The Junkball Daily is doing things a little differently with the Top 10 list. I’ll be presenting all 10 in the rankings today instead of the weekend half and half.
To be eligible, the player needs at least 800 PAs (400 per year) in the last two seasons. Playing time matters, so players like Trea Turner (who just missed with 771 PAs) won’t make the cut. All stats, unless otherwise noted, apply to the last two seasons.
#10- Asdrubal Cabrera, Mets
The NY Mets were smart to pick up Cabrera’s option in 2018; he’s tied in 5th in wRC+ over the last two years. Still with some pop entering his 12th MLB season, Cabrera also has a .343 OBP over the last two years. His defense these days leaves something to be desired.
#9- Didi Gregorius, Yankees
In his last two seasons in New York, Gregorius discovered slugging power with 20 and 25 home runs, respectively. In 2017, his wOBA was nearly 20 points higher than his career average. No one can accuse Gregorius as a slouch at shortstop; 5.3 UZR/105 in 2017.
#8- Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Bogaerts had a setback in 2017; more strikeouts, less power. The former could be attributed to his lowered Z-Swing rate (59.1% to 53%). Bogaerts isn’t the greatest defender at short (-22 DRS) but his offensive potential and expected bounce-back keeps him in the top 10.
#7- Andrelton Simmons, Angels
Contrary to Bogaerts, Simmons had an offensive breakout in 2017. His wOBA was 23 points higher than his career average, he hit a career-high 14 home runs, and had a positive WPA/LI for the first time since his rookie year in 2012 with the Atlanta Braves. Regardless of his offensive output, Simmons’ defense alone would keep him on this list.
#6- Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Andrus had a career year in 2017 in terms of WAR, matched his career-high in wOBA from 2016, and hit nearly half of his career home runs last year. Andrus swung a lot more last year; 34% O-Swing, 63% Z-Swing (both well above his average), yet his contact levels remained constant. Taking more chances seemed to help his offense last year, as his WPA hit 2.8 (2.9 in 2016). While not as flashy on defense as the others on this list, he does have his moments.
#5- Zack Cozart, Angels
Like some of the others on this list, Cozart broke out in 2017. His wRC+ was 50 points higher than his career average. His BABIP was also elevated last season, so both things considered we could see a fair amount of regression in 2018; 3.1 projected WAR after a 5 in 2017. With an incredible 56 defensive runs saved for his career and a UZR/150 of 21 the last two seasons, Cozart is one of the best fielding shortstops on this list. Despite his move to 3B with the Anaheim Angels, he has yet to play the position and is still listed as a SS.
#4- Francisco Lindor, Indians
The first of the young stars at shortstop, Lindor is off to a terrific start. His WAR is second best of qualifying shortstops (12.1) and fourth in win probability added (3.7). Lindor’s BABIP was pretty low last year (.275), yet he still managed to have a stronger offensive year in 2017 than the previous season; .353 wOBA versus .340 wOBA, respectively. Lindor, who has some of the best defensive instincts I’ve seen in quite a while, wasn’t as potent in 2017, but he still managed to be a well above average shortstop nonetheless.
#3- Jean Segura, Mariners
Segura’s career started off pretty ordinary., but his last two seasons, especially in 2016 with the Diamondbacks, Segura has found his stroke. He’s third best in wRC+ (120) and sixth best in WAR (7.9). His defense is….spotty, but could be a lot worse (-17.4 UZR/150, .970 career FP). If Segura can approach his last two seasons in 2018, no question he belongs in the discussion of the best shortstop in the game.
#2- Carlos Correa, Astros
An indispensible member of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros, Correa is not only one of the best shortstops, but one of the best hitters in baseball; second in win probability added, first in OBP, and third in ISO and WAR. Correa has done nothing but improve since he burst into MLB in 2015 and is giving every indication he’ll continue to do so for the next several seasons.
#1- Corey Seager, Dodgers
Seager tops the list of best shortstop in baseball. He’s got all the offense and more:
1st in WAR (13.1)
2nd in wRC+ (132)
3rd in WPA (4.96)
T2nd in HR (48)
2nd in OBP (.370)
2nd in BA (.302)
Seager also hits with a lot of authority. This chart shows the type of contact he’s produced at the plate versus MLB average over the last two seasons.
Not the most nimble at short, he still has produced 10 defensive runs saved and a 20.6 UZR/150. Seager might not end up the best of this group when his career ends, but he’s yet to demonstrate a reason why he won’t be in contention.
There you have it. The Junkball Daily’s top 10 shortstops. Let the vitriol ensue!