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February 7, 2014

Fantasy Players to Avoid

Shortstops

by BP Fantasy Staff

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For the previous installments in this series, click below:

Shortstop isn't as shallow as you think for fantasy purposes. So don't mess up by taking a shortstop who isn't good. This is the analysis you came here for.

Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Cabrera is a confusing player to forecast from an analytics point of view. He's increased his line-drive percentage over the past few seasons, yet his BABIP has been worse. He's hitting more fly balls, yet fewer of them are going for home runs and his ISO has seen a sharp drop from his glory days of 2011. He's stealing fewer bases, striking out a bit mor,e and walking a bit less, and his batting average has fallen in each of the past five seasons.

That being said, Cabrera is entering his age-28 season and as my colleague Mike Gianella pointed out in the counterpart to this piece, Cabrera will still have some value in 2014. I think his days of hitting anywhere near .300 or challenging for 20 homers are well in the past, though, and what we're left with is a MI-type in standard leagues with little upside and declining speed. Unfortunately, his peak season probably came early. —Ben Carsley

Starlin Castro, Cubs
There are a lot of questions revolving around whether or not Castro will rebound, but forget about all of that for a moment. The two biggest concerns surrounding Castro involve whether or not he’ll run again and whether or not that Cubs lineup will produce enough for him to see much of a jump in runs/RBI at all. If Castro doesn’t run and is only good for 10-12 steals in 2014, you’re drafting a shortstop who is probably going to hit 12-14 home runs with a .280-.290 average even if he does bounce back. That’s solid—and definitely would be an improvement from his moribund 2013—but it pushes him well out of the realm of elite performers at the position. —Mike Gianella

Alcides Escobar, Royals
Escobar has his selling points—namely speed—as he went 22-for-22 in stolen bases last year. Still, that was a marked drop from his 35 swipes the year before, and with Norichika Aoki in town, it’s unlikely he’ll benefit from batting atop the Royals’ potent lineup, something he did in 49 percent of his plate appearances last season. While his batting average should receive a bump thanks to some better BABIP luck, it won’t be enough to offset the minimal power he offers, combined with the lower counting stats he’ll get at the bottom of the lineup. Given that he was already under 60 runs and RBI, that’s a hit he can’t really afford to take. Stolen bases are worth plenty, and they’re worth more as the run game continues to decline, but given where you’re going to take Escobar, there are better options available. —Craig Goldstein

Derek Jeter, Yankees
This is perhaps shooting fish in the barrel, but if for any reason you have any inclination to try to trust the name that accompanies the current iteration of Derek Jeter, don’t. I would hazard a guess that over the next few weeks, you’ll read story after story detailing the Captain’s batting practice sessions and how he’s hitting the ball with more authority. The myth surrounding Jeter will obfuscate the reality that is Jeter. He’ll be 40 in June, he’s coming back off a severe injury, and he plays a highly demanding position. It’s likely that he already had his HoFer late-career boon with a surprising 2012, and it’s irresponsible to expect him to do it again at an advanced age. Sure, heroes get remembered and legends never die, but not even the Babe could outrun the cruel claws of age. —Mauricio Rubio

Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Ramirez was a nice surprise for a White Sox team that finished with a fourth-worst .299 wOBA. In terms of fantasy, it was the shortstop’s best season since 2010, when he smacked 18 home runs and swiped 13 bags. He’s no longer someone you can trust with the long ball, however, with declining ISOs over the previous four seasons, from .146 in 2010 to .096 in 2013. His home run total fell to just six a year ago, and—with only 68 runs and 48 RBI—Ramirez’s value was tied almost entirely to a career-best 30 steals. I’m very skeptical he can reach that level again, as the shortstop stole 27 bases the previous two seasons combined. Ramirez enters 2014 at age 32, and—thanks to the work of FanGraphs’ Jeff Zimmerman—we know steals at that age often see a steep decline. The batting average will be fine, but if he’s not giving you 20 or more steals, Ramirez is a middling middle-infield option on a below-average offense. —Alex Kantecki

Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
This is more of a "keep your expectations in a whole bunch of check" advisory than an out-and-out "avoid." It's awful tempting to look at Rollins' 2013 and dismiss it almost entirely given the track record and severity of just how bad he was last year - especially since he hit 23 homers and stole 30 bases as recently as 2012. But counting on a rebound to previous production levels, or really anything close to them, is a pretty significant risk, and owners should not be paying for Rollins as an upside play this year.

