BBE 2018 Positional Rankings: MLB’s Top 15 Shortstops

Over the offseason, the team of contributors at Baseball Essential voted upon every position on the diamond, compiling our comprehensive Top 15 countdowns for the 2018 season.

Major League Baseball is overflowing with youth and skill, but don’t forget about the rugged veterans we all know and love. These Top 15 rundowns will feature a splendid mix of young, exuberant athletes, and the aged, mature individuals who mentor them.As for the positions, we will unveil the top 15 starting pitchers, relievers, catchers, first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstops, left fielders, center fielders, and right fielders, as well as the foremost designated hitters, utilitymen, and managers, over the next few weeks.

Our voting format is simple. The team of writers and analysts at BBE were given ballots a few weeks back for their top 10 individuals at each spot. A first-place vote is worth 10 points, second-place is good for nine, and so on.

As the season starts to get underway, you will see these countdowns published prior to the beginning of another exciting MLB season. To keep track of the Top 15 lists you might have missed, stay posted to the Top 15 tag on the site.

In the rundown, we list the player their position among the list, and how many points they have received in the voting. Now, you’re ready. Here are MLB’s Top 15 shortstops for the 2018 season.

Honorable Mentions:

Hey, we all agreed on something! Only 15 players received votes for this particular rundown. Keep scrolling, there’s nothing to see here.

Orlando Arcia – 15th (3)

As a rookie in 2017, Orlando Arcia had a lot to prove in the role of everyday shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers. For a 22-year-old who had struggled immensely during his short MLB stint in 2016, all would say he did an excellent job. The righty hit an admirable .277/.324/.407 with 15 home runs and 53 runs batted in primarily in the eight hole, right behind the pitcher in the Brewers lineup.

The now-23-year-old showed his light feet on both defense and around the bases in 2017. Arcia had a .971 fielding percentage in 1,240.1 innings of work, and legged out 34 extra base hits. The young stud posted a 2.5 Baseball-Reference WAR in his first full season.

Trevor Story – 14th (3)

Rookie home run explosion Trevor Story has come and passed, but regular shortstop Trevor Story is still a valuable presence for the Colorado Rockies. Story had a down year at the plate, hitting .239/.308/.457 and leading the National League in strikeouts, but he lifted 24 home runs, 11 of which were away from the asterisk-littered Coors Field.

Story, 25, is still young, and could get better from here. If the right-hander’s batting stats and consistency at home plate never improve from his 2017 totals, he will still find a way to crack a lineup with his tremendous defense (.982 fielding percentage, 11 defensive runs saved).

Javier Baez – 13th (4)

The fun thing about Javier Baez is that the Chicago Cubs right-hander made the list of best shortstops and best second baseman. Baez appeared at short 73 times in 2017, as well as 80 occasions at the second base position.

For more on Baez, who placed 10th in our Top 15 second basemen rundown, click here.

Addison Russell – 12th (6)

From one Cub to another, Addison Russell is the ideal starting shortstop for the northsiders. Russell is a core part of MLB’s recent wave of elite young shortstops, and he’s already one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball at just 24. With 15 DRS in just 808.1 innings at short, the right-hander’s average-to-mediocre hitting stats don’t look as bad.

Russell slashed .239/.304/.418 with 12 homers, 43 RBIs, and 23 doubles in 2017. His defense, however, has proved valuable enough to never be an impact hitter on a team with sluggers like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Russell missed extended time with a foot injury last season but will be a huge problem for opposing hitters in 2018 if he remains healthy.

Zack Cozart – 11th (10)

Zack Cozart was the epitome of an average player for the better part of five full MLB seasons, but in 2017, Cozart somehow showed All-Star-caliber talent at the dish and on the dirt. The Cincinnati Reds enjoyed Cozart’s .297/.385/.548 slash line, 24 home runs, and 83 RBIs in 2017 in the 32-year-old’s first All-Star campaign.

The Los Angeles Angels and Cozart agreed to a three-year contract over the offseason to boost an already superb defense, with Cozart playing at third base. If they get the Cozart from 2017, who posted 5.0 bWAR in 122 games, you can pencil them in for a Wild Card spot.

Jean Segura – 10th (14)

Jean Segura has played for four teams in six years, as the shortstop has been included in some blockbuster trades for Zack Greinke and Ketel Marte. Despite all of this, Segura remains one of the most effective and consistent shortstops in baseball, and a weapon in many aspects of the game. The righty hit .300/.349/.427, 11 home runs, and drove in 47 runs.

His quick, reactive feet might be his best attribute, as Segura stole 22 bases and legged out 43 extra base hits. At just 28, the former All-Star and NL Most Valuable Player vote recipient has a lot left in him and will be a force for the Wild Card-aspiring Seattle Mariners in 2018.

Xander Bogaerts – 9th (19)

Another young gun leading this changing of the guard at the shortstop position is Boston Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts, who has already posted 11 bWAR and a strong 684 career hits at just 25. In 2017, Bogaerts slashed .273/343/.403 with 10 homers and 62 RBIs in 148 contests. The two-time Silver Slugger winner led the Sox in triples with six, as part of his 48 extra base hits, and used his speed to steal 15 bags as well.

The right-handed hitter is a flawed defender by advanced metrics, but a serviceable one nonetheless. If his batting average, which hit .320 in 2015, rebounds this season, Bogaerts could be right back on track to his former All-Star ways.

