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2012 Position Rankings: Shortstop

Shortstop is one of hardest positions on the field to fill in real life, but there are plenty of fantasy options from which to choose. There is only one bonafide fantasy superstar at short though, so he'll come off the board very early on draft day. These rankings are based on standard 12-team mixed leagues with traditional 5x5 scoring.

  1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL - The undisputed top fantasy shortstop, Tulo has hit .300+ in each of the last two years and 27+ HR, 90+ RBI, and 80+ runs in each of the last three years. His stolen base total is trending downward (20 in 2009, 11 in 2010, nine in 2011), but at 27 years old, he should have no problem jumping back in the double digits if healthy.
  2. Hanley Ramirez, MIA - Hanley will be manning the hot corner in Miami, but he's still going to be fantasy eligible at short. Shoulder problems hampered him for most of last season, though his ground ball rate spiked significantly in 2010 and has robbed him of both over-the-fence and doubles power. Ramirez is only 28 and figures to rebound with a healthy shoulder, but he's no longer the slam dunk elite producer he once was.
  3. Jose Reyes, MIA - The days of 60+ steals appear to be a thing of the past thanks to Reyes' nagging hamstring issues, which landed him on the DL twice in 2011. He doesn't figure to give you many HR or RBI, but you will get a solid batting average, a ton of runs, and still a plethora of steals assuming he can stay on the field. As with Hanley, the team's new ballpark is a bit of an x-factor.
  4. Elvis Andrus, TEX - Still just 23, Andrus is a stolen base and runs scored machine, but he's not going to give you many RBI and has hit just five homers over the last two seasons. His average has been just decent so far in his career, but he puts the ball in play (just 13.1% strikeouts in his three years) and has the wheels to leg out infield hits.
  5. Jimmy Rollins, PHI - J-Roll's real life value has slipped in recent years, but he's still one of fantasy's best options at the position because he'll give you everything but RBI. Like two of the four guys ahead of him, injuries are a concern, though he did get into 142 games last season.
  6. Starlin Castro, CHC - The NL leader in hits last season with 207, Castro hasn't stopped hitting since debuting in 2010. He topped double-digit homers and 20+ steals for the first time last year, and should only improve from here on out. Down expect too many RBI, but the runs will be there.
  7. Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE - After hitting just 18 HR in the first 387 games of his career, Cabrera clubbed 25 in 2012 and either set or matched his career bests in RBI, runs, and steals. It's not a coincidence that he was able to avoid the DL for the first time since 2008. The HR total could take a step back, but the production in the other categories should be there.
  8. Alexei Ramirez, CHW - The Cuban Missile took a step back from his 2010 production, but it's hard to complain about .269/15/70/81/7. There's no reason he shouldn't get back to stealing 10+ bases again next year, and the power numbers have always been there. Ramirez is one of the safest bets on this list, a solid performer with no standout fantasy tool.
  9. J.J. Hardy, BAL - Good health and the friendly confines of Camden Yards resulted in 30 HR and solid run production numbers last summer. Hardy can do it again at age 29, but he does have a bit of injury history and won't offer much in the batting average or stolen base departments.
  10. Erick Aybar, LAA - Aybar doubled his best single-season homer total last year, setting new career highs in HR (ten), RBI (59), runs (71), and steals (30). He'll likely hit in the .270's again, and having Albert Pujols in the lineup will help his fantasy production one way or the other.
  11. Yunel Escobar, TOR - Escobar has hit .288+ in four of the last five years, but he's also missed some time due to injury each year. The double-digit homer potential is in there despite his astronomical ground ball rate, and he'll score a ton of runs hitting in front of Jose Bautista & Co.
  12. Derek Jeter, NYY - The Yankees captain was marvelous after returning from the DL in early-July (.331/.384/.447 in 314 PA), but he didn't hit much in the year and half prior to that. Jeter is an extreme ground ball hitter and might never hit double-digit homers again, but he should still give you a solid average, a health amount of steals, and a ton of runs scored thanks to his supporting cast.
