2022 Positional Power Rankings: Shortstop

© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, Ben Clemens gave an accounting of the league’s third basemen. Now we turn our attention to the shortstops.


Over the years, the general perception of shortstops has evolved from “Well, I guess it’s okay if he can’t hit.” to “Wow, he’s the best player on his team!”. Whereas the shortstops of old were heralded for their defensive capabilities, modern shortstops are preternatural athletes who can make a leaping grab one inning and hit a 400-foot home run the next. This season is further testament to how far the position has come: Consider the fact that 17 (!) teams are projected for three-plus wins. Ranked below are some of the league’s brightest stars and up-and-coming prospects, but also several others who, by virtue of having an average bat at the position, could become the most valuable contributors on their respective teams.

2022 Positional Power Rankings – SS
1. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carlos Correa 630 .276 .359 .489 .362 23.4 0.1 2.0 5.4
Jorge Polanco 49 .274 .331 .474 .343 1.1 0.0 -0.3 0.3
Nick Gordon 21 .252 .300 .382 .296 -0.4 0.1 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .275 .355 .485 .358 24.2 0.1 1.6 5.7

Just as everyone predicted, the Twins won the Carlos Correa sweepstakes, and the best player in the 2022 free agent class has skyrocketed his new team to the top of the shortstop rankings. In addition to displaying his usual defensive acumen in 2021, Correa also rebounded offensively by upping his barrel rate and drawing a career-high rate of walks. It’s no wonder our Depth Charts are enthusiastic about his, well, everything, though that does assume a certain degree of health. But a compromised Correa is still an extremely valuable player – look no further than his 2019 campaign, when he accrued 3.1 WAR in just 75 games. Minnesota got a good one.

The former Astro’s arrival largely relieves Jorge Polanco of shortstop duties, which works in Polanco’s favor. He’s much better suited for second base, but even if he does end up filling in for Correa now and then, his quality of contact should mean the Twins lose a couple of steps rather than several. Nick Gordon provided plenty of utility last season by juggling six positions, including shortstop. Overall, though, this is the Carlos Correa show, and the Twins of all teams get to reap the benefits.

2. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Trea Turner 665 .296 .352 .499 .362 24.4 3.9 -2.6 5.5
Gavin Lux 21 .252 .328 .423 .324 0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.1
Chris Taylor 14 .247 .330 .430 .327 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .294 .350 .495 .360 24.6 3.9 -2.8 5.6

Already an All-Star caliber shortstop, 2021 showed that the offensive gains Turner made the previous season were no fluke. He’s now in the true-talent neighborhood of a 130 wRC+, and if you’re wondering how, Turner began hitting the ball harder without sacrificing much in terms of bat control, resulting in a torrent of line drives. Fold that development in with his blazing speed and solid defensive instincts, and it’s a recipe for a five-win player. It’s amusing to think Turner received second billing behind Max Scherzer in the trade that sent him to Los Angeles, where he’ll provide highlight reel material for at least another season.

Moving down the table, there’s a good chance Turner undershoots his projected workload, which amplifies the roles of both Taylor and Lux. Taylor is arguably baseball’s best utility man — the number of plate appearances he sees at any given position is subject to change, so take what’s displayed here with a grain of salt. But ultimately, the less ground Taylor has to cover, the better for the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, Lux hasn’t panned out quite as hoped yet and with Freddie Freeman in the fold, he’s now in backup role purgatory. I doubt the Dodgers trade him given their preference for flexibility, though, and Turner’s presence as their full-time shortstop does provide him an extra year to work on his shortcomings, so don’t write off the former top prospect just yet.

3. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Corey Seager 553 .291 .363 .510 .371 25.5 0.3 -3.1 4.8
Brad Miller 63 .233 .323 .444 .329 0.7 -0.1 -0.2 0.3
Yonny Hernandez 56 .239 .346 .309 .300 -0.7 0.0 0.2 0.2
Marcus Semien 28 .263 .338 .478 .349 0.8 0.0 0.2 0.2
Total 700 .281 .357 .488 .360 26.3 0.3 -3.0 5.5

It’s a bit shocking how much faith our Depth Charts have in Seager’s durability, but as a longtime fan of his offensive prowess, I’m sure not complaining. When Seager connects with the ball, chances are that it’s going to be obliterated, a feat he accomplishes at a surprising rate; compared to his power-hitting peers, his contact rates are otherworldly. He also has what I think of as the ideal early-count approach, swinging aggressively against the strikes pitchers tend to sneak in in hopes of getting ahead. It’s likely Seager moves down the defensive spectrum in the near future, but he’s passable at short for now.

If he does end up on the injured list for an extended period, though, consider the Rangers’ third-place spot revoked. Semien is a possible fill-in at short, though that comes with the cost of severely weakening second base. Good thing they signed Miller post-lockout, as his prior experience at shortstop and his occasional power should be enough to glue the position together. He’s also an option at first, second, or third base, so the Rangers could configure a revolving door of infielders if needed.

Warning: For your safety, please don’t imagine a scenario where Yonny Hernandez earns significant playing time. He seemed overmatched in a 43-game sample last season, and his future outlook is that of a below-average bat with plus speed and defense. If he gets reps at shortstop, he’ll probably make a spectacular play or two, but the hits will need to come elsewhere.

4. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Wander Franco 644 .286 .345 .475 .350 22.2 -0.6 1.8 5.2
Taylor Walls 35 .222 .311 .350 .292 -0.5 -0.0 0.5 0.1
Vidal Bruján 14 .237 .300 .365 .291 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.1
Miles Mastrobuoni 7 .241 .309 .334 .285 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .281 .342 .465 .345 21.4 -0.5 2.4 5.5

Hey look, a 21-year-old projected for a five-win season! Ignore the middling batted ball metrics – the mere fact that Franco not only kept up with big league breaking balls but also ran one of the league’s best strikeout rates speaks volumes about his talent. And with the 11-year, $182 million contract extension he signed last November, he’s the Rays’ shortstop of the foreseeable future. It’ll be fun to watch him do great things.

That doesn’t mean he’s the sole option at the position, though. For one, I’m fascinated by Walls’ profile. Both his hit tool and sneaky pop failed to transfer over from Triple-A, but he accrued modest offensive value by getting deep into counts. In fact, Walls is almost too patient, as evidenced by a called strike rate (20.0%) that’s more than double his swinging strike rate (9.1%). He should be better in 2022 and provide decent support.

