MARKET PULSE: Shortstops, 2019

NOTE: Our preseason Market Pulse column is an exercise in identifying the gaps between the valuation of the "popular" market (as reflected in Average Draft Position, or "ADP") and that of BaseballHQ.com. If a player is not listed here, it's likely that he qualifies at a scarcer position, or he's not in the ADP top 500-600 (it's a bit fluid). Remember that this is an exercise in relative valuation, not absolute.

Each hitter is being considered at his scarcest qualified position (in order: C/DH, SS, 2B, 3B, 1B, OF), as it is the scarcest eligible position that typically drives fantasy value. The rankings are a risk- and position-adjusted estimate using current BaseballHQ.com projections. It is a purely quantitative ranking, with no specific consideration of "upside" (aside from reliability scores). The dollar values are position adjusted, but do not incorporate risk. Average auction values are approximate. These are not the "official" BaseballHQ.com straight-draft rankings, but they should be close.

Note that this article assumes a standard 15-team, mixed, 5x5 league, though the recommendations here will generally apply in most formats. Note also that a positive number in the "Diff" column indicates a player that BaseballHQ.com ranks higher than the "market," and a negative number indicates we have the player ranked lower, based on ADP (this is a change from 2018). The list is split into tiers, based on the ADP. The ADP itself is based on the past four weeks of NFBC drafts.

(NFBC ADP Report) | Unofficial Rankings

Previous Columns: C/DH

According to the ADPs, the typical 15-team league fills all starting shortstop slots by the end of the 9th round (of course, some GMs could be grabbing two SS). The majority of SS are going reasonably close to where BaseballHQ has them ranked, with few value plays and few potential overpays. Still, if you plan things well, you could end up with good value from the position. If you're drafting near the end of the first round, Alex Bregman makes a fine choice. However, all things being equal, we'd prefer a value-oriented approach, with Amed Rosario in the 8th-9th and Ketel Marte 4-5 rounds later to fill in the MI slot.

                                        HQ                      -- HQ Projections --
Player                 TM POS REL ADP Rank Diff HQ$ AAV Diff |  AB AVG HR RBI  R  SB
====================  === === === === ==== ==== === === ==== | === === == === === ==
Lindor, Francisco     CLE   6 AAA   5    7   -2  31  43  -12 | 619 286 34  83 106 21
Turner, Trea          WAS   6 BAB  10   16   -6  31  36   -5 | 594 275 18  66  96 47
Bregman, Alex         HOU  56 AAB  12   18   -6  27  34   -7 | 571 286 27  90  98 12
Baez, Javier          CHC 465 ABB  14   15   -1  28  33   -5 | 582 279 29  96  88 17
Machado, Manny         FA   6 AAD  15   30  -15  24  32   -8 | 559 285 31  89  77 10
Story, Trevor         COL   6 BBF  19   24   -5  28  30   -2 | 565 270 34  97  84 18
Mondesi, Adalberto     KC   6 BDB  44   65  -21  21  21    0 | 587 256 16  66  79 39
Bogaerts, Xander      BOS   6 AAC  49   27   22  24  20    4 | 588 286 23  95  88 11
Correa, Carlos        HOU   6 CBF  49  123  -74  14  20   -6 | 515 264 23  85  76  5
Torres, Gleyber       NYY  46 AFA  56   59   -3  18  19   -1 | 546 269 26  94  72 10

Segura, Jean          PHI   6 BAB  73   75   -2  17  16    1 | 577 294 11  51  81 22
Seager, Corey          LA   6 FBC  87  182  -95  10  15   -5 | 466 288 18  61  69  3
Peraza, Jose          CIN   6 ABC  99   76   23  16  13    3 | 587 278 15  51  72 27
Profar, Jurickson     OAK 653 DCB 117  295 -178   3  12   -9 | 494 245 16  60  67  8
Anderson, Tim         CHW   6 AAA 122  126   -4  11  11    0 | 559 254 17  55  73 22

Rosario, Amed         NYM   6 ACB 141   88   53  15  10    5 | 582 269 12  57  78 27
Escobar, Eduardo      ARI  56 ABC 172  143   29  10   8    2 | 530 270 21  74  67  3
Andrus, Elvis         TEX   6 CBC 172  176   -4   9   8    1 | 539 270 10  55  73 15
DeJong, Paul          STL   6 BBD 191  181   10   7   7    0 | 476 254 25  71  66  1
Hampson, Garrett      COL   6 AFF 194  233  -39   6   7   -1 | 499 265  8  33  56 30
Semien, Marcus        OAK   6 CAA 204  172   32   9   6    3 | 556 250 16  65  79 12
Adames, Willy         TAM   6 ABA 208  188   20   7   6    1 | 551 252 16  57  75 11
Polanco, Jorge        MIN   6 ACA 209  191   18   8   6    2 | 600 271 12  61  60 12
Taylor, Chris          LA6o87 ACC 212  232  -20   5   6   -1 | 496 251 15  58  75  8
Simmons, Andrelton    LAA   6 BAA 219  110  109  13   6    7 | 607 280 11  73  71 13
Gurriel, Lourdes      TOR  64 BFC 220  217    3   5   6   -1 | 485 262 17  66  61  6
Gonzalez, Marwin      FA o643 ABF 225  195   30   7   5    2 | 466 269 17  68  62  5

Marte, Ketel          ARI  46 ABB 228  168   60   8   5    3 | 532 276 15  52  68 10
Cabrera, Asdrubal     PHI 465 BAA 298  617 -319  -6   3   -9 | 314 265 12  40  41  1
Hernandez, Enrique     LAo846 BDC 312  204  108   6   2    4 | 484 257 22  56  73  4

Gregorius, Didi       NYY   6 BAA 347  335   12   1   1    0 | 319 274 15  51  50  4
Kingery, Scott        PHI   6 ACF 357  886 -529 -11   1  -12 | 259 240  8  22  33  8
Arcia, Orlando        MIL   6 ABD 362  530 -168  -4   1   -5 | 450 253  7  42  50 10
Swanson, Dansby       ATL   6 ACB 371  529 -158  -3   1   -4 | 461 235 10  55  55  8
Perez, Hernan         MIL4o56 ACA 390  641 -251  -5   0   -5 | 323 259 10  33  36 12
Diaz, Aledmys         HOU  65 BCF 425  873 -448 -11  -1  -10 | 225 259  8  30  30  2
Crawford, Brandon      SF   6 AAB 428  329   99   1  -1    2 | 529 250 13  64  61  4
Ahmed, Nick           ARI   6 DDB 437  319  118   2  -1    3 | 510 250 18  60  60  5
Munoz, Yairo          STL645o ACB 437  972 -535 -17  -1  -16 | 125 262  3  16  16  3
Rodgers, Brendan      COL   6 AFA 454  981 -527 -18  -1  -17 | 129 256  5  13  13  1
Beckham, Tim          SEA  65 DCC 493  648 -155  -9  -2   -7 | 349 243 11  34  41  3
Bichette, Bo          TOR   6 AFF 496  901 -405 -12  -2  -10 | 157 284  4  19  24  6
Tulowitzki, Troy      NYY   6 FDC 501  697 -196 -12  -2  -10 | 250 260 11  35  32  0

This column's paradigm is to analyze differences between the market and BaseballHQ, and we stick pretty closely to that format. So normally, Javier Baez (SS, CHC) wouldn't be part of the discussion, as a one-pick difference isn't anything to discuss. However, we would like to go on record that we're not quite as optimistic as either the market or BaseballHQ. Baez is a terrific player, but his projection feels like his 80th percentile rather than a more comfortable median. His hr/f over the past two seasons is our of line with his just-above-average xPX (104 in 2017, 110 in 2018), and his projected 582 AB has much more downside than upside. His jump in proficiency versus RHP is not supported by his skills, aside from PX, and that's inflated by his inflated hr/f. He's still worthy of a second-round pick, but he's a strong candidate for the wrong kind of regression.

Carlos Correa (SS, HOU) appears to be a different type of post-hype prospect—one whose reputation exceeds his value several years after the hype. Let's take a look at his career skills: 11% bb%, 76% ct%, 95 xPX, 94 Spd. Aside from the walk rate, all average. His 2018 wasn't good at all, but side and back injuries may have been behind his struggles. Still, if we look just at April and May (his initial injury was on June 7), things don't look much better: 11% bb%, 71% ct%, 103 xPX, 96 Spd. The BaseballHQ ranking does factor in his terrible second half, which was pretty clearly explained by his injuries. There is also the issue of Correa's CBF reliability. If you refuse to pay for an upside that has mostly vanished and consider the very real downside, you'll drop Correa down into the 5th round or later.

The difference between the market and BaseballHQ with regard to Corey Seager (SS, LA) comes down to expectations of playing time. BaseballHQ has estimated 75% PT, while the market seems to be pricing him in a full-time role. With Chris Taylor (SS/OF, LA) and Kike Hernandez (2B/SS/OF, LA) more than capable of spelling Seager (especially if he struggles versus LHP), a 75% PT projection seems reasonable. Perhaps our 12th-round projection is a bit pessimistic, but he's likely to be gone by the 8th or 9th round when we would suggest taking him if you believe in his PT upside.

