Sleepers & Busts: Shortstop
Searching for the ever-elusive fantasy baseball gold and kryptonite, we continue a series on sleepers and busts at the shortstop position.
Besides identifying who we feel is being under- or overrated in drafts, we are going beyond our own projection system and rankings to find a favorite and least favorite to tweak their stat prediction.
SLEEPER: JEAN SEGURA
The Brewers’ 25-year-old shortstop bounced back from a nightmare first four months last season with a strong finish, batting .288 in the final two months (and .319 with one homer and four steals in September). Already in the thralls of a terrible mid-season slump (.189 in 180 June-July at-bats), Segura found out the devastating news that his 9-month-old son died in the Dominican Republic on July 11. Segura took a week off to tend to the family tragedy and continued to slump upon his return. A lot of his struggles appear tied to his BABIP, which at .326 in 2013 had fueled a breakout before sinking to .275 in 2014, dropping his average from .294 to .246. He worked in the off-season on his swing to add power, so he could return to the 12-homer guy that he was in 2013. In the end, we bumped up his projected stat line to .272 average, 69 runs, 9 homers, 49 RBIS and 30 steals, a very similar line to that of Elvis Andrus, who is going 60 picks earlier. We have Segura as the No. 8 shortstop while his ADP is 13th.
BUST: DANNY SANTANA
The Twins’ speedy 24-year-old exploded on the scene last season, batting .319 with 7 homers and 20 steals in 101 games. Most of that breakout looks BABIP driven, as his .405 mark was way out of line with his career .328 total in the minors. He also had just 2 homers in 666 plate appearances in the high minors, making his 7 homers with the Twins look flukey. In the end, he looks a lot like Erick Aybar but without the established consistency to fall back on and with more strikeouts. We dropped Santana’s projection down to a .270 average, 65 runs, 4 homers, 46 RBIs and 24 steals, which makes him our No. 15 shortstop while his ADP is 10th.
Brad Miller: Maybe the breakout can come a season later than we thought, but first he must beat out Chris Taylor, who didn’t show much at all last season. Miller has been productive all through the minors and into the majors until two terrible swoons last year (.158 average in April-May and .172 in July), so we’re betting on him to win the Mariners’ shortstop job and become a mixed-league asset.
Jed Lowrie: The 30-year-old heads back to Houston after two uneven years in Oakland and is flying under the radar as the No. 28 shortstop in ADP while we have him 21st. There’s some pretty decent upside here with almost no cost.
Wilmer Flores: The Mets appear ready to enter the season with the over-sized 23-year-old at shortstop after he more than held his own in the second half last season. Flores is a premier contact hitter and has enough pop for a mild breakout. He is a deep-league steal as our No. 22 shortstop while his ADP is 32nd.
Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor: Another situation where a job battle has reduced the draft stock of both. Either would offer good speed with a decent average and a little pop, which is worth the risk where they’re being drafted – ADP of No. 30 for Ramirez and No. 31 for Lindor while we have them 25th and 26th, respectively.
Jung-ho Kang: We might be more on board with the Korean import as a possible breakout if not for the struggle for playing time he’ll have with Josh Harrison at third base and Jordy Mercer at shortstop in Pittsburgh. We expect that the Pirates will make Kang their super-sub and get him over 300 PAs with the chance for more with injuries or slumps from Harrison or Mercer, but it’s not enough for us to take him as the No. 19 shortstop in ADP (we have him 29th).
Didi Gregorius: This appears to be a Yankee bias, as the light-hitting 25-year-old’s ADP is 21st while we have him 30th.
Addison Russell: There are a lot of roadblocks to playing time with the Cubs in 2015 for the 21-year-old top prospect, what with franchise cornerstone Starlin Castro at shortstop, and Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara as possible replacements in case of injury. Considering that we have Russell projected for just 112 PAs with the Cubs this season, his ADP of 22nd is vastly overrated compared to our No. 35 ranking.