2023 Positional Power Rankings: Shortstop

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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

So, so deep. That’s true of the Mariana Trench, which extends some 36,000 feet below sea level, and also of the shortstop position in the major leagues. If you think of an average player as one who accrues roughly 2 WAR per 600 plate appearances, 29 teams are above average at shortstop. That’s because everyone puts their best athletes there for as long as they can, which results in an embarrassment of positional riches. You have to delve down to 25th on this list to get to a team whose aggregate projection is less than 3.0 WAR. No other position’s list of three-WARriors extends past 20th.

As a result, there are a lot of solid shortstops who come out of this exercise with strikingly low rankings. Tim Anderson, J.P. Crawford, and Jeremy Peña stand out to me in that category; all three are excellent, and could easily be All-Stars, particularly if compared to a different positional group. But in the crowded world of good shortstops, there are just so many options. The best defenders still play short, but it’s less and less a position where teams are willing to employ poor hitters. The past five years are the best aggregate offensive years for shortstops, as measured by wRC+, since 1947.

The top of this list is peppered with examples of how this has happened. In bygone eras, hitters like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Xander Bogaerts wouldn’t play shortstop. They’d man third base, or perhaps an outfield corner, thanks to their size. The belief that shortstops need to be slight and limber is persistent, but it had already been cracking in previous eras, as Cal Ripken Jr. and Alex Rodriguez can attest. Now that conventional wisdom has been thoroughly discarded. The new question is whether Oneil Cruz can play shortstop at 6-foot-7, not whether Correa can at 6-foot-4. Now that shortstop takes a wider pool of baseball players, and with teams still trying to place their best players there in the minors, it’s no wonder that it’s hogging an increasing share of major league talent.

Spare a thought for the perfectly reasonable shortstops mired at the bottom of this list. They’re great baseball players, far better than you’d think from where they show up here. A league-average hitter who can hack it defensively at shortstop used to be a rare find. Now, it’s just business as usual. That doesn’t make those players any less fun to watch, or any less valuable to their teams relative to the next-best option, but it does emphasize how baseball is changing.

2023 Positional Power Rankings – SS
1. Phillies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Trea Turner 665 .292 .345 .471 .353 21.0 4.0 -0.1 5.7
Edmundo Sosa 28 .243 .297 .374 .294 -0.4 0.0 0.1 0.1
Bryson Stott 7 .247 .313 .385 .308 -0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .290 .343 .466 .350 20.6 4.0 0.1 5.9

What a difference a year makes. The Phillies came into the 2022 season with one of the worst shortstop situations in baseball, long on Didi Gregorius and short on hope. They cast Gregorius aside in favor of Stott and Sosa midseason and made the World Series. Their shortstop position was still kind of bad, though, and they needed Stott to cover other holes in the infield, so they went to the superstar market over the winter.

Turner wasn’t the best shortstop in baseball last year, but he wasn’t far off, and he’s coming off of his fifth straight excellent season. The only surprising thing about his 2022 performance was that he eased off on the basepaths, totaling only 27 steals. The new rules should give him a boost there, though: I wouldn’t be shocked to see him swipe 40 or 50 bags this year. The only thing stopping him is that the lineup behind him is homer-heavy, which makes steals slightly less valuable.

Regardless of the shape of his production, Turner looks like a fixture atop the Philadelphia lineup for years to come. When he needs a day off, Stott and Sosa will be able backups. I wouldn’t want them as my first two options, but between Stott’s lefty bat and Sosa’s plus defense, they’re an enviable backup tandem. We don’t think they’ll get many opportunities to show it, because Turner has been quite durable in recent years, but it’s worth remembering in case he misses any time. The Phillies came into last year with a bad first option and unproven backups. Now they’re in the opposite position. Isn’t money great?

2. Twins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Carlos Correa 560 .274 .353 .466 .355 22.1 -0.9 2.7 5.0
Royce Lewis 77 .262 .323 .439 .332 1.6 0.1 -0.0 0.5
Kyle Farmer 42 .246 .302 .367 .295 -0.3 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Jorge Polanco 14 .261 .336 .442 .339 0.4 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Nick Gordon 7 .255 .302 .401 .306 0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .270 .346 .455 .348 23.8 -0.9 2.7 5.8

For the second straight season, it’s hard to believe that the Twins landed Correa in free agency. But they did! And he’s great! A situation that looked dire as Correa landed first in San Francisco and then New York is back to being one of the best in the game. Another season like his last one – nearly 600 plate appearances of excellent offense – would go a long way towards the AL Central crown that dangled tantalizingly close to Minnesota’s grasp last year.

Normally, I’d spend most of this blurb telling you how good Correa is. I feel like that’s been done, though. He’s been one of the best in the business in recent years. If you think his true defensive talent level is closer to his 2021 self, he’s probably the best shortstop around period. If you think he’s more plus than elite, maybe he’s second or third on the list. He has plus power, doesn’t strike out much, and walks at a double-digit clip. It’s the kind of offensive skill set that is both humdrum and inarguably excellent.

Given all the injury noise, though, it’s worth considering the backup situation. Lewis is something of a wild card given how much time he’s missed in recent years. But unlike last year, when Jermaine Palacios was atrocious in spot duty, the Twins added a competent stopgap in Kyle Farmer. That gives them enviable coverage if Correa hits the IL for a brief stint or simply DHs for a few days to rest his legs. Minnesota’s lack of depth cost them dearly last year. This year, they’re hoping to fix that problem while getting more of the Correa goodness they lucked into in January.

3. Mets
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Francisco Lindor 672 .253 .325 .435 .330 14.9 -0.0 6.4 5.4
Luis Guillorme 21 .261 .346 .344 .310 0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Danny Mendick 7 .229 .296 .339 .283 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .253 .326 .432 .329 14.9 -0.1 6.4 5.5

Boring! We want shortstops who changed teams this winter, and preferably last year too. But Lindor is only boring from a transactional standpoint, because he put together one of the best years of his stellar career in 2022 and looks poised to repeat the trick this year.

Lindor doesn’t have elite power. He doesn’t have elite plate discipline or even elite speed. He’s still an excellent hitter, though, because he does two things well: make contact and put the ball in the air. He might not look like a 20-25 homer guy, but that’s exactly what he is.

