Every year MLB Network puts on a series entitled “Top 10 Right Now” at each position in the game of baseball. And over the years I have joined along and made my list. Now before last season, it didn’t mean much beyond being a personal exercise. Last year having had LaracuenteLedger.com, I now have a platform to display my list. And this year I’ll be keeping with the decade-long tradition. I follow along with MLB Network and release my list as they air the corresponding episode of each position. So we begin with the Top 10 Shortstops Right Now.
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Each time I sit down to make out my list of the Top 10 at each position I look to the graphic above that MLB Network releases. I usually have an idea in mind of my top players at each position, but then I research and try to make my best decision. Now the selection process is somewhat like a fantasy draft of each position as an individual draft. But by the same token one must take into account previous output and estimate what the player can do in the upcoming season at that position. And be sure to listen to today’s episode of The Laracuente Ledger Podcast for a complete recap of both my Top 10 Relief Pitchers & Shortstops Right Now.
Honorable Mention: Didi Gregorius
If you have kept up with my ongoing series, you know that I have not included an “Honorable Mention” section for any of the other positions. But this position, my favorite position, required this kind of particular qualifier. So let me begin by saying that Didi Gregorius is a top five shortstop in Major League Baseball. And likely would have found his way into my top three shortstops this season. But with Didi recovering from Tommy John Surgery and likely missing the first half and potentially more of the season I could not add him on the list. As a Yankee fan, I get the privilege of watching Didi compete day in and day out. And witnessing the gutwrenching performance during the 2018 playoffs now knowing that Didi was hurt makes him all the more incredible. I have long said that the Yankees need to offer a contract extension to Gregorius. And the heart he displayed has postseason shows why it needs to happen. But without further ado, here are my Top Ten Shortstops Right Now, starting with number ten.
No. 10: Trea Turner
My Top 10 Shortstops Right Now list starts with an underrated player in Major League Baseball and that’s Trea Turner. Turner does not get a ton of recognition playing in Washington behind names like Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and others. But Turner is one of the most dynamic players not just in Washington but in MLB as a whole. Turner has the ability to cause havoc on the basepaths with his speed. And when healthy, Trea can produce at a high level.
No. 9: Jean Segura
An underrated move this offseason was the acquisition of one of the most consistent shortstops in the game, Jean Segura. Jean Segura over the previous two seasons has produced an OPS+ of 111 and 112. Segura also rates out as a positive fielder at short. Jean isn’t a guy that will hit you a ton of home runs, but that won’t be expected of him. When projecting for 2019, Segura is likely to hit at the top of the Philadelphia Phillies orders. And should produce another season of nearly 200 hits.
No. 8: Xander Bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts much like the previous two entries on this list is an underrated shortstop. Bogaerts is coming off an All-Star caliber season in which he received MVP votes. Xander gets overlooked because he isn’t topping power charts, but the 26-year-old is only now coming into the prime form of his career. And the 23 home runs he launched in 2018 should stand as a benchmark for the 2019 season.
No. 7: Corey Seager
Corey Seager is a very talented ballplayer and someone who would top most list on any given year. However, coming off the injury in 2018 we will have to wait and see the kind of player that Seager returns as in 2019. That being said, the skill level of Kyle’s brother (player’s weekend joke) is undeniable. And a healthy Corey Seager easily jumps back into the top of this list.
No. 6: Trevor Story
Trevor Story comes in at number six. When looking to the player archetype of Trevor Story, there is no better comp than Troy Tulowitzki. Story follows the same type of player model. A larger bodied shortstop with good defense and a potent bat. It is sometimes difficult to measure defense, especially in Colorado. But Story rates as a plus-plus defender at shortstop. And when you add in his power output, it is easy to place him on the list. Now the knock on Story as it is with all players who make Coors Field their home ballpark his home and road splits are at times very drastic. Trevor has a .971 OPS at home and a .752 OPS on the road. But when studying Colorado players, it is easy to see that the altitude gives as much at home physically as it takes away on the road. Story is a top ten shortstop in the game and merits inclusion right here.
No. 5: Andrelton Simmons
Andrelton Simmons is one of my favorite players to watch. His fielding ability is arguably the best on anyone at this position. And for much of his early career that was all that was thought of Andrelton. Andrelton would struggle to produce worthwhile numbers at the plate. Andrelton’s defense is so good that he is consistently atop the WAR leaderboards. Over the past four seasons, however, Simmons has gotten better at the dish. And in the last two season been above league average offensively. Now his offense isn’t as elite as the players ahead of him on this list. But if his progression continues in 2019, he can make that leap.
No. 4: Manny Machado
This may be a point of controversy for some but when it comes to Manny Machado the “Shortstop” he slots in at number four. And nothing against the player I love watching Manny play this incredible game. Because his level of talent and his baseball IQ is off the charts. But when I think of Manny, I think about an elite level third baseman. And his placement on my list at number four is simple about liking the three players ahead of him a bit better. I encourage you to make your own list and see where you would slot players on a top ten list. The exercise becomes quite tricky when dealing with your favorite players in the game.
No. 3: Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa has the most upside on this list offensively speaking in my opinion. And I would have loved to have placed him number one overall. But over the past two seasons, Correa has struggled to stay on the field. But that being said Correa is a dynamic talent capable of producing highlight plays with the glove and the bat. And with all reports indicating that Carlos is healthy a monstrous year can easily be expected. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Carlos hit 40 home runs and drive in 110-120 and play gold glove caliber defense along the way. Again, it’s just my opinion, but I think Correa’s upside is the highest on this list.
No. 2: Javier Baez
Arguably Javy could have won the NL MVP in 2018. And he would have been my choice (if I had one that is) for 2018 NL MVP. But that being said, coming off of an MVP caliber season Javy Baez is looking to back it up in a significant way. The Chicago Cubs are being overlooked in the hunt for the NL Central crown. And I believe that is because people are discounting just how good Javy Baez is at this wonderful game of baseball. Just look back to the no-look tag during the WBC, and you will only receive a mere glance and the talent that Baez possesses. In 2018, Javier would hit 34 home runs, drive in 111 and slashing .290/.326/.554. That is serious production from a man who played all over the infield for the Cubs. Javy looks to be planted at shortstop this season. And another MVP type season would not be a surprise.
No. 1: Francisco Lindor
Francisco Lindor aka Mr. Smiles is one of the most fun players to watch in Major League Baseball. Lindor always has a smile plastered on his face. And that youthful and jubilant nature is infectious. The fun does not stop at Lindor’s smile, however. As for whether at the plate or even more so in the field Francisco puts on a show that is awesome to watch. Turning double plays is an artform when watching shortstops. As often they spin or pivot to make a quick throw to first or second. But seeing what the guys on this list do is the most fun for me personally. I grew up watching and loving the position of Shortstop. I grew up with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, Rey Ordoñez, and even Omar Vizquel. And for a bit of time, there was a lull at short. But with the list of the players on this list, shortstop is fun to watch again. And those Shortstops are headlined by Francisco Lindor.