This is the latest installment of the power rankings. If you would like an introduction of the power rankings, click here. If you would like to read the power rankings for catcher, click here. If you would like to read the power rankings for first base, click here. If you would like to read the power rankings for second base, click here. If you would like to read the power rankings for shortstop, enough with the clicking. You have come to the right place. Please read on.
Below, you will find a graph of every team’s projected shortstop WAR for the upcoming season based on the FanGraphs Depth Chart Projections.
The shortstop position is incredibly well-stocked for the future. Six of the top 11 shortstops are 23 years old or younger and the only shortstops older than 26 in the top 13 are 29-year-old Brandon Crawford and 31-year-old Troy Tulowitzki. Even some teams closer to the bottom like the Brewers and Phillies have reason for optimism with young shortstops on the way. Headed by Carlos Correa, shortstop should have a number of great players over the next few years.
If one were looking for a word that would describe Carlos Correa’s growth as a player over the past few years, astronomical would be an appropriate word to use. His meteoric rise began in 2012 when the Astros drafted him, in part because he agreed to an under slot signing bonus. Correa rocketed through the system with just 539 plate appearances between High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A combined, and just one year ago, he entered the season without a single plate appearance above Single-A ball. The lack of minor league experience did not prevent the 20-year-old from becoming an immediate star.
Now 21, Correa is expected to continue to shine brightly, providing very good offense with at least average defense. Carlos Correa is the only MLB player projected to exceed 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases this season. He is projected for nearly five wins above replacement this season after a 3.3 WAR season last year, but he only needs a more terrestrial 2.3 WAR season for the second-most WAR for a shortstop through Age-21 over the past 50 years (Alex Rodriguez is first with 12.9 WAR). Marwin Gonzalez will get a few starts at multiple positions here and there, but if Correa were to go down for any length of time, it would be a problem.
Francisco Lindor was actually Correa’s equal at the plate last season, and given Lindor’s superior fielding prowess, Lindor was deserving of not just a close second in the Rookie of the Year, but perhaps the award itself. For at least one season, he was the best young shortstop in baseball, but Lindor’s lease on that claim will likely not last. Although just 22 years old, he might have outplayed expectations offensively last season as projections expect him to be a bit closer to average at the plate. His minor league numbers are solid, but not quite spectacular, and the .169 ISO Lindor posted was higher than any single stop in his minor league career.
Lindor might get passed by Correa, and Xander Boegarts, Corey Seager, and Addison Russell are all coming on strong, but right now, the projections have Lindor as the second-best shortstop in baseball. One young shortstop unlikely to pass Lindor anytime soon is backup Jose Ramirez. Cleveland’s reserve shortstop should see decent time at several positions, including center field, but the 23-year-old does not show Lindor’s offensive aptitude. Ramirez remains a solid player despite the problems on offense, giving Cleveland enviable depth at shortstop.
#3 Blue Jays
Troy Tulowitzki, still just 31 years old but now entering his 11th big league season, is very much the elder statesman among top shortstops. Tulo and the injured Jhonny Peralta are the only starting shortstops who appear in the top half of these power rankings while being on the wrong side of 30. With Colorado, he was number one last year. This year with Toronto, he moves down just a couple spots. Tulowitzki might not be the five-WAR player he was five times in six season prior to 2015, but he is still one of the best shortstops in baseball.
Last season, Tulowitzki was as an average player offensively. His strikeout rate increased by one-third and his walk rate decrease by one-third compared to league averages. Due to the extremely high level at which he began, those factors and a decrease in power only dropped him to a 100 wRC+. Tulowitzki is in the decline phase of his career, but a slight bounceback can be expected for what should be one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball. Ryan Goins will get some time at second base until Devon Travis returns, but he should also see some time at shortstop. Goins is well-suited as a backup, mainly because he is not quite good enough to start.