His contact rate is on the wrong side of a fairly prototypical career bell curve, bottoming out at 86.8 percent last year—his worst effort since 2003. His swinging strike rate is also in the midst of a four-year increase, indicating some very probable age-related erosion to his bat speed. For a player who’s historically a tenuous AVG play it’s a troubling combination. And while last year's 3.3 percent HR:FB rate was likely a significant outlier to his career 7.7 percent mark, he did lose almost 20 feet per fly ball, and that’s a huge number. Ten to 12 homers is probably an appropriate ceiling to expect.

Finally, he ran less often last year, with a stolen base attempt in only 4.2 percent of his plate appearances—well below his 5.8 percent career mark and the continuation of a three-year decline. His success rate, while remaining strong enough, was nonetheless down as well, and at age 35, it’s more likely those numbers continue down than rebound up. A guy with a ceiling of .245/11/20 and mediocre R/RBI production is not terrible, and certainly playable in most standard 14-16-team leagues. But it also offers little room for return on investment from a player currently going 15th overall among shortstops. Buyers should be aware of what they’re paying for if they invest in Rollins this year. —Wilson Karaman

Jean Segura, Brewers
This feels a bit vanilla, and yet I am still seeing him valued as the third or fourth shortstop in a lot of spots. He got worse every month of the season. Of cours, when you start as hot as he did in April and May, it makes sense to regress, but he collapsed. He hit 67 percent of his home runs and drove in 43 percent of his runs in those first two months. He hit one home run in the final three months, including an impossibly bad August and September with zero homers and just seven RBI.

The only thing that salvaged his value in the summer was his consistent speed. A repeat of 12 homers would be a massive surprise; I honestly think half of that total would be a win. I’m seeing more of a .280-72-6-52-38 season from him, and that is definitely good, especially at shortstop, but not worth the current price. I’ve still got him in the top 10, but it’s toward the back end of the list. —Paul Sporer

BP Fantasy Staff is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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BrianG

Hi, question for you, when using the PFM and using the default settings, Segura comes up as the #8 player overall. When I input the settings for my league, he came in at #15. I was shocked to see him as a top 10 player using the default settings, that can't be right, right? Am I missing something, or not doing something correctly? Thanks

Feb 07, 2014 04:18 AM
rating: 0
 
NightmareRec0n

PFM are based on PECOTA projection which are very conservative. They tend to predict declining veterans like Rollins to return to past production. But it tends to be hesitant on younger and inconsistent players.

PFM also seems to undervalue speed a bit. I'd drafted Votto,Tulowitski,Bautista, and Upton First four rounds. But it insists I should draft Matt Holiday or Albert Pujols with my next pick

Feb 07, 2014 04:52 AM
rating: -1
 
Sharky

Disagree. Pecota seems to overvalue SB each year, at least relative to the market.

Feb 07, 2014 04:56 AM
rating: 2
 
NightmareRec0n

Don't get me starting on pitching? 9th round? No pitching? You should take Mike Napoli and Adam Dunn here.

Feb 07, 2014 15:54 PM
rating: -2
 
DukeDean

PFM produces some crazy projections!

Feb 07, 2014 09:02 AM
rating: 0
 
NightmareRec0n

I feel like SS is so risky after the top tier, I might just wait and draft Bogaerts or Profar. The have the same downside of those guys, but much higher upside.

