I have finished my 3rd entry in the top 20 by position series and today we will take a look at shortstop. This position was almost as challenging as Catcher, as the divisions in talent are not as clear. Again remember these rankings are based on current, past and future production not the current season alone. Also remember that the specific rankings are not as important as getting the players in the correct tiers, so many players are interchangable at specific rankings within a tier. Now lets dive right into the Shortstop rankings.
Tier 1- These guys are truly the elite players at their position and are MVP candidates year in and year out.
1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL)- Clearly the best all around shortsop in the game, provides average, power, speed and superb defense and always an MVP candidate.
2. Jose Reyes (NYM)- An excellent hitter who provides a lethal combo of average and speed with some power. The reason he is 2nd is only because his defense just does not matchup to Tulowitzki's.
3. Hanley Ramirez (FLA)- He may be having a down year and people may question his motivation but when he is on he is one of the best ballplayers in the game. He provides a great combo of power and speed and can easily hit over .300 but lacks good defensive play.
Tier 2- These guys are some of the best shortstops in the game today and are good ballplayers. But they are not the superstars like the guys in the top tier.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)- Has really put it all together in a breakout campaign in 2011. He hits for a solid average, has good pop and speed. He is also just 25 so the sky is the limit for Cabrera.
5. J.J. Hardy (BAL)- While he may not have the speed of the guys above him, he may be one of the better hitters of the bunch. He hits for a solid average with good power and is a good defender. He is just entering his prime years so there is several more years of excellent production ahead.
6. Yunel Escobar (TOR)- Being traded Toronto seems to have been a good thing for Escobar as he has become better than ever. He can hit for a good average with solid power and is a solid defender. He is yet another player entering his prime years so there are several seasons of good production ahead.
7. Jhonny Peralta (DET)- Very similar to Hardy and Escobar in terms of production, provides a good average with good power and solid defense.
8. Elvis Andrus (TEX)- Only 22 years old and already one of the best in the game. He provides solid average with blazing speed and great defense.
9. Starlin Castro (CHC)- At 21 years old and his potential he should eventually be a top tier guy. But already he easily is in the top 15 among shortstops. He provides a great average with good speed and power potential (doubles and triples that could turn into homeruns) but his defense is very raw which holds him back.
10. Alexei Ramirez (CHW)- An all around solid talent but is not outstanding in any one category. He is in his prime years so we should se several more good seasons out of him.
11. Jimmy Rollins (PHI)- Age has regressed his talents somewhat but he is still easily in the second tier in terms of talent. He provides a decent average with a solid power, speed combination and good defense.
12. Erick Aybar (LAA)- He seems to be on the way up and is now in his prime years. He hits for a solid average, has good speed and average power along with average defense.
13. Stephen Drew (ARI)- He's regressed some from last year but he is still in his prime years. He can put up a solid average with decent power and a little speed to go along with above average to good defense.
Tier 3- There were only 2 guys that i thought fit into this teir. Both are young guys who were top prospects and are on the rise. They still have a lot of work to do but have potential to move up into the next tier soon.
14. Alcides Escobar (KCR)- His offense has been a liability for most of the season although he has started to hit better as of late but his defense is phenominal. He is an average contact hitter with virtualy no power but good speed. But as I said his defense is where his value lies, i would not be surprised to see him win some gold gloves in the future.
15. Ian Desmond (WAS)- He has taken a major step back on the offensive side but has improved his defense in his sophmore campaign. He should be able to provide a decent batting average with above average power and good speed to go along with his average defense.
Tier 4- These are the old guys who may have once been higher on the list but due to age and declining production have been knocked to the last tier.
16. Clint Barmes (HOU)- In terms of onfield production he is much better than the guys in this tier. But he is reaching the end of his prime years and his history is somewhat eratic. But he has provided good defense to compliment league average hitting with little basestealing ability.
17. Brendan Ryan (SEA)- His value lies in his defense where he can be a great defender. But his hitting leaves something to be desired with average hitting with no power and average basestealing ability.
18. Derek Jeter (NYY)- He may have gotten his 3,000th hit this season but he is clearly at the tail end of his career. He is now an average hitter in terms of both power and contact but still provides decent basestealing ability. The defense is pretty average as well and with little upside he has nowhere to go but down.
19. Marco Scutaro (BOS)- Another example of an old guy with little left in his bat. He can still hit for a respectable average with some power but virtualy no basestealing ability and his defense has been ok this year, but his career numbers have been eratic.
20. Jamey Carrol (LAD)- As usual there were a number of candidates that could fit in this spot. I decided to go with the most valuable in terms of WAR. He has no upside as he is already 37 years old but he has performed consistently over the past few seasons that he may still put up solid numbers for a few more years.
Summary- There are only a few Superstars at shortstop right now, but the second tier is filled with a lot of very talented players that standout because of the position they play. Look for guys such as Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar and Ian Desmond to rise to the upper tiers of the position.