In many fantasy baseball circles, there exists the notion that shortstop is the shallowest of all positions. While this may have been true in past seasons, there is actually a decent number of quality shortstops available to add value to your fantasy baseball team in the 2012 season. As with other positions, there were early round picks who disappointed in 2011 (Hanley Ramirez) and there were some late round picks who delighted their fantasy owners with big seasons (J.J. Hardy). Of all the roster spots to consider, shortstop is the one position where injury concerns hang over the fantasy possibilities of the top players. Therefore, you do not need to use an early round draft pick on filling your shortstop position. There are several players down the list that will pay dividends for sure. However, for now, we concentrate on the top ten fantasy baseball shortstops for the 2012 season.
1) Troy Tulowitski (COL) –
If a player has one monster season, he is suddenly on everyone’s radar. A second straight campaign of big numbers and he’s a star. Three consecutive seasons of putting up huge statistical numbers and that player is an elite fantasy producer. At the shortstop position, that player is Tulowitski. The prospect of nagging injuries always seem to be hanging over Tulo’s head, but there is no other player in baseball more worth the risk.
2) Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE) –
After an injury-riddled 2010 campaign, Cabrera broke out big time last season. As a key part of a youthful Cleveland offense, Cabrera may take another step further in 2012. Like other top fantasy shortstops, injuries have been a concern. If he stays healthy, he may elevate himself to elite status next season.
3) Hanley Ramirez (FLA) –
Drafted in the top 5 in most fantasy leagues, Ramirez was a major bust for his owners in 2011. Injuries and inconsistency plagued him last season but looking back, his 2010 numbers were not exactly high-end elite. Considering also a rumoured move to third base and Ramirez has to be drafted with caution in 2012.
4) Starlin Castro (CHC) –
Probably a year away from elite shortstop status, Castro has more upside than perhaps any other 21-year-old player in the game. His high average is not an empty .300, as he has consistently shown extra base power and has added an increased stolen base total to the mix. He’s a keeper.
5) Jose Reyes (NYM) –
Don’t let that batting title fool you into using an early round pick on Reyes, who benefitted from a high BABIP in 2011. He hasn’t played more than 133 games since 2008 and his days of 60+ stolen bases are behind him. Injuries are always a risk with Reyes making him a second tier choice at shortstop.
6) Elvis Andrus (TEX) –
Surprisingly consistent for a young (23 years old) player, Andrus can be counted on for 35 stolen bases. Power is not Andrus’ game (5 HR in 2011 after 0 in 2010) however, a marked jump in doubles may mean further power may develop (keep in mind his young age). There is no guarantee he’ll ever be a .300 hitter but you could certainly do worse than the number 2 hitter on a contending team.
7) J.J. Hardy (BAL) –
Hardy certainly made his fantasy owners happy in 2011. Ranked outside the top 25 in most pre-draft rankings entering last season, Hardy led all AL shortstops in HR with 30 (and tied Tulowitski for the MLB shortstop HR title). Much like his fantasy counterparts, health is the wild card for Hardy. He has struggled with injuries throughout his career and is always a risk to miss considerable amounts of time.
8) Jimmy Rollins (PHI) –
Indiana Jones said “It isn’t the years, it’s the mileage”. This holds true for Rollins who is an “old” 32 after spending years at a demanding position. A free agent in 2012, Rollins will get a sizable contract somewhere, just don’t expect sizable offensive statistics. His stolen base totals rebounded but diminished power and a poor batting average are not going to win you too many fantasy leagues.
9) Erick Aybar (LAA) –
After several seasons of mediocre offensive stats, Aybar is starting to show a little pop to go with his improved stolen base percentage. It is not unusual to see a jump in power numbers for players his age (he’ll turn 28 before the start of the 2012 season). After showing an increase in 2011 over his 2010 power statistics (10 HR vs. 5, 33 doubles vs. 18), Aybar has a little something to offer in 2012.
10) Alexei Ramirez (CWS) –
Ramirez put up his usual HR total in the mid teens (15) but his stolen bases fell off by half (13 SB in 2010, 7 in 2011). This was due to the fact that he only attempted 13 SB last season but may also indicate he has lost a step on the base paths. He is a lower-tier option at the position but won’t hurt you in any category.
When considering fantasy baseball shortstops for 2012, injuries seem to be the major concern for most of the key players. So long as you don’t draft a shortstop too high on draft day, you should come out with a respectable option who will deliver decent offensive statistics from the shortstop position on your 2012 fantasy roster.
* Troy Tulowitski photo by SD Dirk on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Troy Tulowitzki") [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
*Jose Reyes photo by alpineinc on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Jose Reyes") [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Alexei Ramirez photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "00063398") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons