25 & Under Rankings (2018): Top 5 Shortstops: Seager’s Outlook, A Surprise At #5 & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Who are the next wave of superstars in Major League Baseball? That’s what we are about to dive into, as we go position-by-position, looking for the best players who are 25-years old or younger (as of April 1, 2018). Obviously, things will be slightly skewed to those who have already reached the Majors and produced, but minor leaguers and their upside will not be ignored.

There is little question that shortstop has become a loaded position, filled with young talent (with more on the way).  It’s easy to argue numerous players as the best, but who topped our rankings?  Let’s take a look:

Note – Alex Bregman has eligibility at SS in most formats heading into 2018, but he was included on our 3B rankings (where he ranked #3 behind Manny Machado & Jose Ramirez) and therefore is not included on these rankings.  If he was included he would rank #4.

 

1) Francisco Lindor – Cleveland Indians
Age – 24

While he doesn’t bring blazing speed, he’s consistently shown the ability to steal 15+ bases.  The surprise was the sudden development in his power, with 33 HR in ’17 courtesy of a 14.0% HR/FB.  Obviously we don’t love seeing a 42.4% fly ball rate, but he continued to hit the ball hard (35.2% Hard%) and make consistent contact (6.4% SwStr%) so the change didn’t have a negative impact on his average outlook…  For the most part.

The increased fly balls cost him in his BABIP, as he posted a .275 mark.  Obviously the power allowed him to still post a solid .273, but if he could find a balance and a little bit of luck he has the upside of a .300/30/100/100/15 player (and hitting atop the order he could score 110+ runs).  That’s an elite stat line, regardless of the position he plays.

 

2) Trea Turner – Washington Nationals
Age – 24

Turner has missed time each year, which is the only real negative you can find in his total outlook.  Over 98 games last season (447 PA) he hit .284 with 11 HR and 46 SB, but that may just be the tip of the iceberg.  There’s the potential for him to mature into a 20ish home run threat, having added 24 doubles and 6 triples while posting a modest 9.9% HR/FB.

He also showed a solid approach at the plate, which should allow him to continue to get on base at a strong clip:

  • SwStr% – 9.4%
  • O-Swing% – 25.2%

He did see his Hard% tumble to 26.7% last season, helping him to an unimpressive 14.8% line drive rate.  Of course his speed will always allow him to carry an elevated BABIP (.329 last season) and in 2016 his rates were at 34.8% and 25.2%, respectively.  We also have to remember that he missed time with a broken wrist, which could’ve impacted the numbers.  He could easily emerge as the best shortstop in the game, and if he stays healthy it could come in 2018.

 

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3) Carlos Correa – Houston Astros
Age – 23

Correa got 481 PA last season, hitting .315 with 24 HR courtesy of a strong approach (8.5% SwStr%, 27.7% O-Swing%) and setting an MVP pace prior to missing time due to injury.  There’s no questioning his power, but there’s likely a regression coming in his average (.352 BABIP) and he virtually stopped running altogether (2 SB in 3 attempts).  The lack of SB would hurt him compared to the names above him long-term, though he’s shown the potential to steal 10+ bases before.

At worst we’re looking at a .290/30 type player, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

4) Corey Seager – Los Angeles Dodgers
Age – 23

It’s easy to get excited about Seager, though he clearly is a step below the three players above him on this list.  The question is his approach, as he carried a 14.4% SwStr% in the second half of ’17 (12.1% overall) and has continued to struggle to make consistent contact against various types of pitches (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 10.27%
  • Offspeed – 15.61%
  • Breaking – 19.76%

He hits the ball hard and clearly has power, so he should be able to carry a strong average and could pop a .290/30 season.  Of course the strikeout rate is a risk and he also doesn’t add stolen base upside.

 

5) Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego Padres
Age – 19

The fact that he’s even included on these rankings is amazing, and his big spring performance has put him square on the map for a potential callup at some point in 2018.  The Padres have no reason to force the issue, with him thus far having just 57 PA above Single-A (all of which came at Double-A), and it makes sense to give Tatis time to gain experience against upper level pitching.

That said, he combined to hit.278 with 22 HR and 32 SB over 486 PA.  If you want to split hairs you will call attention to a 13.3% SwStr%, but remember he played the year as an 18-year old and reached Double-A so the number has to be kept in perspective.  As he matures and develops we are looking at a potential 30/15 middle infielder (you would expect him to lose a step as he fills out his 6’3” frame), and one that could hit .270+ annually.  That could give him the highest upside of anyone on the list, and justifies including him over several options that have already reached the Majors.

 

Others Considered

  • Orlando Arcia – Milwaukee Brewers (Age – 23)
  • Xander Bogaerts – Boston Red Sox (Age – 25)
  • J.P. Crawford – Philadelphia Phillies (Age – 23)
  • Paul DeJong – St. Louis Cardinals (Age – 24)
  • Amed Rosario – New York Mets (Age 22)
  • Dansby Swanson – Atlanta Braves (Age – 24)
  • Gleyber Torres – New York Yankees (Age – 21)

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

** ORDER ROTOPROFESSOR’S 2017 DRAFT GUIDE TODAY **
Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
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Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

2 comments

  1. Jake says:

    Hi Rotoprofessor,

    Going through picking my keepers and wanted your opinion. Below are the considerations for my last keeper and the draft pick i would forfeit (14 team league):
    – Miguel Sano – 11th round
    – Lance Mccullers – 9th round
    – Jon Gray – 16th round

    My other two keepers were Yoan Moncada and Ozzie Albies for what its worth.

    Thanks for the help!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I love Gray, but I’d understand if you were apprehensive about keeping him. Sano is the “safe” choice, assuming he doesn’t face a lengthy suspension

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