  13. Dee Gordon, LAD - Gordon stole 24 bases and scored 34 runs in his 56-game cameo last season, and now he's got the job full-time. There's a non-zero chance that he'll hit zero homers (none in 2011, majors or minors), but he's a threat for 50+ steals and a ton of runs scored. He might not hit for a decent average or drive in many runs, but the bulk steals will be tremendously valuable.
  14. Jhonny Peralta, DET - Peralta had he best season of his career last year, though his batting average was the only fantasy stat that really jumped a notch. He'd been a 15+ HR, 80+ RBI, zero steals guy for half-a-decade, and that's what he should be next year. I wouldn't count on another .299 average though, there was no significant change in his batting ball profile to suggest real improvement just yet.
  15. Emilio Bonifacio, MIA - Bonifacio broke out in a big way last season, hitting .296 with 40 steals and a ton of runs scored. His .372 BABIP is high compared the rest of his career, which is notable since his batted ball profile didn't change much. That near-.300 average could come back to Earth in 2012, but the stolen base ability is for real.
  16. Stephen Drew, ARI - The D'Backs aren't sure when exactly they'll have their shortstop back, but Drew has been running following his season-ending ankle injury. When healthy, he'll give you a decent average, double-digit homers, and solid run production, but who knows when he'll get back on the field and more importantly, shake off the rust.
  17. Ian Desmond, WAS - Desmond produced nearly identical fantasy numbers in 2011 that he did in 2010, which meant .253/8/49/65/25. He's done it two years in a row now, do I'd count on it again in 2012.
  18. Alcides Escobar, KC - A defense-first shortstop, Escobar got back to stealing bases last year (26) and managed to score a fair amount of runs (69) at the bottom of the lineup. He won't hit for average or power, so his fantasy value is tied up almost exclusively in runs and steals.
  19. Jason Bartlett, SD - We're now two full years removed from Bartlett's monster 2009 season, but he did provide value by stealing 23 bases last year. He's basically a poor man's Desmond, doing everything the Nats' shortstop does except hit for any kind of power.
  20. Marco Scutaro, COL - Scutaro does a little bit of everything but nothing exceptionally well. He'll lose some runs scored and RBI given the move out of the Red Sox's lineup, but he'll hit for a solid average, pop some homers, and steal the occasional base. 
  21. Jamey Carroll, MIN - Carroll hasn't hit a homer in two full seasons now, but he continues to hit close to .300 and steal double-digit bases even at age 37. He'll also draw enough walks and reach base often enough to provide plenty of runs scored, particularly if Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau stay healthy.
  22. Jed Lowrie, HOU - It's all about health for Lowrie, who hasn't played in 100 games in a single season since 2008. He can hit when healthy, though probably not as well as he did in the second half of 2010. He has the ability to provide double-digit homers with a solid average and run production numbers, but will he stay on the field long enough to be worth a roster spot?
  23. Mike Aviles, BOS - It's shouldn't be all that difficult for Aviles to beat out Nick Punto for regular at-bats, but as an opposite-field right-handed hitter, he won't get to take advantage of the Green Monster. There's .300/10+/10+ potential here, but only if he plays every pretty much every day.
  24. Rafael Furcal, STL - As injuries continue to take their roll on Furcal's now 34-year-old body, his fantasy worth depends on whether or not he can stay healthy enough to slash his way to a .300 average and 20+ steals like he did in 2010. I'm guessing he won't, but stranger things have happened.
  25. Alex Gonzalez, MIL - Gonzalez has whacked 15+ HR in three of the last four years, but he doesn't do much beyond that. He hits at or below .250, doesn't steal bases, and doesn't get on base enough to post meaningul runs scored totals. It's all about the power here, don't expect any help in the other categories.

Honorable Mention: Clint Barmes, PIT; Cliff Pennington, OAK; Eduardo Nunez, NYY; Sean Rodriguez, TBR; Ryan Theriot, SF; Yuniesky Betancourt, KC

Other Positions: Catcher, First Base, Second Base

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