Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Once you get past Troy Tulowitzki and a healthy Hanley Ramirez, all the shortstops have flaws or question marks. Most have either speed and no power, power and no speed or health issues. Even No.3 Asdrubal Cabrera has question marks because he's only produced at a high level for one season.
1) Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado - There are only two shortstops with the power and middle-of-the-order status who can hit 30+ homers and knock in 100+ runs and they are the top two players on our list. "Tulo" has strung together three consecutive high-quality seasons - batting at least .297, hitting 27 or more HR, and knocking in 92 or more runs. At 27-years-old he's just entering his prime seasons and will likely cost you a top-five first-round pick to get on your roster.
2) Hanley Ramirez, Miami - Ramirez will begin the season at third base, though he should still get enough playing time at shortstop to keep his eligibility. He might have been the most disappointing ballplayer in 2011, what with his first-round selection (2011 Yahoo Preseason ADP 2) and batting .243 with 10 HR and 45 RBI over 92 games before a season-ending shoulder injury. Having never had a bad offensive season since arriving in the majors back in 2006, its hard to know how he will react, but I can't believe he'll continue to struggle. The addition of Jose Reyes should give Ramirez plenty of RBI opportunities, making 100 RBI close to a sure thing.
3) Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland - Cabrera had an outstanding 2011, one that was hard to figure based on his first four major league seasons. How do you project that a player who averaged 4.5 homers a season, would hit 25 last year? Or who knocked in 97 runs over two seasons (2009-2010) would knock in 92 last year? Will the "real" Cabrera please stand up? I believe the difference isn't as extreme as the number would have you believe. In 2009 he had 52 extra-base hits, last year he had 60 - its just that he converted more of his doubles power into home runs. For that reason, I think he can produce similar numbers this year and the return of Shin Soo-Choo and Grady Sizemore can only help Cabrera and the entire Indians offense.
4) Jose Reyes, Miami - Reyes is an explosive player when he's on the field, which is his only shortcoming. Over the past three seasons he's missed 187 games or 38.5% of the time. Still, in the 126 games he played last year, he scored 101 runs, stole 39 bases and led the National League in batting with a .337 average. If he can stay healthy, he's the perfect top of the order guy for a Miami lineup with loads of power. If...
5) Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs - There were very few bright spots in the Cubs 71-91 2011 season, but Castro's performance was among them. In just his second full year, he led the National League in at-bats (674) and hits (207). You would like to see him cut down on his average 28 errors per season, but offensively, he's a force. The loss of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena may hurt his runs scored total, unless rookie first baseman Bryan LaHair (.331, 38 HR, 109 RBI at Iowa) and journeyman Ian Stewart come up big.
6) Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia - Rollins flirted with going home to Oakland, but in the end decided the money, and winning, in Philadelphia was too good to pass up. He's not the MVP shortstop of 2007, but he still has 20 HR power and can steal 30 bases if he plays 150 games.
7) Jhonny Peralta, Detroit - In his first full season with the Tigers, Peralta was as advertised. He has power (21) and can knock in runs (86), but has zero speed. Normally a .268 career hitter, he just missed cracking the .300 mark for the first time in his career. He was a late-round selection in 2011 (Yahoo preseason ADP 268), but should be around 100 this year.
8) Derek Jeter, New York Yankees - Injuries and career goals got in the way last season. He played the fewest games (131) since 2003 and the media hype surrounding his run to 3,000 hits got in the way of his playing ball like Jeter normally does. He's also lost all his power, hitting a career-low six homers last year. In 2012 Jeter should once again score 100 runs and steal 20 bases, but limited power results in his being No.8 among shortstops.
9) J.J. Hardy, Baltimore - After being "missing-in-action" for his final two seasons with the Twins, Hardy found his long ball stroke and hit a career-high 30 homers last season which tied Tulowitzki for most among shortstops. I'm not sold on his ability to repeat the performance, but 20-25 homers is possible. Zero speed.
10) Elvis Andrus, Texas - Batting second for a scoring team like the Rangers, Andrus should score 100 runs every year. He came close last season, with 96 runs. He's a fast runner, but if your league uses the "net steals" category instead of "steals" he's a bit less valuable as he's only successful on 67% of his attempts. Andrus set career highs in batting average (.279) and OPS (0.708) last season.
Just missed: Alexei Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Yunel Escobar, Erick Aybar.
Rookies with fantasy value: Zack Cozart, Tyler Pastornicky.
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