The Angels made one big move this winter, and generally speaking, bringing in a player with a .304 career on-base percentage and an 84 wRC+ is not going to generate much excitement. We should not speak generally, however, about Andrelton Simmons. With the Braves from 2012-2105, Simmons posted a UZR of 68 and Manny Machado was the only infielder within 25 runs and even he was 17 behind Simmons. Simmons’ 113 defensive runs saved is the best in baseball over that time period, and the closest infielder (Nolan Arenado), is nearly 50 runs behind him.
Simmons is likely the best defensive shortstop the game has seen since Ozzie Smith, and that value alone makes him one of the top five shortstops in the game today. If Simmons could make the same mid-career transition to average offense that Smith did after his trade, Simmons would be one of the very best players in all of baseball. Simmons has had some arm issues in Spring Training, which is troubling as the club’s shortstop production would fall off a very steep cliff should the team be forced to rely on Cliff Pennington.
#5 Red Sox
Xander Bogaerts still has considerable star potential, and if the power comes this year, he could find himself in the discussion for best shortstop in baseball. The 23-year-old had a great season last year, hitting .320/.355/.421 for a 109 wRC+, but a .372 BABIP is bound to come down this season. If he can turn a few more of his 35 doubles into home runs and get his low walk numbers from last year (4.9% walk-rate) something closer to his minor league numbers (12.2% in 2013), he can more than make up for some BABIP regression.
After a disappointing 2014 in which Bogaerts was near replacement level, last year he began to answer questions and fulfill some of the promise that made him one of the five best prospects in baseball heading into his rookie year. That promise is still slightly untapped despite being one of the bright spots in a disappointing Red Sox season. Having untapped promise after a four-WAR season is a good thing, as becoming one of the best players in baseball is still a possibility. Like Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt also has a cool name and should do a fine job in a utility role for the Red Sox this season.
Picked 17 spots after Carlos Correa in the 2012 MLB Draft, Seager’s progression to the big leagues has been almost as swift, reaching the majors near the end of last season as a September callup, but playing well enough to start in the playoffs. Considered by many to be the top prospect in baseball, Seager is the current favorite to win Rookie of the Year in the National League. He does not strike out much and pairs his contact with solid power, hitting 22 homers and 45 doubles across three levels last season.
Seager has had a bit of a knee problem that has put Opening Day somewhat in doubt, but assuming the issue is minor, Seager should be one of the game’s best shortstops from the get-go, although he might move to third base at some point in his career. Kike Hernandez presents a solid backup option should Seager miss time, but Seager should take control of the position and provide the Dodgers with good production as they seek a return to the playoffs. I thought it might be possible to do this write-up without mentioning that Seager has an older brother named Kyle who is also a major leaguer. It was not possible.
Brandon Crawford had himself quite the year in 2015, flashing some power, leading all shortstops in WAR, and receiving a $75 million contract extension for his efforts. He did not quite play a full season due to some calf and oblique issues that sidelined him in the second half, but he managed 561 plate appearances, hit 21 home runs, and posted a 117 wRC+, tops among qualified shortstops last year.
Crawford is very good with the glove, but at 29 years old, there is a decent chance we just saw the best year of Crawford’s career. If the power spike from last season was real, Crawford should have another great season. If he hits closer to 15 home runs and the ISO drops closer .150 than .200, his season will still be solidly above average. Kelby Tomlinson can steal some bases, but his 119 wRC+ in under 200 plate appearances was likely a mirage and unlikely to repeat itself this season.
Addison Russell’s glove is a bit ahead of his bat at this point in his career. The 22-year-old batted behind the pitcher for much of last season, beginning the season at second base (right after staying in the minors long enough to ensure the Cubs a seventh season of control) before finally taking over for Starlin Castro, who has since been traded to the Yankees. Russell struck out last season nearly 30% of the time, a major departure from his minor league numbers, indicating he was a bit overmatched his first time through the majors.
While Russell’s 90 wRC+ on the season is still acceptable for shortstop, his first half was a poor 79 wRC+ and he was essentially average in the second half. Russell has decent power, and if he could lower his strikeout numbers, he could move into the upper echelon of shortstops. Javier Baez is likely to attempt to be the new Ben Zobrist by backing up the currently old Ben Zobrist as well as Addison Russell and pretty much every other position available. Whether Joe Maddon would let him suit up for all nine positions in one game is something to monitor this season. Also worth monitoring is Baez’s strikeout rate, which is nearly 40% in the majors. For Baez to get regular playing time at any position, that will have to improve. If it does, he might hit 20 home runs this season.
People say that it is not good to follow a legend, but it is better to follow the player following the legend. In New York, we are still in the following the legend stage. Derek Jeter used to be the shortstop for the Yankees. His successor, Didi Gregorious, suffers by comparison as he is not Derek Jeter. This is not Gregorious’ fault as he has proved to be a solid player. Below average on offense but decent with the glove, Gregorious is pretty close to average baseball player.
At 26, this year could be Gregorious’ very best season. He might crack double-digit home runs, but he does not bring a lot of power, instead making contact in an attempt to get on base. The Yankees new second baseman, Starlin Castro, is also 26 years old and does have some experience at shortstop, but is not likely Gregorious’ peer with the glove. There is a scenario where Pete Kozma gets some time at shortstop for the Yankees. It is not one of the better scenarios for the Yankees.
So Brad Miller is still a thing. Not with the Mariners anymore after an offseason trade, Miller is going to get a shot at shortstop for the Rays. There might not be a more average offensive player than Brad Miller. League average walk percentage last year and Miller’s career average: 8%. League average strikeout percentage last year and Miller’s career average: 20%. The league average batting average and Miller’s average last year: .258. Only a slightly higher walk rate and slightly lower slugging put Miller just a bit above average with the bat (105 wRC+ in 2015).
Miller presents that average bat with a roughly average to perhaps below-average glove at shortstop which should yield roughly average production overall. He can play other positions, play the left-handed part of a platoon, and makes the minimum salary, all of which makes him a very Rays player. Tim Beckham and the disappointing Nick Franklin could also see time at shortstop this season, and as long as you forget that Tim Beckham was once the number one overall pick, he seems like an adequate backup. That sort of thing is often hard to forget, though.
Just a few months after being drafted, Trea Turner was the unusual the player to be named later in the three-team deal that sent Wil Myers to San Diego, Steven Souza to Tampa, and Joe Ross to Washington. Because of the rule that said draftees could not be traded for a year (which has since been changed) Turner spent the first few months of 2015 in an organization that had already traded him. After fewer than 60 games with the Nationals and 200 games total in the minors, Turner was up with the Nationals last season. Turner has not yet shown much power, and like many players in this tier, being slightly below average at the plate and a decent shortstop defensively makes him a fairly valuable player to have.
The Nationals are also set to employ Danny Espinosa, who strikes out more than you like while occasionally hitting the long ball. It is Espinosa who is likely to start the season at shortstop while Turner heads back to Triple-A for more minor league experience. When they call him back up for good depends on Espinosa, Turner, and perhaps service time as the team could gain another year of control by keeping Turner in the minor until June. Stephen Drew might get some time here as well, although it is unclear what value he brings. The Nationals best-case scenario is for Turner to take charge of the position as soon as possible and make sure Espinosa is more of a utility guy getting the occasional start as opposed to starting shortstop.
Jose Iglesias has posted a .300 batting average in each of the last two seasons, which is something. He also has not had a great walk rate nor has he hit for power, making the average a bit empty. Contact is Iglesias’ game on offense, one of just nine players with a strikeout rate below 10% last season (min. 400 PA). He was a poor base-stealer last season, successful on just 11 of 19 tries. Combine that together with solid defense at shortstop and we have another roughly average player.
