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Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings, Tiers & Strategy: Shortstops (2024)

Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings, Tiers & Strategy: Shortstops (2024)

Shortstop has long been fantasy baseball’s land of milk and honey.

The position has taken some hits over the last year, but it’s still the land of milk and honey. That land just covers a little less surface area these days.

So, what happened? Well, a few things …

  • The mega-talented Fernando Tatis became a full-time outfielder and no longer has shortstop eligibility.
  • One of the position’s brightest young stars, Wander Franco, is facing sexual abuses charges in the Dominican Republic and might not play baseball this year.
  • Three shortstops who seemed like solid fantasy investments a year ago — Tim Anderson, Javier Baez and Amed Rosario — went belly-up in 2023.

Despite the thinning of the herd, there are still a lot of attractive options in the SS pool.

At first base and third base, paying up for a top star makes a lot of sense because the depth at those positions is lacking. At shortstop, paying up for a top star isn’t a bad move, but leveraging the depth at the position makes a lot of sense.

I won’t try to talk you out of drafting either Bobby Witt Jr. or Trea Turner. They’re both multi-category studs who offer a rare combination of power and speed. But you can also wait for 8-9 shortstops to come off the board and still get a quality performer such as Dansby Swanson or Willy Adames. If you wait to draft a first baseman or third baseman, your landing won’t be nearly as soft.

The player pool at shortstop looks even deeper if you include players at other positions who have shortstop eligibility. A number of players at the ultra-deep 2B position are eligible at SS even in leagues where eligibility requires 20 appearances at a position. In fantasy leagues that require 10 or fewer appearances, the SS pool gets even larger.

And while shortstop depth has taken some hits over the last calendar year, reinforcements are on the way. Top SS prospects such as the Orioles’ Jackson Holliday, the Diamondbacks’ Jordan Lawlar and the Cardinals’ Masyn Wynn are expected to become big-league regulars in 2024, and one or more of them might be in an MLB starting lineup on Opening Day.

Let’s take a look at the shortstop tiers. In addition to the rankings and tiers themselves, I’ll offer a few words about some of the players from each tier.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings, Tiers & Strategy: Second Basemen (2024)

(Please note that these rankings are limited to players who appeared in at least 20 games at shortstop or played more games there than at any other position.)

Tier 1

Bobby Witt Jr. is living up to his elite prospect pedigree and then some. After an impressive rookie season in 2022, Witt ascended to superstar level in 2023, finishing with 30 HRs, 96 RBI, 97 runs, 49 SBs and a .276 BA. Witt was well above average in average exit velocity, hard-hit rate and barrel rate, and he was 100th percentile in sprint speed. If there’s a small nit to pick, it’s that Witt isn’t especially choosy at the plate. He took only 40 walks in 694 plate appearances. If he can get himself a few more free passes and improve upon last year’s .319 on-base percentage, he might be able to steal 60 bases. Witt is typically coming off the board third overall in drafts, according to FantasyPros consensus ADP.

Trea Turner hit a career-high 26 home runs last season and stole 30 bases. His fantasy value nevertheless slipped a bit in 2023 because of a drop-off in batting average. A lifetime .296 hitter, Turner batted .266 last year. Throughout his career, Turner’s elite speed has helped him post lofty batting averages on balls in play. His career BABIP is .339, but it was only .310 last season. Expect some helpful regression in that department.

Tier 2

Knee and quad injuries cost Bo Bichette some games in the second half of the 2023 season and possibly hindered his effectiveness. Durability hasn’t been an issue for Bichette in the past, so the fact that his ADP is in the 30s seems like a market overreaction. This is, after all, a career .299 hitter who’s led the American League in hits in two of the last three seasons and is entering his age-26 season. Expect a big rebound from this five-category stud.

Corey Seager is fresh off the best season of his nine-year MLB career, having tied or bested his previous single-season highs in home runs (33), RBI (96) and batting average (.327). Seager doesn’t run, but he makes substantial contributions in every other category. He turns 30 in April, but age is no concern here.

Remember when Francisco Lindor batted .230 and had 10 stolen bases in his first season with the Mets in 2021? Me neither. Lindor’s .254 batting average last season wasn’t particularly impressive, but he was dazzling in every other category, with 31 home runs, 31 stolen bases, 108 runs and 98 RBI. The stolen bases were a career high — probably not repeatable for a player who just entered his 30s. But Lindor’s multi-category production is still immensely valuable.