That kind of offense would play anywhere on the diamond, but Lindor’s defense makes him special. He’s the kind of shortstop you’d play even if he had a below-average bat thanks to his combination of sure hands, great instincts, and an accurate arm. Statcast rates him as the best shortstop in baseball over the past two years – and the past three years, four years, five years, and so on.

Guillorme, like Lindor, is an excellent defender. Unlike Lindor, he’s a so-so hitter, so he only figures in the picture as a backup. This is the Lindor show – and even though the Mets have added a lot of star power in recent years, he’s still the main attraction in Queens.

4. Rays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Wander Franco 602 .283 .342 .455 .345 21.6 0.9 0.7 5.1
Taylor Walls 84 .209 .300 .337 .285 -1.0 0.0 0.3 0.3
Vidal Bruján 7 .236 .300 .356 .291 -0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Charlie Culberson 7 .233 .278 .356 .278 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .274 .336 .440 .337 20.4 0.9 1.0 5.5

This is the first spot on the list that could raise a few eyebrows, but only because Franco is still building his major league resume. In roughly one season’s worth of plate appearances, he’s been excellent, rarely striking out and hitting for average and doubles power. He’s done that at a precocious age; he turned 22 earlier this month.

There are two knocks on Franco’s track record so far: health and defense. He missed half the season last year and seemed bothered by injury at times even when he was on the field. He was still worth 2.3 WAR in that abbreviated run, but it’s hard to be a superstar without playing a full season. He’s also more average than exceptional defensively, though his bat makes up for that, to the point where the Rays used him as a DH last year when he wasn’t healthy enough to play the field.

Amusingly, Franco might be the shortstop get-off-my-lawn types would most enjoy. He never strikes out and uses the entire field to lace line drive doubles. Just don’t tell them he’s 22 and fun. Also don’t tell them about the options behind him, because woof, Walls does not look like he can hit major league pitching. The more Franco the Rays get in 2023, the better their chances of making the playoffs.

5. Rangers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Corey Seager 560 .276 .350 .480 .357 21.9 -0.2 -2.0 4.6
Marcus Semien 77 .259 .327 .456 .340 2.0 0.2 0.5 0.6
Josh H. Smith 35 .240 .333 .357 .310 0.1 -0.0 0.1 0.2
Ezequiel Duran 21 .241 .286 .401 .299 -0.2 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Davis Wendzel 7 .204 .273 .335 .271 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .271 .344 .467 .350 23.6 -0.0 -1.5 5.4

Out, damned shift! A precipitous drop in BABIP led to a down year for Seager – as much as you can call a 117 wRC+ and 4.5 WAR a down season. As a lefty who makes a ton of contact, Seager is the exact kind of hitter who this year’s shift restrictions aim to help. Mike Petriello estimated that he might be the hitter who benefits most, in fact. He might not even need the help; after a slow start, he heated up as the season went on, and no amount of shifting could defend his 33 homers.

The Rangers theoretically might want to give Seager rest at shortstop, given that he’s dealt with injury issues throughout his career and is more slugger than gloveman. Just one problem: their only credible backup shortstop is Semien, who is also their starting second baseman. If he were a backup, he’d be the best in the league by a mile, but again, he’s busy locking down another position for Texas. That means they’re quite reliant on Seager staying healthy and mobile. He did it last year, but if you’re looking for risks to our forecast, that strikes me as a large one.

6. Padres
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Xander Bogaerts 630 .268 .346 .428 .339 16.5 0.6 -2.0 4.5
Ha-Seong Kim 42 .244 .315 .391 .311 0.2 0.0 0.4 0.3
Fernando Tatis Jr. 21 .274 .355 .569 .391 1.4 0.1 -0.1 0.2
Jake Cronenworth 7 .252 .337 .411 .328 0.1 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .266 .344 .430 .338 18.2 0.7 -1.6 5.1

The Padres were seventh on this list last year with a completely different shortstop. Tatis an outfielder now, though, and the new guy in town is picking up the slack. Bogaerts is the fourth-best of the four marquee shortstops to hit free agency in the past two years, but that’s like saying “Blank Space” is the fourth best song on Taylor Swift’s 1989. It’s true but not meaningful – “Blank Space” is great, and so is Bogaerts, regardless of the context you put him in.

Bogaerts’s greatest skill is hard to pin down, which makes him hard to evaluate. He’s pretty good at everything without being great at anything, though his top-end power is right on the solid/great border. He’s been almost exactly 30% better than league average offensively in each of the past five years, the 20th-best hitter in baseball, but he’s never hit even 35 homers. Some of that is Fenway Park’s interaction with fly balls, but some of it is just who he is.

A career year defensively in 2022 catapulted Bogaerts to his best single-year WAR mark, but he’s probably a below-average defender at shortstop. Kim, his primary backup, is stellar defensively, and might move Bogaerts to DH at times this year when the team wants their best defense on the field. That defensive shuffle might get harder over the years, but for 2023, Bogaerts is a middle-of-the-order bat who can handle shortstop.

7. Blue Jays
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Bo Bichette 658 .280 .328 .472 .346 20.6 0.6 -7.2 4.4
Santiago Espinal 28 .269 .326 .382 .312 0.1 -0.0 0.2 0.2
Addison Barger 14 .243 .297 .417 .309 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Total 700 .279 .327 .468 .344 20.7 0.6 -7.0 4.6

Bichette spent most of last season looking awful. He’s always been tremendously aggressive at the plate, but it seemed to backfire on him. He struck out too much, walked sparingly, and put the ball on the ground too often. He came into September with a 106 wRC+ – and then hit a scalding .406/.444/.662 for the last month of the season and finished with a normal-looking Bichette year.

How do we evaluate that? By saying hey, baseball players sure are streaky, and penciling him in for another year of frustrating Jays fans with an approach that makes you scream “I could do better” while performing like one of the best hitters in baseball. That’s who he is at this point – but that’s a very valuable person to be, and we’re past the point of saying “I don’t know if this is sustainable.” He’s sustaining it, isn’t he?