If Iglesias could get a little bit better on the basepaths, he could push the Tigers up this list by the end of the season, but unless he walks more or develops power, he is unlikely to make a major step forward at 26 years old. Iglesias is a fine player and should receive the great share of playing time this season, although veteran Mike Aviles could get a few starts here and there. Aviles is 35 years old and been a replacement-level player for the last half-decade.
The Marcus Semien shortstop experiment enters year two in Oakland. After trading future shortstop Addison Russell for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the A’s then traded Samardzija for a package that included Marcus Semien and made Semien the starting shortstop. While errors are generally not a good judge of fielding as they do not account for range, Semien was one of five players with more than 20 errors, but he was the only player with more than 27, and his 35 errors were split between fielding and throwing. Even if he had great range, that is too many plays to dismiss when evaluating Semien as a shortstop.
Semien worked intensely with Ron Washington because apparently shortstop is hard, too, and if those results pay dividends and Semien is even slightly below average at shortstop, the A’s might get above-average production there. Jed Lowrie figures to see a majority of his time at second base, but can take some starts from Semien from time to time. Semien might be an average-hitting second baseman trying to play shortstop. Entering year two of Semien-as-shortstop, this year seems to be the year where we figure out if he actually pulls it off.
The Cardinals were quite a bit higher on this list just a few weeks ago. Jhonny Peralta has provided St. Louis above average production on offense and defense since signing as a free agent two years ago. Unfortunately, Peralta injured his thumb and could be out until the All-Star Break. After a brief competition between Jedd Gyorko and Aledmys Diaz, the Cardinals signed the recently waived Ruben Tejada. The former Mets’ shortstop raises the floor a bit for the Cardinals but does not come close to replicating what Peralta would have brought. Gyorko will still see occasional starts at shortstop, and Greg Garcia is likely to be the Caridnals’ 25th man to begin the season.
Aledmys Diaz looked close to winning the job without Tejada falling into the Cardinals’ laps. He will likely start the season in Memphis to get regular playing time while Tejada is given a shot, but if he continues to play well and Tejada falters, Diaz could get the job until Peralta comes back. There have to be concerns about how good Peralta will be when he comes back given his age (34 in May) and the ability to regain strength in his thumb after a long time period off. The Cardinals once made the playoffs with Pete Kozma as the everyday shortstop which has little to do with this Cardinals team, but is still pretty bizarre.
Eduardo Escobar is probably a lot like the Twins for most people. He is decent, but not all that good, projections do not believe in him, and you actually know very little about him. Escobar has produced at an average level offensively over the past two seasons, reaching double-digits in home runs last season and hitting more than 30 doubles in each of the past two years despite not reaching 500 plate appearances. Last year he split time between the outfield and shortstop, but also has experience at second and third.
Danny Santana threatened Escobar’s playing time last season, but Escobar’s solid play coupled with Santana’s poor play helped Escobar win the job. The same dynamic is in play this season, but this year Escobar appears to have the upper hand. A poor stretch by Escobar along with a good run by Santana could have a big impact on playing time going forward as neither player has shown enough to be a real long-term solution. Jorge Polanco is likely to spend another season in the minor leagues, but he should have a say on the future of the position for the Twins, maybe even sometime this year.
We have now reached the tier where we hit the players who are clearly below average. Perhaps these players are not well below average, but expecting more than average production in 2016 would be unfair. And so it is with Asdrubal Cabrera. The Mets new shortstop has hit roughly 15 home runs every season for the last four years, in total providing roughly average offense with below average defense to form a slightly below average player. The defense might not matter as the Mets pitching staff is currently projected to strike out every hitter they face this season.
