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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Breaking Down the NL East: Shortstops

After going through the third basemen, I didn’t realize that the shortstop position would provide an even tighter race for the top spot in the ranks. But lo and behold, with Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez in the same division, who could expect anything less? More dynamic that the Utley/Uggla combination or the pair of Wright & Jones, these three guys play such a catalytic role in their team’s success that to remove one from the lineup could hinder the possibility of a victory. So who came in first?

First (Score 1.875): Oh no! Of all the things that could happen, Jose Reyes wins a tie break with Hanley Ramirez. But it’s a good tie break dealing with the fact that Reyes has hit much better in the clutch over the past three years. Everything else is a near wash. Jose, in my opinion one of the most over rated player has hit .312 and slugged .598 for the Mets. I haven’t looked to see what his stats were in September during the great chokes of the 21st century, but ability to get on base and then steal them puts him in first. Yuck! In any case I expect him to hit around his three year averages at .294/15/66 as New York once again misses the playoffs.

Second (1.875): Forida’s Hanley Ramirez is considered by many, including myself, to be the best shortstop in the National League and with good reason. He has averaged 26 home runs over the past three years to go along with a .308 batting average and an ever increasing on base percentage. On a real team with some real stars batting behind him and you might find him putting up some really unreal numbers. Unfortunately for Hanley, he’ll have to get traded for that to happen. I see him hitting .306 with 33 home runs and 70 RBI for a pedestrian Marlins team in 2009.

Third (2.25): Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies had an unmatched 2007, but seemed to see his offensive prowess fall back in 2008. What he may do is anyone’s guess but as long as he remains healthy, he should hit more than 20 dingers and drive in 70 runs. I have him projected at .280/14/65 and that should be fine as long as the team wins. He has to get his OBP up and keep his mouth shut and he will continue to be a fan favorite in Philadelphia.

Fourth (4.25): There’s this guy, Yunel Escobar down in Atlanta who I’d swear I’ve never heard of in my entire life, despite the fact that he hit .288 with 10 round-trippers and 60 RBIs last year. Now that I have heard of him, he doesn’t seem half bad. He doesn’t seem half good either, but on a Braves team consisting of half good and not half bad players, he’ll fit right in. I initially had him projected as a relative poor hitter particularly since he didn’t play in 2006, but I expect him to hit .307 have 12 home runs and 65 RBI in 2009. Not so shabby for a guy named Yunel.

Fifth (4.75): The National’s Christian Guzman, a 2008 All-Star, is a good hitting shortstop with no power. He reminds me of the prototypical guy from the 1980, something out of the Ozzie Smith mold, just lacking crazy defensive skills. Whether he can maintain himself a good enough player to make the All-Star team again, even as the National’s lone representative, only means that the team is falling deeper and deeper into the shadowy cellar in the NL East. His 2009 projections of .312/6/39 will certainly not wow anyone, but then again does anyone on that team?

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