2021 Fantasy Baseball Primer: Shortstop
Shortstop is, once again, the most loaded position in the draft. You’ll see them broken down into tiers below, but there are 24 players who you could be happy with as your starting shortstop.
Yet the double shortstop approach has been a popular trend in the opening rounds of industry drafts so far. We have the pocket aces strategy, but the pocket shortstops work out well, too.
Is it worth it? It depends on how you build out the rest of your team, of course, but the shortstops going that high give you across-the-board great production or are elite in one category (hello, Adalberto Mondesi).
Like we have in past years, we’ll rank them in tiers using NFBC ADP, breaking down the categories where they can help.
The hardest thing for any fantasy analyst, projection model, or fan to do when preparing for upcoming drafts is knowing how much stock to put into the shortened 2020 season. Normally, if a player was red hot or cold for part of a 60-game stretch, we’d preach not to overreact too much. That’s the approach I’m taking, as it’s such a small sample, and each player needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis.
A few of the biggest standouts from last season at the position were Corey Seager and Tim Anderson. Anderson showed that his 2019 wasn’t a fluke, as he once again posted an insane batting average (.322) while showing power and speed. Anderson should be a great value pick again in a stacked White Sox lineup. Meanwhile, Seager showed that sometimes you need to give players time to heal from an injury, as he resurfaced in MVP talks during his second-year removed from Tommy John surgery. He produced like he had as a rookie.
On the flip side, we saw struggles from Gleyber Torres, who hit just three home runs with a .243 average. However, his walk rate spiked from 7.9% to 13.8%, and he dropped his strikeout rate from 21.4% to 17.5%. He hit more ground balls with a lower launch angle, and his exit velocity stayed the same despite a drop in hard-hit rate. It’s a nice buying opportunity for a rebound season.
We’re going to have a hard time pinpointing any out-of-nowhere fantasy producers in 2020. Everyone essentially performed how we expected them to, and no one really popped up out of nowhere as we saw with Dylan Moore at second base. The closest may have been Bo Bichette, who proved he wasn’t overmatched in 29 games in his second season. He’s worth a second- to third-round pick.
2021 at a Glance
In the first round of drafts, we have three first-round shortstops in 12-team leagues and two in the second round (three if you’re in a 15-team league with Bichette at 25th overall). Speed and pitching are being pushed up, and many (if not all) of the shortstops going early help you on the basepaths. It presents an interesting choice for fantasy managers. These early-round picks give you across-the-board production, but with the position being so deep, you’ll have to pass up on pitchers or standout options at a shallower position to take them where you’ll need to.
We always want to identify potential breakout players at a position. While shortstop is already pretty deep with 24 startable options, it has upside plays, too. Carlos Correa and Ha-seong Kim lead the way for potential breakouts. Correa’s back still concerns me, but he has the upside of a top-five player at the position. Kim, who will shift to second base, will have to hold off Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar for everyday plate appearances. Other players who could break out are Andrés Giménez, Luis Urías, Nico Hoerner, and José García.
- A: A no-doubt stud capable of winning you a category
- B: A solid, consistent contributor
- C: Won’t lose you the category, but won’t win it, either
- D: You can do better here
- F: You’re getting NOTHING
(*Grades listed are relative to the position and take positional depth into consideration.)
Players who just missed in ADP who I’d take above everyone after Franco in the tier above:
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