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NL Shortstops: Day Two
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

National 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.  Hector LunaSTL/CLEAge: 26B:R   T:R

The former Rule 5 pick rejoined his initial organization in a deadline deal for Ron Belliard, who provided the Cardinals needed stability at second base. Back in Cleveland, Luna's formerly respectable plate discipline vanished, and his speed similarly shrank to an untenable level. He at least appear in line for a bench job with the Indians as the primary reserve infielder, but with Joe Inglett providing plenty of competition, not to mention Mike Rouse, Luis Rivas, and all the overflow from the 1B/DH/OF derby, Luna appears a poor bet to see consistent playing time. Anything less than a hundred at-bat drop would surprise me, leaving him little value as more than roster filler with a little SB upside.

13.  Jack WilsonPIT PiratesAge: 28B:R   T:R

Entering camp fully recovered from his 2005 appendectomy alone explains much of this rebound, particularly his sterling .326/.384/.562 April, but a variety of minor leg injuries slowed Wilson over the balance of the year, as well as limiting his steals. Of course, the $20M/3 contract extension he signed in February also insures he'll remain Pittsburgh's starter fort he next few years, and while this situation offers decent upside for fantasy owners, Wilson prevents Freddy Sanchez from shifting to a more valuable position and therefore opening up a corner spot for a desperately needed power hitter. Yet Dave Littlefield and Jim Tracy remain in charge of the Pirates, so expect about 575 at-bats for Wilson out of the #2 hole and a 2007 value just shy of double digits.

14.  Craig CounsellARI DiamondbacksAge: 36B:L   T:R

Counsell broke a rib right after the All-Star break, essentially ceding shortstop to Stephen Drew for the remainder of the year. He then returned to the Brewers this winter after two seasons in the desert and will spent the next couple of summers as the Brewers' primary reserve infielder, likely seeing at least three hundred at-bats a year given the demonstrated fragility of Corey Koskie, J.J. Hardy, and even Rickie Weeks. I expect Ned Yost to led Counsell run at his leisure, so although a likely drop in his average will sap much of his value, Counsell remains a decent end-game MIF option, likely to reach double-digit steals and therefore able to aid any team prepared to absorb the BA hit.

15.  Royce ClaytonWAS/CINAge: 36B:R   T:R

Cristian Guzman's injury opened a full-time job for Clayton in Washington, and despite perfectly mediocre work at the plate for three months, Wayne Krivsky still wanted him to replace Felipe Lopez at short in Cincinnati for defensive reasons. Ignoring the fact that Clayton's offensive ineptitude easily offset any defensive gains over Lopez, he remained a fantasy asset due to his speed and at least enters camp with decent value as the Jays' likely shortstop. Yet Russ Adams remains poised for a rebound, and although moving to the Rogers Centre will help Clayton retain some short-term value due to a higher BA, the combination of Toronto's traditional hesitance to run and the competition Clayton faces makes him a poor long-term gamble. Only spend an end-round pick on him if desperate for a shortstop and you plan to spend the first half finagling a deal to upgrade your obviously weakest position.

16.  Stephen DrewARI DiamondbacksAge: 23B:L   T:R

While Drew didn't dominate the International League at AAA Tucson, his .284/.340/.462 performance with 13 HR, 51 RBI, 55 R, 3/6 SB%, and a 33:50 BB:K still suggests plenty of upside. Assuming the starting job in Arizona after Craig Counsell's July injury, Drew emerged as a needed asset of the rebuilding Diamondbacks, solidifying shortstop and posting great all-around numbers despite weak plate discipline. While I anticipate mild regression in his sophomore campaign, particularly if he remains at the bottom of the lineup, his long-term upside still looks fantastic, and after a $15 campaign or two, Drew should push well past $20 no later than 2009.

