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USATSI

Shortstop is, once again, the premiere position in Fantasy Baseball heading into 2024 drafts. 12 different shortstops are inside the top 85 in NFBC ADP, by far the most of any position besides outfield (which has more spots to fill) -- and that's not even including Mookie Betts, who will gain shortstop eligibility in the first week of the season. And, no matter what kind of player you want, you'll find it at shortstop.

Where the position is strongest, of course, is with those five-category contributors, with the likes of Bobby Witt, Trea Turner, Elly De La Cruz, and Francisco Lindor all possessing 30-30 potential in the early rounds, and names like Matt McLain, Oneil Cruz, and more capable of filling up all five categories.

You've also got more pure speedsters like CJ Abrams, Ha-Seong Kim, and Nico Hoerner around, who may not bring much power to the table, but who might all steal 40-plus bases this season. In an era where you need more steals than ever to compete, shortstop can set you up well to compete.

The one thing shortstop doesn't really have are any traditional slugging types. The closest might be Corey Seager, who was on a 50-double, 40-homer pace last season. He had never hit for that kind of power before, though the past few seasons have seen a breakout in over-the-fence pop from Seager that puts 40 on the table. What's his 162-game pace over the past four seasons? 38. A bounce-back from someone like Carlos Correa could put him south of that conversation; ditto for Willy Adames, both of whom are being drafted outside the top 18 at the position.

That's the other thing that stands out about shortstop, of course: Just how deep it is. In Roto leagues, you could realistically get a 20-20 season from Anthony Volpe (SS15) or Trevor Story (SS18); you could get 30 steals and double-digit homers from Tommy Edman (SS17), Thairo Estrada (SS16), or possibly even Tim Anderson (SS31) if he bounced back; and let's not forget about sleepers later in drafts like Jackson Holliday (SS21), Jordan Lawlar (SS27), or Vaughn Grissom (SS29), among many others.

There's a pretty good chance you're going to take a shortstop with one of your early-round picks, and in a deeper Roto league, you'll probably use your MI spot on a SS, too. But in those H2H leagues where you've only got the one SS spot plus a U spot, it can actually be a kind of tricky position to navigate, because you might reach a point in the draft where your top player for several rounds running is a shortstop, only you won't have anywhere to play them if you focused on the position early.

That's not to say you shouldn't take one of those early-round shortstops, of course. It's just to say that, if you're going to leave a spot open for a late-round dart throw or two, you could do worse than making it happen at SS.

