Positional Preview: Shortstop

.276/.332/.410 was the average line for a shortstop last year, 16 of our top 30 shortstops finished above that .742 OPS line, here are the 30 players: Ramirez, Rollins, Renteria, Guillen, Jeter, Tulowitzki, Tejada, Gonzalez, Wilson, Hardy, Young, Harris, Reyes, Peralta, Greene, Cabrera, Eckstein, Betancourt, Loretta, Bartlett, Scutaro, Furcal, Drew, Uribe, Theriot, Lopez, Lugo, Pena, Vizquel, Crosby.

Hanley Ramirez far and away lead shortstops with a .948 OPS, other players who finished .100 points above included Jimmy Rollins, Edgar Renteria, Carlos Guillen, and narrowly missing Derek Jeter and Troy Tulowitzki.

It's too bad that Ramirez is poor with the glove, otherwise he'd easily be the top shortstop in the entire league, bar none. Instead you have to consider Rollins a bit closer to equal because of the 18 run differential in FRAA between Rollins and Hanley. The question I'd raise is when Hanley leaves Florida - and make no mistake it's unfortunate that I can make a such a solid statement this far in advance, but not much is changing until owners change - will he slide to third or the outfield? His bat is certainly good enough to man any position.

One note about Derek Jeter, while doing some research on Pedro Feliz I ran a check on Range Zone Ratings for shortstops and it turns out he tied with Brendan Harris. Now I watched at least 90% of Harris' games last year and I can safely say he's not a very good defensive shortstop at all, the fact that Jeter tied with him in a range metric speaks enough for just how good he is nowadays.

Moving on to those below average shortstops the absolute worst is Bobby Crosby at .619, but last year was another injury plagued year so instead we'll focus on the fourth lowest - Julio Lugo - more on that in a few. The other bottom 10 included Marco Scuttaro, Rafael Furcal, Stephen Drew, Juan Uribe, Ryan Theriot, Felipe Lopez, Tony Pena, and Omar Vizquel.

Lugo was one of my favorite Rays during his time here, he was one of the few high performers before being traded to the Dodgers and then signing with the Red Sox. Despite Lugo's excitement about being on a playoff contender and eventual World Series champion he'd struggle in Boston to .237/.294/.349, although in fairness to Lugo he posted a .728 OPS in the second half and was unlucky the entire season, seeing a .290 xBABIP turn into a .265 BABIP. I expect Lugo to bounce back, which would make Boston and presumably Tampa fight it out for the second best middle infield in the A.L. East offensively.

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