Youth line up and down Top 10 shortstop list

January 29th, 2017

MLB Network's "Top 10 Right Now" series, looking at the best players at each position headed into 2017, will air two positions each Sunday night until Feb. 12. As each position is revealed, MLB.com's Mike Petriello, a participant in the show, will unveil his list along with the reasoning behind it. Rankings were compiled with a combination of subjective and analytical data, and no, batting average was not considered. We'll also include the rankings of "the Shredder," the MLB Network research department algorithm based on player performance that accounts for both offense and defense.

Position overview: Two years ago, the position bottomed out, as the Top 10 list would have included ,  and . Now, seven of the 10 players to make this list are less than 25 years old, and the position as a whole was more productive with the bat than it has been in a century. It's a stunning turnaround for the game's most important spot on the field, and it makes it more difficult than ever to make this list.

Previous lists: Second base | Third base | Left field | Starting pitcher

Eligibility notes: Players are eligible only at one position, and several players who saw time at shortstop in 2016 were considered in other spots for these rankings. They include: (second base), (third base) and Manny Machado (third base).

The list...

1. , Dodgers (Shredder rank: 1)

Despite how deep and talented this position has become, it was surprisingly easy to put Seager at the top of the heap. After all, his achievements included winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award unanimously, finishing third in the NL MVP Award race, having the best rookie shortstop season ever and having the best season by a Dodgers shortstop ever. Think about it this way: Seager's .308/.365/.512 (137 wRC+) line is about the same as what and hit, and he did it as a rookie playing a capable defensive shortstop for a division-winning team.

Gif: Seager slides home to get walk off

2. , Indians (Shredder rank: 2)

3. , Astros (Shredder rank: 3)


We lump these two together because there's really no wrong answer here as far as who is above the other. Do you prefer Correa's more powerful bat, after a season where he hit .274/.361/.451 (122 wRC+) despite playing through shoulder and ankle injuries? Or do you prefer Lindor's solid offense (.301/.358/.435, 112 wRC+) and superior defense (17 Defensive Runs Saved compared to minus-3 for Correa)? The opinion here is that the defense at shortstop is a tiebreaker for Lindor, but the gap here is very thin.

4. , Giants (Shredder rank: 5)

The eternally underrated Crawford is somehow the old man in this sea of young shortstops, and even he only just turned 30 earlier in January. Crawford's calling card has long been his elite glove, and he finished 2016 tied for the most DRS among shortstops at 19. But he's also paired that with a solid bat, as over the past two years he's hit .266/.332/.445, and given the harsh conditions at his home ballpark, that comes out to an above-average 110 wRC+. He doesn't get the attention ,  and do in San Francisco, but he's been an essential part of multiple San Francisco title teams.

5. , Red Sox (Shredder rank: 8)

Bogaerts only turned 24 in October -- there's that theme of youth here again -- and while his talent is clear, he's still yet to find consistency. After a poor initial season (.240/.297/.362, 81 wRC+ in 2014), he had a solid 2015 and was off to a scorching start in 2016 (.350/.401/.516, 145 wRC+ through May 31) before sliding backwards (.267/.334/.411, 98 wRC+, from June 1 on). Even if Bogaerts is merely an average hitter, that's still valuable at shortstop, and of course there's much more left to dream on here.

Gif: Xander Bogaerts home run

6. , Cubs (Shredder rank: 10)

Russell arrived in the bigs with a stellar defensive reputation, and it can be argued that the dominant 2016 Cubs really "started" on the summer day in '15 when he came up and bumped to second base. He tied Crawford with 19 DRS, and he did it while popping 21 homers. That said, Russell's line of .238/.321/.417 (95 wRC+) was still slightly below league average, and that keeps him just a touch below the Seager/Lindor/Correa trio. Still, we saw improvements in his elevation as the year went on, and even if this is what he is, that's with a more powerful bat. That'll play for a long time.

7. , Nationals (Shredder rank: 4)

Turner was probably the most difficult player to rank, because in 2016, we saw a partial season of a player who slugged like and ran like while playing center. Now, he's a shortstop, with reports of his Minor League defense centering on "steady but unspectacular," and it's unlikely he can keep up a .342/.370/.567 (147 wRC+) line for a full season. Turner doesn't have to, though. If he's an above-average hitter with elite speed and competent shortstop defense, he's a star. We just don't know if Turner will still look like a superstar. The talent is obviously there.

8. Andrelton Simmons, Angels

Have you forgotten about Simmons? It feels like you have, and for obvious reasons. Not only was he somewhat drowned out by the influx of young talent, but he spent 2016 on a noncompetitive team and missed time with a thumb injury. But Simmons is still only 27 years old, and he's still the game's gold standard of shortstop defense. (He still had 18 DRS despite the missed time, for example.) The bat will never be plus, and the young talent pushes him down this list. He's still Simmons, though. He's still the slickest defender we have.

Gif: Andrelton Simmons jump and throw

9. , Cardinals (Shredder rank: 7)

10. , Rockies (Shredder rank: 6)


We're going to put these two together as well, because of the uncanny similarities here. Neither player was expected to be the primary shortstop for his team until the veteran ahead of him (, Peralta) was unavailable. Both were shocking successes with the bat, and had their rookie seasons ended by thumb injuries within days of one another. So can Diaz (.300/.369/.510, 132 wRC+) repeat his offense over a full season and improve his questionable glove? Can Story (.272/.341/.567, 120 wRC+) prove he can hit in places other than Colorado and Arizona, where he hit 21 of his 27 homers? The success of their teams may depend on both answering those questions positively.

Just missed (in no order):, Mariners; Didi Gregorius, Yankees; , Blue Jays (Shredder rank: 9); Dansby Swanson, Braves; , Rangers; , Phillies

Formerly a mainstay at the top of this list, Tulowitzki has been merely a league-average hitter over the past two seasons (.267/.327/.442, 101 wRC+), and he is now 32 years old. Segura had a breakout season in 2016, but he also hit nearly as many homers (13) in Arizona and Colorado as he did everywhere else (16), so he'll have to prove he can still produce in the less hitter-friendly Seattle ballpark. Swanson is the most likely to jump onto this list next year, as his brief debut (145 plate appearances) was a successful one.