If Cabrera is not ready to start the season due to knee issues, the Mets declared their confidence in Wilmer Flores as backup by putting Ruben Tejada on waivers. Flores had a solid season last year, and the 24-year-old might actually be better than Cabrera at this point anyway. Flores cannot seem to talk a walk, which lowers his ceiling as well as his on-base percentage, but he does not strike out much, has decent pop, and is likely better than Cabrera on defense. He should get decent playing time for the Mets, but is not likely to be a difference-maker as the team tries to hold off the Nationals in the East.
|Ivan De Jesus||56||.246||.304||.347||.287||-1.5||0.0||0.0||0.1|
Zack Cozart has long been a very good defensive player and a very poor offensive player. He showed signs of being a decent offensive player last year, hitting nine homers in just over 200 plate appearances to go along with a high (for Cozart) 6.5% walk rate. Unfortunately, season-ending knee surgery prevented a potential breakout season from continuing, and at this point, it is difficult to say what kind of player Cozart will be this season.
The projections assume the 30-year-old Cozart will go back to being the same no-hit, all-field shortstop that he was before last season. This is a reasonable assumption, but if he can keep up the production for one more half-season, he might provide the Reds with an interesting trade chip, which is the sort of thing the Reds are looking forward to this season. Jose Peraza, perhaps a player to look forward to, will likely settle in at second base, but could see some time at shortstop after being traded twice in the span of a few months.
This is not where Elvis Andrus’ career was supposed to be at 27 years old. The great defense was supposed to combine with average to below-average offense to be a very good player for years to come. Sadly, that version of Andrus has left the building. The offense has settled in at disastrous and the once-great fielding is closer to average. Andrus has not even cracked an 80 wRC+ since 2012, and his value on the bases appears to have peaked in 2013.
An average-fielding, poor hitting shortstop is still a worthwhile player, but he is now below average and owed $15 million per year for the next five seasons before his salary drops to a just as unreasonable $14 million for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The Rangers do have Ian Desmond to play left field this season, and the dream is still alive for Jurickson Profar, but Andrus is still the long term shortstop for the Texas Rangers, and that is no longer something to look forward to.
Ketel Marte is another young starting shortstop, although he lacks the notoriety and production of the young players further up this list. Just 22 years old, Marte played very well last season in limited time, putting up a .283/.351/.402 line good for a wRC+ of 112 in 247 plate appearances. The most surprising aspect of Marte’s line was the on-base percentage. Marte’s walk rate in the high minors was 5.6%, but at the major league level it bumped up to 9.7% last season.
Marte does not hit for power so if his walk rate and .341 BABIP drop a bit, he will settle in as a below average hitter. Combined with average defense, that would make Marte close to an average player. If Marte was able to fine-tune his approach and get a better batting eye, there is room for some upside this season, but the projections do not see it that way. While something close to average is a reasonable expectation, the Mariners should hope Marte slides back no further as Luis Sardinas projects as one of the worst offensive players in the majors.
Alcides Escobar is a veteran, he is a World Series Champion hero, and he loves to swing at the first pitch. Sounds nice, but he comes with a few negatives that drag his value down. Including playoffs, Escobar has played in over 1,000 games, received more than 4,000 plate appearances, and walked just 161 times. His career average is just .262 so together with his lack of walks, he is the only active player with more than 3,000 plate appearances with an on-base percentage below .300 on their career.
Escobar is good on the bases when he actually gets there, but that OBP makes it very difficult to be anywhere near a positive presence offensively. Add in solid defense at shortstop and he’s solidly above replacement, but his free-swinging make it difficult to be much more than that. Christian Colon is in a battle for playing time at second base, but should also get a start every once in awhile at shortstop. Colon does not bring much to the table offensively, although he might actually be an improvement over Escobar, although his defense is likely not to Escobar’s level.
In a season lacking in victories, fans of the Phillies had Maikel Franco’s callup to look forward to in the early part of the year. This season, Phillies fans can expect a lot more losses, but an even more exciting minor leaguer should reach Philadelphia at some point this summer. J.P. Crawford is one of the best prospects in all of baseball, and the 21-year-old already profiles as an average major leaguer. He has only reached Double-A, but he rarely strikes out and actually walked more than he struck out last season. If he can develop power, he can be a star.
