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NL Shortstops: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National League Shortstop with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.  B = Bats.  T = Throws.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2005.
Age = Player's Age as of October 2, 2005.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters in 2005.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement in 2005; Adjusted RAR = RAR modified to
consider a player's 2005 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players in order from the highest draft value in a 4x4 league to the lowest. As the majority of fantasy leagues allow you to keep anyone traded to the other league, we listed each player in the league where he started the season.

Omar Vizquel568154.2713452466S
SF Giants4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 38B:S    T:R191811.114.6

Rarely will drafting a shortstop that turns thirty-nine in April lead to a fantasy crown. Nevertheless, although Vizquel belongs in a platoon, he still possesses a strong skill set capable of echoing this performance one more time. You certainly need to move him during the year due to his increasing fatigue-related problems down the stretch, but if he lags around $10 in your draft, bidding a buck or two above that level should not hurt you.

Adam Everett549136.24811542158S
HOU Astros4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 28B:R    T:R13130.69.6

Despite a season of mostly good health, Everett unfortunately experienced overall offensive erosion as a significant drop in his plate discipline eliminated his value in Houston's lineup. Fortunately, he remained a defensive asset, resulting in continued every day play and the opportunity to accrue very helpful quantitative marks for fantasy teams. The combination of Minute Maid and an improved contact rate may push Everett near twenty homers over the next couple of years, but given his relative fungibility to the Astros, bidding into double digits does not offer sufficient possible return on your gamble.

Neifi Perez572157.274954859S2
CH Cubs4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 32B:S    T:R13138.514.6

Congratulations to everyone that took advantage of the Cubs' misfortune in awarding Neifi 384 at-bats in the top three lineup slots. You somehow netted a variety of helpful stats from one of the historically worst players in recent memory. Thankfully, I do not see Perez receiving more than four hundred at-bats in competition for playing time with Ronny Cedeno, Todd Walker, and Jerry Hairston. With poor plate discipline and no more than mediocre power and speed skills, only teams with an outstanding BA foundation even should consider rostering Perez at any point in the season.

Rich Aurilia426120.2821468261S2
CIN Reds4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 34B:R    T:R121323.421.4

Keeping Aurilia in Cincinnati on his $2M option seemed logical given the club's youthful infield and the apparent fragility of Ryan Freel. Aurilia enjoyed a nice rebound season in the friendly GAB environment, excelling in the second half after fully recovering from a strained hamstring that forced him to the DL in May. He also demonstrated a comparable skill set to the rates he posted during his prime in San Francisco. Of course, Aurilia also turns 35 in November and certainly should slide backward to some extent this summer. Moving from the Reds to nearly any other organization also will remove the benefits of his home park last year, so even if he finds a starting job, do not risk more than a few bucks in the hope of continued production from the veteran journeyman.

Clint Barmes350101.2891046655S
COL Rockies4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 26B:R    T:R12121414

Colorado needs to realize that despite decent speed Barmes profiles as a power hitter not a top-of-the-order threat. Limited patience renders his OBP dependent on his batting average, so if he does not hit well over .300, he will not help the offense as the Rockies' leadoff man. Fortunately, Barmes registered a .329/.371/.516 early season performance before breaking his clavicle while carrying fresh venison up stairs. He flailed rather miserably in his September return, but following a full winter of rest, I see no reason for Barmes not to reemerge as a very valuable fantasy asset. Acquiring him anywhere near $15 should net you a tidy profit by season's end.

Royce Clayton522141.2702441359S
ARI Diamondbacks4x45x5RARAdj. RAR
Age: 35B:R    T:R11128.26.1

Only the Red Sox and Marlins appear to lack official starting shortstops right now, and with Julio Lugo likely involved in filling the Boston vacancy and a spirited spring competition set in Florida between Hanley Ramirez, Josh Wilson, Robert Andino, and Pokey Reese, Clayton likely will not break camp as a starter for the first time since 1992. He may receive no more than an NRI after two poor offensive seasons in a couple of baseball's best batters' parks. While Clayton could emerge as a capable reserve, remaining a useful fantasy player due to his speed, nothing here indicates good odds for real roto relevance in the future. Bidding more than a couple of bucks regardless of his role looks like a mistake.

Shortstop Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: Aging shortstops on the downside of their careers rarely merit much fantasy attention. Conversely, youngsters like Clint Barmes still possess plenty of upside, and if your fellow owners somehow forget that Barmes appeared headed toward more than $25 before his injury, be prepared to take advantage of that accidental oversight.

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