I’m less enthused by Bichette’s defense, which is somewhere between bad and cover-your-eyes depending on who you listen to. That might necessitate a move to second or third later in his career, but for now, the Jays will take the over-aggressive approach and iffy defense and like it. When you hit like Bichette, the other stuff just matters less.

8. Brewers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Willy Adames 623 .248 .318 .454 .334 11.0 0.5 0.7 4.2
Luis Urías 42 .242 .332 .413 .328 0.6 -0.0 0.0 0.3
Brice Turang 28 .236 .307 .341 .288 -0.5 0.1 0.1 0.1
Owen Miller 7 .236 .294 .354 .286 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .247 .318 .446 .331 10.9 0.5 0.8 4.5

Adames’ career has been a series of ebbs and flows. Sometimes he’s a defensive wizard, sometimes a power hitter, but rarely both at once. In 2022, he clobbered 30 homers and played the best defense of his career, which vaulted him to a career-best season despite worrying strikeout numbers. In 2023, we think he’ll regress towards his career norms across the board – worse defense, better offense, and yes, still worrying strikeout numbers, the one constant throughout his career.

That mix of skills still works out to an All Star-level player, and that’s exactly what the Brewers are hoping for from Adames this season. The cupboard is bare behind him; Urías is miscast defensively here and also busy starting at third base, while Turang will spend plenty of time at second and hasn’t yet made his major league debut. It’s Adames or nothing, but if the last two years are any indication, that’ll work out just fine for Milwaukee.

9. Cubs
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Dansby Swanson 665 .254 .317 .426 .324 7.0 1.4 3.4 4.3
Nico Hoerner 21 .276 .330 .397 .317 0.1 0.0 0.2 0.1
Christopher Morel 14 .231 .297 .413 .310 -0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 700 .254 .317 .425 .323 7.1 1.4 3.6 4.5

The Cubs made their triumphant return to free agency spending this year by signing Swanson, who immediately projects as their best player. Don’t let his scrappy demeanor fool you; he’s a grip-it-and-rip-it hitter who will try to lift and pull everything he sees, producing strikeouts and extra base hits by the bucketful. It’s a skill set that feels more at home on a corner outfielder in my mental model of baseball players, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable in a sweet-fielding shortstop.

That’s Swanson’s best skill: he could be an average hitter and still deliver star-level value with his defense. It’s a good thing, too, because he’s been an average hitter over the course of his career. We think he’ll be somewhat better than that this year, but only somewhat; the glove is the attraction here.

That’s a tough break for Hoerner, an excellent defender himself who moved to second base when the team signed Swanson, but that gives the Cubs enviable redundancy if either misses time. Maybe the rest of the squad isn’t ready to compete, but when it comes to defensive depth at shortstop, the Cubs are the best in the business.

10. Cardinals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tommy Edman 574 .263 .318 .398 .313 3.2 4.0 1.9 3.6
Paul DeJong 98 .211 .287 .385 .296 -0.8 -0.1 0.8 0.4
Brendan Donovan 21 .260 .356 .364 .324 0.3 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Taylor Motter 7 .211 .298 .379 .298 -0.0 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .255 .314 .395 .311 2.7 3.9 2.5 4.2

Three generations of Devil Magic under one projection — how heartwarming! DeJong was an out-of-nowhere star shortstop until he turned into a pumpkin, by which time Edman had risen to the majors as an improbably competent hitter with phenomenal defense at second base. Now Edman has claimed shortstop, while Donovan appeared out of nowhere to lay claim to second base last year, again thanks to improbable competence offensively. They can’t keep getting away with it, can they?

Clearly, we think they can. Edman has phenomenal range and excellent bat control, which leads to an empty-average style statline that nevertheless sees him on base fairly often thanks to how rarely he strikes out. That plays just fine given his defense, and we forecast him to be a great defender yet again. DeJong is probably on his last chance with the team – he couldn’t hit a lick in 2022, and hasn’t been above average offensively since 2019 – but he’s a useful backup for now. With a pitch-to-contact team and a huge stadium, defense is the order of the day for St. Louis, and Edman is the perfect shortstop for their groundball-inhaling infield – at least until top prospect Masyn Winn arrives and pushes him back to second.

11. Pirates
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Oneil Cruz 525 .246 .314 .452 .332 8.3 0.4 -2.2 3.1
Ji Hwan Bae 105 .255 .321 .374 .307 -0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.4
Rodolfo Castro 35 .227 .290 .396 .300 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Liover Peguero 28 .238 .280 .346 .275 -0.8 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Chris Owings 7 .204 .274 .330 .269 -0.2 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .246 .312 .432 .323 6.5 0.5 -2.4 3.7

If you like your shortstops improbably tall and powerful, Cruz is your guy. He’s 6-foot-7 and a threat to Giancarlo Stanton as the man with the most raw power in baseball. Does he strike out too much? Indubitably. Can he handle shortstop long-term? That remains to be seen. But he’s going to be incredibly fun to watch while trying to make it all work, because he looks like no one else who has played the position before, ever.

I’m a Cruz believer, and 2022 is a good example of why: He struck out 35% of the time, posted a reasonable BABIP, and still produced an above-average batting line thanks to tremendous power production. He even reined in his strikeouts in the second half of the year. It’s always going to be a struggle to make contact with his huge levers and long swing, but when he does, hoo boy. Similarly, I don’t know how his agility will hold up to the rigors of playing major league shortstop, but when he uncorks a throw from deep in the hole, you can almost hear the first baseman praying, so prodigious is his arm strength.

Cruz isn’t the only attraction here; we’re projecting Bae to snag some time when he’s not playing second base. He’s the anti-Cruz, contact over power, but he’s fast and versatile. Pittsburgh probably needs Cruz to excel to build their next great core, but Bae is a nice consolation prize and might help the big league club just as much this year.

