MARKET PULSE: Shortstops 2016

Please note that this is an exercise in identifying the gaps between the valuation of the "popular" market ("ADP") and that of BaseballHQ.com. If a player is not listed here, it's likely that he qualifies at a scarcer position, or he's not in the Baseball HQ top 750.

Each hitter is being considered at his scarcest qualified position (in order: C/DH, SS, 2B, 3B, OF, 1B), as it is the scarcest eligible position that typically drives fantasy value. The rankings are a risk- and position-adjusted estimate using current BaseballHQ.com projections. It is a purely quantitative ranking, with no specific consideration of "upside" (aside from reliability scores). They are not the "official" BaseballHQ.com straight-draft rankings, but they should be close.

Note that this article assumes a standard 15-team, mixed, 5x5 league, though the recommendations here will generally apply in most formats. Note also that a positive number in the "Diff" column indicates a player that Baseball HQ ranks higher than the "market", and a negative number indicates we have the player ranked lower, based on ADP. The list is split into tiers, based on the Baseball HQ ranking.

Previous articles in this series: C/DH

(NFBC ADP Report) | Unofficial Rankings

Not too long ago, the early rounds were littered with shortstops. Players like Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins, and Jose Reyes were regular early picks 5 years ago. But this year's crop looks very different. Only one shortstop appears in the top four rounds based on Baseball HQ projections.

The top five SS are all going earlier than we project. This could indicate that the broad market is giving them a bigger adjustment for scarcity, and we're fine with that, if that's the case. It's also worth noting that none of the top five are in the top tier of reliability (which we generally define as having no reliability score below a "B"). The closest is Xander Bogaerts, but he's coming off a 2015 whose value was driven almost entirely by a 50-point outperformance of his xBA.

Chances are the best explanation for the top five is that too many GMs feel the need to get an "elite" shortstop. Why? Who knows? Last time we checked, a homer by a shortstop wasn't worth any more than a homer by an outfielder. Yes, scarcity is a strong consideration in straight drafts, but there are perfectly good options (even good values) in the second and third tiers, so there's no need to reach.

                                     HQ                  ----  HQ Projections ----
Player                TM  POS  REL  Rank  ADP  Diff  |   AB  AVG  HR  RBI  Runs  SB
===================  ===  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====  |  ===  ===  ==  ===  ====  ==    
Correa, Carlos       HOU    6  AFF    18    8   -10  |  585  286  25   92    74  17

Seager, Corey         LA    6  AFA    70   58   -12  |  539  284  17   72    77   5
Tulowitzki, Troy     TOR    6  FBF    78   51   -27  |  459  286  22   71    81   2
Bogaerts, Xander     BOS    6  ABD    87   63   -24  |  605  281  10   67    76  12
Lindor, Francisco    CLE    6  ACC    90   63   -27  |  567  277  12   63    69  19
Reyes, Jose          COL    6  CBB    91  142    51  |  510  285   8   50    70  25
Crawford, Brandon     SF    6  ABB    97  175    78  |  563  261  21   81    68   5
Andrus, Elvis        TEX    6  AAA    99  146    47  |  598  266   5   57    76  29
Desmond, Ian         WAS    6  AAB   129  112   -17  |  504  253  18   64    62  17
Russell, Addison     CHC   46  AFB   133  139     6  |  571  259  16   74    74   7

Castro, Starlin      NYY   64  AAD   150  203    53  |  552  276  14   68    61   6
Kang, Jung-ho        PIT   56  AFF   173  175     2  |  385  291  15   54    57   4
Peralta, Jhonny      STL    6  AAB   182  250    68  |  530  273  15   67    59   2
Suarez, Eugenio      CIN    6  ACB   192  295   103  |  570  252  16   64    67   9
Escobar, Alcides      KC    6  AAC   193  277    84  |  621  261   3   49    74  22
Simmons, Andrelton   LAA    6  AAB   208  352   144  |  604  274   8   54    65   9

