Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
      
Fantasy Football Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

2014 Draft Prep: Shortstop profiles

  •  

Al's profiles: Cs | 1Bs | 2Bs | SSs | 3Bs | OFs | Ps

In the not-too-distant past, elite shortstops were worth pursuing with one of the very top picks in Fantasy drafts.

Troy Tulowitzki, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes constituted an ironbound elite stratum, and if you didn't claim one of them, there was little point in investing much in the position.

The landscape hasn't changed much, but it's not quite the same. Tulowitzki and Ramirez remain as viable first-rounders, especially since both turned in nice comeback seasons in 2013. Reyes' stolen base production fell in an injury-marred season, so he enters 2014 as more of a wild card, and all three shortstops carry an injury-risk stigma. That, along with the emergence of Elvis Andrus, Jean Segura, Ian Desmond, Everth Cabrera and Andrelton Simmons as robust fallback options, makes it less enticing to go after one of the elites with an early first-round pick.

Because of their extensive history with injuries, it's hard to pin down projections for Tulowitzki, Ramirez and Reyes, and Ramirez in particular poses a challenge, as we have to determine how much weight to assign to last season's explosive, out-of-nowhere comeback. That earned Ramirez one of this column's six spaces reserved for the analysis of the position's most prickly projection conundrums.

Is Ian Desmond ready to join the elite, or did last season's mild regression render him as a nothing more than a solid second-tier option? What can Everth Cabrera do with a full season? Can Starlin Castro and Asdrubal Cabrera resurrect their careers and Fantasy relevance? And what can Derek Jeter contribute in his final Fantasy season? I'll tackle these issues and offer projections for the players in question as well.

Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers

2014 5x5 projections: .298/.356/.528, 26 HR, 88 RBI, 94 Runs, 18 SB in 500 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 16.1 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 1st among shortstops; 476 Fantasy Points, 2nd among shortstops

In his four seasons prior to 2013, Ramirez appeared to have settled comfortably into a 20-to-25 home run groove, which was something of a disappointment, given the 30-homer power he showed early in his career. Worse yet, his speed seemed to be on the wane, as he stole only 21 bases in 2012 and was a merely average hitter on ground balls in back-to-back seasons. In an injury-truncated 2013 season, Ramirez appeared to have turned back the clock, as he hit .345 with 20 home runs, 57 RBI and scored 62 runs in just over half a season's worth of games.

Play on CBSSports.com in 2014!
Baseball Commissioner
Get the premium experience you deserve! Create a customized league with exclusive news and tools.
Start your league!

Ramirez showed every sign of his power being legit. He hiked his home run-to-flyball ratio up from 12.7 percent to 17.3 percent, hit very few short-distance homers and even knocked seven line drives out of the park. Ramirez also posted his lowest strikeout rate in three years, but his .305 batting average on grounders might have been more of a sign of luck than a return of his speed. That means Ramirez is unlikely to hit above .300 overall or steal even as many as 20 bases, but he will offer enough power and run production to be the top-producing shortstop in Roto leagues. His projected 26 home runs could even be on the conservative side, though his lack of year-to-year consistency made it hard to project him for more.

Even with a conservative estimate, Ramirez is projected to launch Roto rosters up a larger number of places in the standings than all but eight players in all of Fantasy. In other words, he has a strong chance of providing elite outfielder-type production as a shortstop.

Ian Desmond, Nationals

2014 5x5 projections: .275/.322/.456, 22 HR, 81 RBI, 75 Runs, 18 SB in 590 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 13.3 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 6th among shortstops; 428 Fantasy Points, 7th among shortstops

As Desmond was just entering his peak years, it would have been reasonable to expect him to build on -- or at least sustain -- the production he showed in 2012, but 2013 was a mild letdown for his Fantasy owners. Even though Desmond played in 28 more games last season than the year before, he hit five fewer home runs and stole the same number of bases.

Some of Desmond's power downturn can be tied to a surging line drive rate that came at the expense of his flyball rate. With liner rates being prone to volatility, he could see a full rebound in his flyball rate, though he still could fall short of 25 homers. Last season's 20 home runs travelled almost exclusively to left and left-center field, making him far more reliant on pulling the ball than he was a couple of years ago. His batting average could also fall well below the projection of .275. Not only was last season's .280 mark boosted by a 26 percent line drive rate he won't likely sustain, but the prior year's .292 average was helped by a .316 batting average on grounders that may have been a fluke. His batting average projection is predicated on him rebounding from his highest strikeout rate to date. Even with fewer strikeouts, Desmond doesn't look quite ready to graduate to Fantasy's shortstop elite.