12. Royals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Bobby Witt Jr. 609 .263 .311 .456 .330 8.7 2.5 -5.2 3.4
Nicky Lopez 63 .259 .318 .336 .292 -1.0 0.2 0.6 0.3
Maikel Garcia 21 .251 .306 .353 .291 -0.4 0.0 0.1 0.1
Johan Camargo 7 .253 .314 .381 .306 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .262 .311 .442 .325 7.3 2.7 -4.5 3.7

Witt came into last year with a pile of prospect hype, and he’s coming into this year with far less fanfare. But while he wasn’t J-Rodian, he put up a solid season while switching positions midway through the year. His game is a delightful blend of speed and power, but when you describe someone that way, the oft-unsaid part is: yeah, but can he hit? Witt doesn’t run disastrous strikeout rates or anything, but he’s voracious at the plate, swinging so often and so indiscriminately that he often put tough pitches into play instead of cookies.

His major league struggles (he was a league average hitter, so “struggle” is relative) are normal for someone who was simply too talented to be challenged in the minor leagues. The hope for Witt is that he’ll smooth out the edges in year two as the game slows down for him. That same general hurriedness carried over into his defense, where he made a ton of errors en route to a rough showing. A little patience, a little defensive improvement, and we might be talking about Witt earlier on this list in a year.

Also, hey, Nicky Lopez, he’s fun! He’ll mostly play second, but he has the defensive chops to slide over when Witt gets a breather. His production looks nothing like Witt’s, but as teams adjust to the shiftless new world, a slick defensive backup feels like a luxury.

13. Red Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Enrique Hernández 392 .246 .318 .406 .317 0.6 -0.0 2.3 2.1
Adalberto Mondesi 280 .240 .282 .401 .296 -4.3 2.6 3.2 1.4
Christian Arroyo 14 .265 .315 .421 .320 0.0 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Yu Chang 7 .233 .298 .388 .301 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Bobby Dalbec 7 .221 .292 .422 .310 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .243 .303 .404 .309 -3.8 2.5 5.5 3.6

Boy, this would look better with Trevor Story. Hernández pulled off a neat trick by turning into an excellent defensive center fielder in his first two seasons in Boston, but he’ll have to do it again at another up-the-middle position this year in the wake of Story’s potentially season-ending surgery. He’ll also need to get right offensively; a severe power outage led to a miserable 75 wRC+. It seems to be more pitch selection and consistency related than a loss of ability to drive the ball, which explains why our projections expect a return to normalcy, but that’ll be something to keep an eye on as the Sox try to cobble together a solid shortstop out of two part-timers.

Mondesi is that second part-timer. While Hernández will split his time between short and center, Mondesi will split his between short and the injured list if history is any guide. He’ll miss the start of the season rehabbing the ACL he tore last year, and even when he’s back in action, he’ll be a mystery box: he’s hardly played in the last two years, so projecting his output is wildly speculative. He’s always been a brilliant defender, but his offense has never quite come together. Boston is hoping he’ll fulfill the promise he showed early in his career. Even if he doesn’t, though, 280 plate appearances of competent defense would do quite nicely.

14. Guardians
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Amed Rosario 616 .276 .312 .406 .312 2.3 1.4 -1.3 3.0
Andrés Giménez 49 .266 .334 .423 .330 0.9 0.1 0.6 0.4
Gabriel Arias 21 .239 .299 .379 .298 -0.2 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Tyler Freeman 14 .267 .328 .362 .308 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 700 .274 .313 .405 .313 3.0 1.5 -0.8 3.5

I’d call this ranking Rosario slander if we weren’t projecting him for a clean three wins above replacement. Shortstop is just deep right now. A slow starter in New York, Rosario has turned into a consistent contributor in the shadow of Lake Erie, with enough power to punish mistakes and enough bat control to avoid the strikeout problems that sometime plague free swingers. He’s also improved on defense; he’s still below average to my eyes, but not by much. The result of average offense and near-average defense at a tough position is an above-average player, which lines up neatly with our projection.

The Guardians have reportedly been shopping Rosario around to shortstop-needy teams of late. That’s partially because he’ll be a free agent after this year, but also partially because Giménez showed off superstar upside last year and is the team’s long-term plan at the position. We’re only projecting him for occasional duty here – he’s busy manning second base – but I think there’s a good chance Cleveland finds a taker for Rosario and pivots to Giménez full-time. (That would rocket them up the rankings, for whatever that’s worth.)

Behind Giménez’s cameo brilliance, we’re penciling two exciting youngsters in for the rest of the action. Arias and Freeman are just two of a wave of interesting middle infield prospects in the pipeline for Cleveland, with a legion behind them. Suffice it to say that depth isn’t a problem for the Guardians.

15. Mariners
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
J.P. Crawford 609 .253 .336 .360 .311 5.2 -0.7 -1.2 3.1
Dylan Moore 70 .212 .317 .369 .306 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.4
Sam Haggerty 14 .225 .297 .344 .283 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.1
Mason McCoy 7 .204 .261 .317 .256 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .248 .333 .360 .310 5.0 -0.4 -1.1 3.5

Welcome to the world of high expectations, Mariners fans. Crawford has been steady in Seattle, particularly if you take last year’s poor defensive numbers with a grain of salt. He’s part of the veteran core of this Mariners team, but there was still popular consensus around signing a top-tier shortstop and moving on from Crawford only a year into his recent contract extension.

I don’t really get it, because Crawford is the kind of solid building block that teams love to accumulate around their stars. His offensive game is low-wattage but high-competence. Not everyone has light-tower power, and Crawford understands his own limitations there, opting instead to work walks and spray flares to all fields. It’s a capped offensive profile, but he makes the most of it. Singles and walks might not get you on video game covers, but they get you on base for the boppers to send you home happy.

Whether sticking with Crawford pays off will likely come down to his defense. His numbers took a sharp dip in 2022, but he’d previously looked like a 60 defender, and defensive metrics are notoriously noisy. A return to form there would go a long way towards shoring up the Mariners roster around Julio Rodríguez. We’re allocating most of the rest of their playing time to Moore and Haggerty, but they’re more utilitymen than everyday starters, so Seattle is counting on Crawford to come through again.

