1. Felipe Lopez: We start out immediately with some controversy. But, you cannot argue that this soon-to-be 26 year old tore up the 2005 season. His 2004 was the definition of "lackluster" — especially his 81 strikeouts in about 250 ABs.
However, in 2005, Lopez figured it all out. He struck out 111 times in more than double the ABs. Conclusion: he has figured out how to connect.
Lopez’ PlayerTrack rankings (among 50 2005 MLB SS): BA(9/50) RBI(7/50) R(5/50) HR(4/50) SB(14/50)
I believe that Lopez will still be a Top 5 Fantasy SS in 2006. Gregg (a diehard Reds fan, even) has his doubts.
2. Derek Jeter: Not much needs to be said here. He is the Mr. Consistency of Shortstops. Both Gregg and I feel that he will provide you with the same kind of value in 2006, and he is an excellent pick.
Jeter’s PlayerTrack rankings (among 50 2005 MLB SS): BA(3/50) RBI(21/50) R(2/50) HR(12/50) SB(17/50)
3. Clint Barmes: The forgotten shortstop. Don’t forget about him. For the first six weeks of 2005, Barmes hovered in the .400 BA range. In June, a deer meat incident cost him most of the remainder of the season.
I have seen fantasy baseball pundits focus on a "bad second half." Does the month of September count as a second half? Go ahead and reiterate the feelings of the alleged pundits to your fellow league members. Let them make fun of you when you pick Barmes as your shortstop. Let Barmes’ hitting (in Coors Field, of course) do all the talking back for you.
Barmes’ PlayerTrack rankings: BA(11/50) RBI(8/50) R(6/50) HR(11/50) SB(20/50)
4. Michael Young: Arguably the cream of the crop (Gregg’s favorite shortstop). He had the top OPS among all SS in 2005, and his batting average and on base percentage numbers were just stellar.
He will continue to do the same. His SB and RBI numbers are what drop him down below the first three. Still, the fact that he played a whole season has to have you looking more strongly at him than, say, Barmes.
Barmes is tons of potential, provided he stays away from deer meat. Young is a proven stud.
Young’s PlayerTrack rankings: BA(1/50) RBI(9/50) R(4/50) HR(5/50) SB(39/50)
5. Bill Hall: I have, rightfully, been accused by BaseballGeeks podcast listeners of having fallen in love with this guy. He qualifies at 2B, SS, and 3B… AND he appears in the PlayerTrack top 10 of each of those positional lists.
Chase Utley had his magic year last year at 26. I think Hall, who will be 26 this season, will fit that same bill. Power, speed, decent average… this guy has it all. If word doesn’t get out about this guy, he just might be the steal of the draft at a very cheap price at the end of the draft.
Hall’s 2005 PlayerTrack rankings at SS: BA(8/50) RBI(14/50) R(19/50) HR(7/50) SB(11/50)
6. Miguel Tejada: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Still, he has great numbers… he just isn’t the same Tejada we knew three years ago. He is only 30 years old, although he seems to be much older, based upon how long he has been hyped up in fantasy.
A logical, experienced choice, without the upside. I think he is on the downside of the career bell curve. Add to the fact that he seems very unhappy in Baltimore, and I think I am going to avoid him this year.
Tejada’s 2005 rankings: BA(4/50) RBI(3/50) R(17/50) HR(2/50) SB(38/50)
7. Jhonny Peralta: A definition of slugger. He didn’t run last year (0 SBs with 2 CS), but Gregg seems to think that he has some untapped speed. Second best OPS among 2005 shortstops, he is definitely a guy to look at.
Peralta’s 2005 Rankings at SS: BA(7/50) RBI(5/50) R(9/50) HR(1/50) SB(44/50)
8/9. Rafael Furcal and Jimmy Rollins: These guys were virtually identical fantasy studs last year. The SS position is a great position to solidify your steals, and these are two guys who give you enough balance across the board to be extremely valuable to any fantasy team
Furcal’s rankings at SS: BA(12/50) RBI(31/50) R(8/50) HR(21/50) SB(2/50)
Rollins’ rankings at SS: BA(10/50) RBI(37/50) R(3/50) HR(23/50) SB(4/50)
10. Rich Aurilia: Rich who, you ask? Well, it isn’t the same Aurilia of old, but he did most definitely beat out the remaining SS from 2005, based upon his "averaged out" numbers were he to have played an entire season.His RBI, R, and HR numbers, in limited playing time, were among the best of last year’s crop of SS.
My personal opinion is that I don’t expect this resurgence to continue. I would probably avoid him this year… but, if he has a similar year with more playing time, your fantasy team would be well-served.
Aurilia’s 2005 PlayerTrack rankings at SS: BA(14/50) RBI(2/50) R(13/50) HR(10/50) SB(42/50)
There’s the PlayerTrack Top 10 for 205. Who was missed? Who on this list was ranked too high? Who should, instead, be in the Top 10? Gregg and I address this further in BaseballGeeks PodCast #4.