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AL Shortstops: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

American League Shortstops with Positive Draft Value

Quick Key to the tables:
B = Bats.  T = Throws.  Age = Player's Age as of October 1, 2006.
Proj. = Rotohelp's projected 2006 stats and fantasy values for each player.
2006 = Each player's final 2006 stat line and fantasy values.
AB = At-bats.  H = Hits.  BA = Batting Average.  HR= Home Runs.
RBI = Runs Batted In.  SB = Stolen Bases.  R = Runs.
Pos = Position qualification based on 20 appearances or max. # of games in 2006.
4x4 = BA, HR, RBI, and SB in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
5x5 = BA, HR, RBI, SB, and R in 12-team, $260 leagues with 23-man rosters.
RAR = Runs Above Replacement; aRAR = RAR adjusted to
consider a player's 2006 defensive rating in Scoresheet fantasy baseball.

We ranked players by position 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 all players in the league where they began the season.

12.  Marco ScutaroOAK AthleticsAge: 30B:R   T:R

Bobby Crosby's replacement as Oakland's starting shortstop for much of the past two seasons, Scutaro owns little quantitative upside yet possesses solid plate discipline, making him very useful in a limited role. He appears quite miscast as a regular, especially given his difficulty with left-handed pitching, but his overall skill set remains surprisingly solid. Consider Scutaro a solid option to fill your MIF slot for a couple of bucks, though even if Crosby or Mark Ellis open the year on the DL, don't push past $5 since Scutaro's 2006 performance looks close to his ceiling.

13.  Jhonny PeraltaCLE IndiansAge: 24B:R   T:R

Perhaps the primary victim of the sophomore jinx in 2006, Peralta appears primed for a significant rebound this year. Despite accruing nearly 1500 big league plate appearances over the past four seasons, he enters 2007 as the youngest starting shortstop in the American League and the probable #6 hitter in one of baseball's deepest lineups. Peralta also owns decent plate discipline, and if his contact rate improves, we should see him crest back over an .800 OPS without difficulty. Letting him go for less than $15 will look like a significant mistake by next fall, and even pushing toward $20 seems a decent idea given Peralta's power potential as he hits his prime.

14.  Alex GonzalezBOS Red SoxAge: 29B:R   T:R

After spending his first eight years in an extreme pitchers' parks and 2006 in Fenway, which rather limits right-handed power hitters, Gonzalez landed a three-year deal with Cincinnati, finally providing himself with a park suited to his skills. With a career .81 G-F and a contact-happy approach at the plate, playing for the Reds should allow him to approach his career-best power numbers from 2004 without killing your batting average. Neither his elbow problems from 2005 nor his oblique strain last summer appear chronic in any way, so don't be surprised when Gonzalez manages 500 at-bats that result in double-digit value for anyone willing to gamble on his return to the NL.

15.  Juan UribeCH White SoxAge: 27B:R   T:R

Yes, Uribe's BA killed a lot of teams and Alex Cintron seemingly stole all Uribe's speed, but he produced another round of solider power numbers and now only needs to combine his performance against right-handers last year with his excellence against southpaws in 2005. The complete collapse of his patience certainly concerns me, but with Uribe's skills otherwise in line with his previous numbers, a rebound to well over a .750 OPS appears quite reasonable. Talk up his purported involvement in a Dominican shooting in October, remember that authorities effectively cleared him of all charges, and then hope for the best for his BA as you look to roster Uribe's 20 homers and 70 RBI anywhere shy of $10.

16.  Bobby CrosbyOAK AthleticsAge: 26B:R   T:L

High on our list of breakout players prior to the season, Crosby injured his shoulder while lifting weights last winter and never got untracked. Robinson Cano accidentally spiked Crosby's left index finger in the first game of the season, then Crosby strained his right triceps in week four. While he managed a respectable .276/.312/.483 May performance, an early June HBP on his right hand limited his productivity for a few weeks, and although he avoided the DL until August, a new back injury effectively ended his season right after the trade deadline. In November Crosby announced the he actually suffered a spinal fracture, which Oakland's doctors misdiagnosed, so while 2006 appears a wasted year for Crosby, he should return to full health by spring training. If he avoids further injury, I see no reason why he can't emerge as an extremely solid player for the Athletics, however Crosby's litany of injuries demands a very conservative projection. As good health could enable him to outplay expectations rather significantly, target him for about $10, only pushing a little higher if you really need a shortstop.

17.  Joaquin AriasTEX RangersAge: 22B:R   T:R

Please refer to our Post-2006 Prospect Review: Texas for my comments on Arias.

18.  Alex CoraBOS Red SoxAge: 30B:L   T:R

Re-signed as Boston's primary reserve infielder, Cora only will receive regular playing time if Julio Lugo or Dustin Pedroia suffers an injury. Respectable plate discipline keeps Cora high on the list of MIF roster filler, however with limited power and unimpressive speed, he doesn't belong in the infield of a competitive fantasy team. If you need his services earlier then when seeking reserve-round depth, you definitely erred while drafting your infield.

19.  Juan CastroMIN/CINAge: 34B:R   T:R

New Reds' GM Wayne Krivsky, late of the Twins, dealt Brandon Roberts, a decent outfield prospect, to Minnesota in exchange for Castro, who contributed relatively little to the Reds yet still received a two-year extension in September. While I admit that Castro handles most infield positions rather adroitly, he possesses scant power, speed, or plate discipline, leaving him unlikely to reproduce his positive value from 2007. Of course, he also enters camp as the only likely backup for Brandon Phillips, Alex Gonzalez, and Edwin Encarnacion, so Castro could see a surprising number of at-bats despite his failure when handed the starting shortstop job on the Twins last spring. Like Alex Cora in the AL, Castro is not someone you want on your fantasy team and barely belongs among your reserves unless you want a little insurance after drafting Gonzalez and Encarnacion.

Shortstop Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: As mentioned yesterday, the top tier of AL shortstops appears irritatingly overvalued while the most productive youngsters from 2006 won't join the upper cadre sooner than 2008. Instead target Jhonny Peralta, who appears ripe for a dramatic rebound, and if other owners bid up Peralta, turn toward Juan Uribe or Bobby Crosby. NL owners also shouldn't forget about Alex Gonzalez, who looks like a great fit at MIF for most teams due to his promising power potential, especially since he should cost less than ten bucks in the vast majority of leagues.

Click here to read the previous article.

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