Everth Cabrera, Padres

2014 5x5 projections: .267/.342/.341, 3 HR, 38 RBI, 78 Runs, 52 SB in 580 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 12.6 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 7th among shortstops; 407 Fantasy Points, 9th among shortstops

Cabrera had a breakout season last year, even though he missed the final 50 games due to a suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Though Cabrera looked poised for improvement in his strikeout rate, he could give back some of the 37-point gain in his batting average, given how dramatically he cut down on whiffs. Between his knack for getting infield hits and the limited potential for regression in his whiff rate, Cabrera's batting average shouldn't come near his prior marks in the .250 neighborhood.

A decent batting average with a run total approaching 80 is nice enough, but owners will draft Cabrera for his steals. He appears to be a safe bet for 50 or more of them, but owners should keep an eye on his efficiency. Cabrera's stolen base success rate dropped from 92 to 76 percent last season. If that rate drops further in the first half, that could endanger his attempt total for the second half and beyond.

Starlin Castro, Cubs

2014 5x5 projections: .271/.309/.391, 12 HR, 61 RBI, 70 Runs, 11 SB in 660 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 9.8 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 14th among shortstops; 382 Fantasy Points, 13th among shortstops

Going into last season, Castro seemed about as safe as safe gets. He turned in three straight seasons with good batting averages, increased his home runs, RBI and steals in consecutive years and was just 22 years old. Then 2013 happened.

Everything in Castro's game took a wrong turn. He made contact less often, took strikes at a higher rate and hit grounders more frequently when he did swing and make contact. Castro maintained a higher-than-average line drive rate, but he hit fewer of them deep, and it showed in his near-total loss of triples power, having hit only two as compared to 12 the year before.

If not for Castro's youth and previously consistent pattern of progress, it would be easy to predict another poor season in 2014. He simply has too much promise to not expect some sort of rebound, even if there was a lack of positive signs a year ago.

Castro's projection reflects a near-return to his 2012 batting average and homer and run totals. His decreasing efficiency in converting steals suggests that his projection of 11 steals might be optimistic, and if he bats leadoff, as he did late last season, he may not reach his projected 61 RBI. Even if he does, Castro can be passed over in standard mixed Head-to-Head leagues, but he is a decent MI slot option for Roto owners.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

2014 5x5 projections: .251/.307/.398, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 74 Runs, 8 SB in 545 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 9.7 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 15th among shortstops; 362 Fantasy Points, 17th among shortstops

It seems like much longer ago, but it was in 2011 that Cabrera was one of the four most valuable shortstops in Fantasy. In the two seasons since, he lost a healthy portion of his home run and stolen base production, and last year, he hit a paltry .242..

Owners shouldn't expect Cabrera to rejoin the 20-homer club anytime soon, and not just because he hasn't been there in three years. When he banged 25 home runs in '11, Cabrera averaged just 385 feet per homer, with nine of them travelling 375 feet or less and seven of those leaving the park at fewer than 100 mph (according to ESPN's Home Run Tracker). Though Cabrera provided 35 doubles to go with his 14 homers last season, he lost considerable value as a result of his subpar batting average.

As with Castro, Cabrera's strike zone recognition declined dramatically, as he chased pitches out the zone more often and whiffed frequently in general. Cabrera is in his prime years, but his plate discipline has fallen a long way over the last three seasons. At best, owners can look for a minor rebound, though that would give him about as much value as Castro would have in your Roto team's MI slot.

Derek Jeter, Yankees

2014 5x5 projections: .284/.336/.378, 8 HR, 56 RBI, 77 Runs, 8 SB in 585 at-bats
2014 overall value (projected): 9.5 Standings Gain Points (5x5), 16th among shortstops; 364 Fantasy Points, 16th among shortstops

Fantasy owners should just discard the stats from Jeter's 2013 season, in which he unsuccessfully tried to come back from a broken ankle. With The Captain turning 40 this summer, how close can he come to the .316/.362/.429 slash line he registered in his last full season, which saw him finish among the top half dozen shortstops in Fantasy? In recent years, Jeter's contact skills have held up, though his 2012 season, in which he hit 15 home runs and 32 doubles, represented a reversal of a declining power trend.

