Hello! This is a post in the series called “Positional Power Rankings,” which started on Monday with Jeff Sullivan’s introduction and continues today with my thoughts on the league’s shortstops. If you’d prefer to read other people’s thoughts on other positions, you can navigate to those thoughts using the widget above.
We’ve been talking about a golden age of shortstops for a few years now. Scanning through this list, I don’t see any particular reason to stop the chatter. Some players are fading a little, but Manny Machado is a shortstop again this year, after spending much of his big-league career at third; J.P. Crawford and Gleyber Torres are emerging, and the guys at the top of the list are projected to be just as good or better than they were last year. This is a special time to care about the middle of the infield, and the folks ranked in the middle of this list this year could easily have ranked near the top a decade ago. In some cases, like Troy Tulowitzki’s, they literally did. Anyway, here’s the chart you’ve been looking for:
I see five tiers here, though you might see something different. There’s the first four guys, who are superstars even outside of their positions. Then there’s the next five guys, who are very,very good and who almost any team in baseball would have been thrilled to have manning the position a few years ago. Then there’s a group of guys who aren’t quite that good, but who are perfectly solid and might manage to bump up into the second tier if things break right, then a group of folks who aren’t that good now and probably won’t be that good later, either, and then the Royals and the Marlins.
I’m not going to tell you where I think the third group ends and the fourth group starts because some of you will just get mad at me, and also because it’s a fluid line and these are just projections, anyway. They’re going to be wrong, and they’re not really tuned to distinguish that well between a 1.5-win guy and a 2.5-win guy. Anyway. Enough of the preamble. On to the list!
Rian Watt is a contributor to FanGraphs based in Seattle. His work has appeared at Vice, Baseball Prospectus, The Athletic, FiveThirtyEight, and some other places too. By day, he works with communities around the world to end homelessness.