(Before It's News)
by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Remember the days that shortstop was seen as a defense first position? Those days are certainly behind us, as the position seems to get deeper and deeper with each passing year. Last season we saw not only a few rookies burst onto the scene, but a few others take significant steps forward in their progression. Who do we want to target heading into 2017? Let’s take a look at our extremely early Top 10 (keep in mind these will also be expanded as we grow closer to draft day as well):
1. Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles
2. Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
3. Francisco Lindor – Cleveland Indians
4. Xander Bogaerts – Boston Red Sox
5. Trevor Story – Colorado Rockies
6. Jonathan Villar – Milwaukee Brewers
7. Corey Seager – Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Jean Segura – Arizona Diamondbacks
9. Addison Russell – Chicago Cubs
10. Marcus Semien – Oakland A’s
Just Missed – Troy Tulowitzki
- Corey Seager’s spot in these rankings could be debated, though part of it simply goes to show the depth that there suddenly is. That said there’s a good chance that his strikeout rate regresses (19.4%), as he struggled to make contact against breaking balls (19.03% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (19.15%). Couple that with his .355 BABIP and it’s easy to envision a bit of a sophomore slump on the horizon. He should still be among the better options, just don’t ignore the risks.
- When it comes to Xander Bogaerts we can’t overlook the notable split in his average (.329 in the first half, .253 in the second). He struggled with popups all season long (17.8%), which is something that’s going to need to be monitored closely, and he also isn’t likely to maintain his 115 R. Those two risks help keep him a clear step or two below the Top 3 options.
- This may not be the season that Addison Russell fully emerges, but he’s showing signs that he’s moving in the right direction. He’s a player we will definitely look at in detail as the offseason progresses, and while we may not fully be on the bandwagon yet we are starting to head in that direction.
- Marcus Semien may have hit .238, but he erupted for 27 HR despite playing half his games in Oakland. That said there was a notable split in his line drive rate (14.5% in the first half, 21.4% in the second), though it didn’t have an impact in his average (.233 in the second half). Considering his career 20.6^ mark, and 23.1% in ’15, it’s obvious which half is closer to the truth. That should yield a significantly better average, especially for a player who doesn’t strikeout a ton (22.4%). A 20/10 SS with the potential to hit .260+? That’s something you don’t want to overlook.
Source – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: