It's possible that we're seeing the best crop of young shortstops in history -- or at the very least since Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez took baseball by storm in the late 1990s. That means it's pretty hard to go wrong at the position, so long as one
It's possible that we're seeing the best crop of young shortstops in history -- or at the very least since Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez took baseball by storm in the late 1990s. That means it's pretty hard to go wrong at the position, so long as one locks up one of these supreme talents within the first few rounds of his or her draft.
With that confidence in mind, here's a look at the top fantasy options at shortstop via MLB.com's 2019 rankings as Spring Training kicks off.
• Fantasy rankings: Overall | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | OF | SP | RP
Tier 1: Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado, Trea Turner
On one hand, you might want to wait to see where Machado signs. But on the other hand, does it really matter? Whether he lands with the White Sox, Phillies or someone else -- and whether he actually winds up logging more games at third base than shortstop -- Machado is baseball's top hitter when it comes to putting hard contact in play. He also recorded the lowest strikeout rate of his career in 2018 and chipped in 14 steals despite his reputation not "hustling." No matter what uniform Machado dons, he's one of baseball's best players with a bat in his hand.
Meanwhile, there's no mystery as to where Lindor or Turner will play this year; they're franchise cornerstones in Cleveland and Washington. A right calf strain that will sideline Lindor through much of Spring Training might give some drafters pause, but he's more than tripled his homer count in four seasons as a big leaguer and is the complete package when healthy. With Turner, it still feels like fans are waiting for him to truly deliver on the promise of his limited debut in 2016, when he hit .342. But Turner was finally able to play in all 162 games last year, eclipsed the 100-run threshold and stole 43 bags while knocking a career-high 19 homers and driving in 73 runs. Still just 25 years old, Turner could be primed for his best season yet.
Tier 2: Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Corey Seager
Looking for power? Story now owns the longest home run tracked by Statcast™ and knocked 42 homers last year. Speed? He chipped in 27 steals. Story was also durable, logging 157 games and 656 plate appearances. If you miss out on the megastars in Lindor and Machado, Story can still carry your team's lineup.
Meanwhile, Correa's track record suggests that his injury-marred 2018 should be an aberration -- though back injuries can prove pesky. Correa's surgery to repair a deviated system could also help improve on a campaign in which he saw his slugging drop by nearly 150 points and recede from a superstar to a league-average hitter. When he's right, Correa brings rare power for the position.
Bogaerts overcame his own wrist ailments from 2017 to return to star status for the World Series champions. The shortstop struggled with one of MLB's lowest barrel rates that season, but surged back with a 9.8 percent rate that matched Tommy Pham and Juan Soto in '18. With injuries behind him, Bogaerts should continue to be the all-around hitting star we grew accustomed to seeing. Seager, like Correa, has a major rehabilitation to overcome, but FanGraphs' Steamer system projects an extremely solid .284/.359/.478 slash line and 23 homers -- which seems logical if Seager is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Tier 3: Jean Segura, Adalberto Mondesi, José Peraza
Segura rarely draws a walk, but his high-contact skills still yields plenty of value. His biggest asset is his consistency; he's slashed .308/.353/.449 over the last three seasons, and hasn't compiled a below-average line since he was a Brewer in 2015. Segura has also averaged 25 steals a year in that span.
Mondesi might not be the hyped prospect he once was, but things began clicking after his mid-June recall last year, when he showed a tantalizing power-speed combo over 75 games with 14 homers and 32 steals in 39 attempts. The Royals figure to run wild this season, and a 50-steal campaign seems feasible for this up-and-comer. Peraza's power surge (an increase of 30 extra-base hits and nearly a 100-point boost in slugging from 2017 to '18) was a pleasant surprise for the Reds, and his Steamer-projected .281 average and 22 steals represent a competent mid-round pickup.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.