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Showdowns: Shortstop

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Often in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2016 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?

 

 

Xander Bogaerts vs. Troy Tulowitzki

 

Bogaerts

 

In having to choose between Bogaerts and Tulowitzki, Tulowitzki is the safer pick despite his history of injuries. He has a proven track record as a solidly above-average hitter. But I like Bogaerts going forward as he’s 23 years old to Tulowitzki’s 31. If last season was any indication, Tulo is entering the decline phase of his career while Bogaerts should continue getting better as he enters his prime. And, of course, Bogaerts doesn’t seem anywhere near as prone to injury. Last year, Bogaerts hit .320/.355/.421 with seven home runs, 81 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases. For the sake of comparison, Tulowitzki hit .280/.337/.440 with 17 home runs, 70 RBI, 77 runs scored, and one stolen base. Both players’ teams are expected to excel in offense. However, Bogaerts is expected to hit third behind Dustin Pedroia and in front of David Ortiz while Tulowitzki should hit fifth behind Edwin Encarnacion and ahead of Chris Colabello. If that holds, I’d expect Bogaerts to have a few more opportunities to score and drive in runs. In standard roto categories, Bogaerts should be slightly better in batting average, runs scored, and RBI with a sizable advantage in stolen bases. Tulowitzki is likely to only have the edge in home runs. – Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill)

 

Tulowitzki

 

It's hard to run a smear campaign against a young, promising shortstop, especially one such as Bogaerts who was at the tip top of prospect lists for years before ascending to the majors. No, this won't be occasion to tear down Bogaerts; rather, it will be a chance to build up Tulowitzki. That Tulo even needs building up speaks to how out of character his 2015 season was. And yet, what fantasy owner would turn up their nose at a .280/.337/.440 line with 17 homers, 70 RBI and 77 runs scored from his or her shortstop? That's what Tulo did last season, and that's factoring in his 41-game stretch with the Blue Jays in which he hit .239/.317/.380. Did the move away from Coors Field hurt? Probably, but not to the extent to which Tulowitzki struggled in Toronto. More likely, Tulo just required some time to get adjusted to his new surroundings after spending his entire career to that point with the Rockies. A clean slate and an understanding of what to expect should make a difference, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with hitting in Rogers Centre or in the middle of the Blue Jays' lineup, either. Over a 162-game schedule, the 31-year-old has averaged a .297/.369/.508 line with 29 homers, 100 RBI and 103 runs scored in his career. For all his promise, Bogaerts still can't match the offensive upside of a happy, healthy Tulowitzki. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)

 

Elvis Andrus vs. Brandon Crawford

 

Andrus

 

Quick, guess who finished last season as the No. 3 ranked fantasy shortstop behind Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Correa. Troy Tulowitzki? Nope. Francisco Lindor? Guess again. It couldn't be Andrus, could it? Indeed it could. Andrus saw his average and runs total drop again in 2015 and had a three-year low in stolen bases, but he made up for it with a career high in home runs and an RBI total that was tied for his second best. Crawford, meanwhile, had a breakout season in the power department, but Andrus bested him in average and runs and easily outdistanced him in steals, giving him the higher fantasy value. The Giants shortstop has grown as a hitter, but some regression in his home run and RBI totals is likely for a guy who hits a lot of ground balls and who plays in the toughest park in the majors for left-handed power. You're probably going to be underwhelmed if you look at Andrus' career stats, but he never gets hurt (he's averaged 153 games played in his seven seasons), allowing him to quietly compile numbers that will help your fantasy squad. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)

 

Crawford

 

I get the hesitation to believe in Crawford’s breakout. Mostly known for his excellent defense at shortstop, the 29-year-old established new career-highs with 21 home runs and 84 RBI last season. He had never hit more than 10 home runs in a season before, so this feels like an obvious regression situation. While I’d feel better forecasting another 20-homer season if he hit the ball in the air more often and played in a hitter-friendly home park, keep in mind that he was ninth in the majors last season in average fly ball distance. It’s hard to discount that. He also made some encouraging strides against right-handed pitching. Even if Crawford settles somewhere around 15 home runs in 2016, he has a chance to be one of the top fantasy shortstops. Speaking of hitting the ball in the air more often, that’s what we saw from Andrus last season, but the difference here is that it resulted in just seven home runs and another decrease in his batting average and on-base percentage. Andrus has reached 21 stolen bases in each of his seven seasons in the majors, but it’s hard to see much upside otherwise, especially since he no longer hits near the top of the Rangers’ lineup. I’ll go with the guy who has some momentum coming into 2016. - D.J. Short (@djshort)

 

Eugenio Suarez vs. Jean Segura

 

Suarez

 

Suarez unexpectedly burst onto the fantasy scene in 2015 after the incumbent Zack Cozart went down with a season-ending injury. All he went on to do is slash .280/.315/.446 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and four stolen bases in only 97 games. The power seems like it's legitimate, and is supported by his minor league resume, batted ball distance and a reasonable HR/FB ratio (12.1%). The knock against him heading into 2016 will be his batting average risk, as his miniscule walk rate (4.3%) and inflated BABIP (.341) hint at regression there. As a bonus, he'll add third base eligibility early in the season as he's slated to slide over to the hot corner upon Cozart's return. Despite an amazing 2013 season, Segura has gone on to prove that he simply isn't a quality big league hitter. He slashed an empty .257/.281/.336 for the Brewers in 2015 while swatting six homers and plating 50 runs. His saving grace is his speed (25 swipes last season), though the problem is that he can't steal first base. His putrid .281 OBP, bolstered by a grand total of 13 walks (two intentional) in 584 plate appearances, isn't likely to improve, limiting his chances to run and to cross the plate. If you need speed, I guess Segura makes sense, but Suarez is certainly the better all-around option. – David Shovein (@DaveShovein)

 

Segura

 

I don't necessarily love either of these players -- this is a year, like many, where I'm probably going to reach at shortstop -- so I'll just go ahead and argue against Suarez without doing much backing for my guy Segura. Suarez was a nice surprise for the Reds in 2015, smacking 13 home runs in 97 games alongside a .446 slugging percentage, but a peek behind the curtain at his minor league stats would tell you he's probably not going to be able to do that over the course of a full MLB season. The 24-year-old Venezuelan never hit more than 10 home runs in a minor league season, and he began playing professional baseball at age 17. Suarez used to steal bases, but he has a total of 13 steals between Double-A, Triple-A, and the major league level since the beginning of the 2014 campaign. Segura can boast 45 stolen bases in the span, all as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. He also racked up 44 steals in 2013. Suarez plays in a power-friendly home park in Cincinnati, but Segura gets to call Chase Field home and that place is equally as kind to fly balls. I'm going to try to avoid picking either in a mixed league draft. Count me completely out on Suarez. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)

 

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