Let's compare numbers:

Player            Year  Rank   BA  HR  RBI   R  SB | xPX  hr/f 
================  ====  ====  ===  ==  ===  ==  == | ===  ====
Jurickson Profar  2018   #98  254  20   77  82  10 |  98   13%   
Eduardo Escobar   2018   #82  272  23   84  75   2 | 133   12% 

Jurickson Profar (SS, OAK) is going at #117, while Eduard Escobar (SS, ARI) is going at #172. The 8 SB difference is significant, though no more significant than Escobar's HR and BA. Profar's .288 xBA in 2018 does suggests some upside, while Escobar's ABC reliability beats out Profar's DCB. The biggest issue here, we suspect, is age. Profar, at 26, is seen as a rising player, a former #1 prospect, whose trajectory is pointed upward. Escobar, on the other hand, is 30 and is at or just past his peak. However, whatever upside Profar may have, it doesn't justify a 55-pick separation between the two. It's fair to discount Profar's pre-2018 work, but his health and regression risk don't justify quite this high a leap. Escobar, on the other hand, still has some upside to his projection, and is already going two rounds later than his projected value. We'd love to get Escobar in the 8th round, while the right price for Profar feels 2-3 rounds lower than that.

There are 15 players projected to steal 25+ bases in 2019, and only two of them are being drafted later than Amed Rosario (SS, NYM). Fantasy GMs are perhaps still punishing Rosario for his inauspicious debut in 2017, but in 2018, he put up some pretty solid skills: 79% ct%, 71 xPX, 162 Spd. He's also approaching 800 PA, a point at which players often (though certainly not always) reach a critical mass of MLB experience. He still has some warts, particularly his 5% bb%, and he needs to improve his efficiency on the basepaths (69% SB% in 2018), but he's already producing better than his 141 ADP (he finished #113 in 2018) and he still has some growth left. He's a guy to target in the 8th-9th.

Andrelton Simmons (SS, LAA) is about as sure a bet to hit .280+ as there is in the majors, certainly outside of the 4th round. His power is limited; his 14 HR in 2017 likely represent his upside. However, his 136 Spd in 2018 shows that there's some stolen base upside. Pair that with a very high BA floor, a full-time role that generates good counting stats, and a BAA reliability, and you have a player who is a very nice value in the 10th round. And the good news? Nobody has taken him that early in any NFBC draft.

There's a very good chance that 14 owners in your league will regret not grabbing Ketel Marte (SS, ARI) when they could have. He has a near-elite contact rate and above-average patience, with power that is trending upward, and he's still only 25. His best asset, though is his 149 Spd. His 5% SBO in 2018 kept his stolen base totals to single digits, but he has 30 SB upside if given the green light more often. His xBA and HctX set a pretty high floor on his BA, leaving power as his one lagging tool. With below-average power and a high GB%, he's unlikely to hit 20 HR, but wouldn't .280-15-65-25 be a nice line for a 12th-14th round pick? If there's one "big upside" pick on this list, it's Marte.

Enrique "Kike" Hernandez (2B/SS/OF, LA) is another super-utility type whose fantasy value is underappreciated. In fact, compare his carrer skills to Carlos Correa (SS, HOU; 11% bb%, 76% ct%, 95 xPX, 94 Spd): 11% bb%, 79% ct%, 102 xPX, 107 Spd. Their PT projections are 21 AB apart, though Correa has a little more PT upside, as he's the starter if healthy. Still, this is a pretty stark comparison of two players who are being taken 270 picks apart. Hernandez had been a stricty lefty killer, but he made great strides against RHP in 2018, featuring improved contact (79%) and average power. The Dodgers' infield and outfield is a big scrum, but he can play anywhere but catcher. Follow the skills; the earliest he's gone is the 15th round, and he's a great value even there.

We usuallty try to close with an endgame or reserve-round guy who has some good upside. But unless you want to chase a prospect without a path to playing time, it's just not here. Instead, we'll present two completely cromulent players who can be had in the reserve round, but who provide positive (albeit late-round) value. Both Brandon Crawford (SS, SF) and Nick Ahmed (SS, ARI) derive much of their value from getting regular AB, but both are pretty secure as the primary SS on their respective teams. Of the two, Crawford has the higher floor, while Ahmed has some upside that Crawford lacks. We don't recommend relying on the free agent pool to back you up at SS, and either of these guys make for a solid, inexpensive Plan B. That may be faint praise, but hey, it's still praise.


Click here to subscribe

  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.