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Breaking down All-MLB shortstop candidates

@paul_casella
November 5, 2020

Voting is underway for the second-ever All-MLB Team presented by CohnReznick, and you can help decide who deserves to be honored as the best of the best. Fans can vote here once every 24 hours until the polls close at 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 13, and the All-MLB

Voting is underway for the second-ever All-MLB Team presented by CohnReznick, and you can help decide who deserves to be honored as the best of the best.

Fans can vote here once every 24 hours until the polls close at 2 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 13, and the All-MLB first and second teams will be announced in early December on MLB Network. Shortstop presents one of the deepest positions in the Majors, with a plethora of superstars putting up big numbers in 2020 -- but only one of these nine candidates can get your vote.

After previously analyzing the nominees at second base, third base and designated hitter, our series continues with a statistical breakdown of each of the All-MLB Team candidates at shortstop.

Tim Anderson, White Sox
2020 stats: .322 AVG, 10 HR, 21 RBI, 5 SB, .886 OPS
One year removed from winning the American League batting title, Anderson was once again the table setter for the second-highest scoring offense in the AL. Though his average dipped slightly (.322 this season compared to .335 in 2019), Anderson improved his slugging percentage and OPS -- and hit 10 homers in just 49 games. That would be a 33-homer pace over a 162-game stretch for a player whose career high is 20.

The case for Anderson: He proved last year's breakout campaign was no fluke, once again putting together a solid all-around season at the plate. Anderson posted career highs in slugging percentage (.529), OPS (.886) and OPS+ (141), while also playing improved defense up the middle.

Key number: By following up his .335 average from last year with a .322 mark in 2020, Anderson became just the third shortstop in the last 50 years to hit .320 in back-to-back seasons, joining Derek Jeter (2006-07) and Nomar Garciaparra (1998-2000).

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
2020 stats: .300 AVG, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 8 SB, .867 OPS
Though the Red Sox had a disappointing season overall, Bogaerts was one of the few bright spots. He remained a force at the plate, while putting his impressive power-speed combo on full display in the middle of Boston's lineup.

The case for Bogaerts: While he had some regression from his stellar 2019 campaign in which he finished fifth in AL MVP voting, Bogaerts still hit .300 with 11 homers and eight stolen bases in just 56 games. Those numbers would have him on pace for a 30-20 campaign in a 162-game season -- not bad for a guy who has never stolen more than 15 bases and topped the 30-homer mark for the first time in '19.

Key number: After posting a 135 OPS+ in 2018 and a 140 OPS+ in '19, Bogaerts put up a 131 OPS+ this season. In doing so, he became the first shortstop with an OPS+ of at least 130 in three straight seasons since Troy Tulowitzki from 2009-11.

David Fletcher, Angels
2020 stats: .319 AVG, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB, .801 OPS
Fletcher has established himself as a fan favorite in Anaheim for his consistent approach at the plate and his ability to play impressive defense at multiple positions across the infield.

The case for Fletcher: Despite being overshadowed by the likes of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols, Fletcher more than held his own atop the Halos' lineup. He hit .319/.376/.425 as the Angels' leadoff hitter, all while being deployed at shortstop, third base, second base and even making an appearance in right field.

Key number: Fletcher had a strikeout percentage of just 10.9, the best among all big league shortstops and fifth best in the Majors overall.

José Iglesias, Orioles
2020 stats: .373 AVG, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 0 SB, .956 OPS
The O's could not have asked for a better season from Iglesias after signing the veteran infielder last offseason to a one-year deal with a club option for 2021. Needless to say, Baltimore picked up that $3.5 million option for next season after the 30-year-old's sensational season hitting near the top of the order for an otherwise young O's lineup.

The case for Iglesias: He posted career highs across the board when it comes to rate statistics, hitting .373/.400/.556 in his debut season with the O's. Iglesias' .956 OPS was more than 200 points higher than his previous best mark of .735 in 2013.

Key number: Though he didn't have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, Iglesias' .373 batting average was the highest by any player with at least 100 plate appearances in a season since Ichiro Suzuki hit .372 in 2004.

