My preseason fantasy rankings continue today with shortstop.
I've already ranked several positions, and here is a look at who has taken home top honors so far, as well as links to my full posst:
There is about to be a changing of the guard at shortstop. Perhaps it has already begun.
Looking at the names on my list of top 10 fantasy shortstops, only two are over the age of 30, and several haven't reached their potential yet.
For some of them, this could be the year they break out.
Ian Desmond, for example, has been waiting for a chance to emerge as a top shortstop. He is prime to do that in 2011. Aside from playing in the same division as the Phillies, Desmond looks ready to realize his potential.
He hit 10 home runs last year, but raked 27 doubles. This year, with a full season of big-league plate appearances under his belt, Desmond will undoubtedly see pitches better, and likely hit for a higher average. Leading off for the Nationals, with Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Adam LaRoche hitting behind him, a better OBP will lead to many, many more runs.
Couple that with the fact that the back end of the Nats' lineup (Rick Ankiel, Danny Espinosa, and Ivan Rodriguez) has some pop of its own, Desmond could find himself in more RBI situations than a lead-off hitter usually does.
Desmond has a ton of potential this season, and that is why he finds himself in fourth place in my list. The 25-year old shortstop could surprise some people this season.
The two elder statesmen on my list, Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins, have been mainstays on this list for most of the past decade.
Both, however, will need to have bounce-back seasons if they want to continue to stay on this list.
Rollins probably has more fantasy value if Charlie Manuel decides to hit him fifth, but judging from past experiences, I wouldn't bet on that to be the case.
Rollins has been able to produce some unheard of numbers as far as RBI and home runs from the lead-off spot are concerned, but this isn't the same Jimmy Rollins that won the NL MVP in 2007. After getting off to an incredibly hot start last year, he missed a lot of time with several different injuries.
If he can stay healthy this season, he will be a solid player for your team, but don't look for him to carry you to the championship like I'm sure he did for many people in his MVP campaign.
As far as Jeter is concerned, he should put up solid numbers, but again, don't look for him to carry your team. Both these guys are on the decline, or so it would appear, but both also have the ability to put up big numbers.
"Derek Jeter is ranked third! How can he not carry my team?!"
Good question. Simple answer:
Almost no single player can carry your team, and shortstop is just that thin.
Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki hold the top two spots on my list, and they are really in a category of their own.
Ramirez had a down season last year, and still hit .300 with 21 home runs and 32 stolen bases. If Ramirez can lift those numbers to what owners and analysts are expecting, he should be in the MVP conversation come September.
Tulowitzki has the good fortune of playing in Coors Field, which certainly helps his power numbers. There is no reason to think that he won't have another big season.
It is really a toss-up between these two. I could have been comfortable with either taking the top spot, but Ramirez gets the nod.
Here is a look at the rest of my top 10:
|1. Hanley Ramirez (FLA)||543
|2. Troy Tulowitzki (COL)||470||89
|3. Derek Jeter (NYY)||663
|4. Ian Desmond (WAS)||525||59
|5. Jose Reyes (NYM)||563||83
|6. Elvis Andrus (TEX)||588
|7. Jimmy Rollins (PHI)||350||48
|8. Stephen Drew (ARI)||565
|9. Alexei Ramirez (CWS)||585||83||18
|10. Starlin Castro (CHC)||463
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Matt Mullin is a sports producer at philly.com. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @matt_mullin.