By Eric J and Chris L
Moving right along in our "Top 10 Right Now" series, today's report focuses on the shortstop position. Easily the most talented position in all of baseball right now and the position that is extremely critical to the overall defensive success of a team. Out of all 9 positions on the diamond, defense is key for the shortstop above anything else and virtually every team values that more than offense at this position.
When you survey all 30 teams in baseball right now, almost half of the teams have some sort of All-Star or top notch shortstop whose name you easily remember. In fact, you could argue that for some teams, their shortstop is the star of their team or as others like to coin it, the "Face of the Franchise." Regardless of how you break it down and evaluate the talent at this position, there is some serious star-studded talent throughout.
Here are the Top 10 Shortstops in the game of baseball right now:
Eric's Top Ten Shortstops Right Now:
Chris' Top Ten Shortstops RIGHT NOW:
1. Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians) - When we mentioned "Face of the Franchise" players above, Francisco Lindor was the guy we were directly referring to. There's a ton of talent tucked away within his body, he's the true star of the Cleveland Indians right now, and is coming off quite a 2018 campaign. Even though Lindor will be sidelined 7-9 weeks, as announced by the Indians last week with a calf strain, it's hard to beat out the offensive and defensive potential he brings to the field everyday with him. If you need proof of Lindor's worth, look no further than the 7.9 WAR, he put up last season, tying him for fourth place on the list of every offensive player in the game. Now that's a true MVP and All-Star caliber shortstop!
2. Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs) - If there's another shortstop after Francisco Lindor, it absolutely has to be Javier Baez. In fact, Baez had such a monster season last year that he was strongly in the running for the NL MVP Award, which ultimately was awarded to Christian Yelich of the rival, Milwaukee Brewers. Still, Baez finished the season hitting: .290/.326/.554 over 645 plate appearances and the best part is that he's going into his age 26 season this year. That means that there's plenty of offensive power, flashy Gold Glove defensive plays (as seen in the photograph above), and athleticism to come on the north side of the Windy City, as the Cubs look to make it back to the postseason.
3. Manny Machado (Free Agent) - Manny Machado's name has been mentioned about 10 billion times this winter (well, at least it feels that way....), but it's hard to ignore the talent that he brings to the field with him on a daily basis. Machado has a strong case to make as being a face within the game of baseball and someone who is certainly worth of a long-term deal, as he continues to grow, into his peak. Furthermore, the best part about Manny Machado is the fact that he is a converted third baseman and still puts up great defensive numbers at shortstop. To this point over 1,694.1 innings of work at shortstop over his career, Machado has a cumulative fielding percentage of (.975).
4. Trevor Story (Colorado Rockies) - Yes, it's hard to make the argument for a Colorado Rockies player to be considered in the Top 5 of any positional list, outside of Nolan Arenado, but Trevor Story has put together three very good seasons now. Since making his debut during the middle part of the 2016 season, Story has 88 home runs, 262 RBI, 42 stolen bases, and a cumulative OPS+ value of (111). Those certainly aren't shabby numbers and while the Coors Field effect has to be taken into account to some degree, you have to like the overall makeup and pedigree of Story. Don't be surprised if he steps up another level in his game this season and becomes an even greater shortstop.
5. Andrelton Simmons (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - With the exception of Mike Trout, Andrelton Simmons is the Angels next best player. "Simba" as Angels fans and players refer to him as, continues to display Gold Glove defense year in and year out. In fact, looking at the defensive metrics over the past three seasons, there is not a single shortstop in the game of baseball that has put up more Defensive Runs Saved (71) than Simmons. In addition to that, Andrelton Simmons Defensive value of (67.4) is, 10 points higher than any other shortstop, and he's got an overall UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of (48.6), which is tops, among shortstops as well, over that span.
6. Xander Bogaerts (Boston Red Sox) - When you are surveying the shortstop position, Boston Red Sox shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, often gets overlooked. That's even after Bogaerts finished last season batting: .288/.360/.522 over 580 plate appearances with a career high 23 home runs and 103 RBI. Expanding the sample size to the past three seasons, among qualified shortstop's, Bogaerts ranks 8th in home runs (54), fourth in RBI (254), is tied for sixth in Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) (.347), and ranks eighth in BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) with a value of (.327). Another quality to like about Bogaerts is the fact that he can play both sides of the ball well too, as illustrated by his, 42.9 Offensive Value and 17.9 Defensive value, over the past three seasons.
7. Carlos Correa (Houston Astros) - If Carlos Correa had stayed healthy last year and put up another tremendous season, like he's capable of, an argument could be made that he absolutely deserves to be in the Top 5. While last season was a down year for Correa and he experienced lower back pain for about a month and a half, he still put up a .323 OBP over 468 plate appearances and had a 102 OPS+ over that span as well. Looking for a sign of optimism, it might be easy to write Correa off, but you have to remember he's going into his age 24 season, so with full health and the right amount of training, he should be able to return to his All-Star and MVP level, in no time.
8. Corey Seager (Los Angeles Dodgers) - Unfortunately, Corey Seager had to miss almost all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he is a tremendous pillar for the Dodgers infield moving forward and someone that the team is definitely counting on contributing at a high level, this season. As is the case with some of the other guys on this list, Seager knows how to play both sides of the baseball and certainly has a high level of plate discipline as well. Over the past three seasons, among qualified shortstops, Corey Seager ranks fourth in walk percentage (9.4%), which equates to, 132 walks, which is the 9th most among shortstops over that period.
9. Didi Gregorious (New York Yankees) - Here's yet another player that was succumb to injury last season, as he was sidelined with a left heel contusion, over the last month of the year. Still, Didi Gregorious is tremendously talented and someone that has been a staple of the Yankees middle infield for the past four seasons. Beyond that, Gregarious put up a career high 27 home runs last season, over 569 plate appearances, along with 10 stolen bases and a .335 OBP, two more career highs. While Didi Gregorious will be sidelined until July, don't be surprised he finishes the year strong, considering he is in his walk season and wants to prove that he is still a fantastic shortstop.
10. Trea Turner (Washington Nationals) - To this point, Trea Turner hasn't necessarily lived up to the high expectations that he had riding on his shoulders coming up as a prospect through the Washington Nationals farm system, but he is still talented in some regard. At the age of 26, Turner has only been mentioned on an awards list once and that was in 2016 when he was the runner up for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, but his biggest attribute by far comes on the base paths. Dating back to the 2016 regular season, Turner leads all shortstops with 22 stolen bases, has an overall Baseurunning score (BsR) value of (21.7), and ranks 9th in WAR (10.9), over that period.