Bruján was… well, brutal in his brief time with the big league club, but that doesn’t change much about him. He’s still a switch-hitting, aggressively-running contact machine whose overall profile should hold up, albeit with a limited ceiling. And while he’s listed under the shortstop column, it’s likely the Rays also use him at third, which is a significantly weaker position.

5. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Bo Bichette 658 .289 .340 .500 .357 19.2 1.9 -1.3 4.9
Santiago Espinal 21 .258 .316 .367 .299 -0.4 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Jordan Groshans 21 .243 .306 .383 .300 -0.4 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .287 .338 .492 .354 18.5 1.9 -1.1 5.1

Upon completing a full-season campaign in 2021, Bichette dispelled any remaining doubt about his hit tool – not that there was much of it to begin with. He absolutely rakes, and he’s one of the game’s few remaining hitters who could perennially average .300. Bichette actually swung at a career-high rate of balls last season, but his bat-to-ball skills meant his results on contact didn’t falter. Equally impressive is how he’s managed to whiff less and less with each season. It’s an old-school approach, and it works like a charm.

With Semien gone, however, there’s no obvious heir in the event that Bichette goes down. Espinal is great, but he’s going to be busy at third. Rounding out the list of candidates is Groshans, who’s on an upward trajectory but probably won’t be called up this year barring an unforeseen disaster. Shortstop in Toronto (and Buffalo) was the Bo Bichette show last year, and that’s going to be the case this year, too.

6. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Francisco Lindor 658 .258 .334 .467 .340 15.1 -0.0 4.9 4.9
Luis Guillorme 42 .254 .347 .349 .310 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 0.2
Total 700 .257 .334 .460 .338 15.0 -0.1 4.8 5.0

Lindor disappointed at the plate in his first season in New York. Granted, a 103 wRC+ isn’t too shabby, but this is a player who had established a higher baseline a few years prior. Not to worry, though – his production seems destined to rebound. It’s not as if he lost any power – he actually recorded a career-high rate of balls hit 95 mph and above in 2021 – and the difference between the Lindor of now and the version he’s been before is a couple more line drives in place of fly balls, as well as marginally better luck on all batted balls. Don’t panic yet.

Thankfully, he hasn’t lost a step on defense. He did produce lower DRS and UZR totals on a rate basis compared to previous seasons, but in this case, it’s best to trust his overwhelming track record. It’s also important to consider that defensive metrics do an imperfect job of capturing a fielder’s contributions while shifted. Lindor’s former team, the Guardians, is largely shift-averse, whereas the Mets ranked second in infield shifts last season. And if all else fails, you can’t say Lindor doesn’t pass the eye test with flying colors.

One potential red flag here is the Mets’ lack of depth, which they’ve done little to address after trading away two internal options to acquire Lindor. Guillorme is decent, but this is another team whose ranking depends heavily on the status of its star player. Let’s hope Lindor stays healthy and is all smiles.

7. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ha-Seong Kim 287 .241 .311 .403 .309 -1.7 0.5 0.1 1.2
Fernando Tatis Jr. 259 .290 .373 .614 .409 19.9 1.5 -0.8 3.2
CJ Abrams 91 .245 .298 .367 .289 -2.0 0.2 0.5 0.3
Jake Cronenworth 49 .272 .345 .446 .339 1.0 -0.0 0.1 0.3
Domingo Leyba 14 .236 .291 .390 .294 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .262 .334 .477 .345 16.9 2.2 -0.1 5.0

One of the best shortstops in baseball is injured again. Tatis underwent surgery for a broken left wrist in mid-March and is expected to miss up to three months. That’s a big chunk of the season, but when healthy, Tatis’ abilities are undeniable. He is a force of nature, his every swing evoking a hulking first baseman when in reality, he occupies a premium defensive position. If we’re to nitpick, Tatis’ glove work still leaves much to be desired, as his propensity for gaffs on routine plays persists. But a projected .289/.373/.609 slash line dwarfs the negative impact of those mistakes, and his presence will be sorely missed.

Expected to take over in the interim is Kim. While he struggled against velocity and two-plane break in his debut, I still believe there’s double-digit home run power in there somewhere considering his stellar track record in the KBO. Besides, the superlative defense has carried over, meaning Kim is a valuable backup option no matter what. Cronenworth might have been assigned more shortstop duty if not for a recent groin issue; his fantastic 2021 campaign (.266/.340/.460) shows that he’s here to stay in San Diego.

You’ll also peep CJ Abrams in the above table. While I think it’s unlikely he’ll get much if any major league run in 2022 given the developmental setbacks he experienced last season, consider him a big part of the Padres’ future. A bonafide shortstop with a knack for making contact, he’s the best prospect in the team’s system and the game’s 15th-best prospect overall.

8. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Xander Bogaerts 658 .282 .358 .488 .360 20.4 0.6 -4.7 4.6
Trevor Story 28 .260 .333 .481 .346 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.2
Enrique Hernández 7 .255 .333 .458 .339 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Jonathan Araúz 7 .239 .304 .383 .299 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .280 .356 .486 .359 20.9 0.7 -4.5 4.8

Bogaerts is a phenomenal hitter, I’ll tell you that. There aren’t many big leaguers out there who parlay the triple threat of raw power, bat-to-ball skills, and selective aggression into a continuous stream of successful seasons. And given how the Green Monster acts as a pinball machine for right-handed hitters, I wouldn’t mind the gap between his expected and actual stats. You’re going to get another 130-ish wRC+ season from Bogaerts, and you’re going to like it.

Unlike a lot of shortstops on this list, though, Bogaerts’ defense is less-than-ideal. Boston’s decision to sign Trevor Story does offer a bit of flexibility, but Bogaerts’ home address will remain the same, even if you could argue that he belongs at third base. Still, Bogaerts does more than enough with the bat to make up for his shortcomings at short, making that four-win projection a no-brainer.

Bogaerts’ long run of health – the fewest games he’s played in a season is 136, excluding a cup of coffee in 2013 and the pandemic-shortened ‘20 – means Boston probably won’t have to rely on its organizational depth, but it’s nice to go over. Hernández is a jack of all trades who can handle a variety of positions, and Araúz’s above-average glove can provide a defensive respite.

9. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tim Anderson 665 .290 .322 .457 .333 9.7 1.9 -6.5 3.5
Leury García 14 .259 .311 .371 .298 -0.2 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Danny Mendick 14 .233 .306 .360 .293 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Romy Gonzalez 7 .231 .289 .406 .299 -0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .288 .322 .453 .331 9.2 1.9 -6.6 3.6

“He can’t keep getting away with this!” the nerds wail, as Tim Anderson continues to post a BABIP that, at first glance, seems alarmingly high. But hey, we can also use nerd lingo to break down how he keeps getting away with this. First, Anderson is quite fast, meaning he can turn poorly hit grounders into singles. Second, he almost never hits popups, managing to record just one last season. And third, his all-fields approach means opposing fielders can’t congregate on the pull-side. Maybe a .372 BABIP is indeed a bit too high to sustain, but Anderson should still provide plenty of offensive value even if it simmers down.

His glove is also generally seen as being at least decent, with some metrics rating it better than that. UZR has swung multiple times between disapproving and adulatory, DRS has been a steady supporter, and OAA considers Anderson to be a great, even elite defender. All three metrics agree that he put up one of the worst defensive performances ever as a shortstop in 2017, but Anderson seems to have put those days behind him.

Among the secondary options, García is the only one who should get a decent slice of the shortstop pie. Like Nick Gordon did for the Twins, García also handled six positions last season, providing backup to a White Sox squad that’s a bit thin on depth. It’s tough to isolate his capabilities as a shortstop, but he should be reliable nonetheless. Meanwhile, Mendick and Gonzalez could get some major league run, but I wouldn’t count on them if I were Chicago.

10. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Willy Adames 616 .254 .329 .449 .334 5.5 0.1 -0.8 3.2
Luis Urías 56 .253 .346 .433 .337 0.6 -0.0 0.1 0.3
Pablo Reyes 14 .237 .300 .387 .298 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Jace Peterson 14 .237 .330 .378 .312 -0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .253 .330 .445 .333 5.7 0.0 -0.7 3.6

The Brewers made one of the best trades of last season by bringing in Adames to play shortstop, a position that was decidedly not Milwaukee’s forte. He immediately took off in his new home, hitting .285/.366/.521 the rest of the way. It stood in stark contrast to his miserable start to the season, which might have been influenced by the difficulties he faced hitting at Tropicana Field.

Adames probably won’t be that good moving forward. While I do buy the idea that the Trop’s blinding lights are a nuisance – Nelson Cruz’s numbers at home also plummeted after arriving in Tampa – his batted ball metrics in Milwaukee weren’t drastically better compared to before, and the strikeout tendencies are still there. Our Depth Charts peg him for a 106 wRC+, which might be slightly pessimistic but not overly so, considering that he’s yet to prove his baseline results on contact have shifted.

Luis Urías is the logical next-best option, but his immediate future is a bit cloudy after sustaining a quad injury during a Cactus League game. He’s progressed to running on the field, but will begin the season on the IL, and if he misses significant time, it would deal a massive blow to Milwaukee’s infield. In case of emergency, the Brewers do have utility man Jace Pederson, with prospect Pablo Reyes as a fourth choice.

11. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Adalberto Mondesi 483 .247 .287 .430 .305 -5.6 4.4 3.0 2.3
Nicky Lopez 154 .269 .335 .361 .307 -1.5 0.3 1.3 0.7
Bobby Witt Jr. 49 .263 .319 .460 .332 0.5 0.1 0.2 0.3
Clay Dungan 14 .261 .312 .364 .296 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .253 .300 .416 .307 -6.9 4.8 4.6 3.4

Will Mondesi play in 100 games this season? Fifty? Twenty-five? It feels like anyone’s guess at this point. He wields a below-average bat, yet provides plenty of value thanks to his defense and preposterous rate of stolen bases, but an inability to stay out of harm’s way has kept Mondesi from attaining stardom.

For now, the Royals’ plan is for Mondesi to be the starting shortstop, with Merrifield in right, Lopez at second, and Witt at third. If Mondesi is out of action again, the most likely replacement is Lopez, who pretty much spent the entirety of last season at short. He broke out by hitting for a higher average, becoming more aggressive on the basepaths, and maintaining his defensive output across a larger sample, though it’s clear which attribute is subject to regression (Hint: Don’t trust a guy who hits three barrels all season). Regression or no, he’s a valuable player nonetheless, and why the Royals are here rather than 10 spots lower.

Despite what the Royals have said, I do hope Witt is granted more reps at short than what our Depth Charts suggest. It’s his natural position, and he’s a bonafide phenom. At age 21 and with no big league experience, most projections see him as a league-average hitter who immediately makes an impact with his glove. If fellow rookie Oneil Cruz is a battering ram, Witt is a trebuchet: a bit more refined, but equally destructive.

12. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Paul DeJong 532 .229 .309 .420 .315 -0.3 -0.3 3.7 2.7
Edmundo Sosa 140 .254 .310 .389 .303 -1.5 -0.2 0.7 0.5
Tommy Edman 21 .271 .321 .408 .315 -0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1
Anderson Tejeda 7 .184 .236 .320 .242 -0.4 0.0 -0.0 -0.0
Total 700 .235 .309 .412 .312 -2.2 -0.4 4.6 3.3

The big three defensive metrics (DRS, UZR, OAA) agree that DeJong can handle shortstop with ease, and it’s the type of mastery that comes across well onscreen. That gives him a stable floor, but questions about his bat remain. DeJong’s wRC+ by year has been in a steady decline, and his triple slash line last season was an eyesore; .197/.284/.390 sure is something that exists.

Interestingly, that line came with a career-high barrel rate. DeJong also continued to draw walks at a respective clip, as is typical for him. The main culprit here? His BABIP cratered to an unfathomable .216. What’s going on? DeJong maintained his usual rate of hard-hit balls, but he inadvertently also upped his rate of weakly-hit ones. The middle range of exit velocities disappeared, meaning he either homered or hit a lazy fly ball or line drive.

Luckily that seems like a fixable issue, and the Cardinals are also blessed with Edmundo Sosa, who did surprisingly well in his first year in the Show. Some details: He ran at lightning speeds, looked comfortable at shortstop, and recorded a maximum exit velocity of 114.6 mph. And while I wouldn’t bet on him to keep his wRC+ above 100, Sosa is still a perfectly fine alternative to DeJong. A healthy, maybe even improved shortstop duo might be what sneaks St. Louis into the postseason yet again.

13. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Crawford 574 .255 .328 .425 .322 2.4 -1.0 1.1 2.8
Mauricio Dubón 70 .260 .310 .395 .304 -0.7 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Thairo Estrada 42 .261 .314 .420 .316 -0.0 -0.0 -0.2 0.2
Wilmer Flores 14 .271 .332 .450 .336 0.2 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .256 .325 .422 .320 1.9 -1.1 0.9 3.2

A gazillion things went right for the Giants last season, including a career year from their 34-year-old shortstop. Crawford parlayed that excellence into a two-year, $32 million contract – good for him, good for Giants fans, good for baseball. Who doesn’t want to see a player single-handedly defy Father Time and turn back the clock? The grizzled lefty simply swung harder and with more patience en route to 5.5 WAR. It’s unlikely he surpasses that mark again, but his 2021 was so impactful that a string of above-average seasons is now in the realm of possibility.

But you can’t talk about the 2021 Giants without mentioning the supporting cast, which includes names like Thairo Estrada. A once underwhelming utility infielder for the Yankees, he arrived in San Francisco via a trade and proceeded to – you guessed it – put up a career year. As far as backup shortstops go, he’s a gem. Unlike most Giants, though, Dubón actually took a step back compared to his previous seasons. He’ll look to compete for a bench role in spring training, per Susan Slusser’s report. Flores hasn’t played shortstop since 2016, but at least that beats using someone who has zero experience.

14. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Javier Báez 609 .254 .298 .460 .321 1.9 1.2 -0.6 3.0
Willi Castro 28 .252 .301 .400 .302 -0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Ryan Kreidler 28 .236 .298 .382 .295 -0.5 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Harold Castro 21 .269 .299 .358 .285 -0.5 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Zack Short 14 .206 .309 .377 .301 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .253 .298 .450 .317 0.4 1.1 -0.7 3.2

Last season, Tigers shortstops combined for -0.1 WAR, the third-worst total in the majors. But fear not, as the wonderful Báez is here to give Detroit a much-needed lift. As far as baseball players go, he’s one of a kind. Rather than improve with age, Báez’s plate discipline has worsened, as 2021 represented a full-season high in strikeout rate. When he does make contact, however, there’s a good chance the ball is sent up, up, and away into orbit. His high-octane approach results in massive fluctuations in day-to-day performance, but it all balances out in favor of an exciting, bizarre, and undeniably talented infielder, and that’s all the Tigers need.

But in a nod to last year’s misery, the list of potential options looks bleak beyond Báez. Remember when Willi Castro hit .349/.381/.550 in the pandemic-shortened season? Fun times! It didn’t alter his trajectory, though, as he’s still a replacement-level utility presence. Kreidler’s Triple-A numbers (.304/.407/.519) are worthy of attention, and he’s a ray of hope in an otherwise underwhelming cohort. Harold Castro and Short round off the list of depth options with minimal upside. Báez is very good, but shallow is the right word to describe the Tigers’ situation beyond him.

15. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.P. Crawford 665 .259 .331 .383 .313 1.8 -0.9 -0.7 3.0
Dylan Moore 21 .209 .297 .373 .294 -0.3 0.0 -0.0 0.1
Donovan Walton 14 .251 .323 .395 .312 0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 700 .257 .330 .383 .312 1.5 -1.0 -0.8 3.1

After years of teetering on the edge of a breakout, Crawford finally established himself as an everyday player in 2021, hitting .273/.338/.376 in 160 games for the Mariners. A dearth of power might make him subject to variations in batted ball luck, but Crawford does make contact at a respectable clip and has a history of hanging out in the five to 20 degree launch angle range (line drives!). He’s roughly a two-win player even with a lesser average, providing stability at a critical position for the Mariners.

It’s hard to decide what to make of Moore. His modest 2019 rookie campaign fit the mold of a 40 FV player: decent, but suited for a bench role. Then the following season, everything changed. He began hitting the ball way harder and at more optimal angles, which translated to a 139 wRC+. But a surge in exit velocity didn’t carry over at all into 2021, and Moore ended up back where he started.

I don’t think this is an issue of bat speed. Rather, it seems like Moore’s extreme fly ball tendencies are at fault. We tend to regard exit velocity and launch angle as independent outcomes, but it’s also true that the former peaks at around six degrees. Unless it comes with Mike Zunino-esque power, Moore’s fly ball rate (50.3% last season) does more harm than good. He’d benefit from getting on top of the ball instead.

16. Guardians
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Amed Rosario 287 .276 .316 .420 .317 0.0 0.6 -1.0 1.2
Andrés Giménez 252 .250 .304 .415 .310 -1.5 0.7 2.0 1.2
Gabriel Arias 126 .259 .308 .410 .310 -0.7 -0.0 0.2 0.5
Yu Chang 21 .237 .292 .420 .305 -0.2 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Owen Miller 14 .245 .297 .375 .293 -0.3 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .262 .309 .416 .312 -2.7 1.2 1.2 3.1

Rosario possesses an arguably underrated skill. You may recall that Paul DeJong had a problem of extremes; in contrast, Rosario’s distribution is narrow. He makes up for a lack of top-end power by running one of the league’s lowest rates of weakly-hit balls, which almost always go to waste. That, in tandem with his incredible speed, is why Rosario’s BABIP is on the high side. On the defensive side of things, OAA and DRS aren’t supporters, whereas UZR sees him as above-average. He’s probably just decent, which of course doesn’t hurt.

Giménez is like a mini version of Rosario. While he didn’t replicate or build upon his rookie campaign with the Mets, that doesn’t mean the feel for contact he demonstrated as a prospect is dead in the water. There’s also a general consensus that Giménez’s glove is his best tool, and the defensive metrics so far have yet to object.

It’s rare for a team to have three legitimate options at shortstop, but Arias made a jump to Triple-A that’s impossible to ignore, cutting down on strikeouts while maintaining the power he showcased in A-ball as part of the Padres’ system. Arias likely won’t be with the big league club for a significant amount of time this season, but he might end up hogging the spotlight once there. Both Chang and Miller are a step behind Arias in terms of talent and will likely be assigned bench duty.

17. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Oneil Cruz 294 .274 .328 .506 .353 7.9 0.6 -0.2 2.1
Kevin Newman 287 .265 .310 .372 .296 -5.8 -0.0 -0.5 0.6
Cole Tucker 98 .228 .307 .361 .293 -2.2 0.0 0.2 0.2
Hoy Park 21 .239 .340 .379 .316 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .263 .318 .427 .320 -0.2 0.6 -0.5 3.1

Consider for a moment that Oneil Cruz, owner of nine big league plate appearances, is projected for 2.6 WAR in half a season. It’s incredible, and it’s a median informed by a distribution that stretches out towards both ends. Cruz is one of just 21 players to have hit a baseball 118 mph or harder, and is the second-youngest player to have achieved that feat (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did so at age 20). But he also whiffed in four of those nine plate appearances, reminding us of a strikeout problem that could snowball out of control with increased exposure to major league pitching.

So Cruz could go on to hit 30 jacks, or his reckless approach could have him skidding off the rails. There’s seemingly no “average” outcome for such a polarizing prospect, and that extends to his defense. Concerns about whether he can stay at short have been raised all throughout his development given Cruz’s 6-foot-7 frame, but he’s exceptionally nimble and can sling a baseball with power and accuracy. We’ll never really know until he gets enough reps, but wow, what a player.

Newman, meanwhile, is the complete opposite of Cruz, in the sense that he’s already defined himself as a light-hitting, glove-first shortstop. He got a bit unlucky with his batted balls in 2021 but also put up defensive numbers he hadn’t before; we might expect each attribute to revert to his prior norms and combine for a total similar to last season’s. With Cruz starting the season at Triple-A, he’s the everyday shortstop for now. Tucker could get a few opportunities with a righty on the mound, whereas Park should spend the bulk of his playing time at second, not short.

18. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Miguel Rojas 560 .267 .322 .383 .307 -3.8 -0.2 3.3 2.4
Jazz Chisholm Jr. 91 .236 .300 .430 .313 -0.2 0.1 -0.5 0.3
Joey Wendle 42 .261 .315 .401 .308 -0.2 -0.0 0.1 0.2
Jon Berti 7 .239 .330 .351 .303 -0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .262 .319 .390 .308 -4.3 -0.1 2.9 2.9

Rojas resembles an old-school shortstop in that he barely strikes out, makes a ton of contact, and gets his money’s worth from slamming copious balls on the ground. That makes it a little head-scratching that he’s been attempting to elevate more often in recent years, but if Rojas can avoid getting too under the ball, such an effort could pay off. The range he shows off at a premium position is impressive and compensates for an average arm. He’ll get a lot of opportunities in Miami to show himself off.

Compared to his 2020 debut, Chisholm struck out less and swung the bat harder last season, but he’s not quite at the level we know he’s capable of. Laying off pitches outside the zone is a priority, and so is tidying up his defense. He looked sharp at second base, but trouble arose at short – per Baseball Savant, he accumulated -6 OAA on plays with an estimated success rate of 90% or higher. Those are defensive gimmes that Chisholm just can’t fumble.

Huge credit to the Marlins for acquiring Joey Wendle. The despiser of batting gloves is a versatile infielder who can step right into shortstop and also wield a decent bat, as evidenced by a career .274/.328/.408 triple slash. Rojas, Chisholm, and Wendle should cover 99% of the required innings at short, with Berti’s cameo appearances accounting for the remaining one percent.

19. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jeremy Peña 532 .250 .304 .425 .313 0.3 -0.4 -0.6 2.3
Niko Goodrum 105 .218 .293 .367 .289 -2.1 0.2 -0.3 0.3
Aledmys Díaz 56 .251 .310 .406 .308 -0.2 -0.1 0.0 0.2
Alex De Goti 7 .216 .282 .330 .270 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .245 .303 .414 .309 -2.2 -0.3 -0.8 2.8

With the departure of Correa, the Astros are set to unleash top prospect Jeremy Peña at shortstop. One reason why projections are optimistic about him? Peña demonstrated elite swing decisions throughout the minors, but recently added a power stroke; his ISO in Triple-A last season was a whopping .331, albeit in 133 plate appearances. He’s also a preternatural defender, and those tools should combine to make Peña an above-average contributor.

Seeing Goodrum get a major league deal took me by surprise, but there’s upside here that seems accessible. Concealed by a 79 wRC+, Goodrum recorded the highest xwOBAcon of his career (.411) in a meaningful number of batted balls last season, and Statcast also adores his defense. Goodrum’s propensity to strike out is a major issue, but given his loud contact, a slight trimming there might be all it takes. Along with Peña, he’s the Astros’ ticket to a higher placement on this list, the odds for which seem skewed in their favor.

Meanwhile, Díaz will maintain his role as the team’s human Swiss Army Knife. He technically played seven positions if you count DH, an achievement that went unmatched last season. Back in 2019, Díaz stopped chasing and recorded a double-digit walk rate for the first (and last) time in his career. I doubt he’ll ever return to that level of patience again, but he makes enough contact and socks enough homers to keep himself afloat, so all is well.

20. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 532 .273 .320 .378 .304 -5.0 1.1 0.8 2.1
Gleyber Torres 91 .265 .340 .438 .335 1.5 -0.0 -0.5 0.5
Marwin Gonzalez 42 .233 .300 .365 .291 -0.8 -0.1 -0.1 0.1
José Peraza 21 .252 .299 .377 .294 -0.4 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Oswald Peraza 14 .250 .300 .386 .298 -0.2 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .268 .320 .385 .307 -4.9 1.0 -0.0 2.7

There’s the typical way of busting projections, like putting up a lights-out season à la Cedric Mullins. But a more under-the-radar method is excelling at a demanding position with relatively limited prior experience. Kiner-Falefa executed the latter last season, handling shortstop with grace as a former backstop and third baseman. Yes, Yankees fans wanted a star, but the team could do worse than the former Ranger (and briefly, Twin), who we can safely pencil in as a two-win player. His ceiling isn’t high, but his floor is sound.

If not for the unraveling of Torres, though, it’s unlikely Kiner-Falefa would have ever been a Yankee. It’s still a bit of a mystery why the young shortstop’s power evaporated into thin air, leaving behind an inadequate bat and glove. There have been mentions of mechanical issues and his tardiness against fastballs, but the simplest answer is that he over-performed in 2019, then under-performed in his following two seasons. Somewhere in the middle (say, 25 home runs), seems like a reasonable outcome for Torres this season and beyond. That’s a borderline All-Star.

