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“65 Mustangs” – A deeper view into Shortstop.

Plan B part 2,

This is the 2nd in 5 parts on what I like to call Plan B. What to do if you realize late in the draft that you have a big hole at one of your positions. Who do you look to draft when the top 10 to 12 players at a position are already gone? Last week I talked about 2nd base. If you missed the intro, which I won’t repeat here, or missed the article itself, you can find it here:   I’ll use the same format for each of the major positions I cover.

So you missed out on drafting a Shortstop and are in the mid to late rounds of a snake draft? You didn’t want to commit a high round pick to an injury prone or speed reliant, but fragile shortstop, so, you passed on Tulo and Reyes, and while you might have picked Hanley, someone snatched him a round sooner than you would have. Castro, Andrus, and Desmond look pretty good too, but don’t have a long track record of success and are lacking in one or more of the standard five categories, or have been inconsistent to date. So, again, someone snatched them from your queue sooner than you would have picked them. You don’t trust Asdrubal Cabrera after two consecutive 2nd half collapses, and are not sure if Alcides Escobar can sustain any of the good, but seemingly fragile numbers he compiled in 2012. Rollins and Jeter must finally be over the hill, right (God, that was hard to type. Sorry Derek, just proving a point here)?  Let someone else take the chance. Finally, you just couldn’t get excited about the useful, but flawed, trio of Hardy, Aybar, and Alexei Ramirez. Instead you chose the player with the highest value in the round those three went in regardless of position. Now what?

At this point you mainly have two choices. The safe choice is to essentially punt the position and make a “safe” defensive pick. Pick a guy that is assured regular at bats, probably won’t be a big drag on the batting average, and, especially in a H to H league, will be slump, averse, and consistent if unexciting. Just like at 2nd base, Marco Scutaro might keep SS warm until you can make a trade or grab a hot rookie as he comes up from the minors. It is doubtful he’ll repeat his career year at 37 years old, but he shouldn’t kill your BA. Then there is perennial disappointment, Jed Lowrie, who escaped from Houston to compete with Weeks and Pennington for at bats in Oakland. At 29, we may have seen the best he has. Pennington will net you 15 to 20 steals, and Peralta will net you 15 to 20 HR, but that is probably all he has left at 31. Lowrie’s statistical twin brother, Mike Aviles, is a popular pick in every draft, but that breakout never happened, and now he is 32. Maybe you could take one more chance on Rafael Furcal. He might get you some value until he gets hurt. Then there are a host of regular SS who are assured of 400-500 mediocre at bats (Yunel Escobar, Clint Barmes, Brandon Crawford, Ruben Tejada, Brendan Ryan), who could all lull you to sleep with their output. In fact, I’m sleepy now thinking about it.

The other choice is to take a chance and make a pick with a bit of high risk, but equally high upside. Go for the double and risk getting thrown out to get in scoring position, instead of playing it safe and stopping at first base. A couple of examples from last season are Ian Desmond and Alcides Escobar. Both were post hype prospects coming off disappointing seasons each of .250, 65 runs, single digit HR, and less than 50 RBI. Even the 20-some SB were disappointing, considering the speed these guys brought with them. Both of them showed horrendous K/BB rates all the way back to the minors. Washington was rumored to be shopping Desmond to anyone who would listen. Escobar had stolen nearly 200 bases and hit .300 in the minors from the age of 17, when he was signed out of Venezuela. However, after sporting a .290 OBP and .240 BA in 2 years as a starter and being traded for Zack Greinke, the future was murky.  Anyone who grabbed Desmond and rode him in 2012 was hugely rewarded. Escobar owners had to be a little more patient, but Escobar put up solid numbers across the board. Both clubbed over 30 doubles and hit .293. Escobar stole 35 bases, while Desmond hit 25 homers, even while missing a month with an injury.

Who will be the 2013 Desmond or Escobar?  I don’t know, but here are some possibilities.  We all saw what Josh Rutledge could do in a couple of months at the end of last season. If Tulo is healthy, he’ll have to get his at bats at 2b in 2013, but is still SS eligible. A super sleeper, as he is not guaranteed the starting gig, is Andrelton Simmons of the Braves. He has been mentioned as the possible lead off man, in front of that 3 headed monster of an OF, plus Freeman, McCann, and Uggla. He’ll have to fight off Paul Janish and Tylor Pastornicky to do it, but he’s probably the favorite at this point. A couple of other hyped rookies are Texas’ Jurickson Profar, who may not have a position, Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, who may still be a year away,  and Milwaukee’s Jean Segura, who was also once traded for Zack Greinke. All three are potential five tool infielders. If you are tempted by the stolen base, you may be in luck.  Dee Gordon could steal 100 bases if he learns how to steal first, and Everth Cabrera finally got a chance to play and led the NL in SB, albeit with a .246 average. Billy Hamilton has stolen 100 bases, but it was in the minors. He is a SS by trade, but the Reds are trying him in the OF to get his legs in at the big league level. All are high risk/high reward choices at this point. Two others deserve mention also as possibly better choices then the Jed Lowries and Yunel Escobars of the world. Zack Cozart showed some flashes of power in a deep Cincinnati lineup that plays in a bandbox, hitting 33 2b and 15 HR, but disappointing with a streaky .246 avg and .288 OBP. He is, however, entering that magical age 27 season, when power and patience seem to blossom.  Finally, we have a name from the “past” possibly returning. Stephen Drew, JD’s little brother, has a chance to reach for that same Green Monster that his brother used to aim for. Following 2 injury ruined seasons, the once promising Drew is finally healthy, and could surprise with double digit homers and some decent run producing stats. I’m not sure which of these guys will put up a Desmond/Escobar type season, but all have a better shot than Brandon Crawford, Mike Aviles, Ruben Tejada, and Cliff Pennington. It is up to you to pick the right one. Good luck.