There is the possibility that Philadelphia keeps Crawford down for most of the season, in which case incumbent Freddy Galvis will continue to man the position. Galvis is not a good hitter, and his defense is not much more than average. He is better than replacement, but not too much better. That is the bad news. The good news is that Philadelphia will not have to wait long to find a much better replacement.
#22 White Sox
The White Sox are projected to get just 1.5 wins above replacement from the shortstop position this year, but that is a 2.4 WAR increase over what they got last year in a disastrous campaign headed by Alexei Ramirez. At this point in his career, the 37-year-old Jimmy Rollins is unlikely to be good, but as long as he is not really bad, he will improve the White Sox for the 2016 season. Unfortunately, really bad is still within the realm of possibility for Rollins as he hit just .224/.285/.358 last season with a wRC+ of 80.
Rollins has 229 home runs and 465 stolen bases in his career and the only players to exceed him in both categories are Rickey Henderson, Joe Morgan, Barry Bonds, and Paul Molitor. That is all well and good for his career, but it does not do much for this season’s White Sox. Tyler Saladino is there to back up Rollins, but do not be surprised to see top prospect Tim Anderson up at some point this season for the White Sox. Anderson is likely the shortstop of the future. He stole 49 bases last season and while he is not likely to get a ton of time this season, he could use 2016 as a springboard to take the starting job one year from now.
We are projecting Erick Aybar to get 588 plate appearances and he probably will get them somewhere. However, he is unlikely to get them all with Atlanta this season. Acquiring Aybar and a portion of his salary from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons trade, the Braves are unlikely to contend this season and have little use for a pending free agent like Aybar. They are likely to trade him at some point this season if he can prove he has some value to a contender.
While other players could see some playing time, they are not likely to make a meaningful difference for the Braves, whose depth chart is essentially Trade Bait, Place Holder, and Dansby Swanson. The number one pick in last year’s draft, the Braves swindled the Diamondbacks to get Swanson, and once he is ready for the majors, likely 2017, he will take over as shortstop. After ranking second last year, the Braves dropped 21 spots. It was not the biggest dropoff from last year, though…
Troy Tulowitzki had the Rockies at the top of FanGraphs Positional Power Rankings last season, but after trading Tulowitzki away, much has changed. Jose Reyes is certainly a baseball player who exists on the Rockies depth chart, but how long he appears there is up in the air. Reyes is expected to be suspended by MLB due to his domestic violence charges, and whether he actually appears for the Rockies this season, or ever, is unknown.
Trevor Story seems to have taken over at shortstop and the 23-year-old will try to make good on his promise, which has faded a bit in recent seasons. He had previously struck out a lot whenever he had been promoted, needing time to adjust to a new level, but in a brief promotion to Triple-A last season, he stayed at a reasonable 25% strikeout rate. Story’s walk rate did plummet in Triple-A, however, so expecting a great performance right out of the chute is unreasonable. His numbers might look decent overall, but when taking Coors Field into account, he is unlikely to be above average offensively. Christian Adames could also win some time at shortstop, although he is even less likely to hit than Story.
Over the last two seasons, 117 players have at least 1000 plate appearances. Jean Segura’s wRC+ of 64 ranks 116th among those players with only Omar Infante putting up worse offensive numbers. If you lower the threshold to 500 plate appearances, there are 302 players who meet that threshold and Jean Segura ranks 294th. Teammate and fellow shortstop Nick Ahmed ranks 296th. Billy Hamilton, Mike Aviles, Mike Zunino, and Skip Schumaker are ahead of the Diamondbacks tandem on offense over the last two seasons. Teammate Zack Greinke has a higher career wRC+ than Nick Ahmed. If you add up the projected wRC+ of Segura and Ahmed, it is only one point higher than teammate Paul Goldschmidt’s 144 projection. Nick Ahmed is a really good fielder. Jean Segura is decent with the glove. Maybe they will hit better this year. I have not ruled it out, which is something, I suppose.
