Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In the fourth of the off-season fantasy reviews our post-season analysis of the 2011 fantasy baseball season moves to the shortstop position.
From 2007-2010 the shortstop position was centered around Hanley Ramirez (ADP 2), but in 2011 he was the biggest of fantasy busts. Following four consecutive years of batting over .300 and hitting 20+ homers, Ramirez's bat was nowhere to be found this spring. He batted .200 in April, .219 in May and .260 in June. Just when he started to find his hitting stroke, he injured his left shoulder and on August 2nd played his final game of 2011. His absence left a opportunity for others to shine...and many did just that.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (ADP 3) - Historically a slow starter, "Tulo" confounded the experts with a huge April. A small slump in May was just a tiny blip on the radar screen as Tulowitzki made his second consecutive All- Star team. A hip injury in September ended his season two weeks early, but he still batted .302 with 30 HR, a career-high 105 RBI and an OPS of 0.916.The only disappointment from the Rockies star shortstop was a sinking stolen base total - to single digits (9) from a high of 20 in 2009.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland (ADP 187) - Rebounding from an injury-filled 2010, Cabrera ascended into an elite fantasy shortstop this season. The Indians' star set career marks in at-bats (604), runs (87), hits (165), HR (25) and RBI (92). He tied his career high for stolen bases with 17. If Cleveland could surround him with just a little more offense (ninth in AL at 4.35 runs-per- game) his appearance in the top-five could be an annual occurrence.
Jose Reyes, New York Mets (ADP 24) - When healthy, Reyes is a dynamic talent. In 2011 he was on the field for much of the season, though he did have one stint on the DL for a left hamstring injury. Playing 126 games he led the league in batting average (.337) and triples (16). He was on pace for 60+ stolen bases until the leg injury, but still posted 39 steals. Given his free agent status for 2012, his fantasy value could rise in a better hitting lineup and/or a more hitter-friendly ballpark.
Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs (ADP 147) - In just his second season in the majors, Castro has become a star both in the real world and the fantasy one. He improved in every offensive statistical category from his rookie year, including leading the National League in at-bats (674) and hits (207). At just 21-years-old he should be a fixture in the top-five shortstop for the next decade.
Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia (ADP 37) - Rollins will never be the dynamic player he was in 2006 and 2007, but he still has something to offer as a fantasy shortstop. In 2010 he rebounded with a solid season contributing 87 runs, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 30 steals and an OPS of 0.736. He's more of a low-end fantasy starter at this point, particularly if he leaves the Phillies to head back to his hometown in northern California.
Jhonny Peralta, Detroit (ADP 268) - Peralta had his best season since 2008 in Cleveland, batting a career-high .299 with 21 HR and 86 RBI. After a torrid May, June and July, he was starting for many fantasy owners, but faltered in the final two months and will likely be looked upon as a spot starter in 2012. With just nine stolen bases in nine big league seasons, he'll never help you in the speed categories. Still, as a late-round selection or a free agent claim, he was a nice bargain.
J.J. Hardy, Baltimore (ADP 260) - After two ugly seasons, Hardy reclaimed the power that made him a low-end fantasy starter in previous seasons. He batted .269 with 76 runs, 30 HR and 80 RBI, the latter two being career highs. He is very similar to Peralta in fantasy value, showing power at a traditional non- power position, but lacking the speed to be a top-five candidate.
Erick Aybar, Anaheim (ADP 249) - Playing on the west coast when most of the east coast fantasy owners are sound asleep, he doesn't get the notice of other shortstops. Starting Aybar not only won't hurt you, but he's a contributor in all the categories with double-digit homers and 30 steals.
Elvis Andrus, Texas (ADP 96) - Helping you with his speed is Andrus' specialty and in 2010 he stole 37 bases and scored 96 runs while batting a respectable .279. He's got limited power, so he'll likely never be a top-five fantasy shortstop.
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees (ADP 40) - After a horrible beginning to his season, Jeter rebounded to become a force at shortstop over the final three months. The future Hall-of-Famer batted .327 after the All-Star break with 42 runs, 37 RBI and an OPS of 0.811. He's not the guy he was a few years ago, but as long as he's at the top of the Yankees lineup he'll be a viable fantasy starter.