Brandon Crawford – 8th (19)

The surge of young, superstar talent at the position has made the case for Brandon Crawford as the game’s best shortstop fall off a cliff. When you see the three-time Gold Glove winner’s cannon of an arm, and his knack for driving in runs, you’ll be reminded of the San Francisco Giants lefty’s rightful position near the top. Crawford hit .253/.305/.403 with team-highs in doubles (35) and RBIs (77) in the most extreme pitcher-friendly ballpark in MLB.

Crawford is among the best defensive shortstops in the sport still, as the 31-year-old posted nine defensive runs saved for a career total of 71 in 2017. The past Silver Slugger winner should be a pivotal two-way player for the new-look Giants this season.

Trea Turner – 7th (21)

Trea Turner’s career was eventful before he even stepped onto an MLB infield. As part of a three-way trade that featured Wil Myers and Steven Souza Jr., the now-24-year-old found himself with the Washington Nationals, where he has been an effective, game-changing force when not riddled by injuries. Turner, formerly a Rookie of the Year finalist, slashed .284/.338/.451 and stole an eye-popping 46 bases in just 98 games last season.

The right-hander had 11 home runs and 45 RBIs last season with the Nats, but it was his third straight season abridged by injury. As soon as Turner, who holds his own defensively as well (.979 fielding percentage), can put together a full season, we’ll see his MVP-level raw skill.

Elvis Andrus – 6th (32)

Texas Rangers right-handed batter Elvis Andrus used to be a liability at the plate, often hitting near the end of the lineup due to a lack of reliable, raw power. Until 2017, when the set career highs in nearly every stat that indicates strength and consistency at the dish. Andrus slashed .297/.337/.471 with career highs in hits (191), doubles (44), home runs (20), and RBIs (88).

The two-time All-Star got robbed of another appearance in 2017, but the former Rookie of the Year finalist still ended the season with his fourth 4-WAR campaign. His glove work remains valuable, totaling three DRS in 2017 to go along with a .979 fielding percentage. The Rangers have the shortstop locked up until 2022, and they should be ready to contend again before Andrus is sent packing.

Didi Gregorius – 5th (35)

Even with the influx of power-hitting superstars Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton on the New York Yankees, shortstop Didi Gregorius deserves his fair share of attention and respect after a career year in 2017. The 28-year-old slashed .287/.318/.478 with a career best .796 OPS last season, smashing 25 home runs, 87 RBIs, and for the first time in his career, receiving votes for the AL MVP award.

Gregorius generated a sensational .982 fielding percentage in 1,174 innings at shortstop and turned in a career best 3.7 bWAR in only 136 games played. With the Bronx Bombers locked and loaded for their best World Series shot since their 2009 conquest, Gregorius will play a big role in their success in 2018.

Andrelton Simmons – 4th (65)

Always known for his world-renowned defensive play, Andrelton Simmons used a trade from the Atlanta Braves to the Angels as reason to become one of the most complete players in the sport. The potential was always there, as the right-hander has been a disciplined batter from the outset of his career, but his career-best 7.1 bWAR, slash line of .278/.331/.421, and 69 RBIs were just part of his transformation from offensive afterthought to two-way star.

Oh, about that glove … the 28-year-old led baseball with 4.2 defensive bWAR (he was four wins better than a replacement level guy without swinging a bat) and THIRTY-TWO defensive runs saved. As the game’s preeminent defender on maybe the sport’s best defensive team, the three-time Gold Glove winner is quietly becoming an MVP contender.

Corey Seager – 3rd (67)

It took no time for Corey Seager to go from Los Angeles Dodgers prospect to MLB superstar, as the 2016 NL Rookie of the Year earned All-Star honors, the Silver Slugger at shortstop, and a position as an MVP finalist at 22 years old. Last year was not much different, as the lefty batter hit .295/.375/.479 with 22 home runs, 77 RBIs, and 55 extra-base hits, leading the Dodgers to an MLB-best 104 regular season wins.

Seager is a quick and effective defensive player, saving 10 runs defensively last season. The 23-year-old will play with a chip on his shoulder in 2018 after missing the NL Championship Series and grounding out for the final play of the 2017 season. If he’s healthy and inspired to wreak havoc on the NL West, you have to look out.

Francisco Lindor – 2nd (72)

Francisco Lindor the player is just as fun as Francisco Lindor the personality, and both are a breath of fresh air. The swagger and joy Lindor plays with are second only to his tremendous skill, as the switch-hitter slashed .273/.337/.505 alongside career-bests 33 homers (22 as a lefty, 11 as a righty) and 89 RBIs in 2017. The 24-year-old hit .298 in a record-breaking second half push by the Cleveland Indians.

Lindor accrued AL MVP votes in each of the last two seasons, finishing as high as fifth in 2017. The Gold Glove winner at shortstop in 2016’s AL pennant-winning run, Lindor has amassed 32 defensive runs saved and 16 bWAR in just three full MLB seasons. With Lindor and Jose Ramirez at the helm in Cleveland, the Tribe will have a shot at a World Series title.

Carlos Correa – 1st (76)

Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve won the AL MVP last season; if not for Carlos Correa’s broken thumb mid-season, Altuve might have lost it to his own double play partner. Correa played just 109 games but hit .315/.391/.550, posting 6.6 bWAR (a 9.8 full-season WAR pace). The right-handed batter hit 24 home runs and added 84 RBIs, earning his first All-Star Game appearance.

The 23-year-old is not your prototypical shortstop; the lanky, 6’4” Astro looks like he’s suited for a corner outfield spot, but he is more gracefully angelic with his glove than any player his size. Correa and Altuve make up perhaps the best middle infield since Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, with the former number-one overall pick in Correa (.978 fielding percentage) being just as good as his MVP counterpart.

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