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Best NL Fantasy Baseball Shortstops for 2013
The following is a list of the top National League fantasy baseball shortstops for the 2013 season. The rankings are based on personal opinion formed while watching a tremendous number of National League baseball games. They will be updated as the off season progresses and spring training rolls around.
13. Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
The 22 year old phenom has put up mind boggling numbers in the minors. In 2011 he stole 103 bases and he followed this up in 2012 with an astounding 155 steals in only 132 games between stops at A and AA. If that wasn't enough, he also had a .410 OBP in 2012. The Reds have been dying for a true lead-off hitter for the past several seasons and Hamilton may arrive to fill the void as early as 2013, especially if he has a hot spring or if Zack Cozart falters. Pay close attention to the tea leaves in spring training. Even if he doesn't start the seaon with the Reds, it is a good bet he will be up at some time during the season and he will run wild when he does.
12. Josh Rutledge, Colorado Rockies
Rutledge, who will be 24 at the start of the season, saw extended playing time for the Rockies down the stretch in 2012 and surprised many with his across the board offensive output. In only 277 at bats he hit .274 with 8 homers, 37 RBI, and 7 steals and put himself in the running for a starting job in 2013. He played 57 games at shortstop last season for the injured Troy Tulowitzki. However, he will most likely play second for the Rockies. He could put up some nice numbers batting second in the Rockies lineup.
11. Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers
After years of searching for a solid shortstop the Brewers may have finally found their man in Segura. The 22 year old right hander was acquired from the Angels in the Zack Grienke trade and ended up playing 44 games down the stretch for the Brew Crew. In 148 at bats he batted .264 with 7 steals. Speed is his game and he has stolen as many as 50 bases in the minors. He also has a .313 career batting average and .367 OBP in the minors so he could eventually work his way to the top of the batting order. In his first full season I conservatively project .270 with 25 steals.
10. Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta Braves
The 23 year old Simmons was called up in early June to replace an over-matched Tyler Pastornicky and ended up providing a spark to a floundering Braves lineup by hitting .323 through early July. Unfortunately, he broke the pinkie finger on his right hand, which caused him to miss considerable time and he ended up getting only 182 plate appearances total for the season. Overall he finished at .289 with 3 homers, but I think he will make a great sleeper in 2013. With his great arm, humble attitude, and defensive prowess he should be the starter on opening day and if he stays healthy he will bat .290 with 15 homers and 60 RBI. I wish the Braves were not going to bat him lead off. They should give the young short stop a chance to develop for a year or two at the bottom of the order before putting him in a high pressure spot.
9. Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres
Quick, without looking on Baseball-Reference.com, tell me who led the NL in steals last season. I bet you guessed wrong as the league leader ended up being non other than Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres. In only 115 games he had 44 steals and was caught only 4 times. On the downside he batted only .246 and strike out almost 25% of the time. There is something brewing in San Diego with their lineup (Headley, Quentin, Alonso, Grandal, and Maybin) and Cabrera could have a monster season next year if he can cut down on his strike outs and Bud Black gives him a chance to play full time.
8. Zack Cozart, Cincinatti Reds
Cozart had a solid rookie season for the Reds in 2012 as he batted .246 with 15 homers and 72 RBI. Disappointingly, he only had 4 steals after snagging as many as 30 in the minors. His OBP was also shockingly low at .288 so unless he shows some improvement in this area he may find himself batting 7th or 8th next season. He is also 27 so he arrived kind of late to the majors. There is also the specter of Billy Hamilton and his amazing 155 steals and .410 OBP minor league season looming over Cozart. If the 22 year old Hamilton has a great spring training he may end up starting at short for the Reds in 2013. Stay tuned.
7. Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
Scutaro is no longer a secret due to his phenomenal run of multi-hit games during the 2012 post-season. He started the year with the Rockies but was traded to the Giants for the stretch drive at which time he really turned it on. He put together arguably the best season of his career by hitting .306 with 190 hits, 32 doubles, 87 runs, 74 RBI, 7 homers, 9 steals and only 49 strike outs. He was great to have in head-to-head points formats, especially in September because of his consistent across the board contributions. The down side is that he will be 37 to start the season and he could hit the wall at any time. However, if he wins a starting job he still should be able to contribute with around a .280 batting average with 70 runs and a minimum of strike outs. He also played all over the field (118 games at 2B, 27 at SS, and 15 at 3B) so his multi-position eligibility provides an added bonus. A solid choice if available in the later rounds.
