Fantasy Insider: AL SS Rankings

Here are the initial fantasy rankings for the American League shortstops, including rotisserie dollar values and projections for 2004. Who are the elite? Who are the sleepers? Who should you stay away from? InsidethePark.com subscribers can get the first look right now!

THE ELITE:

1. Alex Rodriguez, TEX $39
You were expecting someone else? A-Rod is probably the safest choice for the first overall pick in drafts in 2004, despite a "down" year. Anytime a shortstop can hit 50 homeruns and bat .300 - oh, he also can steal, just sit quiet and take him. The only question may be whether he truly ends up at 3B with the Yankees, and if he will qualify at SS in your league for the duration of the season.
Projection: .305 - 49 - 124 - 120 - 19

2. Nomar Garciaparra, BOS $33
The great thing about Nomar is that he can win a batting title at the drop of a hat. Now that he's got extra reason to play hard (in the wake of the botched ARod trade), and that he's in a walk year, Nomar has extra incentive to dominate. Look for a great season for him.
Projection: .324 - 29 - 109 - 113 - 15

3. Miguel Tejada, BAL $31
This change of scenery will do Tejada a world of good. He goes from a pitcher's park to a hitter's park, to what will probably be a better lineup than last year, and to a team with a good vibe going on. Tejada's in a good spot to have an excellent season in 2004.
Projection: .298 - 33 - 120 - 100 - 9

THE GOOD:

4. Derek Jeter, NYY $25
Jeter was back to his old form in 2003, and the only thing stopping him from having a great season was a dislocated shoulder and other injuries. He posted his best average since 2000 and looks to be rebounding from the slide he was in for a while. No longer an 'elite' shortstop, Jeter could be a better option because he'll slip in drafts and go for a lower price.
Projection: .320 - 14 - 78 - 101 - 24

A. Berroa
Berroa: Angel Berroa is coming into his own.
5. Angel Berroa, KC $22
Berroa's a good candidate to suffer a sophomore slump, so be careful. 2003's Rookie of the Year had a bad BB:K ratio and, unless he gets that fixed, he's going to have a tough time repeating in 2004. KC's revamped lineup should help him somewhat, but he still has some strides to make. Projection: .280 - 16 - 70 - 88 - 20

6. Michael Young, TEX $18
With the trade of A-Rod to the Yankees, Young will take over at shorstop for the Rangers. Young's not as good as his 2003 numbers suggest (he hit 29 points over his career average), but he can make some noise in Texas' still-strong lineup.
Projection: .280 - 12 - 70 - 98 - 15

7. Rich Aurilia, SEA $17
Aurilia joins the AL for the first time in his career and should be a steady player for Seattle. While his last two seasons have been riddled with various injuries, if Aurilia is healthy, he can be one of the better fantasy shortstops around. One problem might be the lack of a Barry Bonds in Seattle's lineup.
Projection: .285 - 16 - 69 - 61 - 2

THE AVERAGE:

8. Bobby Crosby, OAK $16
Here's an odd one. Crosby doesn't have a hit in the majors yet, but he scores high on this list. But hey, if Oakland is confident enough in him that they'll let him replace Tejada, then by all means, bring him on. Crosby's a sleeper, so he'll go late and probably cheap, but he could be a solid contributor to a team with some pop and some speed.
Projection: .278 - 14 - 65 - 60 - 15

9. David Eckstein, ANA $12
Eckstein's 2003 season was mercifully cut short when his slew of injuries finally caught up to him and took him down. A number of injuries, probably a result of his all-out play, took their toll on his productivity and he posted career-lows in every category. If he's healthy, he should be back to normal, just hope he didn't burn out his fuses already.
Projection: .281 - 5 - 58 - 89 - 21

10. Cristian Guzman, MIN $10
If your league counts triples, take Guzman extremely early. If it doesn't, don't worry about him much. Guzman won't ever have a season like his 2001, but a halfway decent average and a good number of steals is still good enough for some owners.
Projection: .270 - 6 - 50 - 81 - 19

11. Jose Valentin, CWS $9
Valentin probably killed your average last season, but he hit almost enough homeruns to make up for it. He's got Uribe waiting behind him to take his job, but if Valentin can still hit around 25 homeruns, he'll keep his job.
Projection: .235 - 26 - 70 - 72 - 6

12. Carlos Guillen, DET $8
Guillen was dealt away to make room for Aurilia. Still young, Guillen is actually a good player, but on the Tigers he probably won't be able to have an impact. Don't expect too much and you won't be let down.
Projection: .271 - 9 - 64 - 79 - 4

13. Julio Lugo, TB $8
After being picked up by Tampa mid-season after an ugly incident in Houston, Lugo had a productive season. He's got a decent blend of power and speed, but in Tampa's lineup, he probably won't make a lot of noise.
Projection: .264 - 11 - 50 - 55 - 14

THE REST:

O. Vizquel
Vizquel: Omar Vizquel probably can't help you anymore.
14. Omar Vizquel, CLE $6
Seattle didn't want him, and you might not either. Be careful with Vizquel and see how he does during spring training. He could very well be hurt, but if he's healthy, he should be just fine. Let's assume he's healthy.
Projection: .268 - 4 - 49 - 71 - 8

15. Chris Woodward, TOR $4
Woodward's slugging percentage dipped 73 points in 2003, making him a guy that can't hit for good power, average, or run. He'll score runs in Toronto's lineup, but he won't do much else.
Projection: .259 - 9 - 56 - 50 - 2

16. Juan Uribe, CWS $1
Uribe was picked up to be a backup for Valentin and Willie Harris. Should either falter, Uribe will get at bats, but the likelihood of that happening, or the likelihood of him being useful even with at bats are both slim.
Projection: .250 - 5 - 39 - 40 - 6

Special Thanks to Mark Rubin, our in-house Fantasy Expert, for his help with this report.

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