Corey Seager, Dodgers
2020 stats: .307 AVG, 15 HR, 41 RBI, 1 SB, .943 OPS
Seager was a key cog for the highest-scoring offense in the Majors, leading the Dodgers in batting average (.307), slugging percentage (.585), extra-base hits (28) and RBIs (41), while finishing just one home run behind Mookie Betts and AJ Pollock for the club lead.

The case for Seager: On a team with former MVPs Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, it was instead Seager who paced the Dodgers' offensive machine in a number of key categories. Seager's 15 homers and 41 RBIs would have him on pace for 44 and 121, respectively, over a 162-game season.

Key number: As good as Seager was this season, his quality of contact suggests his numbers should have been even better. His .410 xwOBA was the best among shortstops, and while his .585 slugging percentage ranked second among shortstops (behind only Trea Turner), Seager had an eye-popping .653 xSLG, again the best among shortstops.

Trevor Story, Rockies
2020 stats: .289 AVG, 11 HR, 28 RBI, 15 SB, .874 OPS
After receiving a share of NL MVP votes in each of the last two seasons, Story was again an all-around force for the Rockies in 2020. Though Colorado had a disappointing season overall, it's hard to place any blame on Story, who had another impressive season at the plate while playing highlight-reel defense.

The case for Story: He led the National League in stolen bases (15) and tied for the lead in triples (four) while also chipping in 11 home runs. Story played in all but one game for the Rockies and is the only player in the Majors with at least 80 homers and 65 stolen bases over the last three seasons.

Key number: As mentioned, Story racked up 11 homers, four triples and 15 stolen bases in the shortened 2020 season. Those numbers would have him on pace for 29 home runs, 40 steals and 10 triples over a 162-game season. Only three players in MLB history have had a 25-40-10 season in those categories: Jimmy Rollins (2007), Carlos Beltrán (2003) and Bobby Bonds (1970).

Dansby Swanson, Braves
2020 stats: .274 AVG, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, .809 OPS
A consistent presence in the Braves' potent lineup, Swanson played in all 60 games and logged an MLB-leading 237 at-bats while appearing everywhere except third or fourth in Atlanta's batting order.

The case for Swanson: Following a disappointing second half in 2019 (zero homers and a .569 OPS after the All-Star break), Swanson this season looked far more like the player from his sensational first half (17 homers, .822 OPS). Swanson posted a career-best .809 OPS while his 35 RBIs were third on the team, behind only Marcell Ozuna and NL MVP finalist Freddie Freeman. He was also a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop, though the nod ultimately went to Javier Báez.

Key number: Few players had a bigger impact this season than Swanson, whose 1.920 WPA ranked first among shortstops and ninth in the Majors overall.

Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
2020 stats: .277 AVG, 17 HR, 45 RBI, 11 SB, .937 OPS
There was a point this season when it seemed as if Tatis Jr. was going to run away with the NL MVP Award, let alone the All-MLB Team nod at shortstop. Though he cooled off slightly down the stretch, the phenom was still one of the best all-around players in the Majors this season.

The case for Tatis: The 21-year-old superstar was hitting .317/.393/.731 (1.124 OPS) with 12 homers through just 26 games. He finished the year with a .937 OPS, while leading all shortstops in home runs (17), RBIs (45) and runs (50).

Key number: Along with leading all shortstops in the categories mentioned above, Tatis Jr. led all big league players in average exit velocity (95.9 mph), hard-hit balls (102) and hard-hit percentage (62.2 percent).

Trea Turner, Nationals
2020 stats: .335 AVG, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 12 SB, .982 OPS
While the Nationals couldn't replicate the success from their 2019 World Series run, Turner had no problem maintaining his all-around prowess. The 27-year-old dual threat has one of the best power-speed combos in the Majors.

The case for Turner: He led the Majors with 78 hits, while his four triples tied for the NL lead. Turner was also the only player with at least 12 home runs and 12 stolen bases this season -- a combination that would have him on pace for a 30-30 season over a 162-game campaign.

Key number: Turner's 157 OPS+ was the best among shortstops, as was his .413 wOBA.

Paul Casella is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.