Once a part of some historic Astros lineups, Gonzalez’s remaining niche is that he can play all over the infield. He’s on a minor league deal but should find space on the big league roster due to his versatility. There’s a sliver of hope that Gonzalez can turn back the clock, but the Yankees are probably satisfied with anything above the Mendoza line.

Rounding out the Yankees’ options are the two (unrelated) Perazas. The first, Oswald, has been overshadowed by the ascendance of Anthony Volpe, but he’s a speedy, accurate fielder with budding power and star potential in his own right. The second, José, is on a minor league contract and is a bit less likely to get big league reps, but his presence helps nonetheless.

21. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dansby Swanson 665 .247 .314 .433 .319 -3.5 0.9 -0.9 2.6
Orlando Arcia 35 .252 .309 .407 .308 -0.5 -0.0 0.2 0.1
Total 700 .248 .314 .432 .318 -3.9 0.9 -0.7 2.7

Swanson was the ultimate “would be a 3 WAR player with an average bat” candidate for a while, and in 2021, he finally managed to hit that mark, slashing .248/.311/.449 (98 wRC+) in a career-best 160 games. The incremental gains in hard-hit rate since his rookie season have paid off, and he’s also laying off pitches outside the zone (good) while upping the aggression versus pitches inside the zone (also good!). There’s reason to believe more is possible, but because he hasn’t lost a step on defense – his range and throwing arm remain exceptional – the current version of Swanson leaves less to be desired than before.

The Braves acquired Arcia in April of last season from Milwaukee, and team and player recently agreed to a two-year contract worth $3 million. That arrangement means Swanson doesn’t have to put up the fight alone, but Arcia as the sole backup is nonetheless kiddie-pool-shallow. On the field, he looks the part of shortstop but he is often prone to mistakes, and has been in the red in terms of offense throughout his career. Atlanta’s predicament is similar to that of the Mets: one great player against a bare backdrop. Will the Braves end up pleased with their shortstop situation? That depends mostly on Swanson’s availability.

22. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Didi Gregorius 441 .247 .303 .428 .312 -4.3 -0.2 -2.1 1.3
Bryson Stott 238 .247 .321 .393 .311 -2.4 -0.4 0.9 0.9
Nick Maton 14 .217 .295 .348 .283 -0.5 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Johan Camargo 7 .256 .320 .438 .325 0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .246 .309 .415 .311 -7.1 -0.6 -1.2 2.2

Oh how the mighty have fallen. A longtime fan favorite, Gregorius had a miserable, no-good season in 2021, eking out a mere 68 wRC+ and hovering around replacement level. What went wrong? Never a Statcast darling, Gregorius defied the numbers by leveraging a pull-heavy approach, sending balls over the fence that would have been outs if hit the other way. But his exit velocity on pulled air balls declined last season, contributing to a drop-off in production. Suddenly, Gregorius’ claim to fame didn’t play.

If you’re wondering, there’s an explanation. The shortstop reportedly experienced “constant pain and swelling” in his right elbow last season, which originated from a lunging catch made in April. Good players don’t crash and burn without reason, and Gregorius’ nagging injuries could have given him trouble swinging the bat, both in terms of accuracy and speed.

But flukey 2021 aside, his defensive range has continued to shrink, and it’s unlikely he’ll recapture the flame of his short-lived prime. This is where Stott, the Phillies’ top infield prospect, comes in. It’s assumed that he’ll take over the starting shortstop role sometime this season, and while I’m not the biggest Stott enthusiast – the surge in power seems like a product of his environment – he won’t be a downgrade from Gregorius. In between, the recently signed Camargo and Maton, who played 20 games at shortstop last season before being optioned to Triple-A, should find time on the field.

23. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
David Fletcher 490 .275 .321 .367 .300 -6.7 0.6 -0.2 1.6
Tyler Wade 63 .227 .302 .334 .281 -1.9 0.2 -0.1 0.1
Andrew Velazquez 63 .232 .293 .378 .291 -1.3 0.3 -0.2 0.2
Luis Rengifo 49 .244 .310 .390 .304 -0.5 -0.0 0.1 0.2
Jack Mayfield 21 .231 .282 .405 .294 -0.4 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Matt Duffy 14 .270 .341 .370 .314 -0.0 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .264 .315 .368 .298 -10.9 1.1 -0.5 2.1

I’ll say it: The Angels have more viable major league shortstops than starting pitchers. (Boom. Roasted.) But seriously, what a logjam this is. David Fletcher and Tyler Wade remind me of the Spider Man standoff meme. Both are slap-hitters who can run fairly well, though Fletcher has the far superior glove. Rengifo is fine. He’s been decent in limited reps at short, but it’s best to tamper our expectations when it comes to his hitting.

Having been part of four organizations to date, Velasquez’s prospect stock has risen multiple times, but his subsequent call-ups never quite translated that pedigree into on-field results. In his latest big-league stint, he walked just once while striking out 23 times for the Yankees. The Angels claimed him off waivers to bolster their infield depth, so perhaps he can finally find a semblance of consistency across a meaningful number of plate appearances.

But wait, there’s more! Though he’ll spend time at other positions, too, Duffy could end up the best player here when it’s all said and done. He’s averaged a 103 wRC+ in his past three seasons, and the lone year in which he accrued negative defensive value per UZR was marred by injury. And may Mayfield get May play? Maybe.

24. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Andrelton Simmons 490 .257 .309 .345 .288 -14.3 0.2 5.4 1.3
Nico Hoerner 126 .277 .342 .382 .316 -0.8 -0.1 0.8 0.5
Jonathan Villar 84 .249 .318 .395 .310 -0.9 0.2 -0.6 0.2
Total 700 .260 .316 .358 .296 -15.9 0.3 5.6 2.1

It’s hard to believe now, but through 2018, Simmons was on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Two things have occurred since then: His production cratered, and, without warning, so did his defense. Regarding the first development, there are a handful of culprits. First, there’s been a slight decrease in his contact rate – not much, but perhaps enough to eliminate some would-be singles and doubles. Second, Simmons has become passive against pitches in the zone. I wrote about how this is detrimental for hitters with minimal power, since the cost of taking a strike balloons. Aggression, not meekness, is what could propel Simmons back to a 90-or-so wRC+.

In contrast, I’m far less concerned about Simmons’ glove. Both DRS and OAA gave his performance in 2020 the cold shoulder, but they regained their faith in him last season. UZR is the cranky one here, refusing to believe Simmons has recovered from a brief defensive crash. As always, though, track record matters when it comes to defense, and the Cubs’ new shortstop has a fantastic one. In fact, I’m inclined to believe his projected numbers are a tad low. Our Depth Charts say 1.3 WAR, but a two-something win mark seems possible.