Consensus Rankings
Projections powered by Sportsline
KC Kansas City • #7 • Age: 23
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
6
Roto
3
Roto (SS)
1
H2H
13
H2H (SS)
1
2023 Stats
AVG
0.276
HR
30
R
97
RBI
96
SB
49
SO
121
Witt entered 2023 with questions about whether he really belonged in the first-round discussion; he enters 2024 as a legitimate candidate for the No. 2 pick in all category-based formats. His plate discipline still isn't great, but he makes a ton of contact despite it, and that contact made a leap in quality last season. Even in an era where steals are plentiful, getting close to 50 of them along with 30 or so homers is nearly impossible to find – that Witt did that with an expected batting average of .294 makes him one of the legit five-category threats in this game.
PHI Philadelphia • #7 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
14
Roto
11
Roto (SS)
2
H2H
18
H2H (SS)
2
2023 Stats
AVG
0.266
HR
26
R
102
RBI
76
SB
30
SO
150
At the midway point of the 2023 season, it wasn't even clear Turner would be a top-50 pick this season, so it says something about how well he finished the season that he's back in the first-round discussion now. Turner hit .292/.348/.554 after the All-Star break, and then added a .347 average with three homers and four steals in 13 postseason games, putting most (but not all) of the concerns about his dreadful start to bed. Turner is no longer a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick these days – especially because, for some reason, he seems to have been the only elite base runner who didn't benefit from the rule changes incentivizing more base stealing – but he's still a five-category contributor who feels like a good bet to best his 2023 numbers.
NYM N.Y. Mets • #12 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
23
Roto
21
Roto (SS)
3
H2H
25
H2H (SS)
3
2023 Stats
AVG
0.254
HR
31
R
108
RBI
98
SB
31
SO
137
Four players had 30 homers and 30 steals last season, and Lindor is the only one being drafted outside of the top-three in ADP right now. I guess because his batting average was too low? Lindor is the oldest of the 30-30 cohort, but the fact that he's going off the board 20 or so picks later than the other three who managed it has to make you like his value. He's not the safest bet for batting average, but he's also a consistent 30-homer threat who should combine for 200-ish runs-plus-RBI. Let's not overthink this.
TEX Texas • #5 • Age: 29
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
16
Roto
29
Roto (SS)
4
H2H
28
H2H (SS)
4
2023 Stats
AVG
0.327
HR
33
R
88
RBI
96
SB
2
SO
88
There probably isn't a better hitter at the shortstop position than Seager. There might not be more than five or so hitters in the whole league who are better than Seager. But he has two things working against him for Fantasy: He doesn't run, and he doesn't stay healthy. There's little hope for the former to change at this point, and as for the latter … well, Seager had surgery at the end of January for a sports hernia, and while he might be ready for Opening Day, it's just another red flag in a profile full of them. If that was the only concern here, there'd be no problem drafting Seager at cost. But this is also a guy who went on the IL twice in 2023 for a hamstring and then thumb injury, went on the 60-day IL in 2021 with a fractured hand, and has had multiple other IL stints throughout his career, costing him about one-fourth of his possible games over the past five seasons. When he's on the field, Seager might produce at a 40-homer pace while hitting .327, like he did last season; the question is how often he'll be on the field. With Seager looking on track for Opening Day (or shortly after), his price hasn't really taken much of a hit, but it makes him one of the riskiest third-round picks you can make.
BAL Baltimore • #2 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
79
Roto
32
Roto (3B)
4
H2H
33
H2H (3B)
4
2023 Stats
AVG
0.255
HR
28
R
100
RBI
82
SB
10
SO
159
You can poke holes in Henderson's game. He isn't great against left-handed pitching, for instance, posting a .210/.293/.324 line against them last season. His 10 steals were a relatively paltry total in today's era, especially given his 85th-percentile sprint speed. And his run production totals were more in the good-not-great range last season. Of course, he's also a very young player (won't turn 23 until the end of June), with an elite prospect pedigree, who overcame a slow start to perform like a star for most of his first MLB season. It wouldn't take much improvement at all to make Henderson a first-round caliber bat.
TOR Toronto • #11 • Age: 26
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
34
Roto
34
Roto (SS)
5
H2H
38
H2H (SS)
6
2023 Stats
AVG
0.306
HR
20
R
69
RBI
73
SB
5
SO
115
There's still a lot to like about Bichette, but factors both within and outside his control have conspired to really hurt his standing in Fantasy. Bichette was once a top-five pick, when he was hitting at the top of one of the best lineups in baseball and was one of the rare stolen base threats who was a solidly above-average hitter. Now? Well, he's still a very good hitter, arguably as good as he ever was. But that Blue Jays lineup is decidedly middle-of-the-road these days, and leg injuries sapped Bichette of much of his speed, taking him from a stolen base standout to a non-contributor in 2023. There's room for the Blue Jays lineup to improve, and I'd bet on Bichette easily clearing his run production totals from last season, but the steals are harder to bet on – Bichette's sprint speed has fallen in three straight seasons, even before last year's injuries. If he gets back to being a 15-20-steal guy, Bichette can be a huge value; if not, he's probably being overdrafted, even at his diminished price.
CIN Cincinnati • #44 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
28
Roto
36
Roto (SS)
7
H2H
43
H2H (SS)
7
2023 Stats
AVG
0.235
HR
13
R
67
RBI
44
SB
35
SO
144
