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2017, Sidebars

End of the Year HoME Roundup, SS

Francisco Lindor, 2017We continue evaluating the candidacies of active major leaguers and look at their chances of reaching the Hall of Miller and Eric. Today, we’ll report on the third basemen. We hope you’ll check out our analysis of all the positions.

FIRST BASE | SECOND BASE | THIRD BASE | SHORTSTOP | LEFT FIELD | CENTER FIELD RIGHT FIELD | CATCHER | RELIEF PITCHERS | LEFT-HANDED PITCHERS
RIGHT-HANDED PITCHERS

Troy Tulowitzki

2017 BBREF WAR:
0.1

Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 43
Ahead of Tony Fernandez, Hanley Ramirez, and Freddy Parent.
Trailing Phil Rizzuto, Jack Rowe, and Luis Aparicio.

Eric: 37
Ahead of Jack Rowe, Travis Jackson, and Herman Long
Trailing Dick Bartell, Dave Concepcion, and Maury Wills

Current career trajectory:
Tulo has fallen from great while healthy, to good while healthy, to healthy while healthy. And he’s not very healthy. There are other warning signs too. His walk rate is down, he’s hitting for less power, and he’s predictably hitting more balls on the ground. Even though he’s striking out less, he makes up for that plus with weak contact. Maybe he was hiding an injury? Okay, of course there was an injury – it’s Troy Tulowitzki.

HoME Outlook:
For one of a zillion examples reminding us that we can’t put someone in the Hall or HoME before they turn 30, Tulowitzki reminds us that some bodies aren’t meant for baseball. He’s topped 131 games only three times in his entire career. That’s the same number of times he’s been below 100. Tulowitzki shows us that there are no guarantees, so maybe the guy will somehow find health over his 33-35 seasons. Of course, he’s still about three All-Star type of seasons away from strong consideration. He’s not going to get there.
—Miller

Hanley Ramirez

2017 BBREF WAR:
-0.3

Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 43
Ahead of Freddy Parent, Rafael Furcal, and Germany Smith.
Trailing Tony Fernandez, Troy Tulowitzki, and Phil Rizzuto.

Eric: 46
Ahead of Tony Fernandez, Johnny Pesky, and Rafael Furcal
Trailing Luis Aparicio, Al Dark, and Freddy Parent

Current career trajectory:
Originally a shortstop, Hanley couldn’t field the position. Then he couldn’t field at third base, in left field, or at first base. Now he’s a designated hitter, and he seemingly can’t field that position either. Only once since 2010 has he been healthy and good at the same time, so I think it’s reasonable to say that he’s nearly done at age-34 next year. Sox fans and Hanley fans may think differently, but they should look at his 2016 HR/FB%. It shouldn’t be that high. It masked decline that took place the year prior, so I don’t imagine it’s going to get a lot better for Hanley.

HoME Outlook:
We can speculate that guys like Jeff Kent were at a similar place at a similar age, but Hanley is different. Not being able to field or hit makes you, um, special. He has money coming to him, sure, but he doesn’t have much more WAR in him. He’s not going to the Hall, and he’s not going to the HoME. It’s pretty sad that of the two third basemen the Red Sox signed after the 2014 season, Hanley is better.
—Miller

Jose Reyes

2017 BBREF WAR:
-0.6

Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 58
Ahead of Garry Templeton, John Valentin, and Cecil Travis.
Trailing Jimmy Rollins, Davy Force, and Rico Petrocelli.

Eric: 55
Ahead of Dick Groat, Terry Turner, and Jose Valetin
Trailing Mark Belanger, Johnny Logan, Ed McKean

Current career trajectory:
We’re looking at a player who’s gone backwards in the WAR department over the last three years. His playing days are pretty much over, at least they should be.

HoME Outlook:
A joy to watch for much of his career as a speed first, second, and third player, Reyes reached 2,000 hits and 500 stolen bases this year, which is something only 31 others have ever done. If we throw in his 135 homers as another criterion, it’s just Reyes and seven other guys. Those distinctions will have to be enough because the HoME isn’t possible.
—Miller

Elvis Andrus

2017 BBREF WAR:
4.7

Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 66
Ahead of Orlando Cabrera, Carlos Correa, and Dickey Pearce.
Trailing Frankie Crosetti, Jose Offerman, and Edgar Renteria.

Eric: 71
Ahead of Andrelton Simmons, Frankie Crosetti, and Orlando Cabrera
Trailing Marty Marion, Eddie Joost, and Edgar Renteria

Current career trajectory:
Andrus looked at one point like he might develop into a multifaceted player with speed, glove, and a bat with some doubles power and enough walks to be helpful. All those things have happened, but not at the same time. Although the doubles have come, and this year he added 20-homer power, his walk rate has declined annually. The speed has played well on the bases, but he’s also twice led the AL in caught stealing. He’s alternated above and below average seasons with the glove. He’s going to be 29 next year, so unless he consolidates all those skills over the rest of his peak, he’s going to end up as his generation’s Edgar Renteria.