The Brewers managed to trade away a bad shortstop and ended up worse than the team they trade him to, although not significantly worse. While the team hoped that Segura would be the shortstop of the future, his stagnation caused a trade, and the team imported Jonathan Villar from Houston to take over at shortstop. Villar is just 24 years old, and might have a future at second base if his gains with the bat prove permanent. As an average hitter, Villar would make a pretty decent tandem with the new Brewers shortstop of the future, Orlando Arcia.
Arcia will not be starting the season with the Brewers, but he hit well last season in Double-A and is considered a good fielder at shortstop. The 21-year-old might not be immediately ready for the majors at the plate, but Arcia is one of the best prospects in baseball and the Brewers might choose to get a glimpse of the future and create a bit of excitement for the fans later on this season.
It was not that long ago that J.J. Hardy was a decent hitter and he combined that decent hitting with very good defensive to be a pretty valuable player. Heading to last season, Hardy was coming off five straight two-WAR seasons, including consecutive three-WAR seasons. The 33-year-old struggled last season. Of the 211 players with at least 400 plate appearances, Hardy’s wRC+ of 49 ranked 210th (sorry again Omar Infante).
While Hardy should not be quite that bad this season, even splitting the difference with his career numbers and adding in good defense still make him just a one-WAR player this year. Hardy still has one more year after 2016 on his contract. Ryan Flaherty and Paul Janish are near replacement as well, although the Orioles do have a third baseman who could probably adequately play the position should the need arise.
This placement might be selling the Marlins a bit short. Stop looking at one-year defensive ratings for a complete look at a player’s ability, but also consider other factors that could be contributing to a change in defensive skill level. Adeiny Hechevarria’s defensive numbers were not very good his first two seasons in the majors, but they were great last season, leading to what appears to be an inflated 2.7 WAR. The projections properly take all three years into account, making Hechevarria about average. If Hechevarria’s one-year numbers are cut in half, this projection is still probably light by a win.
Hechevarria might have found a new talent level on defense due to coaching and maturity. He will not provide a lot of offense, but being average in total is a lot better than where he is on this list. Miguel Rojas is 27 years old and he hits worse than Hechevarria. Rojas can field, but that will not be enough for him to make much of a contribution this season.
The Pirates are expected to contend this season, but shortstop is not the reason for that expected contention. Like many of the players featured here near the end, Jordy Mercer had a very disappointing 2015 season. In 2014, Mercer put together a slightly below average offensive season with average defense. Combined with the positional adjustment for shortstop, Mercer was an average player. In 2015, the defense was the same, but Mercer lost any semblance of power he once had and produced a .076 ISO and was barely above replacement. A slight recovery is expected, but that is still pretty bad relative to the rest of baseball’s starting shortstops. Pedro Florimon cannot hit at all and Gift Ngoepe has a great name, but unless Jung-ho Kang has a big recovery from his injury last season and takes over the shortstop role at some point instead of playing third base, the Pirates are likely to win in spite of their production at shortstop, not because of it.
The Padres acquired the single-worst regular shortstop in baseball from the 2015 season. It should come as no surprise that starting the worst regular shortstop in baseball from the 2015 season in the 2016 season provides a poor projection. Alexei Ramirez had provided the White Sox with six good seasons in a row from 2009 to 2014, generally below average offensively with enough defense and base running to make for an above-average season. In 2015, Ramirez was bad on offense, bad at base running, and at 34 years old, his defense is on the decline. And now Ramirez is replacing a player in Alexi Amarista, who was actually worse than Ramirez last season. The two players combined to be worth -1.3 WAR last season. They will probably be better this season and that improvement could make them the worst in baseball at the shortstop position. It would probably be pouring salt on the wound to mention they traded Trea Turner an offseason ago, and for that I apologize.
Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.