I'm an accountant and an amateur writer of fiction and sports commentary, mostly baseball. I've been a student of the game of baseball since the Dinosaurs roamed the earth, or at least since a few years before the world knew what a designated hitter was. Otherwise, I like "antique" cars of the 60's and 70's and have been a fantasy baseball fanatic since my first draft many years ago. I live in CT with my wife Megan of 25 years, our daughter Caitlin and their (their) cats. I'm also the better looking of the two guys in the the photo.



  1. Joshua Floan

    February 21, 2013 at 9:44 am

    I have punted 2B the last few years. I always get lucky and land a guy like Altuve or Kipnis in the later rounds. I don’t punt SS, but I always seem to get screwed at that position. I have a hard time drafting Tulu or Reyes with my first round pick. I don’t punt SS, but I always seem to get screwed at that position, and it isn’t often that you can get a Kipnis or Altuve in the later rounds at that position.

    I am thinking about reaching a little early this year and nabbing myself a Castro. But the more likely scenario is me riding the JJ Hardy train for the 70 games he is healthy for. After that, a long season of “plug and play” from the WW. Thanks for the insight. This should give me a few guys to target.

    • louisfriedlander

      February 21, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Great article Joe. Very informative and I really like your view on the sleepers. I do believe that Lowrie is the starter in Oakland though. Pennington was traded to ARI in the offseason. He will have competition with Nakajima at SS and Weeks at 2B. Lowrie can play all 4 infield positions which means that if he’s healthy he will get his AB’s.

  2. Corey D Roberts

    February 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Very insightful Joe. Great take on the SS position. Your not as bad at this as I thought! 😉

  3. Joe Iannone

    February 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Corey, you begged me to join this circus for a year now, so I think you already knew that I would throw down.

    And Lou, thanks for the kind words. I’m sure that you are right about Lowrie and we all know the skill set is there. I’m just tired of waiting for a good, but not great, player to finally get it right for a whole season. If he had Jose Reyes skill set or Tulo, well then I’d keep trying every season like I do with Alex Gordon and BJ Upton. Ssshh, don’t tell anyone.

  4. Joe Iannone

    February 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Joshua, thanks to you too. My secret at SS is that I spend the whole off season convincing all my league mates that I think Derek Jeter is finally toast and overrated anyway. Then I draft him in the 10th or 12th and never have to worry about shortstop again. 🙂 SSsshhh, don’t tell anyone.

  5. Corey D Roberts

    February 21, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    Begged, you say? Should I copy and paste that response to my vision article here where you begged me to tag along? 😉

  6. Joe Iannone

    February 21, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Hopefully, come October, we’ll both still be happy. 😉

  7. Helmut Kormalis (@Morat68)

    April 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Loved this article. Just had Reyes go down. Trying not to be discouraged but my season looks to be wrecked. 12 team deep roto league. EVERYONE you got on this list is gone. Looking for help and all that’s left: “Brandon Crawford, Eric Sogard, Ruben Tejada, and Cliff Pennington.” Advice?

  8. Corey D Roberts

    April 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    I would take a flyer on Marwin Gonzalez if he is available from Houston.

  9. Helmut Kormalis (@Morat68)

    April 13, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Marwin is gone.

  10. Joe Iannone

    April 14, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Helmut, thanks for the kind words, and I’m sorry I couldn’t help you sooner. Probably the best advice I can give you is to remember that you are not looking for Jose Reyes replacement at this point, but just a place holder till he comes back or until you come up with a better alternative. So, whomever you pick up now does not have to be your SS for the next three months. You may get a trade opportunity or some other player may get hot and you will be able to switch him out again. You mentioned Brandon Crawford. While no one would ever confuse him with Jose Reyes or even Eric Aybar, he is riding a 8 game hitting streak and has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games. During that streak he is hitting .342 with 7 runs a HR and 5 RBI, though no SB. Is he going to keep that up, no, but if he hits .250-.270 with a few runs and rbi you would take that wouldn’t you? If he cools off in a week or two you will be looking for the next flavor of the week, and so on. You may always be looking. You’ll surely have to get your SB elsewhere and hopefully you have some more on your roster. In fact, let’s look at SB for a minute. Even if Reyes were going to steal 52 bases, which is 12 more then last season, that is only two per week over a 26 week baseball season, or 26 total if he misses 3 months. When you think of it as 2 per week it does not sound as daunting, does it? It is a lot easier to find SB in the OF as the season goes on. Some players that were available in nearly all my FAAB drafts tonight are Max Venable, who I picked up in Corey’s league, Juan Pierre, and Cameron Maybin who is being dropped like a hot potato. He will surely right the ship at some point and get some SB at the same time. Others being dropped are Saunders, Stubbs and Rajai Davis who led the league in SB last season. Others who will get some bags and are barely owned are Gentry, Ruggiano, McClouth, Schierholz, Valdespin, Baxter and Chris Young. Some of them will not last long if they are not gone already. Good luck and hope this helped. Remember, grab a SS and plug him in. You don’t have to marry him.

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