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The Market Report: Shortstops

The Market Report is a weekly analysis of player valuations in the fantasy marketplace in an effort to find undervalued commodities.

Another week closer to Opening Day. Let's take a look at shortstops this week. As usual, ADP values are provided in parentheses.

Tier One

1. Troy Tulowitzki (8)

2. Hanley Ramirez (9)

Tier Two

3. Jose Reyes (28)

4. Ian Desmond (31)

5. Jean Segura (33)

Tier Three

6. Elvis Andrus (57)

7. Ben Zobrist (74)

8. Everth Cabrera (77)

9. J.J. Hardy (88)

Tier Four

10. Andrelton Simmons (104)

11. Starlin Castro (107)

12. Xander Bogaerts (109)

13. Jed Lowrie (114)

Tier Five

14. Alexei Ramirez (148)

15. Jhonny Peralta (154)

16. Asdrubal Cabrera (160)

17. Jimmy Rollins (166)

18. Brad Miller (180)

Undervalued

Alexei Ramirez (ADP 148)

From a fantasy perspective, Ramirez had a strange season last year, but he was valuable nonetheless. After never getting more than 20 SB in any of the first five years of his career, he somehow managed to swipe 30 bags. Meanwhile, his power continued to decline, as his ISO fell for a third consecutive season. Despite only hitting six HR, though, Alexei finished just outside the top five at the position. Even if we assume some regression in the SB category, it's still rather difficult to explain his current ADP. Ramirez is a durable player who consistently puts the ball in play at a high rate. The days of 20 HR are behind him, and the counting statistics may not be great in a poor White Sox lineup. Even so, Ramirez is still a good bet for 20-plus SB along with an AVG along the lines of .270. Those numbers may not jump off the page, but Alexei still holds plenty of value at the weak shortstop position.

Erick Aybar (ADP 220)

Here's another boring yet likely undervalued target at the position. In fact, upon closer examination this duo is quite similar. Like Ramirez, Aybar is apt at making contact at a high clip. In an environment in which the frequency of strikeouts continues to rise, this skill becomes even more valuable. While he lacks much pop, Aybar does come with some speed. On the surface, his measly total of just 12 SB last year may suggest that's no longer the case. Keep in mind, however, that the Angels shortstop suffered from a variety of leg injuries over the course of the season. If you're looking for a breakout campaign, speculate elsewhere. Having said that, this is a reliable option at middle infield currently available for mere pennies. 

Overvalued

Jean Segura (ADP 33)

As fantasy expert Ron Shandler has noted previously, "regression and gravity are the two strongest forces known to man." When comparing value accrued to Draft Day price, few players were more profitable than Segura last year. Hold on; let's stop right there. In general, simply knowing this about a player makes it a good bet that he regresses significantly the following season. Name any breakout player from last year: Chris Davis, Jose Fernandez, Yasiel Puig, whomever. If you forecast a disappointing season for any of them relative to their current market value, you're going to be right more often than you're wrong. Meanwhile, think of the most disappointing players from 2013 - Starlin Castro, C.C. Sabathia, B.J. Upton, whomever made you stick to your stomach each day. If you speculate on this group of players, you're going to profit more often than not.

But let's get back to Segura. As the top shortstop in all of fantasy baseball last year, he may look like a player on the verge of consistent fantasy superstardom. I see a player who has nowhere to go but down. Yes, the speed is certainly for real, but I'm not buying the power. Just one of his 12 HR was of the No Doubt variety, and I wouldn't count on double-digits again this year. Half-season statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's tough to overlook how poorly Segura performed after the All-Star Break. Entering the break with a triple-slash line of .325 / .363 / .487, the young shortstop then struggled down the stretch, hitting just .241 / .268 / .315.  Maybe the hit tool really is that good here, but I'm not willing to pay such a steep price for a player currently going ahead of more proven commodities like Albert Pujols and Justin Verlander.




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