Tier 3

C.J. Abrams, the No. 6 overall pick of the 2019 amateur draft, is coming off a spectacular breakout season in which he hit 18 home runs and racked up 47 steals for the Nationals. It’s exciting that 11 of those HRs and 33 of those SBs came in the second half of the season, setting expectations high for 2024. Abrams’ .245 batting average and .300 OBP leave something to be desired, but he’s only 23, so cut the kid some slack.

Xander Bogaerts‘ 2023 output wasn’t that far out of line with career norms, but he needed a pair of cortisone shots in his ailing left wrist to get him to the season, and perhaps his second season in San Diego will be more fruitful with better health.

In a year when new MLB rules spiked stolen-base totals, Dansby Swanson somehow stole half as many bases as he had a year earlier, going from 18 to 9. But Swanson investors aren’t looking for steals; they’re looking for solid HR, RBI and run totals. Dansby came through in those categories last year, with 22 home runs, 80 RBI and 81 runs. His .244 batting average last season was his lowest since 2018 and should inch back upward. Swanson is a solid if not pulse-quickening investment.

The Reds got a terrific rookie season out of Matt McLain, who hit 16 home runs, stole 14 bases and slashed .290/.357/.507 in 365 at-bats. McClain also struck out 115 times, which calls the sustainability of his batting average into question. But playing in Cincinnati’s hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park helps McLain’s chances of providing a satisfying encore.

A gruesome home-plate collision broke the leg of uber-prospect Oneil Cruz and ended his 2023 season after just nine games. The 6-7 Cruz offers an exotic blend of speed and power, but his height could have its drawbacks — namely, an enlarged strike zone. Cruz batted .233 and had 126 strikeouts in 331 at-bats in 2022, so the power and speed could come at the cost of an anemic batting average.

Willy Adames is an obvious bounce-back candidate after a season in which he batted .217, which was 30 points below his career average. Adames’ batting average on balls in play was only .259, well below his career .310 BABIP. Milwaukee’s 28-year-old shortstop is a dependable source of power and should come at a nice discount.

Tier 4

Carlos Correa is coming off a season in which he posted a career-low .230 batting average and saw his HR and run totals slip. Playing much of the season with plantar fasciitis probably didn’t help, and that injury cost Correa the final two weeks of the season. He isn’t going to help in the SB department, but Correa is a career .272 hitter who should be good for about 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 70 runs.

Anthony Volpe‘s rookie season clearly illustrated the risk/reward proposition that comes with rostering him. He hit 21 home runs and stole 24 bases, but he batted .209 and struck out 167 times. If Volpe’s .259 BABIP improves, his batting average could at least be tolerable. Just realize Volpe’s power and speed is likely to come at a cost to your team BA.

The oft-injured Trevor Story returned from elbow surgery last August to give the Red Sox three home runs and 10 stolen bases in 43 games. Story has always offered power, though his 2023 HR total probably isn’t going to match those of his salad days in Colorado’s thin air. Story could be valuable if his health cooperates, but it seems far-fetched to think Story has a realistic chance of playing 150 games.

Tier 5

Gavin Lux is going to fly under the radar in a lot of fantasy drafts after missing the 2023 season with a torn ACL. The 26-year-old Lux has fewer than 900 MLB at-bats under his belt, but this former top prospect could provide solid five-category production at a rummage-sale price.

Tim Anderson and Amed Rosario were both free agents as of this writing, having endured disappointing 2023 seasons. Rosario is 28, and Anderson is 30, so it’s too early to write them off. Andreson is a career .282 hitter who’s had double-digit stolen base totals in 7-of-8 MLB seasons. Rosario is a .272 career hitter who’s had double-digit steals in 5-of-7 MLB seasons. Either of them might be worth a late-round flyer in deeper leagues.

Tier 6

Jackson Holliday is the No. 1 prospect in baseball for his hitting, not his fielding. Plate discipline and hard contact should help the son of former MLB star Matt Holliday hit the ground running as soon as the Orioles deem him ready for the big leagues — which could be as early as Opening Day.

A nice combination of power and speed used to make Javier Baez an attractive fantasy asset, but he had only nine home runs and 12 stolen bases in 136 games last year to go along with a .222 batting average. A rebound is possible but not guaranteed now that Baez has turned 30.

I mentioned Wander Franco‘s legal issues in the introduction to this article. Franco hit 17 home runs, stole 30 bases, batted .281 and made the American League All-Star team at age 22. But the charges against Franco are serious, and even if he escapes punishment in the Dominican Republic, he could very well face a lengthy MLB suspension. Invest at your own risk.

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