Tempering Expectations On A Trio Of Shortstops

Title: Tempering Expectations On A Trio Of Shortstops
Date: June 24, 2014
Original Source: Rotographs
Synopsis: This article tried to pour some cold water on three shortstops I deemed overrated based on expert rankings in Everth Cabrera, Jean Segura, and Xander Bogaerts.

Back on June 3 when I posted shortstop tier rankings for June, I had no idea we would be gifted staff consensus rankings shortly thereafter.

As is always the case, there are varying levels of disagreement between the ranks (although when “tiering,”the rankings are far looser). Today, I wanted to quickly hit on a few names I seem to disagree with the group on, based not only on a difference in ranking but also, in one case, commenter feedback. As a reminder, this is with a rest-of-season focus only.

Troy Tulowitzki
Everyone else thinks he’s the number one shortstop. I happen to think he’s the king of baseball. Agree to disagree.

Everth Cabrera – I ranked Tier 4 (12th-19th), Consensus ranked 8th
He’s been the number 27 shortstop so far, even with 13 stolen bases and a not-entirely-despicable 26 runs scored.

He’s batting .222, which can be blamed only in part on a .288 BABIP (.317 career mark). His extreme ground ball profile (66.4 percent) should see the BABIP come up some, but it’s his uptick in strikeout rate that presents the real issue. Cabrera struck out more than 20 percent of the time for his entire career before 2013, when he cut that to 15.9 percent and saw his average spike as a result. That rate is back up to 23.8 percent due to a career-high O-Swing rate and a huge drop in O-Contact rate from a career-best 71 percent to his career average of 62.7 percent. He’s making less contact in the zone, too (88.4 percent from 92.9 percent).

The result is that his .283 average in 2013 now looks like an outlier, not a permanent change in skills, and a Steamer ROS projection of a .246 average with 21 steals and 36 runs just doesn’t say top-10 to me. In fact, plug those numbers in from this date onward last year and you’ve got Jean Segura’s line, which was good for 17th at the position.

Jean Segura – I ranked Tier 3 (6th-11th), Consensus ranked 3rd
Let’s start with the Steamer ROS projection: .272 average, five home runs, 16 stolen bases. That’s certainly a better look than Cabrera above, but it’s still somewhere south of Alexei Ramirez from this point forward last year, a player who ranked seventh at short in that time frame last year.

Obviously, my ranking belies that I’m still higher on Segura than that, and the .270 BABIP is a mirage given his established .307 mark with little change in the batted ball profile or the discipline profile. Of course, he gets the benefit of the doubt because he hit .354 through the end of May last season thanks in part to a .382 BABIP, but even when he came back to earth he had a .296 BABIP from then on.

Mike Petriello did a nice job breaking down why Segura is a problem for the Brewers recently, and a lot of what he said within applies for the fantasy-world Segura, too. There is cause to expect an upgrade in performance, but I can’t justify putting him in a tier with Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Alexei Ramirez or Ian Desmond, even if each has his warts.

Xander Bogaerts – I ranked Tier 4 (12th-19th), Consensus ranked 11th, Commenters raged
I don’t think I’m actually down on Bogaerts, who I own multiple shares of. When the tiers went up, I had accidentally included him in Tier 5 despite having him penciled in at No. 15. Even still, that’s more down on him than the consensus, and plenty of commenters have argued for a top-10 rest of season standing.

And I get it, but I think Bogaerts represents a case of us having been spoiled by immediate prospect performance to a degree. He has six home runs and 36 runs so far, good for a No. 16 ranking at the position, and the pedigree makes it easy to see him figuring things out in short order and surging. I think that will definitely be the case in the long run, but look at the Steamer ROS: .262, 8 HR, 4 SB, 36 R, 35 RBI.

Once again, that’s good, especially for a rookie and for this position, but we turn to what placed where from this point on in 2013 for some context – that line is a shade less than what Ben Zobrist did, and he ranked 13th at the position. If we were doing keeper rankings, yes, by all means Bogaerts is a top-10, and the debate then switches to top-five. For the rest of the way, I’d start him in deeper formats or at an MI, but he’s not yet the type of guy you don’t look to upgrade on for a stretch run, especially if you can sell high on his prospect shine (e.g. I was able to land Jose Altuve and Jason Hammel for Bogaerts and Brett Lawrie in a keeper-with-tax where I’m fighting for a title and have another SS option).

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