2011 Fantasy Rankings: Shortstops

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Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Shortstop is the new second base, a fantasy wasteland where only six (!) players are projected to be drafted in the first ten rounds. Six, out of a hundred. That’s bad.

New York Yankees’ shortstop Derek Jeter warms up before the Yankees take on the Texas Rangers in game four of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium on October 19, 2010 in New York. UPI/Monika Graff

“Hello. I’m Derek Jeter, and you’re not.”

Worse, only five of those players are proven fantasy performers year after year, and even that is stretching the truth until it nearly breaks. Truth be told, there is one guy in this group (Hanley Ramirez) that has held up as a reliable fantasy stud. The rest are streaky, as in ‘Will Ferrell in “Old School”‘ streaky. (Tulo, we’re looking at you.) What is a fantasy manager to do once Hanley and Troy Tulowitzki are off the board? For starters, don’t panic, and for God’s sake don’t reach. Continue to take the best guy on the board, and see if one of these guys lands in your lap.

Jose Reyes, Mets
The late, great Sparky Anderson once said, “Just give me 25 guys on the last year of their contracts; I’ll win a pennant every year.” You think he wouldn’t love to have Reyes this year, since he’s essentially auditioning for all of Major League Baseball? The Mets are so bogged down with money issues that there has even been speculation that they will have a hard time paying their players, which makes the likelihood of a contract extension to Reyes unlikely. Meanwhile, the shortstop of the Red Sox, Marco Scutaro, has a player option on his contract for next year, which the club could buy out for $1.5 million. Don’t think for a minute that Reyes doesn’t know this, and will bust his ass to get him some Carl Crawford money. Having said that, don’t bid the moon and the stars to get him. If he comes to you, great. If not, then take a look at…

Marco Scutaro, Red Sox
Reyes’ 2010 stat line was .282-83-11-54-30. Scutaro’s line was .275-92-11-56-5. Nearly identical in every category except steals, and he can be had 11 rounds after Reyes is off the board. If you play in a points league and Reyes is gone, take a deep breath, and remember that the next best thing is a mere 110 picks away. Scutaro is the textbook definition of a value pick, even if he spends the entire year in the 9-hole.

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MLB Roundup: Scutaro error costs BoSox, Zito impresses & Crawford delivers in the clutch

Yankees 6, Red Sox 4
Newcomer Marco Scutaro didn’t endear himself to many Red Sox fans on Tuesday night when he botched a routine ground ball in the eighth inning of a 4-4 game. Reliever Hideki Ojajima then walked Nick Johnson with the bases loaded to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead and the Mariano Rivera closed out the ninth. Considering the BoSox signed Scutaro for his defense, it wasn’t a good start for the former Blue Jay. The error made Boston fans pine for the days of Julio Lugo, who…all right sorry, I couldn’t continue with that joke. Red Sox fans would rather see Scutaro botch nine more throws than ever see Lugo in a Boston uniform again.

Giants 3, Astros 0
The Astros probably figured that they caught a break when Bruce Bochy decided to throw Barry Zito in between starts by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in Houston’s opening three-game series with the Giants. But the joke was on the Stros, as Zito completely shut them down for six innings. He allowed no runs on three hits while striking out five, proving that he was indeed worth the seven-year, $126 million contract he signed in December in ’06. No? Ah well – it was still a nice outing for the former Cy Young pitcher. Now Houston gets to deal with Cain tomorrow – good luck with that.

Rays 4, Orioles 3
Carl Crawford played the hero for the Rays on Tuesday night, knocking in the game-winning two-run single off Orioles’ closer Mike Gonzalez. It was Crawford’s only hit of the game, but it came at a crucial time. When asked about his dramatic hit afterwards, Crawford replied: “I know, right? Maybe the Rays should pony up for that new contract now – hahahaha…ahhh. Just kidding. But for realsies – where’s my contract?”

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 3
Chris Young managed to deliver his best Jake Peavy impression on Tuesday night, allowing no runs on one hit over six innings of work in San Diego’s win over Arizona. Young also struck out five to earn his first victory of the year. If Young’s shoulder is completely repaired, there’s no reason he can’t post similar numbers to the ones he produced in 2006 (11-5, 3.46 ERA). He’s really, really good…for a max of about six innings. But still – he’s good.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

2010 MLB Preview: AL East

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

First up is the AL East.