Semien, Marcus       OAK    6  ABB   226  256    30  |  555  245  16   56    72  11
Ramirez, Alexei      CHW    6  AAB   227  260    33  |  519  265  10   56    57  14
Segura, Jean         MIL    6  AAB   228  200   -28  |  559  261   6   46    62  23
Miller, Bradley      TAM  6o8  ACC   241  280    39  |  462  261  15   53    59  11
Cabrera, Asdrubal    NYM    6  AAA   266  286    20  |  504  252  15   57    63   7
Marte, Ketel         SEA    6  ADC   275  228   -47  |  480  271   5   37    55  21
Gregorius, Didi      NYY    6  ACA   285  364    79  |  571  257  11   56    67   4
Aybar, Erick         ATL    6  AAA   302  333    31  |  551  263   4   46    65  12
Cozart, Zack         CIN    6  FCD   314  428   114  |  515  252  13   53    65   5
Hechavarria, Adeiny  MIA    6  ABB   320  411    91  |  584  267   4   50    57   9
Villar, Jonathan     MIL    6  ACB   325  441   116  |  408  237   4   36    53  32
Iglesias, Jose       DET    6  FDB   368  397    29  |  484  273   4   32    53  11
Gonzalez, Marwin     HOU  365  ADC   377  451    74  |  421  270  11   37    49   5
Rollins, Jimmy        FA    6  AAB   396  490    94  |  402  244  11   34    56  15
Ramirez, Jose        CLE   64  ACF   437  424   -13  |  345  261   5   27    49  17
Flores, Wilmer       NYM   64  ACA   452  349  -103  |  392  260  13   48    44   0
Galvis, Freddy       PHI    6  BCB   495  480   -15  |  517  241   9   48    55   7
Owings, Christopher  ARI   46  BCB   496  377  -119  |  488  243   7   41    54  13
Mercer, Jordy        PIT    6  BCB   540  532    -8  |  447  254   9   45    45   3
Hardy, J.J.          BAL    6  CBB   619  449  -170  |  451  241  10   45    50   0
Gyorko, Jedd         STL   46  CCC   693  316  -377  |  349  243  12   46    34   1

We'll start with the young, unproven talents of Carlos Correa (SS, HOU) and Corey Seager (SS, LA). There's no denying that both are extremely talented and have unlimited potential—they both could be very explosive players in 2016. But by taking Correa at #8, you'd likely have to pass up proven quantities like Nolan Arenado (3B, COL), Anthony Rizzo (1B, CHC), and Dee Gordon (2B, MIA), just to name a few. As we've said over and over, in the early rounds, target players most likely to return early-round value. Correa would have to hit close to his celiing to be a #1 pick; choosing him at #8 leaves only downside.

Seager is in a similar position, though as a late fourth-rounder, taking a small risk is more justifiable. At #58, he just needs to be his older brother Kyle Seager (3B, SEA), something like .275-25-75-75-8, to deliver that value. That's a stretch to project, but certainly reachable. There's a tiny bit of upside still left, though too much risk for our taste.

Brandon Crawford's (SS, SF) ADP suggests that GMs aren't buying his 2015 breakout. That's fair, though his 2014-2015 xPX (126, 137) backs up his power numbers, and he deserved better than his 6% hr/f in 2014. He has some BA upside, as well, given his 111 HctX in 2015 and the 80%+ ct% he's shown us before. He's a very low-risk pick and is available more than five rounds later than projected. Target him in the 8th-9th rounds and you'll go home happy.

Want further evidence? Compare Crawford to Jung-ho Kang (SS, PIT). Exact same ADP, yet aside from a 30-point BA difference in Kang's favor, Crawford's projection has him beat across the board. And it's not just projection, but skills. Kang is also coming off a serious injury and won't be ready by Opening Day. We've also highlighted Kang because in five years of writing this column, this writer can't recall seeing a projection and ADP this close, this far down in the rankings (beware players who the entire market agrees on, however).

While Eugenio Suarez (3B, CIN) is projected to be the everyday 3B, he did see 96 games at SS in 2015. His power is sneaky, with 100+ xPX each of the last two seasons. He needs to improve his plate skills, but he's a .250 hitter now, with 20 HR upside. And he's essentially a reserve pick according to ADP.

Based on his first six seasons, Alcides Escobar (SS, KC) is good for an xBA between .250-.271, 10-35 SB, and 3-5 HR. He's an odd duck in that his speed skills don't change much year over year, but his SBO% has seen some wild fluctuations. His ADP appears to be based on his 2015 season, which is about the floor of our expectations for him. Take him late and it's all upside, baby.

Ketel Marte (SS, SEA) is a rookie, which automatically makes him 3-5 rounds more valuable to most GMs. However, even though he's going three rounds earlier than Baseball HQ projects, it's the 16th round, and a three-round reach for a guy with some upside isn't terrible. He's young and has speed, with 25+ SB upside. He's worth the small reach, and is a good late-round value play, despite the inherent risks of drafting an unproven rookie.

Jonathan Villar (3B, MIL) is another guy who qualifies at SS but will be playing somewhere else in 2016. He checks all of the upside/breakout boxes: Former highly regarded  (or at least, warmly regarded) prospect? Check. Three years of scuffling in the major leagues? Check. At least one strong skill? Check (speed). At least one major deficiency that isn't looking quite as bad as it did 2-3 years ago? Check (ct%). A few minor improvements and he could jump in value. He's the epitome of an end-game speculation. So speculate. In the end game.

We think Wilmer Flores (SS, NYM) gets a bad rap. He's a terrible shortstop, but his hitting skills are decent, and he showed in 2015 that he can return some value if he gets regular PT. He's not in line for that now, which makes him a reserve pick. But a decent one with some skills who also qualifies at a scarce position.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.