Fantasy Insider: NL Shortstops

Here are the initial fantasy rankings for the National League shortstops, including rotisserie dollar values and projections for 2004. Who are the elite? Who are the sleepers? Who should you stay away from?

Projections are listed as follows: AVG - HR - RBI - Runs - SB.  These prices are for regular 5x5 Rotisserie-style leagues with MLB Universe.  Adjust prices upward for AL/NL-only leagues

THE ELITE

1. Edgar Renteria, STL $27
From World Series hero to arguably the best shortstop in the National League in a half dozen years, Renteria had a monster season in 2003. He projects to be even better in 2004, with a 20-20 season with solid runs scored and RBIs still in the stars. For right now, Edgar is #1 among NL shortstops.
Projection: .320 – 20- 85- 90 - 31

2. Orlando Cabrera, MON $25 
It will be Cabrera and Vidro against the world in the Montreal line-up in 2004. With Vladimir Guerrero now wearing a halo, Cabrera should be the Expos alpha-dog. A 20/20 season is a virtual certainty if he remains healthy all year.
Projection: .290- 23- 90- 90- 23 

3. Rafael Furcal, ATL $25
The Bravos are without both Sheffield and Javy Lopez now, so even though Furcal will be the main duck on the pond, he won't be flying home as often. Nevertheless, he will still challenge Renteria and Cabrera for the number one slot among NL shortstops. 
Projection: .287- 10- 55 – 107 - 33 

THE GOOD 

Can Matsui Answer The Call Of NY? (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
4. Kazuo Matsui, NYM $18 
Japanese import brought in to save the Mets. The jury, of course, is still out as to just how good Kaz "don't call me that" is going to be in the world of American baseball. Of course, the Mets are counting heavily on KAZUO, as they need all the help they can get. 
Projection: .285 -15 – 78- 75 - 25 

5. Jimmy Rollins, PHI $16 
His stats have continued to tumble since he was a Fantasy player's dream in the 2001 season. Jimmy still appears fit and his speed hasn't decreased, but he certainly hasn't been the base thief he was as a rookie. If you can turn it on again, we'll just have to see. He certainly will have opportunities galore in a dynamic Philadelphia line-up. 
Projection: .272 – 10- 54 -89 – 24 

6. Alex F. Gonzalez, FLA $16 
He was a cornerstone of the World Champion Florida Marlins. Has a good glove and supplies decent power. The Marlins have both added and subtracted during the offseason, and for Gonzalez things should remain about the same. 
Projection: .291- 18- 87- 80- 6 

THE AVERAGE

7. Alex Cintron, ARI $13 
Alex should be able to take the next step forward this season, and we'll just see exactly what he's made of. He could reach 20 homeruns and double figures in thefts. The Diamondbacks will be grateful for each and every contribution. 
Projection: .282 – 20 – 70- 71- 11 

8. Alex S. Gonzalez, CHC $10 
The Cubs will be the class of the NL Central in 2004, and Alex S. will be a main cog in their machine. In Wrigley Field, he should pop a few more homers and be solid fielder. Like Cintron, he's looking to move up a notch in the SS ratings. 
Projection: .270 – 17 – 71 – 65- 4 

9. Adam Everett, HOU $9 
Everett has a few things going for him: he plays in a favorable ballpark and he plays in a strong line-up. Also for the first time, he should win the SS contest outright and get maximum playing time. He can go long at Minute Maid and should reach double digits in thefts. He has the talent to one day be listed among the elite NL shortstops. 
Projection: 288– 15- 66 – 60 – 12 

THE REST 

10. Jack Wilson, PIT $6 
After Everett, there is a major decline at the SS position in the NL. Wilson could change all that if he can once and for all become the fulltime starter for the Pirates, but that has yet to be established 
Projection: .260 -10- 51- 45 -5 

11. Barry Larkin, CIN $5 
Larkin is simply too old to be playing SS on regular basis. His best years are long in the past. Drafting Larkin really doesn't make too much sense at this point, because the playing time will no longer be sufficient to make a difference for your team. 
Projection: .275- 8 -50 – 44- 8 

12. Jose Hernandez, LA $5 
Also known as the whiff machine, Hernandez could supply decent power numbers if he plays enough. However, it appears that he will be collecting his share of splinters as well, as his playing time will be greatly reduced. Plus playing in LA, his one strength, his power, is negated. He's a very late Fantasy pick, but nothing better. 
Projection: .250 -15- 40- 32- 1 

13. Caesar Izturis, LA $4 
He has some tools: he can field and run, but has zero power. In the anemic LA line-up, he is more or less just another out, and it comes as a big surprise when he does do something at the plate. He is just taking up space until the real deal comes along. 
Projection: 243- 2- 23- 35- 12 

14. Ramon Vazquez, SD $2 
His stock could up if his playing time increases. He is also multi-positional which could also add to his value. But he needs to stay healthy. 
Projection: .260- 5- 30- 31- 10 

15. Jose Vizcaino, HOU $1 
At this point in his career, Vizcaino has little Fantasy value because he is now just a role player. He will only play when the regulars are tired or injured, and will do his normal dependable job. 
Projection: .265- 4-25- 23- 3 

16. Royce Clayton, COL $1 
His stats are also directly related to his playing time. He had an abysmal batting average in 2003, but did supply a bit of pop. He could do the same this season, if he isn't supplanted by a rookie. And of course, he should be helped by playing at Coors. 
Projection: .235- 10- 32- 30- 5 

17. Rey Ordonez, SD $1 
Ordonez was off to a solid start with Tampa Bay last season, was injured and now will have to struggle for playing time in San Diego. Might be the beginning of the end for him as a major leaguer. 
Projection: .230- 3- 18- 20- 3 

18. Felipe Lopez, Ray Olmed and Juan Castro, CIN $1 
Take your pick…one will win the SS lottery in Cincinnati and wind-up eventually replacing Barry Larkin. The question is: for how long? 

SLEEPERS 

Greene Should Win The Job In San Diego (AP Photo/Dino Vournas)
Khalil Greene, SD 
In a huge apartment, containing few occupants, the NL SS position if ready for some new blood. Green is projected to beat out both Ramon Vazquez and Ray Ordonez for the Padres' job. He has the ability, now he just has to prove it. 
Projection: .280-15-68- 70- 4 

Bill Hall, MIL 
The Brewers job is up for grabs. Hall will be battling J.J. Hardy for playing time. Since Hardy will probably begin 2004 in the minors, Hall has the upper hand. 
Projection: .270- 10- 54- 52- 10 

J.J. Hardy, MIL 
Hardy will be waiting in the wings should Hall fail in Milwaukee. Most likely, he will be in AAA when the season begins. 
Projection: .250- 5- 28- 25- 5 

General Remarks: The Shortstops in the NL as a group are clearly inferior to their AL brethren. There are no HUGE names here, and the triumvirate of Renteria, Furcal and Cabrera would not be elite members in the AL. Look for Green to make the most of his opportunity, seize the starting job in San Diego and move up very quickly in the rankings. The rest of the landscape, with few exceptions, is pretty much a wasteland.

Thanks to our resident Fantasy expert, Steve Usinger, for his help with this report.


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