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The Determinator: Shortstop: #10-6 + Honorable Mentions

The Determinator continues into one of the most competitive positions on the diamond.

Today I will reveal the #10-#6 Shortstops in the MLB as well as some honorable mention shortstops from across the league. Tomorrow, I will announce the #5-1 shortstops in the MLB. For a background about The Determinator, see my article about my methodology, changes for 2021, and schedule, here.

 

The Determinator: Shortstop-Specific Information

To easily work through and cut-down the list of 158 different players who played any amount of time at short during the past two seasons, I set-up two boundaries to keep it as close to having only starters:

They must’ve had at least 350 PA’s over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

They must’ve had at least 750 innings at shortstop over the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

This limited the number of shortstops down to 30.

However, without further ado, let’s get to the first half of the Top-10:

If a first baseman led a statistic, it will be bolded.

 

Number 9 (Tied): Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

Top-5: None

Top-10: AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, wRC, wRC+, Off, WAR

Top-15: BsR

Total Score: 25Embed from Getty Images

After ranking 23rd last year (yes, Corey Seager was 23rd last year), one would think that the World Series MVP would’ve needed to have an absolutely amazing year to crack the Top-10. However, the shortstop position is one of the most polarizing when it comes to keeping rankings as the numbers keep so many players close which meant two back-to-back good seasons helped get Seager the spot. Interestingly enough, Seager was also able to crack the Top-10 without placing Top-5 in any metric. However, with two seasons that show positive offense (+26.2), baserunning (+1.6), and defense (+2.5) there is good reason to like him in this spot. A consistent threat with the bat (he’s never had a season below a 105 wRC+), Seager does come with a history of missing time with injury and recently with more average defense, which does keep his value diminished.

 

Number 9 (Tied): Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks

Top-5: Games, Innings, DRS

Top-10: BsR, Def

Top-15: SB, wRC, Fld, UZR

Total Score: 25Embed from Getty Images

Another member who didn’t make the Top-10 last year, Nick Ahmed went from 14th to a tie for 9th. Last year’s shortstop leader in DRS, Ahmed has continued to be a dominant presence with his glove and has been able to stay on the field, which has boosted his status as a top shortstop in the game. A two-year defensive value at +11.9, Ahmed is a positive defender across every metric DRS (+21), Fld (+2.3) and UZR (+2.3). The shortstop leader in Games (215), Ahmed is the only player not to rank in WAR (+3.4) by a shortstop. If he is able to continue his progression up as a hitter to be average (his wRC+ has continued to go up from 85 in 2018 to 96 in 2020), Ahmed could be primed for a true breakout season.

 

Number 8: Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals

Top-5: Fld, DRS, UZR, Def

Top-10: Games, HR, WAR, Innings

Top-15: wRC

Total Score: 33Embed from Getty Images

Last years #4 player by The Determinator, DeJong not only lost his shortstop lead in a bunch of defensive metrics (Fld, UZR, Def) but he also dropped 10 points total after what can only be called a very poor offensive 2020 (-4.2) and a poor defensive 2020 from his previous marks (+2.9 after two seasons above +12). Interestingly enough, his drop from an average hitter (100 wRC+ in 2019) to an 86 wRC+ came with a massive increase in his BABIP (.259 to .340). When he should be entering his prime seasons, it seems as though DeJong fell into a backwards prime. His spot on the Top-10 is heavily influenced by a great 2019 season (+4.1 fWAR), but he is likely most in jeopardy of losing his spot last year after this massive drop.

 

Number 7: Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox

Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, wRC+

Top-10: SB, wRC, Off, WAR

Top-15: HR, BsR

Total Score: 34Embed from Getty Images

The face of the Chicago White Sox, Tim Anderson just missed on last years The Determinator, but was able to grab the #7 spot with a great 2020. The shortstop leader in batting average (.331), Tim Anderson is an offensive-first shortstop who has had a weird career to date. In his first 3 years in the bigs, Anderson was a glove-first shortstop, but in 2019 he came alive with the bat and fell negative defensively. In 2020, he looked to nearly come positive in both (Off of +12.2, Def of -0.1), but it looks as though he is primed for having his best season to date if he can keep both in the positive. Combining his best offensive (+20.9 in 2019) and defensive (+7.2 in 2018) seasons, Anderson would easily find himself to be a 5.5+ fWAR player and would likely find himself comfortably in the Top-5. He’s closing in on it, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the soon-to-be 28 year old cracking it going into 2022 at this point.

 

Number 6: Fernando Taits Jr., San Diego Padres

Top-5: AVG, OBP, SLG, wRC+, Off, WAR

Top-10: HR, SB, wRC, BsR

Top-15: None

Total Score: 42Embed from Getty Images

After being announced at the cover athlete for MLB The Show 21 (available on Playstation and for the first time ever X-Box), Fernando Tatis is slowly making his way into the Top-5 after placing 7th last year. With his flare and personality, Tatis is looking to be the next face of the MLB and rightfully so. While he finds himself similarly ranked to Anderson (#7) as an offensive-first shortstop, Tatis Jr. does have the better tools to put together consistent positive seasons on both sides of the ball. In 2020 he was positive on offense (+17.5), defense (+3.1), and baserunning (+1.4), although his poor defensive 2019 (-2.1) held him down from ranking across those metrics. With his just 143 games played over 2 seasons in the MLB, The Determinator is hesitant to give him a Top-5 finish at such a competitive position, but it is likely that he breaks that barrier going into next year easily.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Below is a selection of shortstops who led statistics but did not place in the Top-10 rankings, notable veterans, any former Yankees players, and the Yankees player/s who qualified for the position if they failed to rank in the Top-10.

Javier Baez – Shortstop leader in DRS (+33), Ranked #11 with 24 points

Adalberto Mondesi – Shortstop leader in SB (67), Ranked #12 with 23 points

Gleyber Torres, Willy Adames, & Carlos Correa – Ranked #15 (tied) with 20 points

Jonathan Villar – Shortstop leader in BsR (+11.1), Ranked #18 with 19 points

Andrelton Simmons – Ranked #19 with 18 points

Dansby Swanson – Ranked #21 with 16 points

Didi Gregorius – Ranked #28 with 4 points

 

Reminder:

The Determinator is a way I used to determine the best players at each position. Like any metric or formula, I am sure it has flaws. No statistical compilation is perfect. That being said, The Determinator, seems pretty effective at assigning player values. I’m pleased with what I have found using this method and hope this is a conversation starter for many.

#TheDeterminator

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