16. White Sox
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Tim Anderson 602 .289 .322 .428 .326 8.3 2.5 -6.0 3.2
Lenyn Sosa 49 .247 .288 .381 .292 -0.6 -0.1 0.1 0.2
Elvis Andrus 28 .245 .296 .362 .290 -0.4 0.1 0.1 0.1
Leury Garcia 14 .251 .294 .344 .282 -0.3 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Romy Gonzalez 7 .220 .274 .373 .283 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .283 .318 .420 .321 6.9 2.5 -5.9 3.5

Now this is disrespect. Anderson has been one of the best shortstops in baseball when healthy, and he played for the US in the World Baseball classic in front of a ton of the guys ahead of him on this list. Anderson’s game is so singular that projection systems have consistently expected him to hit for a lower average, but his .352 career BABIP built on hard line drives sprayed to all fields keeps confounding the regression demons.

Maybe one day it will all come crashing down, but at this point I think Anderson is more likely to keep hitting for average while the rest of his game declines. His defense is workmanlike but on the decline, his 95th-percentile exit velocity trend is terrifying, and there’s only so far BABIP can go if you walk at a 4% clip and don’t hit for power. I still think Anderson will beat this projection, but it increasingly seems like when the decline comes, it will be in everything except the one thing that looks the least sustainable.

17. Giants
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Brandon Crawford 525 .247 .321 .393 .312 1.4 -0.9 -0.1 2.5
Thairo Estrada 154 .262 .321 .411 .321 1.5 0.2 -0.6 0.8
Brett Wisely 14 .239 .304 .366 .296 -0.1 -0.0 0.0 0.1
Isan Díaz 7 .222 .305 .378 .300 -0.0 -0.0 -0.1 0.0
Total 700 .250 .320 .397 .314 2.8 -0.7 -0.8 3.4

We’re more than halfway through, so it’s time for a quick story. At the first Giants game I attended after moving to San Francisco, I met a Brandon Crawford superfan, clad head to toe in Crawford paraphernalia and pulling out all the stops to cheer him on every time he stepped to the plate, made a defensive play, or looked over towards our deep right field seats. That’s the kind of career Crawford has forged in the Bay, a steady presence across years of thrilling Giants teams.

The point of that story? I’m not sure it matters much to Giants fans whether we’re a few spots high or a few spots low on Crawford this year. He’s a franchise icon, and 2023 will either add to his legend if he’s good or not matter at all if he’s bad. Our projections have him edging over into good territory, but only by a hair; at least some power rebound seems likely after a disastrous 2022 output, and he continues to excel on defense. Those are the high points, but there are danger signs too. His OBP plummeted, and not in a particularly fluky way, and he’s already dealing with a knee injury that required a cortisone shot.

This feels like Crawford’s last hurrah with the team, as his contract expires at year’s end. Estrada will slide over from second to spell him, and likely take over the position full-time next year if he continues his recent form. But however 2023 goes, I’m going to forever associate Crawford with that superfan. I hope she gets at least one more thing to cheer about before all is said and done.

18. Orioles
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jorge Mateo 385 .230 .275 .376 .284 -7.0 1.9 2.1 1.4
Gunnar Henderson 245 .254 .345 .438 .343 6.9 0.1 -1.2 1.7
Joey Ortiz 49 .242 .298 .369 .293 -0.6 -0.0 0.2 0.2
Jordan Westburg 14 .233 .307 .387 .306 -0.0 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Ramón Urías 7 .250 .319 .409 .319 0.1 -0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .239 .303 .397 .306 -0.6 1.9 1.2 3.4

This playing time projection is the numerical equivalent of throwing your hands up in the air. Henderson looks bound for stardom, be it at third or shortstop, but Mateo is still holding on to the position for now after a solid defensive year established him as the everyday starter. His offensive numbers are downright ugly – that .284 projected wOBA is the second-lowest for anyone in this article with 100 or more PAs – but you can get away with that kind of bat at shortstop if your glove is transcendent.

In 2022, Mateo’s was, but he’d never flashed that level of defense before, so Orioles talent evaluators will have their work cut out for them early in the year. Henderson will likely start the season at third base, but if Mateo’s defense looks shaky, the team should make the switch sooner rather than later. Those offensive numbers next to Henderson’s name are no joke — think Corey Seager, if you’re looking for a parallel as an offense-first lefty shortstop. 2023 is just the start of Baltimore’s plan for contention, but what they do at shortstop will have ramifications for both this year and the future.

19. Astros
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Jeremy Peña 616 .247 .296 .414 .309 1.3 0.6 0.5 3.0
Mauricio Dubón 49 .255 .303 .381 .299 -0.3 -0.1 0.1 0.2
David Hensley 28 .240 .319 .363 .303 -0.1 -0.0 -0.3 0.1
Dixon Machado 7 .238 .310 .334 .289 -0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .247 .298 .409 .308 0.9 0.4 0.3 3.3

I was shocked to see Peña here when I started working up this list, but the competition is fierce at shortstop. The 24th and 11th spots on these rankings are separated by a slender 0.7 WAR, which means you could realistically shuffle that whole mess around without changing the projections much at all. When everyone is this similar, the differences come down to nitpicking, and Peña has a few nits to pick. He’s a young defensive wizard, but his on-base skills leave something to be desired, which is exactly the weakness we’re projecting him for. His aggressive approach and middling contact numbers mean he’ll strike out an average amount but rarely walk, which puts a lot of pressure on the power to make the whole package work.

Be that as it may, the reason the Astros rank 19th and not 14th (or something like that) is more about the guys behind Peña than any shortcoming on his part. A 3-WAR projection is nothing to sneeze at, after all. The backups behind him, on the other hand, are pretty close to replacement level, and Dubón’s offense cratered to a scary extent last year. Houston was confident enough in Peña to plug him right into the lineup when Carlos Correa departed, but now they’re betting on his health as well, because depth looks like a clear weakness here.

20. Dodgers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Miguel Rojas 448 .256 .307 .371 .298 -3.8 -0.4 3.9 2.1
Chris Taylor 210 .230 .313 .389 .309 0.0 0.4 -0.0 1.0
Yonny Hernandez 42 .223 .321 .285 .279 -1.0 0.1 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .247 .310 .371 .300 -4.7 0.2 3.9 3.2

Trust the Dodgers to punt shortstop, sit out the enticing free agency market, make some milquetoast trade, and project right in the middle of a pack of teams trying to fix their shortstop situation anyway. It’s a very Dodgers approach, and their projection above highlights two things: they have some exciting multi-position players, and they’re good at identifying trade targets they’ll be able to use.

