By: Nate Leer
Unlike the mostly aging group of Top 15 3B from earlier this week, young shortstops are all the rage in the MLB. It seems every year a couple make their mark on the league and on fantasy teams. In fact, so many SSs have emerged over the last 2 years that the tough part will be determining which guys are sure things and which will fade as the league figures out what they do and don’t do well. Realistically there is only one surefire stud but there are literally a dozen other guys with tremendous to very good upside.
Here are my top 15 SS for fantasy baseball 2017:
1. Manny Machado – Bal (3B): Machado is the cream of the crop as a borderline top 5 player who is SS eligible. Drafting him early gets you production across the board except for steals and his versatility makes more options available as the draft goes on. Also, don’t be surprised if Manny makes a run at a batting title one of these years and that would make him as good as anyone in fantasy baseball.
2. Corey Seager – LAD: Seager The Younger hit for a good average with solid power. Any uptick in power would make him an elite player regardless of position as long as he maintains the average.
3. Carlos Correa – Hou: Correa did not have the monster year many predicted last year but he did hold his own. A talented young player with work ethic, he should keep producing and improving with a breakout coming sooner than later.
4. Francisco Lindor – Cle: Lindor is actually a better onfield player than fantasy player because he is excellent defensively as well on O. That doesn’t help in most leagues but his hitting, emerging power and speed, and solid run production make him a good upside play with limited downside.
5. Trea Turner – Was (OF/2B): Technically Turner is not eligible at SS but he is fully expected to be playing there every day this year. He went off when he got to the majors last year but remember that last spring the same conversation about Correa, assuming he would carry over his performance from the year before and even improve on it. We all love Turner’s upside but he has to prove it before being considered one of the best.
6. Trevor Story – Col: This kid was the story (pun intended) of last April as he roared out of the gates. Injuries slowed him later but his pedigree indicates that his success will continue. Hitting in Coors Field helps provide elite upside.
7. Xander Bogaerts – Bos: The Red Sox are committed to using the X Man in a prime spot in their batting order so his solid power and good average help him produce excellent counting numbers. He doesn’t seem to have as much upside as the players ahead of him on this list but he is more proven than a few of them.
8. Jonathan Villar -Mil (2B/3B): With speed and versatility, Villar has tremendous value IF he replicates last year’s average and some of its power. We’ll see if he is an emerging force or just a solid fantasy asset.
9. Jean Segura – Sea (2B): Segura had an excellent year in 2016 but it came out of nowhere, particularly his power. Expect a significant rollback in HRs but he may still hit for average. If so, SBs and runs should follow at the top of the Mariners healthy lineup.
10. Jose Peraza – Cin (2B/OF): Peraza has been the hottest riser in mock and league drafts I have been doing. Sometimes I am the one reaching for him. Armed with versatility, hitting ability and speed, if not much power, Peraza looks like a nice upside play. He should be batting near the top of a decent Reds lineup so may stack up runs and even some RBIs if Billy Hamilton is on the bases ahead of him.
11. Troy Tulowitzki – Tor: Tulo could be batting anywhere from 1-6 in the Jays order. Where he gets the majority of his ABs will affect which stats he compiles the most. If he can stay healthy, he should produce in any slot in the order while batting in the SkyDome surrounded by other good hitters.
12. Aledmys Diaz – StL: Diaz impressed in 400 ABs in the bigs last summer. He was rushed up from the minors to fill a need in St. Louie so it is possible that he struggles a bit at some point. Or, maybe he is just that good.
13. Marcus Semien – Oak: Semien could be in line for a big year if he can improve his batting average.
14. Addison Russell – ChiC: Russell had a very ordinary season at the plate last year. However, there is significant upside to his game so he is a decent, end of draft gamble.
15. Eduardo Nunez – SF (3B): Nunez is an underrated asset if his balky shoulder gets healthy. He is by far the best offensive option at 3B for the Giants as he has always been able to hit and is a willing and able base stealer.
There are a few other interesting SS options in deeper drafts. Here are 8 more to consider: Javier Baez – ChiC (2B/3B) probably most upside left, Brad Miller – TB (1B) – a repeat of last year’s power would make him useful, Asdrubal Cabrera – NYM – solid established offensive player, Brandon Crawford – SF – super streaky player who is fun to ride if you catch him at the right time, Dansby Swanson – Atl – excellent prospect but upside seems limited for fantasy purposes, Didi Gregorius – another guy to watch if he gets hot, Elvis Andrus – Tex – still has some speed and hit well last year, Jedd Gyorko – StL (2B/1B/3B) – great bench player because he can hit a HR any night and plays the entire IF.