If we were holding a combine, or some kind of skills competition, De La Cruz might win the whole thing. He might be the fastest runner in the league, he had the third-hardest hit ball of the season, and he was the fourth-hardest-throwing infielder in baseball. And when he puts all of that into play on the field, it can be breathtaking. The problem is, you know, actually putting it all into play on the field consistently. De La Cruz looked like a potential No. 1 overall pick for the first month or so he was in the majors, as he hit .307/.358/.523 with a 20-plus homer, 70-plus steal pace, but he just couldn't keep that up. From June 1 on, De La Cruz hit .213/.284/.377, with a 34.6% strikeout rate. Now, the nice thing about De La Cruz's skill set is, even during those struggles, he put up a 21-homer, 55-steal pace, so he's likely to be very useful for Fantasy no matter what … unless his contact issues (especially against lefties, who struck him out 40.1% of the time) make playing him everyday untenable. De La Cruz's ceiling might be a top-five pick, but there's a downside outcome where he's sent back to Triple-A in May. There might not be a player in Fantasy with a wider range of possible outcomes.
WAS Washington • #5 • Age: 23
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
108
Roto
44
Roto (SS)
8
H2H
67
H2H (SS)
9
2023 Stats
AVG
0.245
HR
18
R
83
RBI
64
SB
47
SO
118
There's a lot to like about Abrams, who flourished after a move to the leadoff spot for the Nationals, hitting .258 with a 23-homer, 72-steal pace in 71 games at the top of the lineup for the Nationals. But he has plenty of red flags in his profile, starting with an overly aggressive approach at the plate that leads to lots of weak contact and very few walks. He dialed that back a bit in 2023, which allowed him to take advantage of his above-average raw power a bit more often. Finding more consistency could push Abrams above the 20-homer mark and closer to being helpful in batting average, and I think it makes sense to bet on him finding that – remember that, prior to 2023, Abrams had played just 204 games as a professional over four seasons. The degree of difficulty for what Abrams has done in the majors is extraordinarily high.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #2 • Age: 26
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
74
Roto
55
Roto (2B)
5
H2H
56
H2H (2B)
5
2023 Stats
AVG
0.283
HR
9
R
98
RBI
68
SB
43
SO
83
You're not likely to get much at all from Hoerner in home runs or RBI, but he's likely to remain a good bet for high-end production in the other three categories. I don't know if there's much room for growth beyond what he showed in 2023, though Hoerner seems like one of the better bets around to get that average up to .300 one of these years thanks to a very contact-oriented profile. The biggest question in this profile is whether he can remain a 40-ish steal guy, or if there's regression coming there, but given the aggression he showed with the new rules, I don't think there's too much risk of regression there.
PIT Pittsburgh • #15 • Age: 25
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
74
Roto
63
Roto (SS)
10
H2H
74
H2H (SS)
11
2023 Stats
AVG
0.25
HR
1
R
7
RBI
4
SB
3
SO
8
Cruz doesn't quite have Elly De La Cruz's athleticism, but they're basically the same guy, otherwise. Cruz missed most of last season due to a fractured ankle, so we didn't get to see how he would respond to a rookie season that saw him make enough improvements as a contact hitter to project a big step forward. Whether he actually does remains to be seen thanks to the injury, and there are still, obviously, significant question marks here for a player with a 33.7% strikeout rate in the majors. But if he can get that down to even the 30% mark, Cruz has enough tools to potentially challenge for 30 homers, while stealing 20-plus bases – and that isn't the ceiling. There's risk in this profile, and his massive spring has caused his price to skyrocket, but I still think Cruz is a bet work making.
CIN Cincinnati • #9 • Age: 24
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
61
Roto
61
Roto (SS)
10
H2H
68
H2H (SS)
10
2023 Stats
AVG
0.29
HR
16
R
65
RBI
50
SB
14
SO
115
If McLain repeats what he did last season, he's going to be a top-30 pick this time next season. But that's a pretty big if at this point. McLain has 25-25 potential, and his defensive versatility probably insulates him from some of the playing time risk inherent in a crowded Reds depth chart. But his quality of contact metrics were more decent than great as a rookie, and there were some really concerning swing-and-miss issues as a rookie, especially on pitches in the strike zone, where his 83% contact rate was a 28th percentile mark. That's not impossible to overcome, but McLain's middling quality of contact gives him a slimmer margin for error than guys like Austin Riley, Bryce Harper, or Triston Casas, to name a few. McLain could have a very, very Fantasy friendly skill set, but as with De La Cruz, there's some significant downside risk here that fifth-round picks generally don't carry.
SD San Diego • #7 • Age: 28
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
143
Roto
90
Roto (2B)
7
H2H
104
H2H (2B)
9
2023 Stats
AVG
0.26
HR
17
R
84
RBI
60
SB
38
SO
124
It wouldn't be fair to say Kim is a one-dimension stolen base threat, seeing as he hit those 17 homers last season. But when you dig into the numbers, his 17 homers and .260 average are built on a pretty flimsy base of skills, with well below average quality of contact metrics especially standing out. I'm expecting some regression on both parts, which just puts extra stress on the steals to remain robust enough to carry the rest of the profile, and if he runs as aggressively as he did last year, that should be fine at his price. But it's worth keeping in mind that he stole just 12 bases in 2022, so a repeat of last year's results is no guarantee, either. It all feels like a risky way to spend a top-100 pick, though his triple-eligibility helps make up for that a bit.
Don't Forget About ...
Projections powered by Sportsline
SD San Diego • #2 • Age: 31
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
65
Roto
99
Roto (SS)
13
H2H
100
H2H (SS)
12
2023 Stats
AVG
0.285
HR
19
R
83
RBI
58
SB
19
SO
110
It's starting to feel like Bogaerts might be a bit underrated for Fantasy these days. He's no longer the borderline elite contributor he looked like at his peak, but any kind of repeat of a .285 average, 19 homers, and 19 steals is going to look like a pretty solid value as a post-100 pick. You might point to his middling quality-of-contact metrics and suggest that expecting a repeat is folly, but it's worth keeping in mind that Bogaerts has consistently outperformed his underlying stats for years – he's been at least 18 points ahead of his expected wOBA in seven of nine years of the StatCast era. That's just who he is, and he'll be gaining a bit of flexibility with a move to second base this season, giving him dual eligibility for Fantasy.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #7 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