Rojas is nobody’s idea of a star. He’s a defense-first, zero-true-outcomes type, which means that a down year of BABIP can turn his overall line from desultory to atrocious (see: 2022). At 34, his sterling defense might be trending the wrong way; at the very least, it would be a good idea to give him frequent rest to keep his legs fresh.

Luckily, that’s exactly how the Dodgers are built. Taylor can handle shortstop at least passably well when he’s not busy traipsing around the outfield or other infield positions or what have you. He missed time with injury last year and hit below his established level when he was on the field, two facts that might be related. Shuffle the two of them through shortstop, give Taylor plenty of time elsewhere, and you can probably get both to 500 plate appearances with ample rest opportunities. That works out to a solid projection, even if Dodgers fans will understandably grumble about how much better the team would look with a star in that spot.

21. Tigers
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Javier Báez 609 .244 .288 .419 .306 0.3 1.1 0.2 2.9
Nick Maton 49 .225 .306 .358 .295 -0.4 -0.0 0.1 0.2
Zack Short 28 .199 .300 .324 .281 -0.5 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Ryan Kreidler 14 .218 .295 .346 .286 -0.2 0.0 0.1 0.0
Total 700 .241 .290 .410 .304 -0.9 1.0 0.4 3.2

See, the Tigers signed a free agent shortstop to compete with the big boys, and they have the same projection as the Dodgers. To be fair, that’s because the free agent shortstop they picked happened to turn into a pumpkin last year, but hey, that’s how life works out sometimes. Báez was the worst version of himself in 2022, flipping back and forth between more and less aggressive at the plate repeatedly. That somehow ended up with him swinging more at balls and less at strikes, and while his strikeout rate fell, so too did his power. Overall, it was a reminder of how thin the line is between just enough aggression and far too much.

Of course, part of the magic of the Báez experience is that he can go from unplayable to outstanding in a heartbeat. That wild swing at a curveball a foot off the outside corner is miserable until it turns into a double. The swing-at-everything mentality is maddening until it starts turning into tattooed fastballs. Staple that to solid defense, and you get a player who ranges between frustratingly average and near-star-level. Even in his miserable 2022, Báez ended up producing a 2-WAR season. The Tigers are hoping for much more to get back into contention, but they’ll need at least a decent rebound just to be competitive.

22. Yankees
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Anthony Volpe 336 .232 .311 .395 .311 1.2 0.7 0.2 1.7
Oswald Peraza 217 .243 .300 .384 .301 -0.9 0.6 0.6 1.0
Isiah Kiner-Falefa 126 .258 .309 .345 .289 -1.7 0.3 -0.9 0.3
Oswaldo Cabrera 21 .231 .290 .398 .300 -0.1 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Total 700 .240 .307 .382 .304 -1.5 1.6 0.1 3.1

Death, taxes, and me writing about Kiner-Falefa. This year, he’s the third wheel in a prospect-fronted time share, so I’ll only mention him to say that he’s a really nice third option at short, the kind of utility infielder you’d feel comfortable with anywhere he needs to play. The highlight of this unit, though, is Volpe, the all-everything prospect who is in the process of forcing his way to the majors by cutting through minor league pitchers like hot butter. It’s reasonable to wonder whether he’ll have to move off shortstop long-term, and also whether his aggressive swing will lead to a bundle of strikeouts, but if neither of those things happen, he’s going to be a star.

Peraza doesn’t have quite the same minor league pedigree, but he’s certainly no slouch in that department either. He managed nearly as many minor league homers as Volpe despite fewer plate appearances and a tougher assignment, and excelled in a cup of major league coffee to boot. He also looks like a better bet to stick at shortstop. His lack of true top-end power makes it harder to envision him turning into a perennial All-Star, but that’s praise via faint damnation. If that’s the worst I can say about him, that’s a pretty good sign. The close split of playing time represents how unsure we are of who the Bombers will turn to, but both of these options look excellent to me.

23. Marlins
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Joey Wendle 308 .264 .312 .390 .307 -0.2 0.1 0.1 1.4
José Iglesias 259 .283 .318 .391 .311 0.6 -0.4 -0.5 1.2
Jon Berti 70 .235 .321 .341 .298 -0.6 0.7 -0.2 0.3
Jacob Amaya 35 .223 .301 .339 .286 -0.6 -0.0 0.1 0.1
Jordan Groshans 21 .254 .324 .345 .299 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Jean Segura 7 .273 .330 .390 .317 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .266 .315 .382 .306 -0.9 0.3 -0.6 3.1

We’re handing out 3-WAR projections to everybody this year, I guess. This situation could charitably be described as a mishmash. It’s basically everyone on the team bus who raised their hand when the coach asked who could play shortstop. I’m not saying it won’t work, but for a team that has a spectacular pitching staff and needs just a bit of help from the offense to get over the hump, this feels like not enough of a plan.

Wendle might be able to hack it at shortstop. He hasn’t played there much, but he’s acquitted himself well when he has. It’s probably not ideal for your shortstop to be switching to the position full-time for the first time in his professional career at age 33, but Wendle has consistently surpassed my expectations throughout his time in the big leagues, so maybe this will just be another notch in his belt.

There’s no question that Iglesias can play short, so he’s a possible plan B if Wendle turns out to be better suited for second or if Luis Arraez isn’t quite up to second and the whole infield has to shift around. Berti fits into the puzzle somewhere too, when he’s not busy backing up every other position on the diamond and stealing bases as easily as most humans breathe. At the end of the day, someone will stand there, but I’ll be surprised if they manage a line over a 100 wRC+ or provide excellent defense, so this feels mostly like filler to me, which is not where you want to be if you’re the Marlins.

