. There is also the issue of his attitude with the move to third base so while he is still athe second best shortstop, there is a little bit of risk to him.
3. Jose Reyes – healthy for the second straight year for the most part but still spent time on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. If you are going to own him, it is a good idea to make sure you have someone else on your roster than play shortstop as well for the times when he is out of action. Batting average will be lower after an inflated hit rate in 2011 but as long as he is healthy, he is a solid number three shortstop. Stole 30 bases in his first 8 games but then only nine in his last 46 contests.
4. Starlin Castro – power was nowhere to be seen until he launched five home runs in August. Steal needs to refine his work on stolen bases as he was 10-for-11 the first half and 12-for-20 after the All-Star Break. Should annually flirt with .300 given his contact rate and hit percentage.
5. Elvis Andrus – for the second straight season his stolen base attempts drastically fell off the second half of the season as did his success rate. Overall he improved his success rate on stolen bases, but it could have been even higher had he not gone 11-for-20 after the All-Star Break. Will be in the mix to lead all shortstops in runs scored in the Rangers lineup and has a great chance at cracking 40 stolen bases this season.
6. Jimmy Rollins – reversed a three-year slide of his batting average as he hit% corrected and he hit better against right-handed pitching than he did in 2010. Stolen base success rate is still holding up so there is no reason he is not around 30 steals again. Any prolonged loss of Ryan Howard in the lineup could impact runs scored.
7. Asdrubal Cabrera – how can a hitter go from six home runs to 25 home runs in a season? If you are Cabrera, you expand your strike zone, turn ground balls into fly balls and more than double your home run per fly ball rate. If the over/under on home runs is 20 in 2012, the chances of that number being over is very, very, very remote.
8. Alexei Ramirez - there is something to be said for the consistency he has showed in all four seasons in the major leagues as every stat category has been in a nice tight range. The only question is how much of a chance he is going to get to steal bases with a new manager in place in 2012.
9. Derek Jeter – almost made it to .300 again thanks to a .327 average the second half of the season. Hit the disabled list for the first time in the last five seasons and there is a better chance of that happening going forward now at age 37.
10. J.J. Hardy – healthy and over his wrist injury coupled with improvement against left-handed pitching and an increase in his fly ball percentage led him to a career-high of 30 home runs. Expect regression in 2012 but assuming full health, he should be back to his 2007-2008 levels..
11. Erick Aybar – overall stable numbers in all categories and if manager Mike Scioscia would just stick him first in the batting order and leave him there, his numbers could be even better. Addition of Albert Pujols to the lineup and a possible healthy Kendrys Morales should help boost his runs scored.
12. Dee Gordon – had 31 stolen base attempts in just 56 game in his rookie season so he has a great chance to break 50 steals assuming his fielding can hold up as he committed 10 errors in 2011. Like most young hitters, he still needs to learn patience at the plate with just seven walks in 224 at bats.
13. Jhonny Peralta – power has returned after returning to his fly ball ways and his batting average has a little better chance to be closer to .270 thanks to a reduction in his strikeout rate. Hit .323 against right-handed pitching which spiked his batting average so expect that to come back down in 2012.
14. Stephen Drew – fractured his right ankle in July and his readiness for the start of the season is still in question. Strikeout rate has risen the last two seasons and he struggled against left-handed pitching again for the second time in his last three years. Outside of 2008, he has looked like just another average shortstop.
15. Ian Desmond – had 59 more at bats in in 2011 and added six runs scored and eight more stolen bases while falling off in the other three categories. His drop in batting average was not a surprise given he was a .259 career minor league hitter. Strikeout rate rose slightly and a ground ball rate above 50% is going to make it hard for him to 15+ home runs in a season. Stole 20 bases in his first 85 games and then was 5-for-11 in steals in his last 69 contests.
16. Yunel Escobar – bounced back as expected and his numbers were more in line with his 2009 season in Atlanta. The difference in RBI between those two seasons is due to his place in the batting order. Hitting first for the Blue Jays is going to suppress his RBI numbers compared to in Atlanta when he was further down in the lineup.
17. Alcides Escobar – move to the American League plus an aggressive manager gave Escobar a chance to flash his only fantasy skill at this point of his career. Given his lack of plate discipline, it is going to be tough though for his stolen base total to get much higher than 30.
18. Emilio Bonifacio – a lot of his value is going to be tied to his playing time and with a new manager in place that does not have any allegiance to him, it remains to be seen if he is going to get 500 at bats again which is what I currently have his value based on. Multi-position eligibility makes him a little bit more attractive in non-trade leagues.
19. Rafael Furcal – has spent time on the disabled list four of the past five seasons and that doesn’t figure to change as he heads into his mid-30s. Numbers were much better in St. Louis where he hit .255 with seven home runs and four steals in 196 at bats. With that said, there are enough other options at shortstop to not get stuck with him and spend night praying for his health to hold up.
20. Marco Scutaro -missed time with a strained oblique in 2011 which impacted at bat totals. The trade of Jed Lowire means Scutaro should get one more season of 500 at bats in Boston before prospect Jose Iglesias takes over.
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