17.  Khalil GreeneSD PadresAge: 26B:R   T:R

At least Greene mildly rebounded from 2005, even posting surprisingly nice skill growth before another round of injuries prevented a true breakout. He registered a respectable .248/.327/.437 first-half performance, posted a fantastic .361/.400/.619 output in July, and then sprained both his middle fingers within the first two weeks of August, effectively ending his season due to the torn ligament in his left finger. Yet with improved plate discipline and hints of improving power, a healthy Greene could approach $20 due to overall offensive growth. The problem with that scenario is he hasn't stayed fully healthy for a season since reaching the majors, so while his upside intrigues me in spite of the difficulties presented by PETCO, every dollar you bid into the teens rapidly reduces your chance of seeing a profit, especially given his reported demotion to the #8 hole this spring.

18.  Adam EverettHOU AstrosAge: 29B:R   T:R

Excellent defense keeps Everett in the lineup in Houston, and after the trade of Ben Zobrist and the Astros' failure to package him for Miguel Tejada, Everett could remain the club's starter for another couple of years. Even the addition of Mark Loretta shouldn't cost Everett much playing time due to Phil Garner's preference for the defense of the relative youngster. Of course, he possesses insufficient power to take advantage of his .88 G-F, and although Everett demonstrated the best plate discipline of his career last summer, merely boosting his OBP back over .300 would qualify as a notable accomplishment. The reason to draft Everett remains his chance to steal a dozen or more bases, so while I won't recommend him given the obvious BA downside, he shouldn't hurt as an end-game MIF option in standard leagues.

19.  Ronny CedenoCH CubsAge: 23B:R   T:R

A disastrous year on both sides of the ball culminated first with the acquisition of Cesar Izturis and then with the signing of Mark DeRosa, which not only removes Cedeno from the starting lineup but almost certainly sends him back to the minors. Yes, Cedeno just turns 24 in February, but with terrible plate discipline poor baserunning instincts, and unimpressive power, he appears a long way from contributing to the Cubs. Generally post-hype prospects appear to me, but until you see Cedeno begin echoing his 2005 numbers at AAA Iowa, he won't warrant any consideration for your roster.

20.  Aaron MilesSTL CardinalsAge: 29B:S   T:R

The Cardinals' unlikely starting shortstop for much of 2006 after Junior Spivey imploded during camp, Miles returns as the club's reserve middle infielder behind starters David Eckstein and Adam Kennedy. Miles actually might emerge as a platoon partner for Kennedy given his success against southpaws, and the reduced action against right-handers should help his overall averages improve. However, Miles also still lacks any overt power or speed, so while he looks like an excellent option whenever you need MIF roster filler, his minimal upside makes him a poor choice for your regular roster during the draft.

21.  Eric BruntlettHOU AstrosAge: 28B:R   T:R

This week's signing of Mark Loretta places Bruntlett in an unexpectedly precarious situation. After a couple years as the club's primary backup shortstop, now he'll compete during spring training for no more than two roster spots with Jason Lane, Brooks Conrad, Mike Rodriguez, and an extended list of candidates for the twelfth spot on the pitching staff. While Bruntlett probably deserves a job on some big league bench given his defensive flexibility, solid plate discipline, and decent speed, as well as his success against lefties, he nevertheless offers less upside than most of Houston's other options. Consider him roster filler on the Astros and a potential $1 steal if he lands on a club desperate for middle depth, specifically Washington, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, or Texas.

Shortstop Week continues tomorrow.

Today's Fantasy Rx: The third tier of NL shortstops offers one future star in Stephen Drew worth about $15, a couple of relatively young veterans who could improve in Khalil Greene, Jack Wilson, and Adam Everett, and then a few aging journeymen and questionable bench players barely worth roster spots in most leagues. Once again, if you can't afford one of the National League's studs at this position and none of the established starters emerge at bargains, landing Wilson, Everett, or even Greene in the endgame for a relative pittance might be your best bet. Despite Drew's upside, our general concerns regarding his immediate future mean that you should exercise plenty of caution, ceding him to a fellow owner if bidding heads to unreasonable levels.

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