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Stop Short: Top Ten Fantasy Baseball Shortstops for the 2012 Season

In many fantasy baseball circles, there is a notion that shortstop is the most shallow of all positions. While this may have been true in seasons past, there are actually a decent number of quality shortstops available to add value to your fantasy baseball team in the 2012 season. As with other positions, there were first-round picks that they disappointed in 2011 (Hanley Ramirez) and there were some late-round picks who delighted their fantasy owners with big seasons (JJ Hardy). Of all the places on the list to consider, shortstop is the only position where injury concerns loom over the top players’ fantasy prospects. Therefore, he doesn’t need to use an early-round draft pick to fill his shortstop spot. There are several players on the list that are sure to pay dividends. For now, though, we’re concentrating on the top ten shortstops in fantasy baseball for the 2012 season.

1) Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
If a player has a monster season, suddenly he’s on everyone’s radar. A second campaign followed by great numbers and he is a star. Three straight seasons racking up huge statistical numbers and that player is an elite fantasy producer. At shortstop, that player is Tulowitzki. The possibility of nagging injuries always seems to be on Tulo’s mind, but there’s no other player in baseball more worth taking the risk.

two) Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)
After an injury-plagued 2010 campaign, Cabrera broke out in a big way last season. As a key part of a Cleveland youth offense, Cabrera can step it up a notch in 2012. Like other fantasy shortstops, injuries have been a concern. If he stays healthy, he can rise to elite status next season.

3) Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
Drafted in the top 5 in most fantasy leagues, Ramirez was a major bust for his owners in 2011. Injuries and inconsistency plagued him last season, but looking back, his 2010 numbers weren’t exactly elite. . Also consider a rumored move to third base and Ramirez has to be drafted with caution in 2012.

4) Starlin Castro (CHC)
Probably a year away from elite shortstop status, Castro has more upside than perhaps any other 21-year-old in the game. His high average is not an empty .300, as he has consistently shown extra base power and added a higher stolen base total to the mix. He is an archer.

5) Jose Reyes (NYM)
Don’t let the batting title fool you into using an early pick on Reyes, who benefited from a high BABIP in 2011. He hasn’t played more than 133 games since 2008 and his 60-plus stolen base days are behind him. Injuries are always a risk, as Reyes makes him a second-tier option at shortstop.

6) Elvis Andrus (TEX)
Surprisingly consistent for a young player (23 years old), Andrus can be counted on for 35 stolen bases. Power isn’t Andrus’s game (5 HR in 2011 after 0 in 2010), however, a marked jump in doubles may mean more power can be developed (consider his young age). There’s no guarantee he’ll ever be a .300 hitter, but he certainly could do worse than the No. 2 hitter on a contending team.

7) JJ Hardy (BAL)
Hardy certainly made his fantasy owners happy in 2011. Ranked outside the top 25 in most pre-draft rankings that entered last season, Hardy led all AL shortstops in HR with 30 (and tied with Tulowitski for the MLB shortstop HR title). Like his fantasy counterparts, health is the wild card for Hardy. He has battled injuries throughout his career and there is always the risk of missing a considerable amount of time.

8) Jimmy Rollins (PHI)
Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” This holds true for Rollins, who is an “old man” at 32 after spending years in a demanding position. As a free agent in 2012, Rollins will get a hefty contract somewhere, but don’t expect hefty offensive stats. His base totals are up but stolen power is down and a low batting average won’t win you too many fantasy leagues.

9) Erick Aybar (LAA)
After several seasons of lackluster offensive stats, Aybar is starting to show some strength to go along with his improved stolen base percentage. It’s not uncommon to see a jump in power numbers from players his age (he’ll be 28 before the 2012 season starts). After showing an increase in 2011 from his 2010 power stats (10 HR vs. 5, 33 doubles vs. 18), Aybar has something to offer in 2012.

10) Alexei Ramirez (CWS)
Ramirez posted his usual mid-teen HR total (15), but his stolen bases were cut in half (13 SBs in 2010, 7 in 2011). This was due to the fact that he only attempted 13 SBs last season, but it may also indicate that he has missed a step on base paths. He is a lower level option in the position, but he won’t hurt you in any category.

When considering fantasy baseball shortstops for 2012, injuries appear to be the top concern for most key players. As long as you don’t pick too tall a shortstop on draft day, you should pick a respectable option that provides decent offensive stats from shortstop on your 2012 fantasy roster.

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