Even if Jeter continues to be a good contact hitter, he will need to continue to hit at an above-average rate on grounders and at an obscene rate (i.e., .260 or above) on flyballs in play in order to hit close to .300. The former seems unlikely, and the latter may not matter as much if Jeter continues to increase a ground ball rate that has already been hovering around 65 percent since 2010. Jeter's last season should feature a good, but not great, batting average, possibly 80-plus runs, and not much else that Fantasy owners can use.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Rafael Soriano helps Drew Storen's chances
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:54 pm ET) Nationals right-hander Rafael Soriano, who recently took some time off to work on his mechanics, didn't help his chances of reclaiming the closer role in his second game back Monday at Atlanta.

While he entered in the ninth inning with the Nationals up by four -- sort of the closest thing to a save situation without being a save situation -- he needed Drew Storen, his replacement at closer, to bail him out with two outs and the tying run on base. In all, Soriano allowed two runs on two hits with one walk and one strikeout.

Manager Matt Williams recently said that having Soriano reclaim the closer role would be his best-case scenario, but as I wrote in the Fantasy Baseball Today blog, that scenario seems less likely now.

Frankly, I'd have no reservations about starting Storen in Fantasy, as good as he's been in the role.


Adeiny Hechavarria out of lineup Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is not in the lineup Tuesday due to arm soreness, MLB.com reports. He has hit .281/.312/.366 with seven stolen bases in 495 at-bats. The shortstop is day-to-day.

Diamondbacks tab Andrew Chafin for Wednesday start
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:49 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Andrew Chafin will start Wednesday's series finale against the Giants, the team announced Tuesday.

Chafin, who was called up Monday, has made one start for the Diamondbacks, tossing five scoreelss innings against the Indians on Aug. 13.


White Sox announce weekend rotation plans
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:46 pm ET) The White Sox announced the teams' weekend rotation plans Tuesday, with Jose Quintana scheduled to get the ball Friday to start the team's series against the Rays. Hector Noesi will follow Quintana Saturday, while John Danks is scheduled to pitch Sunday.

Digging a little deeper on Jacob deGrom
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:46 pm ET) While some baseball fans probably hadn't heard of Jacob deGrom prior to his record-tying performance against the Marlins on Monday, most Fantasy owners were plenty familiar with his work already. That's what happens when a midseason waiver claim goes 8-2 with a 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings during a 14-start stretch.

But is he really that good? Understand I'm not being literal here. Only a handful of pitchers in baseball history have been that good over a full season. But is deGrom really a strikeout-per-inning, top-30 type with the potential, maybe, to pitch like an ace? I'm starting to believe he is.

I won't spoil it here, but when I took a deeper look at deGrom's last 14 starts -- or really, his season as a whole -- in the Fantasy Baseball Today blog, I liked what I saw. In terms of swinging strike percentage, he's in elite company, and his velocity speaks for itself.

Plus, he throws strikes, keeps the ball in the yard, basically does everything that makes for a successful pitcher even apart from the strikeout rate. I don't think it's a stretch to say he could be next year's Corey Kluber.


Shin-Soo Choo to undergo ankle surgery Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:41 pm ET) Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle to repair torn cartilege Wednesday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Choo won't begin his running program for six-to-eight weeks while recovering from the surgery. He was ruled out for the season in August due to bone spurs in his elbow.


Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton back in lineup Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:38 pm ET) Angels first baseman Albert Pujols and outfielder Josh Hamilton are back in the lineup for Tuesday's game against the Mariners.

Pujols left Monday's game with a hamstring injury, but it won't cost him any time. Hamilton, who will be the team's designated hitter Tuesday, has been out since Sept. 4 while recovering from a right shoulder injury.


Nolan Arenado has chest contusion, early onset pneumonia
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:36 pm ET) An MRI on injured Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has revealed that Arenado is dealing with a chest contusion and early onset pneumonia, the team announced Tuesday.

Arenado is at home resting Tuesday while recovering. He has hit .287/.328/.500 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI in 432 at-bats.


Dodgers send Stephen Fife to DL, add Daniel Coulombe
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:32 pm ET) The Dodgers recalled pitcher Stephen Fife from Triple-A Albuquerque Tuesday and placed him on the 60-day disabled list. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August.

The move opens up a 40-man roster spot for pitcher Daniel Coulombe, who was brought up from Double-A Chattanooga in a corresponding move. Coulombe has posted a 2.89 ERA and 92:27 K:BB ratio in 65 1/3 innings between high class A Rancho Cucamonga and Chattanooga.


Edwin Jackson to draw start Friday vs. Dodgers
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:22 pm ET) Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson is set to start Friday against the Dodgers, the team announced Tuesday.

Jackson has been out since Aug. 20 due to a strained lat muscle. He'll return to a 6.09 ERA and 123:61 K:BB ratio in 139 innings.


 
 
 
Rankings