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 2019 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 spring training season comes to a close and the 2019 MLB season begins, 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 pitcher, 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 2019 season.
15. Adalberto Mondesi, Kansas City Royals (Last year: not ranked)
Though Mondesi has never had a full season of MLB action, the 23-year-old makes this rundown based on his future chance of success, his entertainment value, and most of all, his blazing speed. In just 75 games in 2018, Mondesi swiped 32 bags and used his legs to stretch a healthy 16 of his 76 hits into doubles (13) and triples (3).
The Californian is also a pretty solid hitter, slashing .276/.306/.498 with 14 home runs, 37 RBIs, and a 116 OPS+ in 2018. The identity of the Royals in 2019 with Mondesi, Whit Merrifield, and Billy Hamilton is their rapid baserunning speed, and the young shortstop on the rebuilding club is leading the charge.
14. Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals (Last year: not ranked)
A former Rookie of the Year Award finalist in the National League, DeJong will fly under the radar on a solid Cardinals team that has all the makings of a pennant winner. However, the dynamic right-hander blossomed into a plus player on both sides of the ball last season and will help round out a stacked batting order in the Gateway City.
DeJong slashed .241/.313/.433 with 19 home runs, 68 RBIs, and 25 doubles in 2018 and coupled it with decent defensive work with a 2.1 defensive WAR and 14 FanGraphs defensive runs saved.
13. Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants (Last year: 8th)
Crawford has been hit with the aging curve over the last couple of seasons, although he does remain one of the most consistent and reliable two-way shortstops in baseball. His cannon for an arm is still a weapon on defense, and his all-fields contact hitting is a concrete force in the Giants batting order.
The left-hander hit .254/.325/.394 with 14 home runs, 54 RBIs, 28 doubles, and 50 walks in 2018, combined with his still-valuable defensive efforts of a 1.3 dWAR and six DRS. Gone are the days of Crawford compiling 150 hits and 20 DRS, but he still has the skill to be a useful player in a major-league lineup.
12. Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers (Last year: 6th)
Andrus was one of the sport’s top shortstops in 2017, hitting .297 with 20 bombs and 25 stolen bases, but fell off severely in 2018 (though an elbow injury had a lot to do with it). The Rangers right-hander slashed a .256/.308/.367 with six home runs and a 76 OPS+ last season, a miserable year that was essentially a microcosm of the Rangers struggles, as a whole.
This year, however, the 30-year-old and two-time All-Star takes on a new role with even more incentive to give it his all: He is the veteran leader on a team without the recently retired Adrian Beltre. Fully healthy, Andrus has long been a very good player, posting a 29.8 bWAR and 22 career DRS at short, and his 2019 season should be more along the lines of his 2017 campaign, as opposed to his awful 2018 one.
11. Marcus Semien, Oakland Athletics (Last year: not ranked)
Semien is one of the most fascinating players in baseball. Not because he is overly talented or dominant, but because he shows flashes of offensive brilliance at times and produces absolutely horrid results at other times. He barrels balls up for home runs in a pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum, often stretches out singles for doubles, runs the bases well, and can work the count. Other times, the righty looks outmatched and overpowered at the plate.
He slashed .255/.318/.388 with 15 homers, 70 RBIs, 14 steals, and 35 doubles last season, while also posting a nine DRS and 2.0 dWAR. He is incredibly valuable to a defensively stellar A’s team and would be even better if he could find consistency in the batter’s box.
10. Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees (Last year: 5th)
At this time last year Gregorius was beating the snot out of everything and blossoming into a superstar shortstop for the Yankees. Early this season, he is on the shelf after undergoing Tommy John surgery and will be unavailable until at least June or July.
When he returns, the New York batting order will inherit one of the most talented offensive shortstops in baseball and a critical left-handed bat in a lineup chock full of right-handers. The 29-year-old slashed .268/.335/.494 with a career-best 27 home runs, 86 RBIs, 48 walks, 10 steals, and a 120 OPS+ last season.
9. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox (Last year: 9th)
[Jerry Remy voice] XANDA BOGAERTSER
The two-time Silver Slugger is underrated in that Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez play on his team, but Bogaerts had a career-best offensive season in a 2018 World Series-winning campaign with the Red Sox. He slashed .288/.360/.522 with a 135 OPS+, 23 home runs, 103 RBIs, and 45 doubles, receiving Most Valuable Player Award votes along the way.
Bogaerts is one of the worst defensive shortstops in MLB, however, and posted a -1.o dWAR and -19 DRS last season. Sorry to rain on the Bogaerts parade with stats.
8. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals (Last year: 7th)
Turner is the prototypical shortstop and in the best way. He led all NL players in stolen bases last year with 43 and slashed .271/.344/.416 with 19 homers, 73 RBIs, 27 doubles, six triples, and 69 walks. His defense at shortstop was sufficient, posting two DRS and 1.0 bWAR at the defensive spot.
