2011 Keeper Rankings: Shortstop

First things first. Sorry about the lack of content over the weekend. I moved into a new place and didn’t get internet activated in time. There may be some lapses in content the next couple of weeks as I put in some extra time working on and hopefully finishing the 2011 draft guide, which will be FREE! Now, onto today’s keeper list…

If you are one of the lucky ones that is the proud owner of a top three shortstop keeper, congrats. The rest of the list doesn’t get me too excited.

Note: These are not positional rankings for 2011 and do not consider players with no major league experience (there are plenty of sources of prospect rankings for that). These players should help fantasy teams in 2011 as well as the foreseeable future. The number next to the player’s name represents his age on opening day 2011.

No-Doubt Keepers

1. Troy Tulowitzki – 26
2. Hanley Ramirez – 27
3. Jose Reyes – 27

My only concern about Hanley Ramirez‘s long-term keeper value is his defense. He’s not very good at short and might need a move to the outfield before too long. Jose Reyes is going to put up good numbers as long as he stays healthy.

The Maybes
4. Elvis Andrus – 22
5. Starlin Castro – 21
6. Alexei Ramirez – 29
7. Jimmy Rollins – 32
8. Ian Desmond – 25
9. Stephen Drew – 28
10. Asdrubal Cabrera – 25
11. Derek Jeter – 36

While I don’t think Elvis Andrus is going to hit for much AVG at the big league level, his 40-plus stolen base potential is reason enough to use a keeper on him.

Given Alexei Ramirez‘s free swinging ways, he could have some trouble keeping his AVG up as he ages. Still, his power/speed numbers should play well at such a thin fantasy position.

I still think J-Roll has some good numbers left in his tank, but his best years seem way behind him.

Starlin Castro is still a big unknown at this point. Some believe that he’ll develop power. Others think he is what he is, a good hitter capable of hitting around .300 consistently, but with little impact in home runs or stolen bases.

I don’t think Ian Desmond is going to hit much over .270-.280 for his career, but he does have 20/20 potential and should at least approach a 15/20 season in 2011.

Both Stephen Drew and Asdrubal Cabrera have a chance to put up some good numbers over the next few years, but their ultimate upside seems limited.

Deeper Keeper Considerations
12. Erick Aybar – 27
13. Alcides Escobar – 24
14. Jason Bartlett – 31
15. Rafael Furcal – 33
16. Yunel Escobar – 28
17. J.J. Hardy – 28

If Erick Aybar can play in 150-plus games, he could cross the 30 stolen base mark. However, his free swinging ways should lead to a lot of fluctuation in his AVG, as it has the past two seasons. Alcides Escobar sort of fits that same mold, but he has much more upside in the stolen bases department. Even though Escobar only stole 10 bases in 2011, that was a product of Ken Macha’s managerial style, not Escobar’s stolen base ability. He was 46 for 58 between triple-A and the majors in 2009.

Jason Bartlett has a chance to bounce back in 2011, but most of his value is going to come from stolen bases.

Rafael Furcal is 33 with a history of injury problems (specifically back problems). He’s good when healthy, which will probably be an ongoing problem as he heads toward his mid-30′s.

Yunel Escobar should bounce back in 2011. He hit much better once he was traded from the Braves to the Blue Jays. The only problem is his lack of big-time upside.

If J.J. Hardy is over his hand injury, he could see a career resurgence in Baltimore. In deep AL-only keepers and dynasty leagues, there may be a nice buy-low opportunity here.

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