HoME Outlook:
Edgar Renteria was a pretty good player, and a key to several playoff teams. He’s not close to the HoME. With nearly 1500 hits through age 28, Andrus might actually have a better shot at the Hall of Fame than our little gallery.
—Eric

Andrelton Simmons

2017 BBREF WAR:
7.1

Rank at the position after 2017:
Miller: 68
Ahead of Marty Marion, Edgar Renteria, and Jose Offerman.
Trailing Eddie Joost, Omar Vizquel, and Chris Speier.

Eric: 72
Ahead of Frankie Crosetti, Orlando Cabrera, and Dickey Pearce’s post-1870 career
Trailing Eddie Joost, Edgar Renteria, and Elvis Andrus

Current career trajectory:
Simmons is one of the best defensive players any of us have ever seen. And this year he hit a bit too. Through age-27, he has the look of someone on the rise, as evidenced by career bests in walk rate and extra base hit rate. If those numbers hold up, and if he’s someone who can keep an elite glove for a few more years, we might be looking at something surprising and special.

HoME Outlook:
In terms of value, he looks quite a bit like a bunch of excellent Hall of Fame middle infielders through age-27: Rod Carew, Joe Morgan, Billy Herman, Joe Gordon, Ryne Sandberg, Barry Larkin, and Bobby Doerr. Sure, he accumulates value differently from those guys, but value is value. Just for reference, he crushes Ozzie Smith through the same age. But will Andrelton age like the Wizard?
—Miller

Francisco Lindor

2017 BBREF WAR:
5.5

Current career trajectory:
I’m writing about Lindor just a couple hours after he hit a playoff grand slam that turned an 8-3 laugher into and 8-7 nail biter that the Indians took to extras thanks to a Jay Bruce round tripper. Lindor is an electric player with smile and style, but with 16 WAR at age 23, he’s got a lot of substance too. We’ve elected seven postwar shortstops so far, and at age 23, they averaged ten WAR. Their seven nearest competitors averaged five. So Lindor is well ahead of the game. In fact, he’s ahead of everyone since the war but Cal Ripken, Jim Fregosi, and the next guy on our list.

HoME Outlook:
Where he goes from here is probably upward. His BBREF age-based comps are full of good to great players, and he has a wide enough breadth of skills that as he ages, he should continue to provide plenty of value. He’s a very special player with a great shot at the HoME.
—Eric

Carlos Correa

2017 BBREF WAR:
6.3

HoME Outlook:
Correa only gets better. Even while missing a third of the year, he stamped out 6.3 WAR. He’s a decent shortstop with some speed (though that’s diminishing a bit), but his real calling card is the best shortstop bat since Alex Rodriguez’s debut. Look, we’re all jaded by Trout, Harper, and Machado’s amazing early careers, but this fella is bringin’ it. He’s earned 16 WAR through age 22. He places second behind A-Rod (23 WAR) in this regard. Only Robin Yount and Cal Ripken among HoME shortstops even earned more than 10 WAR by 22, and only Jim Fregosi did it among non-HoMErs. Lindor may be very special, but it is Correa who will duel with Manny Machado for the distinction of the best infielder of his generation.
—Eric

Addison Russell

2017 BBREF WAR:
2.4

Current career trajectory:
Yes, I know you think it’s silly for me to include Russell. After all, he’s probably not even the most well known player whose name begins Addison R–. But this guy’s a pretty interesting young player. If you squint a bit you can see an Alan Trammell starter kit. At 23, Russell has 10 WAR to his name, which we’ve shown before is a pretty rare thing for a shortstop. He’s pretty rough around the edges as a hitter. He’s got good pop, including a 20-homer year at age 22. But he sells out for power and strikes out a fair amount for a player of his type. The result is that he hits .240, and when he puts the ball in play, if it’s not a homer he doesn’t get a lot of extra bases. Still, in all, you’ll take a 170 ISO from your shortstop every day of the week and twice on Sundays. And he walks just enough that if he could jack up his average a mere twenty points, he’d have an OBP at the league average. Meanwhile, Russell can pick it. BBREF thinks he’s got nearly two wins’ worth of value in his glove per annum, and DRA sees nearly a win’s worth per annum.

