Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. 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 .

Want an edge in your draft? Download the Fantasy Draft Kit App.

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Addison Reed picks up a save Friday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:41 am ET) Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed picked up his 31st save Friday against the Rockies.

Reed entered with a three-run lead, and shut the door. He faced three batters during the outing. Reed notched two strikeouts and picked up one groundout during the appearance. 


Josh Collmenter picks up a no decision
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:39 am ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter turned in an excellent start Friday against the Rockies.

Collmenter gave up two hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out five and did not issue any walks. Though Collmenter only gave up two hits, he never flirted with a no-hitter. He gave up a single to the first batter he faced. Collmenter was able to work around the hit and get out of the inning without giving up any runs. He gave up his second hit in the seventh inning. Collmenter was pulled at that point. He threw 81 pitches during the outing. 

Collmenter was in line for a win, but the Rockies managed to battle back. He’ll take on the Padres in his next start.


Christian Bergman works around control issues
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:38 am ET) Rockies pitcher Christian Bergman had some control issues Friday against the Diamondbacks. 

Bergman allowed one run on two hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked five during the outing. Outside of the control issues, Bergman was fantastic early. He didn’t give up his first hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning. He gave up his only run in the sixth inning. After giving up a triple and a walk, Bergman was pulled from the game. One run would come around to score after Bergman left. That run was charged to Bergman.

For his efforts, Bergman picked up a no-decision. He’ll take on the Giants in his next start.


Brett Oberholtzer gets hammered by Rangers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Astros pitcher Brett Oberholtzer got hammered by the Rangers on Friday, dropping to 4-10 on the year. The left-hander permitted seven runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out two over 4 1/3 innings of a 13-6 defeat.

Of his last three starts covering 16 1/3 innings, Oberholtzer has allowed 14 earned runs. He owns a 4.39 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP over 20 starts (121 innings). His next start will come Friday at Oakland.

Scott Baker goes six-plus frames for win No. 3
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:23 am ET) Rangers pitcher Scott Baker turned in a quality start and received more than enough run support for the win Friday night against Houston, improving to 3-3 on the year. The right-hander yielded two runs on six hits and one walk while striking out three over 6 1/3 innings of a 13-6 victory.

Over his last two starts covering 11 1/3 innings, Baker has allowed three earned runs. He owns a 5.23 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP over 72 1/3 innings of work. His next start will come Wednesday at Kansas City.

Jason Vargas drops another decision Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Royals pitcher Jason Vargas was not at his best Friday night against the Indians, dropping to 10-7 on the season. The left-hander was charged with four runs on 10 hits and no walks while striking out five over six innings of work.

Over his last four starts covering 28 innings, Vargas has allowed seven earned runs. He owns a 3.27 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP over 25 starts (162 1/3 innings). His next start will come Wednesday at home against Texas.

Danny Salazar cruises past Royals despite rain delay
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar had his start interrupted by a rain delay, but still came away with a win Friday night against the Royals in Kansas City, improving to 5-6 on the year. The right-hander permitted four hits and two walks while striking out three over five scoreless innings of work before a rain delay ended his night prematurely.

Over his last three starts covering 16 innings, Salazar has permitted three earned runs. He owns a 4.23 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP over 15 starts (78 2/3 innings). He will make his next start Wednesday vs. Detroit.

Coco Crisp exits game after outfield collision
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp left Friday's game against the Angels after crashing into the outfield wall.

Crisp ran full speed while chasing after Chris Iannetta’s two-run homer in the fifth inning. The ball bounced over his glove and went over the fence, while Crisp had to be helped back to his feet and escorted out of the game.

Crisp was diagnosed with a neck strain, an issue he has had in the past. He finished 0 for 2 before leaving the game. He owns a .254/.346/.397 slash line with nine homers and 45 RBI over 370 at-bats. His status remains uncertain for Saturday's game.

Miles Mikolas dealing with shoulder fatigue; Robbie Ross to start in his place
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2014) Rangers pitcher Miles Mikolas has been scratched from Saturday's start against Houston because of right shoulder fatigue, the team announced.  The team will recall left-hander Robbie Ross from Triple-A Round Rock for the start.

The struggles continue for Scott Carroll on Friday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(8/29/2014) The struggles continued for White Sox starter Scott Carroll on Friday against the Tigers, dropping to 5-9 on the year. The right-hander surrendered seven runs -- three earned -- on 10 hits and no walks while striking out two over five innings of a 7-1 defeat.

Over his last five starts covering 28 2/3 innings, Carroll has coughed up 23 earned runs. He owns a 5.07 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP over 108 1/3 innings. He will make his next start Friday at Cleveland.

 
 
 
Rankings