6. Danny Espinosa, Washington Nationals
While known as a second baseman, the durable, switch-hitting Espinosa also played 36 games at short last season making him eligible at the position in most fantasy leagues. In 2012 he batted .247 with 17 homers, and 20 stolen bases. Solid numbers, but the concern is that he struck out an alarming 189 times and his strike out rate increased from 2011 (25.2%) to 2012 (28.7%). If this gets worse he could find himself in a platoon or on the bench. He will be 26 to start the season so there is still time for improvement. If he can cut down on his strike outs I can see him having a 20-20 season in 2013.
5. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies
Old man Rollins quietly had one of his better seasons in 2012. The 34 year old J-Roll batted .250 with 25 homers, 102 runs, 68 RBI, 30 steals, and a career high 62 walks. Rollins keeps himself in great shape and the Phillies should be better this year. In spite of the age I think it is safe to pencil him in for 18 homers, 25 steals, and 100 runs. It's not easy to find players that contribute in numerous categories and Rollins is one of them.
4. Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
Castro took a bit of a step back in 2012 as he batted under .300 for the first time in his career and saw his strike out rate creep up from 13.4 to 14.5% and his OBP slip from .341 to .323. He also led the league in caught stealing at 13. On the positive side he did set career highs in homers, RBI, triples, and steals. Overall he batted .283 with 29 doubles, 12 triples, 14 homers, 78 RBI, and 25 steals. I think he had one of those growing pain seasons that all young stars go through. We also need to keep in mind that he played on a horrendous Cubs team. He is still incredibly young (22) and will make a great one-two punch with Anthony Rizzo for years to come. I can see him reaching 20 homers this season.
3. Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
Desmond started the year a little slow and didn't really get going until late May when manager Davie Johnson had the brilliant idea of moving him from lead off (for which he is ill-suited due to his low OBP) to the 6th spot in the batting order, where the focus is on driving in runs. Desmond batted .303 the rest of the way and became the break out player of 2012 with his 20-20 season that could have been more if not for an oblique injury that caused him to miss 26 games between July and August. When he came back from the injury he picked up right where he left off with the bat and finished strong. For the season he batted .292 with 25 homers, 33 doubles, 21 steals, 73 RBI, and a .845 OPS in 513 at bats. All career highs except for the steals. If not for the injury he would have flirted with 30-30. He is only 27 so there is a chance he will show us more this season, especially hitting in the powerful Nationals lineup.
2. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
I just don't know how to rate Tulowitzki anymore due to his injury-prone ways. He played in only 47 games last season due to a severe groin injury and he has also missed large chunks of time in two other seasons as well. I ranked him second, but if he stays healthy he could easily be the number one shortstop at the end of the season. However, if he gets hurt again or misses time, which history shows is very likely to happen, he could ruin your hopes for a fantasy championship. So, I guess I'm saying that he is a gamble and a big one. I will avoid him because I prefer to play it safe with first round picks but there are others out there that are more willing to take a chance. If he can stay on the field expect 30 plus homers and over a 100 RBI. He will be 28 at the start of the season so he is at his physical prime.
1. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
The petulant Han-Ram is a top player at two positions in the NL due to playing 57 games last short and 98 at third in his time with the Marlins and Dodgers. Ramirez was a consensus top-ten draft pick last season, but his year was somewhat of a disappointment. Overall he ended up with a .257 batting average, 24 homers, 92 RBI, 21 steals, but only a .759 OPS with a career high 132 strike outs. Physically, he seemed over the back and shoulder injuries that plagued him in 2011, but mentally it appeared he mailed it in last season, maybe as a way of pouting about his "demotion" from short to third by Ozzie. He will be 29 to start the season and injuries and attitude are always a concern so you should know up front that it will be an interesting ride if you decide to draft him. On the bright side he will be batting in the powerful Dodgers lineup so there should be plenty of opportunities for runs and RBI. It's not clear at this time where he will play for the Dodgers in 2013, but wherever he plays I think it's safe to pencil him in for .270 with 25 homers and 20 steals.
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