In any case, Simmons will be assisted by a guy who hasn’t hit a home run in two years and an ex-Met, which is much better than it reads on paper. Sure, the long ball eludes Hoerner, but he can zoom to first base and drop countless flares in front of outfielders; plus, three of his 4 OAA last season came at shortstop. And Villar is hardly a burden – defense isn’t his forte, but he’s shown some sneaky switch-hitting pop despite year-to-year inconsistencies, finishing last season with a 105 wRC+. On a one-year deal worth $6 million, the Cubs could have themselves a bargain.

25. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kyle Farmer 406 .254 .306 .402 .306 -7.8 -0.5 0.1 1.0
Jose Barrero 231 .248 .310 .415 .312 -3.2 0.3 0.4 0.8
Donovan Solano 56 .276 .325 .395 .312 -0.8 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
Max Schrock 7 .252 .307 .395 .303 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .254 .309 .406 .309 -12.0 -0.3 0.2 1.9

Seriously, the Reds owe Farmer a huge thank you. They entered the 2021 season with Eugenio Suárez as their primary shortstop, and, as everyone anticipated, he did not do so well. Posting -10 OAA in 119 fielding attempts might be some kind of record, and not just at short.

But it’s the emergence of Farmer that allowed the Reds to banish Suárez back to third base, where he remained competent. After multiple seasons in the shadows, the newly appointed shortstop hit a career-best .263/.316/.418 last season, breathing life into a position presumed dead for Cincinnati. And it goes without saying that his defensive instincts were sharper than his predecessor’s. The expected metrics displayed a bit of pessimism, but I doubt Farmer’s production will crater; knock a few points off that slugging percentage, and it’s a reasonable 2022 outcome.

Barrero’s march towards stardom came to a halt when his second big league stint ended in a whole lot of swing-and-miss, but there’s plenty of time for the 23-year-old to refine his cacophonous tools. Unfortunately, he’ll be sidelined for six weeks after hand surgery. Much of Solano’s production is BABIP-driven, but having learned to rely on line drives with the Giants, it’s less prone to fluctuations than it was before. Currently dealing with a hamstring injury, he should excel in a backup role upon recovery. Former Fringe Five darling Max Schrock barely makes it on the Depth Charts – he could get another shot with Barrero down, but that roster spot isn’t a guarantee, at least for now.

26. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Elvis Andrus 525 .251 .300 .356 .286 -10.7 1.3 -1.6 1.2
Nick Allen 112 .232 .284 .343 .274 -3.4 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Kevin Smith 35 .227 .287 .428 .305 -0.2 0.0 -0.1 0.1
Chad Pinder 21 .246 .306 .424 .314 0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Vimael Machín 7 .230 .314 .343 .289 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .247 .297 .360 .286 -14.4 1.2 -1.6 1.6

The good news: Andrus’ defense last season wasn’t as bad as our Depth Charts feared, and Statcast thought he did… really great? The bad news: He’s an Oakland Athletic, meaning Andrus is good enough to occupy an everyday role, but not so good as to interfere with the latest tank job. There’s not much to Andrus’ profile other than that he rarely strikes out and sends a ton of balls up the middle for singles. Kudos to him for doing so at age 33, though.

If it’s any solace, Allen is “one of the better defensive players in all of the minors” according to our evaluation of Oakland’s system, and while a dearth of pop and struggles against right-handed pitching threaten to limit his role in the big leagues, the numerous opportunities he should get this season will indicate whether he’s headed in the right direction.

Acquired in the Matt Chapman trade, Smith is one of the candidates for the new third base job, but he might see time at short to address the deficiencies of Oakland’s makeshift infield. His upside lies in his power: Smith launched 21 homers in 410 Triple-A plate appearances last season with batted ball data to back them up, but he’s 25, and most other aspects of his game are unrefined. Pinder is another third base candidate who could end up playing short – he’s at least a safe bet to put up modest numbers.

27. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Ahmed 490 .241 .300 .381 .295 -12.2 0.3 2.4 1.2
Sergio Alcántara 105 .225 .314 .331 .287 -3.3 -0.0 0.6 0.2
Geraldo Perdomo 84 .228 .316 .331 .287 -2.6 -0.1 0.3 0.1
Josh Rojas 21 .248 .328 .395 .315 -0.2 0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 700 .237 .305 .369 .293 -18.2 0.2 3.2 1.6

There are only a few players who could compete for the title of best defensive shortstop, and Ahmed is one of them. The proof is everywhere. For example, in each season since 2018, his Outs Above Average has ranked in the 100th, 99th, 99th, and 100th percentile. But rather than recite numbers, let’s admire this compilation together – not only does Ahmed leap, dive, and run towards baseballs far beyond conventional shortstop territory, but also disposes of them with stunning accuracy. Blink, and you almost miss what’s happening.

A decline in offensive performance did cause Ahmed to look mortal last season – he made less quality contact and struggled in particular against fastballs – but it’s not enough to conclude his bat is a liability. Besides, his fielding is too darn good to justify moving onto a new shortstop as of now. The starting job in Arizona is still firmly Ahmed’s.

But with Ahmed nursing a right shoulder injury, the recent acquisition of Alcántara has bigger implications than before. He’s an all-glove, no-bat prospect who’s great insurance off the bench. This might also be an opportunity for Perdomo. The 21-year-old rookie’s defense is nowhere near as legendary as Ahmed’s, but he fills that void through better swing decisions and a generally superior hit tool. If Ahmed’s absence becomes prolonged, Perdomo could very well see more playing time. Rojas established himself as a premier utility player in 2021, a reputation he’ll attempt to maintain this season.

28. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
José Iglesias 546 .289 .324 .418 .320 -9.9 -0.1 -1.1 1.3
Garrett Hampson 98 .248 .305 .397 .303 -3.1 0.3 -0.4 0.1
Alan Trejo 42 .243 .285 .408 .296 -1.6 -0.1 0.2 0.0
Brendan Rodgers 14 .281 .327 .474 .342 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .280 .319 .416 .316 -14.6 0.1 -1.3 1.5

Credit where credit is due: Recruiting Iglesias was a great move. It solidifies Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers as the everyday third and second baseman, respectively, and Iglesias himself is no slouch. He spent the latter half of the 2010s as one of the league’s greatest defensive shortstop. Though that expertise has waned in his last two seasons, possibly due to age, we still view him as a close-to-average player. At the plate, Iglesias is primarily a groundball hitter. But he does hit a fair share of fly balls, which are susceptible to the Denver air and might grant Iglesias a double-digit home run total.

