OpinionFebruary 3, 2009


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2 Up, 2 Down – Shortstop Edition

By R.J. White

Continuing our 2009 2 Up, 2 Down series, this article will look at the shortstop picture. Shortstop is going to be an interesting position to tackle this season. Hanley Ramirez is deservedly getting his due as the #1 player this season with Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins not too far behind. After these three, some owners are opting for young developing players like Stephen Drew and Troy Tulowitzki. Others take the steady production of Michael Young and Derek Jeter, while others hope Rafael Furcal can put together a healthy season. In fact, there’s a pool of about seven or eight guys that have a shot of reaching the top of the second tier. The question is: where are the values?

Up:

J.J. Hardy – Brewers (Median Draft Position: 101.10)

In his first two full years, Hardy has hit .277 and .283 with HR totals of 26 and 24, respectively. In the second half last season, he appeared to take a big step forward, hitting .297 with 18 HRs. Looking deeper into the numbers, there appears room for further growth. Hardy has hit a lot of balls on the ground, and his line drive percentage is lower than normal (15% last year). He also only had 36% of his hits for fly balls, after hitting 42% of his balls in the air in 2007. Add it all up and there’s 30+ HR potential there.

Khalil Greene – Cardinals (MDP: n/a)

A victim of his own hot-headedness, Greene lost 2008 to injury. After a winter trade, he gets a fresh start in St. Louis and escapes the cavernous Petco Park. Greene’s career numbers on the road (.270/.318/.484 with 50 HRs in 1217 ABs) show a potential bounce back season in the cards. Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Troy Glaus didn’t have a problem hitting HRs out of Busch Stadium, so Greene looks to be in the right environment to excel. He makes for a nice MI target in the late rounds.

Down:

Derek Jeter – Yankees (MDP: 79.64)

Jeter has led many fantasy owners to titles in the past, and the consensus opinion of The Captain as one of the game’s best shortstops likely continues to boost his draft position. However, Jeter is 34 years old and declined across the board for the last three years, culminating in an 11-HR, 11-SB season in 2008. In order to fulfill his draft position, Jeter is going to need to rebound in a big way, and it’s just not worth the risk this high, especially with solid young options emerging at the position.

Miguel Tejada – Astros (MDP: 122.00)

Once a lock for 20+ HRs and a .300 average, Tejada’s numbers have crashed in his thirties. He only managed 13 HRs and a .283 average in 2008, with a terrible second half that saw the former slugger only hit three HRs. He has continued to get a massive amount of ABs and also avoided major injury, so this plunge in production leads me to believe Tejada is nearing the end of his career. If his body doesn’t start to break down due to the wear and tear of a life in baseball, ineffectiveness might land him on the bench soon. In the middle rounds, you can do better.

 
R.J. White (a.k.a daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over half his life. He wants to write professionally and would like you to keep his name in the back of your mind for future reference.
 
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