1. New York Yankees (1)
If you think I would get cute in these rankings and suggest that some upstart team would derail the Yankees this season, then you sir, are sadly mistaken. I just don’t have the conjones to bet against them, especially after they added Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez and Nick Johnson to their already stacked roster. Sure they lost World Series MVP Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, the latter of which loved to work the count and provided the Yanks with some pop over the last couple of seasons. But thanks to Granderson, Johnson, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Texeira, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the lineup is still stacked from top to bottom. Vazquez, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mariano Rivera will once again highlight a strong pitching staff and assuming they don’t suffer any major injuries, there’s nothing to suggest that the Bombers won’t make another championship run. That said, let’s not be oblivious to the potential problems that could arise for the Yanks this season. Age is a factor, as is the fact that Granderson can’t hit lefties and will be under the spotlight as the club’s biggest offseason acquisition. Plus, for as good as Vazquez was over the past couple of years, he was a disaster the last time he wore pinstripes (Boston fans remember this well.) Should the Yankees win another World Series? Yeah – especially considering they have the best-purchased roster in baseball. But just like last year, they still have to prove it between the lines and they’re not immune to hurdles getting in their way.

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SI.com’s MLB All-Star Team

Tom Verducci of SI.com put together his MLB All-Star team, where he fills out his roster with players that deserve to go to the Midsummer Classic based on their production over the first half of the season and not just the popular ones, which seem to make the ASG on name recognition alone.

American League

First base: Kevin Youkilis*, Justin Morneau, Russell Branyan. By far the deepest, toughest position to call in baseball. What about Mark Teixeira, Carlos Pena and Miguel Cabrera? They deserve to go, but there is no room.

Second base: Aaron Hill*, Ben Zobrist, Ian Kinsler. Surprise! Combined previous All-Star selections for this trio: one. Hill, 27, and Zobrist, 28, already have set career highs in homers and Kinsler, 27, is just two behind his highwater mark.

Shortstop: Jason Bartlett*, Derek Jeter, Marco Scutaro. Bartlett, a career .276 hitter entering this year, was batting more than 100 points above his career average. Scutaro, the most patient hitter in the league, is having a breakout year at 33 and could join Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken Jr. as the only shortstops in the past 50 years to get 100 walks. And that Jeter guy is still pretty good.

Outfield: Jason Bay*, Torii Hunter*, Carl Crawford*, Adam Jones, Ichiro Suzuki. Hunter turns 34 next month and is having a career season, far outpacing his previous highs for on-base percentage and slugging.

Pitcher: Zack Greinke*, Roy Halladay, Kevin Millwood, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, Jared Weaver, Edwin Jackson, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, David Aardsma. Heavy on young starting pitchers, the AL staff is light on one ingredient: left-handed pitching. Lee is the only lefty.

National League

First base: Albert Pujols*, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez. A similar story to the AL logjam. Todd Helton, Ryan Howard and Lance Berkman all have good arguments for being All-Stars, but they can’t all go.

Second base: Chase Utley*, Freddy Sanchez, Orlando Hudson. Over the past four seasons Utley’s RBI totals, in no particular order, have been 102, 103, 104 and 105. This year? He’s on a pace for 113.

Third base: David Wright*, Pablo Sandoval, Mark Reynolds. It’s been a very weird season for Wright, who has hit just four home runs, including only one on the road, and seen his rate of strikeouts soar — all while leading the league in hitting (.339).

Outfield: Raul Ibanez*, Brad Hawpe*, Ryan Braun*, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Hunter Pence. Philly fans already love Ibanez, and why not? In late and close situations he’s hitting .415. (Special mention for the injured Carlos Beltran.)

Pitcher: Tim Lincecum*, Matt Cain, Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Yovani Gallardo, Chad Billingsley, Javier Vazquez, Ryan Franklin, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Trevor Hoffman, Rafael Soriano. Only one starting pitcher older than 28. And you thought the AL was light on lefties? Not a single lefty on the staff here. Sorry, Johan Santana.

Glad to see that Zobrist, Scutaro, Hudson and Sandoval are getting some recognition from the national media, because all four have been fantastic for their clubs in the first half of the season.

It’s amazing to see the logjam at first base for both teams and to think that Gonzalez is third best at the position in the NL. I love the youth on both squads and the pitching for the NL is sick (and Santana didn’t even make Verducci’s team).

Too bad these two rosters won’t look like the official ones. It’s nice that fans have a vote in baseball, but most of them abuse the option by only penciling in players from their favorite teams. It completely defeats the purpose of giving fans a voice when it comes to selecting the ASG teams.

2009 MLB Preview: #22 Toronto Blue Jays

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Offseason Movement: The Jays added pitchers Brian Burres, Matt Bush, Matt Clement and Ken Takahashi as well as catcher Michael Barrett, outfielder Jason Lane and first basemen Kevin Millar. Outside of Barrett, Millar and maybe Lane, none of Toronto’s offseason additions are expected to make the Opening Day roster. And Barrett started 1 for 16 in spring training, so, good luck with that.

Top Prospect: Travis Snider, OF
Snider is a true power hitting prospect who has a long swing but above average plate discipline. The Jays hope he can develop into an player that hits for extra bases and who can drive the ball to all parts of the field. He’ll probably never hit for average, but his power should more than make up for it and he has a great arm for the outfield. Thus far, the 21-year old is hitting .371 with six extra-base hits in 35 at-bats in spring training.

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