Feb 07, 2014 04:56 AM
rating: 2
 
sbnbaseball

the top tier is risky as well with Hanley, Tulo and Reyes bringing injury risk to the draft day value.

Feb 07, 2014 07:12 AM
rating: 2
 
NightmareRec0n

Injury risk is probably the reason Tulo/HanRam aren't going 3rd or 4th overall.

I'd take injury risk on a non-older player over questionable ability to produce/not great pedigree or track record.

Feb 07, 2014 15:56 PM
rating: 0
 
BrianG

I just can't fathom anyone taking Segura that early

Feb 07, 2014 05:03 AM
rating: 0
 
Nojsztat

Some people fall head over heels with the hype.

Feb 07, 2014 10:54 AM
rating: 0
 
Pinson

What we need is more fantasy "experts" on all sites echoing Mauricio Rubio, who in turn now echoes scores of writers who for a decade have predicted the decline and death of Derek Jeter. I don't care for the Yanks, agree with all the fielding metric assessments that have long told us Jeter is well below average as a shortstop, and fall way outside the population whose minds are bent by "heroes and legends." However, I know what I see at the ballpark. I know that Jeter's 2012 was far more than "surprising": He led MLB in hits. And I know if they can put two braces on Jeter's knees and wheel him to the plate on a dolly, the man will have great judgment of the zone and will HIT.

I'm 60 and did not just fall off the turnip truck from Arkansas. There is a class of humans whose talent, drive and determination combine to take them to heroic heights most mortals can't attain. Y'all have seen the scowls and crumpled brows of those who are "done": think Tiger and ARod. If you're old enough, you've seen the look of concentrated grit of those who refuse against all odds to be "done": AJ Foyt, Nolan Ryan. And then there is that look of older athletes who just have so much fun playing their game after 20 years that even during competition, they wear grins of contentment: Joe Montana, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar...and...

It seems like every time I look up when the Yanks come to KC, there is that big sumbich standing on second base with that grin, after driving in one or two, and waiting to score another run to help beat us. What greater inspiration could there be to an already driven perfectionist like Jeter to return with prominence than the desire to separate himself in time and mind above ARod? It was wonderful to go to Kauffman last year and see the Yanks trot out a bad lineup, but 2014 won't be like that.

I think I'll be "irresponsible," Mauricio, and win my leagues again this year. Jeter will earn $8-14 more than his auction salary. If that bad boy is gonna make me suffer at the ballpark, he's going to be on MY side in fantasy.

Feb 07, 2014 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

Yeah, Jetes hasn't gotten a fair shake in the media for a decade now. What the hell Mauricio? This is more #FantasyTaliban nonsense.

Feb 07, 2014 16:09 PM
 
BP staff member Ben Carsley
BP staff

Is Arkansas a major turnip trade route or something?

Feb 08, 2014 10:11 AM
 
BP staff member Mauricio Rubio
BP staff

Do what you do, bad boy.

Feb 08, 2014 10:16 AM
 
CalledStrike3

Rack em'

Feb 10, 2014 13:08 PM
rating: 0
 
NightmareRec0n

Because they didn't try wheeling him to the plate last season... and the DH slot is pretty full.

Feb 07, 2014 15:40 PM
rating: 0
 
noone99

This is my first post as a subscriber. Where's the best place to ask advice?

Feb 08, 2014 22:44 PM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Craig Goldstein
BP staff

We try to get to as many comments as possible but if that's not effective go to the "contact us" section under "home". From there select the BP Fantasy Team under "recipient" for a question that can be sent to all the BP Fantasy authors. If you had a question for an individual author you can select them from that menu as well.

Thanks for subscribing!

Feb 09, 2014 08:51 AM
 
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Fantasy Article TTO Scoresheet Podcast... (02/07)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Players to Avo... (01/31)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Players to Avo... (02/14)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Team Preview: ... (02/07)

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