24. Rockies
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Ezequiel Tovar 560 .275 .320 .437 .329 -1.9 0.4 2.3 2.7
Alan Trejo 98 .251 .288 .426 .309 -1.9 -0.2 0.2 0.3
Harold Castro 35 .290 .321 .402 .315 -0.5 -0.1 -0.3 0.1
Cole Tucker 7 .227 .289 .342 .280 -0.3 -0.0 -0.1 -0.0
Total 700 .272 .315 .433 .325 -4.6 0.2 2.1 3.0

Ah, we’ve reached the prospect crush section of the rankings. Tovar had never played above A-ball before last year, but then he torched Double-A and took advantage of injury-related turmoil on the big league club to rocket all the way up to Denver. He’s a slasher rather than a bopper offensively, and the less said about his plate discipline the better, but he’s displayed a tremendous feel to hit throughout the minors. That kind of offensive profile is a snug fit for Coors Field’s spacious outfield; opposing outfielders are sure to get tired of chasing down his unending string of flares and burners.

That’s all well and good, but defense is Tovar’s true calling card. He combines tremendous range with savant-like instincts and generally makes shortstop look easier than it is. That’s the kind of skill set that will give Tovar plenty of rope even if he’s struggling at the plate. And look, let’s not mince words — he might struggle at the plate. Tovar chased far too much in the minors, and major league pitchers all have plus sliders compared to what he saw in Double-A. Luckily for Tovar, Colorado doesn’t have the kind of so-so veterans they’ve often blocked prospects with, so I think he’ll have ample opportunity to prove he can stay afloat.

25. Angels
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
David Fletcher 280 .270 .312 .351 .293 -3.9 0.1 0.7 0.9
Luis Rengifo 196 .256 .305 .407 .310 0.0 0.0 -0.2 0.9
Gio Urshela 140 .272 .321 .425 .324 1.5 -0.4 -0.5 0.7
Andrew Velazquez 49 .211 .267 .338 .267 -1.7 0.2 -0.0 0.1
Livan Soto 21 .232 .296 .321 .276 -0.6 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Brandon Drury 14 .244 .298 .426 .315 0.1 -0.0 -0.0 0.1
Total 700 .261 .308 .381 .302 -4.4 -0.2 -0.0 2.6

I consider myself a Fletcher fanboy. I always wondered what would happen if someone with a swing that looks like it’s geared for fast-pitch softball reached the major leagues, and he appears to have the answer: no strikeouts, no walks, and no power, resulting in a fairly uninspiring batting line. When he’s doing at least a little damage or hitting for average, his defense makes the whole profile work. When he’s not – well, that’s where Rengifo and Urshela come in.

The reason those guys are in a time share with Fletcher rather than simply taking the job from him is that they’re both a bit light on glove to play shortstop. Rengifo is close to positionless, below average but playable across the infield. That’s not a normal résumé for a shortstop, but he’s a league-average bat, and the Angels might need offense badly enough to risk a few extra outs on defense. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s nice to have options: if either Fletcher or Rengifo’s greatest weakness proves debilitating, the other can step in.

That leaves out Urshela, who is mostly on the team for Anthony Rendon insurance but might also be better than both Fletcher and Rengifo. It’s far from a certainty that he can handle shortstop (defensive systems can’t even agree on whether he’s a good third baseman), but he has more pop in his bat than either of them. If Rendon plays every day and Urshela keeps hitting, something will have to give to get his bat in the lineup. Shortstop feels like the easiest place for that. But things rarely go according to plan, so let’s pencil in that option as a solid maybe.

26. Braves
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Orlando Arcia 392 .244 .307 .393 .307 -2.3 -0.2 -0.2 1.5
Vaughn Grissom 224 .262 .327 .387 .315 0.1 0.2 -1.6 0.9
Braden Shewmake 63 .233 .278 .362 .281 -1.7 -0.0 -0.2 0.1
Ehire Adrianza 21 .235 .309 .342 .291 -0.4 -0.0 -0.2 0.0
Total 700 .248 .311 .387 .307 -4.3 0.0 -2.1 2.6

I truly don’t know what to make of the Braves’ chaotic mix. Grissom came into spring as the obvious fit for the job. The team was confident enough in his ability to play short that they didn’t recruit any help in free agency and instead dispatched Ron Washington to work with him on defense. Then he caught some surprising competition from all-glove minor leaguer Shewmake, and suddenly the job was a competition between those two.

Clearly, no one won that competition, because they were both optioned to Triple-A, leaving Arcia as the starting shortstop. The team clearly trusts him – he took over Grissom’s spot at second base in the playoffs last year – but he hasn’t been an everyday starter since 2019, and he was ghastly that year. Our projections believe he’ll be a league-average hitter, but his career line stands at .243/.295/.369, so there’s certainly risk to the downside here.

Most likely, one of Grissom or Shewmake will end up with the job, because they’re the two players that Atlanta placed in a competition for it. But then why not keep one of them up now? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something seems amiss here.

Let this be a cautionary tale: if you let your All-Star shortstop leave and choose not to replace him in free agency, try to have a prospect in mind. Otherwise, you might end up shuffling between three options you’re unhappy with. The Braves have some very high highs on their roster, but this position feels like it could be quite problematic if one of the two youngsters doesn’t seize the job.

27. Athletics
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Allen 490 .231 .289 .327 .275 -9.9 -0.2 4.7 1.6
Aledmys Díaz 133 .245 .301 .390 .302 0.2 -0.4 0.2 0.6
Kevin Smith 70 .210 .267 .358 .273 -1.5 0.0 0.2 0.2
Tyler Wade 7 .229 .302 .323 .280 -0.1 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Total 700 .231 .290 .342 .280 -11.2 -0.5 5.1 2.4

If Allen were a league-average hitter, he’d be a star. He’s a sensational defender, combining surprising arm strength with enviable instincts and range. I could watch him field all day and be happy about it. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for his offense. He showed flashes of lift-and-pull dynamism in the minors, but his recent track record mostly involves getting the bat knocked out of his hands by pitchers who see a 5-foot-8 batter and attack.

You can imagine Allen improving his offensive output, not to superstar levels perhaps, but to acceptable no. 6 hitter heights. If he managed it, his batting line would look a lot like that of Díaz, who is competing for the starting shortstop job but seems ticketed for a super-utility role at the moment. He started games at six different positions (not counting DH) for Houston last year, and Oakland’s patchwork roster will give him ample opportunity to repeat the feat this year.

