Led by 2015 American League Rookie of the Year Award winner Carlos Correa, the shortstop position is flush with premium young talent. Fantasy owners may wish to invest heavily in this typically underwhelming position, as the talented youngsters could achieve sizable separation from the players in the lower tiers.Tier 1:
Led by 2015 American League Rookie of the Year Award winner Carlos Correa, the shortstop position is flush with premium young talent. Fantasy owners may wish to invest heavily in this typically underwhelming position, as the talented youngsters could achieve sizable separation from the players in the lower tiers.
Tier 1: Correa
As far as debuts go, Correa's could not have been much more impressive. After arriving in the Majors on June 8 as a 20-year-old, the native Puerto Rican compiled 22 homers, 68 RBIs and 14 steals in 99 games. Extrapolated over 150 contests, he would have totaled 33 homers, 103 RBIs and 21 steals. Those numbers would represent top-tier production from any player, but they are especially value when attached to a shortstop. As a result, Correa should be a first-round draft pick in all formats.
Tier 2: Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Troy Tulowitzki
2016 Position Rankings
While the members of the second tier are unlikely to challenge Correa for fantasy shortstop supremacy, three exciting youngsters and a big-name veteran can satisfy owners who wish to fill this position early in a draft. Bogaerts made massive jumps in multiple areas last season, which helped him to offset a dip from 12 homers in 2014 to seven last season. Hitting most often out of the No. 3 hole, he batted .320, stole 10 bases and topped the 80 mark in RBIs and runs. The next step for the 23-year-old -- who ranked as the top fantasy shortstop a year ago -- will be to add a power component to his recent improvements.
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While he was overshadowed by Correa, Lindor also made a big splash after his June debut. Though he was known more for his glove than his bat while establishing himself as a top prospect, the native Puerto Rican hit .313 with 12 homers and 12 steals in 99 games as a rookie. With a ground-ball-heavy approach, the 22-year-old may have limited opportunities to hit for power. But fantasy owners should be excited about Lindor's potential for a 15-homer, 20-steal season.
MLB Pipeline's top-ranked prospect for 2016, Seager is already ranked in the second tier despite still being eligible for the National League Rookie of the Year Award. The left-handed hitter followed up a spectacular Minor League tenure by batting .337 with four homers in his initial 98 big league at-bats in 2015. Fantasy owners who wish to chase upside with an early-round pick can project Seager for 20 homers and a high batting average.
The seasoned veteran in this group, Tulowitzki was once the king among fantasy shortstops. He still held a spot in the top tier last season when he hit .300 with 12 homers in 87 games with the Rockies. But Tulowitzki dealt with inconsistency and injury following a trade to the Blue Jays, raising concerns heading into 2016. Because the 31-year-old has not posted a 500 at-bat season since 2011 -- and because he must show that he can succeed without the backdrop of Coors Field -- Tulowitzki is a classic boom-or-bust selection.
Tier 3: Ian Desmond, Elvis Andrus
Despite compiling 19 homers and 13 steals, Desmond may have been the most disappointing fantasy shortstop last season. An early-round pick, he hit .233 and failed to crack the 70 mark in both RBIs and runs for the first time since 2011. Prone to strikeouts and in the midst of a three-year batting-average decline, Desmond may force fantasy owners to deal with a low average in order to secure his attractive combination of power and speed.
Even though he has never risen to the fantasy stardom that some expected, Andrus has become a reliable third-tier option. A three-year BABIP decline has led to a similar slide in batting average, but the native Venezuelan has remained a safe source of 25 steals. And with improved fortune on balls in play, Andrus could hit .270 and swipe 30 bases in 2016.
Tier 4: Jose Reyes, Starlin Castro, Eugenio Suarez, Alcides Escobar, Brandon Crawford
Once a fantasy star who was regularly an early-round pick, Reyes now toils in the fourth tier due to his lengthy injury history and a decline in skills. Yes, Reyes may still be capable of stealing 30 bases, smacking 10 homers and scoring 85 runs while benefiting from his hitter-friendly home park in Colorado. But he will likely need to play at least 145 games -- a feat he has not accomplished since 2012 -- to reach those plateaus.
Castro and Suarez offer plenty of potential for those who choose to wait on drafting a shortstop. Slated to be the starting second baseman for the Yankees, Castro could revive a once-promising career with the benefit of a hitter-friendly home park and a talented supporting cast. And if the 25-year-old can reestablish the speed component he once offered, he could jump a tier. Not expected to be a mixed-league asset last season, Suarez raised expectations when he hit .280 with 13 homers in 372 at-bats. Expected to serve as the Reds' starting third baseman, he could use the benefits of a hitter-friendly home park and an everyday role to approach the 20-homer mark in 2016.
The leadoff hitter on the defending World Series champion Royals, Escobar will be a fine late-round option for those who need speed. If he runs the bases aggressively, the native Venezuelan could swipe 25 bases and score 80 runs. Conversely, those who seek late-round power can opt for Crawford, who joined Correa as the only shortstops to hit 20 home runs last season. But because he had never surpassed 10 homers prior to 2015, the UCLA alum is a candidate for a slight power regression this season.
Fred Zinkie is the lead fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FredZinkieMLB.