HoME Outlook:
In a time with fewer homers, fewer K’s, and more steals, Alan Trammell rung up a 94 OPS+ from age 19 to age 23 in about 600 more PAs than Russell has now. Trammell had about 30 points of average on Russell, but his ISO was 100 points lower. They both walked about the same amount, and although Tram stole much more often, he was a poor thief and got caught way too much. One thing they had in common, however, was a seeming inability to gather up doubles and triples. At 24, in 1982, Trammell’s power sparked to life, and he hit 34 doubles despite a mere .258 average. Then in 1983, the homers followed. Trammell had a good glove at this time, perhaps not as strong as Russell’s, but solidly positive. He turned out pretty good. Robin Yount followed a similar path and was a worse hitter than either Trammell or Russell. At age 24, he clocked in with a fabulous season, finally putting all the pieces together with 49 doubles and 23 homers. Both those guys hit for a little more average, Russell for more power. But some of that is the league context. I’m very interested to see whether Russell continues to develop as a hitter as he piles on the reps or whether we’ve seen what kind of player he truly is. But HoME-level players aren’t always greats from day one, and they often surprise us. But maybe they don’t surprise scouts? Yount was the third overall pick of the 1974 draft. Trammell went in the second round. Oh, and Addison Russell? First round, 11th overall.
—Eric

Xander Bogaerts

2017 BBREF WAR:
2.2

Current career trajectory:
Bogey’s excellent 2015 season at age 22 presaged superstardom. Instead, he’s regressed into an average shortstop. In 2017, his bat dipped below average, and although he ran the bases well, his speed doesn’t translate into great range. Instead, he finished with double-digit negative BBREF fielding for the third time in four years. DRA likes his fielding even less. If Bogaerts can’t hack shortstop, the Sox have a difficult decision to make. It’s an open question whether Bogaerts could hit enough to stick at third, but anyway, Rafael Devers appears to be a the long-term solution there. Dustin Pedroia’s contract runs through 2021, and it’s not as though the Sox would find an active market for a 34 year-old second baseman who’s been banged up a lot the last three years. Xander has never played the outfield, defensive whiz Jackie Bradley, Jr. roams the center pasture at Fenway, and Bogaerts wouldn’t hit enough to stick there anyway. Worse yet, the team doesn’t have an understudy in the wings.

HoME Outlook:
So the Sox either move Bogaerts or stick with him. It’s senseless to cut bait now when his value has ebbed, and starting shortstops don’t grow on trees. So they’ll have to run him back out there and see if the bat will develop. If it does, and he can crank it up to 10–15 batting runs a year, then he might be able to get back on the HoME path. Right now, we’re not optimistic, but we’re not declaring him dead in the water. Not yet, anyway.
—Eric

Corey Seager

2017 BBREF WAR:
5.6

Current career trajectory:
Seager is traveling along the same path as Lindor and is one of the handful of shortstops since the war with more than 10 WAR by age 23. That’s a pretty great start to a career. Offensively, Kyle’s kid brother took a small step backward in power but increased his walk rate. The K-rate went up with it, but not dangerously so. At this point, reviews on his defense are mixed with BBREF liking it, and DRA saying he’s below average. The Dodgers can live with below average as long as Seager continues to hit so well, and especially if he continues to develop more power.

HoME Outlook:
Seager, Lindor, and Correa may prove to be this generation’s shortstop trinity. Maybe Bogaerts will play Miguel Tejada and Andrelton Simmons Omar Vizquel. But there’s an agglomeration of talent at this position right now that’s far superior to the previous generation whose leading lights in the shortfield were Tulowitzki, Ramirez, and Reyes.
—Eric

Next up on Monday, it’s left field.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “End of the Year HoME Roundup, SS

  1. This is a bumper crop of young stud shortstops…can they all stay at SS, or will they be moved no later than mid career?

    This thread discusses the top 50 active guys with likelihood of enshrinement in HOF:
    https://www.baseball-fever.com/forum/general-baseball/hall-of-fame-talk/3446480-cooperstown-bound-active-player-draft

    Correa 31, Lindor 32, and Seager 36.
    Would you guys go with this order?

    And nice workup of Russell, also a NLCS/World Series hero for 2016 Cubs, refinement in his offensive game and healthy make him a possibility.

    Trea Turner is another to consider, #7 on Dave Cameron’s trade value list:
    https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2017-trade-value-1-to-10/#more-259012

    Posted by Ryan | October 28, 2017, 11:31 am
    • Ryan, I’m most intrigued by the gentleman selecting Edwin Encarnacion, Francisco Rodriguez, and Nelson Cruz, but that’s not your question…

      I’ll take Correa over Lindor even though I find myself rooting for Lindor a little more. He’s a year younger, so it’s a simple enough call between guys who are pretty close. And I think both are clearly ahead of Seager. I worry about his ability to field the position long term. Turner is the oldest of the bunch and has the weakest body of work thus far. Of shortstops, I actually give Elvis Andrus a better chance than Turner. And I really prefer Andrelton Simmons. Was his bat real this year? It’s only a bit better than it had been before, but that little bit could make all the difference in the world. If his glove holds up, I really do like his chances. I’d put him third among actives, behind Correa and Lindor. Tough call though.

      Posted by Miller | October 28, 2017, 12:26 pm

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