Following a series of unsuccessful tryouts, Hampson has been all but pigeonholed into a utility role. If we’re going to find him a silver lining, it’s that his batted ball metrics last season resembled what he recorded in 2018, when he mustered a 109 wRC+ in 48 plate appearances. On a more realistic note, that’s a long time ago in a sample far, far away, but at least Hampson can handle both center field and shortstop, two demanding positions. Trejo isn’t much of a prospect but could get a few shortstop at-bats in the case of injuries. Rodgers remains a cromulent option even as he makes the transition to second base; he has the experience.

29. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jorge Mateo 315 .236 .277 .387 .285 -8.9 0.1 -0.9 0.4
Ramón Urías 245 .248 .322 .400 .315 -0.8 -0.4 -1.1 0.9
Richie Martin 119 .220 .283 .330 .271 -4.7 -0.3 -0.7 -0.0
Chris Owings 21 .216 .281 .365 .280 -0.7 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .237 .294 .381 .293 -15.1 -0.6 -2.6 1.3

Recent spring training lineups have featured Mateo plenty, which is reflected in the increase in his projected playing time. A few notes about him. First, when it comes to speed, few can match Mateo. It’s an 80-grade tool, and he sits sixth on Savant’s sprint speed leaderboard. He slashed .280/.328/.421 last season after the Orioles claimed him off waivers. Granted, that was largely driven by a .359 BABIP, but his combination of decent pop and phenomenal speed could help Mateo unlock another gear.

The true shortstop here is Urías, who has a 119 wRC+ so far in 323 plate appearances. While his glove is average at best, he clobbers the ball via a smooth, compact swing, recording 95+ mph exit velocities 42.5% of the time last season. A more power-centric approach could work in Urías’ case, but it’s not as if he’s in need of a big change – smoking a ton of line drives is a perfectly fine way to be productive, and it’s been working.

Shortstop isn’t really defined yet in Baltimore. The team’s farm system is deep but lacks a slam-dunk prospect at the position. Besides Mateo and Urías, there are a few more players the Orioles could try out in search of one. The ship has mostly sailed on Martin, but there is a non-zero chance his collection of average-ish tools synthesize into a role player. Compared to everyone else, Owings is a veteran who has spent several seasons in a utility role. He might be an even longer shot, but the Orioles should be throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.

30. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Alcides Escobar 413 .245 .293 .352 .282 -14.3 0.2 -4.0 0.0
Luis García 210 .269 .309 .441 .320 -0.7 -0.4 -1.6 0.6
Ehire Adrianza 56 .245 .316 .381 .304 -0.9 -0.1 -0.4 0.1
Carter Kieboom 14 .240 .333 .393 .318 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Lucius Fox 7 .216 .299 .331 .280 -0.3 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .252 .301 .382 .296 -16.2 -0.2 -6.1 0.8

Sure, maybe projecting Escobar to put up a goose egg is too dismissive of what he accomplished last season (.288/.340/.404, 100 wRC+, 1.7 WAR), but giving him the “bulk of the playing time” is certainly a choice. Why not have García on the Opening Day roster instead? The two disappointing partial seasons he’s had aren’t a reason to close the book on him. After his 2021 campaign went nowhere, a demoted García hit .303/.371/.599 in Triple-A with an admirable strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s still young, and has plenty of time to address his weaknesses (an inconsistent swing plane, for example, leading to grounders and popups).

Beyond Escobar and García, the Nationals have two (possibly three) options at shortstop. Adrianza is a decent utility player who might get more reps at third due to Kieboom’s injury (he has an elbow injury that has already landed him on the 60-day IL), but once that situation is cleared out, Washington’s infield depth should get a boost. Formerly of the Royals, Fox was promoted to the major leagues last season but didn’t end up playing; the Nationals are his latest chance. He has a good eye at the plate and wheels for days, so look for him to come off the bench.





Justin is a contributor at FanGraphs. His previous work can be found at Prospects365 and Dodgers Digest. His less serious work can be found on Twitter @justinochoi.

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David Kleinmember
6 months ago

Lindor was +20 outs above average according to statcast right behind Nicky Lopez as the best fielding shortstop in the game and the eye ball test also said he played great defense as well. Lindor had a dreadful April and May with the bat but from June onward had a OPS over .800, and I really think he’s going have a monster 2022 season. That said, if Lindor gets hurt again the Mets have no depth behind him as Guillorme is a good obp guy, but doesn’t offer anything else offensively, and he struggled some at shortstop when he played there as second base is his best defensive position.

Left of Centerfield
6 months ago
Reply to  David Klein

The weird thing about Lindor is how his batting average has tanked. From 2015-2016, he had a .306 batting average. But since then, his batting average has been .268, a 38 point drop. I’m guessing that’s fairly unusual for that to happen at such a young age.

Except. We see the same pattern with his former teammate Jose Ramirez. From 2016-2017, his batting average was .315. But since then, it’s also only .268, a 47 point drop.

Obviously, they both traded power for average but those drops strike me as fairly extreme. We know that Cleveland has struggled with hitting in recent years, particularly with batting average. So maybe this is some sort of “Cleveland infection” that has carried over to LIndor’s time with the Mets?

Last edited 6 months ago by Left of Centerfield
CC AFCmember
6 months ago

The explanation looks pretty clear for Lindor. In 2017, he started hitting more fly balls, which raised his power output and lowered his babip. It ended up being mostly better for him on the whole, so I don’t think there’s any problem to interrogate. It’s just a trade off of one thing for another.

Jose Ramirez is basically the same story.

Last edited 6 months ago by CC AFC
Left of Centerfield
6 months ago
Reply to  CC AFC

Right. I mentioned the trade-off in my comment. But lots of other players made that same trade-off and didn’t experience quite an extreme BA dropoff. At least, I don’t think they did though if someone knows otherwise, I’m happy to be wrong about this.

As for it being better for Lindor, he had a 116 wRC+ those first two years and a 117 since. So the net effect had been neutral. Though the trend has obviously been down the past two years.