A contact hitter with insane speed/baserunning skill, Turner is the ultimate 1980s shortstop and a pretty good bet to lead the NL in steals yet again in 2019. His durability has been in question over his time with Washington, but the 25-year-old right-hander played all 162 games last season. He is just one reason why the Nats are still convinced they can contend in the post-Bryce Harper era, but certainly one of the biggest.
7. Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers (Last year: 3rd)
In no time at all, Seager established himself as a certified major-league star. He was the NL Rookie of the Year and third-place MVP-voting finisher in 2016, as well as an All-Star and Silver Slugger in 2017. His 2018 season, however, was shortened due to elbow surgery that forced him to sit out all but 26 games of the Dodgers’ second-straight NL pennant run.
In 2019 the 24-year-old left-hander will be back to reclaim his rightful place near the top — if not at the summit — of this rundown. In 2017, the last time his actions were not inhibited by injury, he slashed .295/.375/.479 with 22 home runs, 77 RBIs, 33 doubles, a 125 OPS+, and five intentional walks at just 25 years old. Seager is that good, and he has set out to remind us all of it.
6. Jean Segura, Philadelphia Phillies (Last year: 10th)
One of many big-name acquisitions made by the Phillies this offseason, Segura is perhaps the most important one, as he fills an organizational void with his versatile and reliable skill set. Such was on display last season, which Segura spent with the Seattle Mariners, hitting .304/.341/.415 with 10 home runs, 63 RBIs, 20 steals, and 178 hits in just 144 games.
The right-hander was an All-Star for the second time in 2018, and at 29 years old with a contract set through 2022, the Phillies will be getting insane bang for their buck out of the career 18.3-bWAR compiler.
5. Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies (Last year: 14th)
As a rookie in 2016, Story lit up the NL with 27 bombs in just 97 games, then in 2017, fell way off, hitting .239 and striking out a league-high 191 times. Going into 2018 it was hard to tell what kind of shortstop the Rockies were getting out of the high-risk, high-reward right-hander from Irving, Texas.
And so, in true baseball fashion, Story slashed .291/.348/.567, hit 38 homers and 85 extra-base hits, drove in 108 runs, stole 27 bags, and posted positive defensive numbers (0.9 dWAR, one DRS) in 2018. He is the second-biggest star on the left side of the Denver infield, but a star nonetheless.
4. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (Last year: 1st)
The Astros need Correa to be healthy again, and the baseball would be a much better place with a healthy Correa. With that being said, yeah, he’s hurt again, like he was all of 2018 and most of 2017, despite playing at an MVP-level the latter season.
When the tall and powerful right-hander returns to the middle of the Houston order, the Astros get a former Rookie of the Year and electric all-fields power hitter. Although his 2018 struggles need to be addressed (.239/.323/.405, just 15 homers in 110 games), Correa is a star shortstop who scored 6.1 bWAR and hit .315 in just 109 games in 2017. It’s clear what his ceiling is, but health and consistency issues have plagued the 24-year-old for a while.
3. Manny Machado, San Diego Padres (Last year: ineligible — played third base)
San Diego’s $300 million man qualifies as a shortstop for this rundown despite playing third base for most of his career, and for Opening Day, 2019. Why? Well, because he played shortstop last year for the Baltimore Orioles (where he was absolutely horrific at it) and Dodgers (where he was excellent, offensively and defensively, at shortstop).
Suffice to say, he had a very interesting contract year, but through it all, remained an electric hitter. With Baltimore and L.A. combined, the righty slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs, 107 RBIs, 14 steals, 70 walks, and a 146 OPS+. Turns out that, yes, he is a generational talent and deserving of one of the largest free-agent deals ever signed.
2. Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels (Last year: 4th)
The Atlanta Braves traded Simmons for one main reason: they were not impressed with his lack of progression as an offensive player, and were pretty certain that the right-hander was going to be a one-trick pony — an all-world defensive player with no offensive skill — his whole career. But since his 2016 debut with the Angels, Simmons has evolved into a complete ballplayer and one of the best in MLB at his position and overall.
In addition to winning his fourth Gold Glove last season, the 29-year-old hit .292/.337/.417 with 11 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 10 steals and has an innate ability to work the count and remain disciplined at all times (he totaled just 44 strikeouts in 2018). His defensive chops alone would be enough to earn a spot on the rundown, scoring a 3.1 dWAR and a whopping 21 DRS at shortstop last season, numbers that help his career marks of 25.3 and 184 (!) rise.
1. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (Last year: 2nd)
Lindor is the clear and untouchable top-ranked shortstop in baseball. Aside from being a microcosm of what baseball should be (fun, competitive, and joyful at all times), Lindor is a freakishly talented player who hits well from both sides of the plate, plays angelic defense, and runs the bases with ease.
In 2018, his third consecutive All-Star campaign, the Indians switch-hitter hit .270/.352/.519 with 38 home runs, 92 RBIs, 70 walks, 25 stolen bases, and 42 doubles. At just 25, Lindor has amassed a 23.8 bWAR and is only getting better from here.