Troy Tulowitzki's recent extension to the 2020 season i wanted to see how he stacked up against the rest of the shortstops in the league. I spent several hours pouring over stats and scouting reports to make my list of the top 20 shortstops. I will give in depth analyisis of the top 10 and then just list the bottom ten.
1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
I think he has to be the obvious number one choice, Hanley Ramirez was definitely considered but he is more of a hitter than a true shortstop. Tulowitzki has the full package, he can hit for average, power, he has some speed and plays excellent defense. I realize his offensive numbers are slightly skewed due to playing at Coors field (altough not as much as you would think as he still hit .291/.358/.504 on the road) but he is still an outstanding bat at shortstop.
2. Hanley Ramirez (FLA)
In terms of offense he is the best in the league with a career .313/.385/.520 line. But the reason he is number 2 is because is glove is no where near Tulowitzki's, he has a career -39.3 UZR and a career .969 fielding percentage. On the Fans Scouting Report on Fangraphs.com they think Hanley has good speed and a decent first step and arm but he gets low marks for his hands, release, instincts and accuracy. At some point in his career i think he will get moved to third similar to A-Rod becaues his bat will still hold up as a corner infielder. But even with his defensive deficiencies he is still an elite shortstop.
3. Stephen Drew (ARI)
There is a significant drop off after Tulo and Hanley, but Stephen Drew is a solid second tier shortstop. He does not have an elite bat but it is above average for a middle infielder ( career .272/.332/.448 line). He has managed to improve his defense which is really what has pushed him to this level, as he evolved from a 2 win player to a 5 win player last year. His career UZR is not good but he has posted positive UZR's the past 2 season with an 8.7 this year. The fan scouting dosnt suggest that any of his tools are great but he is mediocre across the board.
4. Alexei Ramirez (CWS)
From the minute he burst onto the scene in 2008 he has been an upper level offensive shortstop, hitting for a solid average and providing some pop at a position that tends to lack it. He is not elite in any one category but is above average across the board with a career .283/.321/.430 slash line and averaging over 10 steals a season. His defensive ratings have improved every season as well posting a 10.8 UZR this season. The Fans scouting suggests that he has a good arm and above average speed and first step. His main area of concern in his defense are his hands and his release. Alexei Ramirez is right up there with Stephen Drew in the second tier of shortstops.
5. Jose Reyes (NYM)
He came back from missing most of 2009 to posting solid numbers in 2010. When healthy Reyes provides a leathal combination of contact/speed and power at the top of the Mets lineup. He is at the early part of his prime as well so he has the potential to get back to the upper tier of shortstops. His defense is pretty good as well with a career UZR of 16.6 but he did have a rough season last year dropping to a -5 UZR. The fans scouting report shows he has a good first step with great speed and a great arm. His main weakness is his hands but other than that all of his other areas are rated at least average. Reyes is a young shortstop who has proved he can be elite before and could be again but for now is in the second tier.
6. Yunel Escobar (TOR)
He had a rough year at the plate with the Braves but was much better with the Blue Jays. Even when he is on he is still a third tier shortstop in my mind but he will hit for average (career .289 hitter) and some pop. But he doesnt have the speed of some of the other shortstops ahead of him. He can be a 3-4 win guy and is hitting his prime ages so we could see him possibly move up to the second tier. He also plays solid defense as he has a career 9.6 UZR, the fan scouting shows him to be proficient in almost every category and they rate his arm very highly. Again the only area he really isnt great at is his speed which may hurt his range a little bit. Overall he is an above average player in almost every category but is not great in any category either.
7. Elvis Andrus (TEX)
I know that he may not hit for a great average yet or hit for any power but he does have blazing speed and plays outstanding defense. I would consider his last season a sophmore slump and he still put up a .1 UZR and hit for a .265/.342/.301. He has the potential to be one of the best defensive players in the game with a potential line of .280/.350/.380 with 30-40 SB. The reason he ranks higher than people who may have put up better numbers last season is his age as he is only 22 years old and is already a star. The fan scouting shows he is above average in every category except his accuracy, and has very good instincts, speed and first step. He is one of two really good young shortstops who will likely move to higher tiers as they get older.
8. Derek Jeter (NYY)
I know i may get some flak for ranking him this high but even in his worst season of his career he was a 2.5 WAR player. His skills are eroding as he is now 36 years old but he still has the ability to hit for a solid average and get on base. He is one of the best shortstops of all time and should get his 3,000th hit next season as he is 74 hits away and is a first ballot hall of famer. The one thing that has always been overrated about Jeter's game is his defense. Looking at his defensive metrics he has been a below average defender his whole career. He has a -42.4 UZR since 2002, posting only 2 postive UZR seasons. He dosnt have the range to really play short anymore but the Yankees dont have to have great defense to succeed so he will likely finish his career there. The only attribute that the fan scouting thinks is above average is his hands which is true as he only made 6 errors last season. If he can get to the ball he will make the play, but its his ability to get to the ball that is in question. That being said he is still in the third tier which is pretty good for his age.
9. Alex Gonzalez (ATL)
If it was not for his resurgent offense last year he would be ranked this high but he managed to put up some stellar offensive numbers for a shortstop last season (hitting 23 home runs and knocking in 88 runs). He doesnt provide much in terms of average or OBP but has good pop and can knock in runs. His best asset is still his defense as he has a career 44.6 UZR since 2002 and had a 5.1 UZR last season. The fan scouting shows that he has above average hands and release but is weak in terms of his first step, speed and arm. I think this ranking is a little bit high but i didnt want to show to much favoritism to the next guy on this list.
10. Starlin Castro (CHC)
Of all of the young shortstops in the majors i would say he has the highest ceiling but even if he doesnt reach that he is already an allstar caliber shortstop. He showed that he can hit for great average putting up a .300/.347/.408 line in his rookie season. He has the potential to be an excellent leadoff hitter who could contend for batting titles and already has such a good approach at the plate. His main issue is inexpierence and immaturity as he is only 20 years old, he will have mental lapses from time to time but thats part of the growth. Also he is no where near his prime years so we may see some inconsistincey at this time in his career. His defense is a work in progress, looking at the fan scouting he has above average speed and first step and has a great arm. But he stuggles with his hands, release and accuracy as he made 27 errors. Unlike Elvis Andrus i think Castro could become a first tier shortstop, his strengths will likely lie in his average but he has power potential in his body. He is the most exciting player on this list in my opinion.
11. Cliff Pennington
12. Marco Scutaro
13. Jhonny Peralta
14. Erick Aybar
15. Jason Bartlett
16. Ian Desmond
17. Orlando Cabrera
18. Alcides Escobar
19. Cesar Izturis
20. Yuniesky Betancourt