Fantasy Baseball 2012 Strategy and Advice: Breaking Down in Tiers – Shortstop

Other positions already covered in the series: C | 1B | 2B

When organizing each position into tiers, it enables owners to see which players should produce relatively the same statistics, and easily spot under/overvalued players in each tier.

To refresh, let’s define the tiers that we will classify each position by:

  • Elite: These players can be the foundation for your fantasy team and are the best players at their positions.
  • Valuable: Cannot go wrong with this group. These solid players, who will produce for your team, are dependable and can help win a fantasy title for you.
  • Solid: These players will put up numbers and can even lead in certain categories. However, inconsistency and poor performance in other categories will hurt your fantasy team at times.
  • At Your Own Risk: Limited production at this level, this group either struggles to get at bats on a regular basis or are the least producing players at their position. Proceed with caution and do your research. This group also includes younger players with potential.

Here is a breakdown of the SS position for both AL and NL Leagues. 

Troy-Tulowitzki-fantasy baseball 2012 strategy and advice shortstop

Troy Tulowitzki is classified in the elite category for shortstops. (Photo by jkonrath via Wikimedia Commons)

SS: Elite

  • Troy Tulowitzki
  • Jose Reyes
  • Hanley Ramirez
  • Jimmy Rollins
  • Starlin Castro
  • Elvis Andrus

The shortstop position features several superstar potential players but quickly drops to mediocre levels. If you don’t secure one of the top players at SS early in your draft, don’t reach for a shortstop with stats not worth the round.

Health concerns were an issue for elite shortstops in 2011, with Ramirez missing the last 52 games with a shoulder strain, 29 games missed by Reyes with hamstring issues, Tulowitzki  battling hip issues last September (cumulating in three DL trips in his six seasons), and Rollins with four DL trips the last three seasons.

Castro and Andrus are the young stars in the making but lack power numbers. Tulowitzki in Coors Field has 30-100 potential, with a .300+ average and even 9 steals last year. A healthy Ramirez playing now at 3B but qualifying at SS could net big returns, along the lines of 20-25 HR, 80-90 RBI, with 30+ steal potential.

Reyes under new manager Ozzie Guillen could steal 45-50 bases while helping with average (.337 last year). Rollins, even at 33 years old, could still produce 15 HR, 60 RBI, and 30 SB. Andrus will produce steals (37-2011) and hopefully improve his average closer to .300 with limited power. Castro should continue his upward trend, projecting a .300 ave., 10 HR, 60 RBI, and 20 SB.

Best Bet: Troy Tulowitzki

SS: Valuable

  • Asdrubal Cabrera
  • J.J. Hardy
  • Alexei Ramirez
  • Derek Jeter
  • Dee Gordon
  • Jhonny Peralta
  • Erick Aybar

This next tier is crucial if you cannot draft one of the elite shortstops. Be sure to nab one of these guys to ensure you have reliable SS in your starting lineup.

Cabrera put up big numbers last year, hitting 25 HR with 92 RBI, a .273 average, and even stealing 17 bases. Not sure if that pace will continue, but even 18-20 HR, 80 RBI with 15 SB would solidify this position. Hardy will provide power numbers after his 30 HR, 80 RBI outburst in the 2011 season.

Ramirez and an aging yet tireless Derek Jeter (38 in June) will continue to produce solid numbers. Dee Gordon could swipe 50 bases for the Dodgers, while Peralta (21 HRs, 86 RBI) will continue to hit for the Tigers. Aybar will net you steals (30-2011) and 10 HR-60 RBI.

Best Bet: Asdrubal Cabrera

Shortstop: Solid

  • Stephen Drew
  • Ian Desmond
  • Yunel Escobar
  • Emilio Bonafacio
  • Marco Scutaro
  • Alcides Escobar
  • Cliff Pennington
  • Sean Rodriguez
  • Rafael Furcal

Potential and bargains formulate this group.

Drew, recovering from a broken ankle suffered last year, may not begin playing until May, so buyer beware and keep an eye on his progress. Desmond can give you steals (25-2011), but his .303 on-base percentage the past two seasons are a concern. Escobar can offer 10 HRs and 50 RBI but little speed.

Bonafacio may be a shrewd late pickup for steals (40-2011) but may be moved down in the order with Jose Reyes now leading off. Scutaro moving to Colorado may help with his numbers, and you can expect 12-14 HR, 65-70 RBI with an average close to .280-.290 range.

Escobar just signed a four-year deal with the Royals which would indicate he is the primary SS vs. Yunieksy Bentancourt for the upcoming season. He can steal 25 bases for your team and is a decent late round pick up.

It looks like Rodriquez may be given the everyday SS position for the Rays, which should help him produce 11-13 HR, close to 50 RBI and double digit (12-15) steals. His low batting average (.223-2011) needs to improve.

Pennington offers an average amount in each stat, look for 7 HR, 50-55 RBI, 15 SB and an average of around .260.Furcal struggled last season but any starting shortstop for the World Champion Cardinals deserves a look. At 34, his career in trending downward so don’t expect too much.

Best Bet: Emilio Bonafacio

SS: At Your Own Risk

  • Jason Bartlett
  • Jed Lowrie
  • Alex Gonzalez
  • Zack Cozart
  • Yunieksy Bentancourt
  • Clint Barmes
  • Trevor Plouffe
  • Brandon Crawford
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Willie Bloomquist
  • Ronny Cedeno
  • Eduardo Nunez
  • Mike Fontenot
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Brendan Ryan
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka
  • Reid Brignac
  • Jose Iglesias
  • Brandon Wood
  • John McDonald
  • Tim Beckham
  • Elliott Johnson
  • Angel Sanchez
  • Christian Colon
  • Edgar Renteria
  • Paul Janish
  • Nick Franklin
  • Wilson Valdez

The rest of the shortstops here may produce a few surprises but should not be expected to produce the stats you will need for this position. These players represent options at the utility position for your team.

Starters for their respective teams include Bartlett (San Diego), Gonzalez (Milwaukee), Lowrie (Houston), Cozart (Cincinnati), and Barmes (Pittsburgh). At the very least grab a starter from this group and keep an eye on spring training developments for last minute cuts.

Bartlett can get you steals (23-2011), Gonzalez has some pop and could produce 15 HR and 50-60 RBI. Lowrie, if he can avoid the DL bug, can give you 12-14 HR with 50 RBI starting for the Astros. Cozart starting with a good Reds team could be a decent dark horse candidate.

Best Bet: Zack Cozart

About Jim McGrew

A lifelong Chicago sports fan, Jim enjoys playing, writing about and watching sports. He can be reached at or on twitter at @MySports1.
Jim lives in the Chicago area and is married with 2 children.


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