The ideal outcome for Oakland is that Allen improves to a near-average hitter, freeing up Díaz to appear more or less everywhere else. The second-best outcome is that Díaz has a monster offensive season that makes up for his so-so defense. The third-best outcome? That’s Smith, I guess, but he looks like a better fit at third, and his transition to hitting major league pitching hasn’t exactly gone well. It’s not quite Allen-or-bust, but that’s an acceptable shorthand way of thinking about it.

28. Nationals
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
CJ Abrams 560 .261 .302 .384 .301 -5.6 0.5 -0.2 2.1
Ildemaro Vargas 77 .250 .293 .370 .290 -1.4 -0.0 -0.2 0.2
Jeter Downs 21 .198 .271 .353 .276 -0.6 0.0 -0.2 0.0
Luis García 21 .263 .300 .421 .311 -0.0 -0.0 -0.2 0.1
Carter Kieboom 21 .229 .324 .362 .306 -0.1 -0.0 -0.1 0.1
Total 700 .257 .301 .382 .299 -7.8 0.4 -0.8 2.4

Credit to the Nationals where it’s due: they aren’t wasting time giving their fans a look at the players they got back in the Juan Soto trade. Abrams is only 22 and has barely 100 minor league games under his belt, so you could imagine the team stashing him in the minors this year. But he’s pretty clearly their best option at shortstop, and rather than find some excuse not to play him, they’re letting him develop at the major league level. Ideally, that development will involve moderating his aggressive approach at the plate, which boiled down to “swing at anything that moves” last year to his detriment.

If the Nationals get what they’re hoping for out of Abrams, he’ll be a joy to watch. He’ll probably never hit 30 homers in a season, but he has an all-fields line drive approach that complements his impressive speed. He seems to me like a beneficiary of a shift ban, too: lefties who can’t hit the ball over the wall naturally have more of their value tied up in grounders. He also has work to do on the defensive end, but again, he barely played 100 games in the minors and he’s only 22. Some improvement is a given; how much he improves is yet to be seen.

The reason that Abrams is getting this chance is also the reason that we have a bunch of dart throws below him on the list. I like all these guys, but not as starting shortstops for good teams. Only García fits that description, even if you’re being generous, and he’s starting at second. The Nats won’t be good this year, but they’ll be a lot less bad (and more exciting for the future) if Abrams delivers.

29. Diamondbacks
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Nick Ahmed 420 .237 .294 .373 .292 -7.3 0.1 2.3 1.4
Geraldo Perdomo 196 .224 .313 .319 .285 -4.4 0.1 0.2 0.5
Josh Rojas 84 .249 .332 .384 .316 0.2 0.3 -0.0 0.4
Total 700 .235 .304 .360 .293 -11.6 0.4 2.5 2.3

There’s no shame in being 29th on this list, because shortstop is stacked this year. Ahmed is an unheralded defensive wizard and a link to Arizona’s past, but he can still pick it. He’s a bad hitter – like, a really bad hitter – but he’s also one of the best shortstop defenders of the past decade, regardless of which advanced defensive metric (or eye test) you’re partial to. If you’ve ever wanted to answer the question of how poorly a shortstop could hit while still being valuable, his career is a good data point. His 75 wRC+ is ghastly and he’s racked up 2.5 WAR per 600 plate appearances anyway.

Perdomo was supposed to supplant Ahmed at shortstop, but the timing hasn’t worked out. He was thrust into the job last year due to injury, and posted an absolutely gruesome 58 wRC+ with average defense. Scouts think he’ll improve defensively, and mean reversion nearly guarantees he’ll improve offensively, but make no mistake: there’s distinct bust risk here. That’s how you end up penciling in Rojas, whose best defensive position might be DH, as another backup. The Diamondbacks want to compete this year, and they can’t have another 2022 Perdomo offensive performance if they’re going to do so.

30. Reds
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA Bat BsR Fld WAR
Kevin Newman 441 .268 .311 .371 .299 -7.8 0.3 -2.1 1.0
Jose Barrero 154 .211 .265 .344 .269 -6.4 0.0 -0.0 0.0
Elly De La Cruz 70 .248 .290 .426 .308 -0.7 0.1 -0.4 0.2
Chad Pinder 35 .226 .270 .379 .283 -1.1 -0.0 0.0 0.0
Total 700 .251 .296 .371 .293 -16.0 0.5 -2.6 1.4

Okay, there’s at least a little shame in finishing 30th on this list. That’s what you get for starting somebody who couldn’t hack it on the Pirates, though. Newman is the platonic ideal of the last infielder on the bench. Is he a good fielder? He’s alright for a shortstop. Is he a good hitter? No. Can he play the middle infield competently when your starters are having a day off, and maybe sub in defensively for a bat-first option? Indubitably. That’s not the role he has here, though, and his career suggests he’s ill-suited for the one he does.

Cincinnati hopes that he’ll merely be a stopgap. Barrero looked like he might seize the job for good after tearing up Triple-A in 2021, but he had a historically futile offensive season in the bigs last year, and his minor league performance wasn’t much better. That’s poured cold water on his projections, though I’d give him plenty of chances to redeem himself if I were the Reds. The young guard is nipping at his heels, too: De La Cruz is our no. 6 overall prospect, while Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, the two players the team got back in the Luis Castillo trade, give them an enviable minor league shortstop pipeline. The future is bright here. The present? Not so much.





Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

96 Comments
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speedy
1 year ago

Despite the Angels claims of solving the “depth” issue, their new additions to the infield didn’t really add any premiere talent. So no matter who’s playing the results should be about the same.

shortstop
1 year ago
Reply to  speedy

Lol, did you miss the 600 combined plate appearances from Velazquez and Duffy last year? The Angels were 29th in SS wRC+ and 30th in 3B wRC+.

speedy
1 year ago
Reply to  shortstop

LOL. Then why did they invite Velasquez to Spring Training? Phillips is this year’s Duffy. Rendon has the mobility of a guy who had a hip procedure.

curt schillings ketchup bottle
1 year ago
Reply to  shortstop

So maybe this year they end up 20th and 25th at those spots instead?

Not really something to get super excited about. Pretty much anyway you slice it, the angels infield has a 75+% chance of being terrible again

shortstop
1 year ago

I don’t think anybody is claiming they’ll have a top tier infield, but they actually have decent depth for once.