105
Roto
132
Roto (SS)
14
H2H
147
H2H (SS)
14
2023 Stats
AVG
0.244
HR
22
R
81
RBI
80
SB
9
SO
154
This is really where you feel the depth at shortstop. Swanson isn't a superstar, but he's probably better than he played in 2023, as seen by his .345 expected wOBA vs. his .325 actual mark. 25 homers, 10 steals, and an average north of .250 isn't expecting too much, and while that won't make him a superstar, it's a clear must-start player at any position except shortstop – here he's not even a consensus top-12 choice.
SF San Francisco • #39 • Age: 28
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
314
Roto
154
Roto (2B)
14
H2H
179
H2H (2B)
17
2023 Stats
AVG
0.271
HR
14
R
63
RBI
49
SB
23
SO
120
Nobody really seems to buy what Estrada has done over the past two seasons, but he was pretty awesome in 2023, at least for Roto leagues. He finished as the No. 15 shortstop in Roto scoring last season despite playing just 120 games. There probably isn't much more than a 15-homer ceiling here despite a swing tuned for pull-side power, but it's not unreasonable to think he could get to 30 steals after swiping 23 in much less than a full season. The counting stats won't be much to write home about, and Estrada's batting average likely won't ever be much higher than last year's .270 mark, so there's a relatively low ceiling here. But depending on how your team is shaping up, he could be the perfect mid-round pick.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #11 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
205
Roto
164
Roto (SS)
17
H2H
181
H2H (SS)
18
2023 Stats
AVG
0.209
HR
21
R
62
RBI
60
SB
24
SO
167
It seems like a lot of people wrote Volpe's batting average struggles in the high minors off a bit too quickly, because that was the clearest shortcoming in his game in an otherwise decent rookie season. Volpe struck out 27.8% of the time, which obviously didn't help, but the bigger issue here is that his .259 BABIP might not have been bad luck. Volpe's expected batting average was .230, better than his actual mark, but still a pretty awful mark. He made up for it with a solid power-speed combo, but that batting average could still drag the whole profile down. Now, of course, Volpe won't turn 23 until late-April, so he's still young enough to take a big step forward, making him a viable mid-round target. But his struggles with non-fastballs especially present a significant hurdle to overcome.
BOS Boston • #10 • Age: 31
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
313
Roto
179
Roto (SS)
19
H2H
199
H2H (SS)
19
2023 Stats
AVG
0.203
HR
3
R
12
RBI
14
SB
10
SO
55
If all Story does in 2024 is what he's done since getting to Boston, he's going to be a better-than-you-think value in Fantasy: In 137 games, he's hit just .227, but with 19 homers, 23 steals, and 145 runs-plus-RBI. Again, in just 137 games, during which he played through an elbow injury that ultimate required surgery and severely hampered him in 2023. Which is to say, it's not at all unreasonable to expect even better than that from Story now that he's healthy. A return to the first-round range seems out of the question, but if Story put up similar numbers to McLain or Cruz this season at a much cheaper price, I wouldn't be at all surprised.
Sleeper
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIA Miami • #7 • Age: 30
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
NR
Roto
NR
Roto (SS)
28
H2H
NR
H2H (SS)
27
2023 Stats
AVG
0.245
HR
1
R
52
RBI
25
SB
13
SO
122
It's entirely possible Anderson just hit a wall in 2023 and he's finished as a contributor for Fantasy, and the slow market around his free agency suggests MLB teams were concerned about that possibility as well. But I'll just point out that, while it was a small sample, Anderson sure looked like himself before suffering a knee sprain last April, hitting .318/.348/.432 with five steals in his first 10 games. He seemingly rushed back from his sprained knee and was just never right from that point on, hitting .240 with little power and only eight steals over his final 112 games. His game has long been predicated on supreme athleticism, and it's possible that he just won't regain that in his 30s, especially given his injury history. But he's going to hit second for the Marlins, who are betting he can still be a standout at the top of the lineup. Anderson is cheap enough in nearly all drafts to be a bet work making.
Breakout
Projections powered by Sportsline
COL Colorado • #14 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
302
Roto
215
Roto (SS)
21
H2H
245
H2H (SS)
23
2023 Stats
AVG
0.253
HR
15
R
79
RBI
73
SB
11
SO
166
The Rockies have emphatically not earned the benefit of the doubt with their development of prospects in recent years, so I get why there isn't more hype around Tovar, who didn't exactly blow us away as a rookie. But he also still had 15 homers and 11 steals as a 21-year-old at the major-league level, which isn't bad for a first real chance in the majors. It's possible he ends up just another Rockies prospect who fails to live up to the hype, but I think it makes sense to bet on a player with Tovar's pedigree who gets the chance to play half his games at Coors Field, especially when they barely cost a top-200 pick.
Bust
Projections powered by Sportsline
CIN Cincinnati • #44 • Age: 22
Fantasy Breakdown
ADP
28
Roto
36
Roto (SS)
7
H2H
43
H2H (SS)
7
2023 Stats
AVG
0.235
HR
13
R
67
RBI
44
SB
35
SO
144
De La Cruz's defense and baserunning might be valuable enough to keep him in the majors no matter how much he might struggle at the plate, but given how many options the Reds have for shortstop and third base, that's no guarantee. De La Cruz's struggles against lefties might prove especially prohibitive, as he hit just .184/.231/.263 with a 40.1% strikeout rate against them as a rookie, raising questions about whether he is just a switch hitter in name only. That wasn't nearly as big of an issue in the minors, so we shouldn't write it off as if those struggles are guaranteed to remain in the majors, but there are just a ton of red flags in his profile right now that are hard to ignore. In leagues where he doesn't cost a second-round pick, it's a lot easier to take the plunge on De La Cruz, but even for a fourth-round pick, De La Cruz carries significant risk.
2023 Draft Prep
Shortstop Top Prospects

