In the 1960s, it was Luis Aparicio. The 1970s belonged to Mark Belanger. The wonderful Wizard of Oz owned the 1980s. Omar Vizquel set the standard in the 1990s.
Sometime during the first decade of the twenty-first century, something changed. Teams stopped seeking men who were magicians with their gloves, but offered limited upside at the plate, and turned to a new breed of shortstop.
They sought out big, strong, athletic men who can drive the ball over the fence and who play a pretty darn good shortstop as well.
Like all trends in baseball, the new breed of shortstop has trickled down to the fantasy game, and what was once the thinnest position in the fantasy game, now offers more quality options than ever.
Shortstop is not the paper thin position it once was. However, it still doesn’t offer the depth that many other positions bring to the table, so grabbing a quality option early in your draft is an excellent move.
I offer my shortstop rankings for the 2010 season. Included is a projection for the upcoming season for each player.
1) Hanley Ramirez (2010 Projection: .328, 107 R, 28 HR, 112 RBI, 32 SB)
Ramirez is in a tier by himself at the shortstop position. If you let him slide past the second pick in your draft, shame on you. If you should be able to grab him with the third pick or later, shame on the owners who passed on him.
2) Troy Tulowitzki (.288, 103 R, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 17 SB)
Tulo rebounded in a big way in 2009 after a disastrous 2008. He helped win a lot of championships in 2009 for owners who showed faith in him by drafting him. He certainly won’t slide this year, but will be worth spending your second round pick on.
3) Jose Reyes (.287, 102 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 50 SB)
After missing most of the 2009 season due to a hamstring injury, Reyes recently reported that he is back to 100 percent and has been running at full speed for a couple of months. Don’t forget that Reyes was a top five pick going into the 2009 season. Assuming his health concerns check out, he could be the steal of the year for anyone who jumps on him.
4) Jimmy Rollins (.277, 100 R, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 35 SB)
Rollins hit just .229 in the first half last season, but turned it up after the All-Star break and ended up posting a respectable season. A return to his 2007 form is out of the question, but Rollins will be a reliable source of stolen bases and will approach 20 home runs.
5) Derek Jeter (.320, 100 R, 12 HR, 70 RBI, 16 SB)
35-year olds don’t get better, they have very good seasons. 2009 was a very good season for Jeter. Yes, he could have another very good season, but it is far more likely that his 2010 numbers more closely resembles his 2007 and 2008 seasons.
6) Alexei Ramirez (.282, 74 R, 22 HR, 80 RBI, 13 SB)
Ramirez’s 2009 season was seen as a disappointment by many since he didn’t improve on his 2008 rookie season, but Ramirez’s breakout season may have just been delayed a year; making him a high upside pick in 2010.
7) Yunel Escobar (.297, 90 R, 15 HR, 77 RBI, 5 SB)
After Ramirez the talent at shortstop really drops off. Escobar is a nice option, but he doesn’t offer the same speed/power combo of those above him on the list. Escobar is still young, and the talent is there for a bigger season than projected.
8 ) Asdrubal Cabrera (.295, 80 R, 6 HR, 70 RBI, 15 SB)
Cabrera is a rising star in the league. His power has not developed yet, but he will post a very good average, score some runs, and be a solid contributor in the steals department. He also qualifies at second base, and is a good pick in keeper and dynasty leagues.
9) Elvis Andrus (.273, 80 R, 5 HR, 42 RBI, 37 SB)
Andrus is a star in the making, but needs a few more seasons under his belt before approaching his potential. He is only 21, and hasn’t developed any real power yet. He is a skilled base stealer, and could develop into a .300 as soon as this season. He is also a great pick in keeper and dynasty leagues.
10) Jason Bartlett (.288, 74 R, 6 HR, 60 RBI, 22 SB)
Bartlett’s 2009 season was undeniably a career year, but he remains a quality option at shortstop. If you can draft him with his pre-2009 numbers in mind, don’t hesitate, but don’t make the mistake of thinking he will have another season like he did in 2009.
Click here to see shortstops 11-20 and sleepers.