Fantasy baseball rankings update

Rising players at shortstop, for those who need an injury replacement

Updated: August 13, 2014, 11:40 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

The shortstop position has absorbed some major blows in the injury department the past week: Both Hanley Ramirez, the No. 1 shortstop selected on average this preseason and No. 7 shortstop for the season on our Player Rater, and Everth Cabrera, the No. 9 shortstop selected on average, and a .350 hitter (14-for-40) with five stolen bases in his past 10 games, landed on the 15-day disabled list.

Meanwhile, Troy Tulowitzki had a visit with an orthopedic surgeon to discuss treatment options Wednesday, and it was determined that he will have season-ending surgery.

Yes, it has been a difficult time for the shortstops, with only five currently healthy players ranking among the top 100 overall on our Player Rater, and the position as a whole sporting the lowest on-base percentage (.311) and slugging percentage (.368) of any non-pitching position. Tulowitzki (.340) is the only batting title-eligible shortstop hitting better than .289. Only four are on pace for at least 20 home runs (Tulowitzki has 21, Ian Desmond 20, Jhonny Peralta 15 and Jimmy Rollins 15). Desmond (72) is the only one with even a chance at 100 RBIs. And, unless Tulowitzki (71) returns soon or Jose Reyes (68) picks up the pace, none will score 100 runs.

Steals, however, have been plentiful at the position: Shortstop-eligible Dee Gordon (51) is the major league leader, and five of the 19 players with at least 20 stolen bases this season qualify at shortstop. At least there's that.

Fantasy owners might therefore be scrambling for subs at shortstop, so here's a quick look at the week's risers at the position, and some potential pickups there as well:

Ben Zobrist (up 14 spots overall, one among shortstops): After a slow start to the season -- he had .245/.324/.367 slash rates and only five homers and four stolen bases in his first 50 games -- Zobrist has recaptured his past form since, with .319/.409/.490 rates in his past 55 contests, albeit with only four homers and five steals in those games. He's no longer the 20/20 candidate that he once was, but he's one of the safer choices in the "average" categories -- meaning batting average and on-base percentage -- thanks to his keen eye and contact ability. Plus, he's second base, shortstop and outfield eligible, including into 2015, having appeared in at least 20 games at each of those positions this season.

Javier Baez (up 12 spots overall, two among shortstops): His is a play for power, because a 21-year-old with a greater-than-30-percent strikeout rate -- as he has had both in Triple-A and the majors thus far this season -- is bound to suffer his share of streaks, resulting in a .260-at-best batting average. But Baez homered three times at Coors Field, twice to the opposite field, during the Chicago Cubs' Aug. 5-7 visit there, and he's capable of stealing double-digit bases given a season's worth of games. I'd still argue that Baez might fetch you more in trade then he'd offer you with his own bat, but there's no reason he couldn't produce a .250-7-25-3 rest-of-season stat line (average, home runs, RBI, steals).

Danny Santana (enters the top 250 at 230th, up four among shortstops): He's the No. 2 shortstop-eligible on our Player Rater's Last 30 split, thanks to a .309 batting average, three home runs, four stolen bases and 19 runs scored in 23 games during that span. Still, Santana hasn't played a single inning at shortstop during this time; it'll be a race to see whether he sneaks in the requisite two additional games he'd need to qualify there for 2015. The speed is legitimate, and he's enough of a contact hitter to maintain a respectable batting average, though his .388 BABIP suggests he's more of a .275 than a .300 hitter going forward. If Santana is a .275-3-18-7 type the remainder of the year, though, his owners should be plenty pleased.

Jordy Mercer (enters the top 250 at 244th, up five among shortstops): He's a wise choice in daily leagues; Mercer is a .350/.391/.550 hitter against left-handers in his young career, so if you can exploit his specific matchups, you'll fare well. He has picked up the pace significantly against right-handers of late, however, and that's what perhaps will make him one of the sneakiest pickups of 2014's second half: He's a .333/.412/.476 hitter against his theoretical "weaker side" in 98 trips to the plate against a right-hander since the beginning of July. Don't be shocked if Mercer is capable of .280-4-22 numbers the remainder of the year, well worth middle-infield consideration in mixed leagues.

Chris Taylor (enters the top 30 shortstops at 30): Don't be too quick to dismiss Taylor as an over-performing batting average type, as he was a .328 hitter in 75 games for Triple-A Tacoma to begin the season, not to mention a .320 hitter during his minor league career. That Taylor also walked in 12.0 percent of his minor league at-bats helps minimize his risk in terms of either batting average or on-base percentage, and keep in mind he averaged 43 stolen bases per 162 games played in the minors. He has started 12 of the Seattle Mariners' past 15 games at shortstop ahead of the struggling Brad Miller, and is well worth consideration in 12-plus-team mixed and AL-only formats.

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