1. Jackson Holliday, SS, Orioles

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: Low-A, High-A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .323 BA (477 AB), 12 HR, 24 SB, .941 OPS, 101 BB, 118 K
Only a year after being drafted first overall, Holliday scaled the Orioles' entire minor-league system, showing polish beyond even what you'd expect for the son of a seven-time All-Star. He's still growing into power at age 20, but he's so good in every other respect that the Orioles aren't going to be able to slow him down.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

2. Jordan Lawlar, SS, Diamondbacks

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .278 BA (417 AB), 20 HR, 36 SB, .874 OPS, 56 BB, 101 K
Majors-league stats: 4 for 31 (.129 BA), 1 SB, 2 BB, 11 K
Turns out Lawlar's late-season look was more of a peripheral glance, and what little came into view wasn't about to win any beauty contests. His prospect stock is down slightly as a result, and it's becoming clear that his productivity will depend more on him angling the ball properly than straight-up mashing. There's still hope of him becoming a speedier Marcus Semien if he can make good on it.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: fighting this spring

3. Colson Montgomery, SS, White Sox

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2023: Rookie, High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .287 BA (223 AB), 8 HR, .940 OPS, 56 BB, 56 K
After missing the early part of last season with a back strain, Montgomery returned to reach base at a .456 clip, bringing his stellar plate discipline with him to the upper minors. He's hit over power right now, but his 6-foot-4 frame promises more of the latter. You'll see some Corey Seager comps for him, which seem a bit fanciful, but it's clear that his prospect stock is on the ascent right now.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: midseason hopeful

4. Marcelo Mayer, SS, Red Sox

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .236 BA (314 AB), 13 HR, .739 OPS, 32 BB, 86 K
Mayer's first taste of Double-A, where he hit .189 in 43 games, was hampered by a shoulder impingement, but it doesn't necessarily explain him swinging through so many hittable pitches. Better not to rush to judgment on a player who many considered to be the most talented of the 2021 draft class -- one who was completely living up to that hype prior to his ill-fated Double-A stint.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: late-season look

5. Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres

Age (on opening day): 20
Where he played in 2023: High-A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .277 BA (466 AB), 15 HR, 15 SB, .770 OPS, 35 BB, 62 K
Merrill's production is still catching up to the lavish praise heaped upon him by prospect gurus everywhere, but the gap is closing as he adds muscle and loft. He's advanced in ways that belie his youth, such as his ability to hit offspeed pitches and hang in there against fellow lefties, and those more subtle characteristics help to lay the groundwork for his path to stardom.
Scott's 2024 Fantasy impact: late-season look