Shortstop is one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball today, making it a prime position to find great sleepers. These days, drafters do not have to take a shortstop early to feel comfortable. And with such a deep position, there are opportunities to find solid depth in later picks.
Below, you will find undervalued players at the shortstop position. These are players you can likely wait to find because they are somewhat overlooked in drafts.
After a 38-home run season with the juiced ball in 2019, drafters have had high hopes for Gleyber Torres since. Those hopes were dashed after the 2020 and 2021 seasons when Torres totaled 12 home runs across 676 PAs.
The shortstop had a bounce-back year in 2022, finishing with 24 homers, 73 runs, 76 RBI, 10 SB, and a .257 AVG across 572 PAs. There are reasons for this dramatic change in results.
In 2020 and 2021, Torres changed his approach; he was much more selective with his swings, dropping his Swing% nearly 10% from 2019 to 2020. He decreased his launch angle, barrel rate, and HardHit rate, and as a result, saw more ground balls and had a lower HR/FB%.
All of those numbers rose last season. He returned to his career average in chase rate, contact rate, and swing rate. He saw career highs in his barrel and HH rates and ranked fourth in both among qualified shortstops.
Things are trending the right way for Torres, who is being undervalued in drafts this offseason. Now is the time to snag him at a good price.
If Nico Hoerner played for a contender, he likely would be drafted much higher than he currently is. But he plays for the Cubs, who went 74-88 last season and finished with fewer than 80 wins for the second season in a row. As a result, Hoerner has become an overlooked player with great potential.
He may have reached his power ceiling at 10 homers, especially considering his 2.6% barrel rate and 32.9% HH rate, but he is an excellent contact hitter and adds a ton of value on the basepaths. Here’s what his contact ability metric looked like last year:
Most projection systems suggest Hoerner can repeat his 2022 production in 2023, which makes him extremely enticing as a shortstop sleeper.
Similar to Hoerner, Thairo Estrada is seemingly overlooked despite putting up an impressive 14 homers, 21 steals, and a .260 AVG in 2022.
Taking the same qualifications of 10 homers and 20 steals, but expanding the average to .260 adds five players who met those marks in 2022 – Estrada, Ronald Acuña Jr., Tommy Edman, J.T. Realmuto, and Randy Arozarena.
Estrada’s 2023 projections range from 12-16 home runs, 14-21 steals, and a .256-.266 AVG, essentially repeating what he did last season. For reference, Andrés Giménez projects for 15-18 HR, 20-21 SB, and a .258-.266 AVG, but carries a much higher value in drafts.
He also has great contact ability that should keep him in the day-to-day lineup:
This is exactly what makes Estrada a top shortstop sleeper. He has a chance at producing top-10 SS value for a lower cost, especially considering the offensive improvements that the Giants made in the offseason.
You are not drafting Luis Garcia to be your starting shortstop, but he makes an excellent late option, especially in deep draft and hold formats. He is someone that should also be on your radar as a waiver add in shallower formats.
In deeper leagues, Garcia is an overlooked asset. Not many players going beyond pick 300 are projected to hit 13 homers with a batting average above .260. These marks are not out of the realm of possibility for the young middle infielder.
Between 2021 and 2022, Garcia accumulated 624 PAs and has 13 homers, 58 R, 67 RBI, 3 SB, and a .262 AVG. He should get the bulk of playing time at second base but should retain shortstop eligibility into 2023, after playing there in 58 games last season.
Garcia has also shown positive trends in batted ball metrics, increasing his barrel and HardHit rates each of the last three years. They were 7.5% and 36.7%, respectively, in 2022. There may be some untapped power in his bat that could come to life with more playing time.
At the very least, Garcia should give drafters a solid floor as a depth piece late in drafts with the ability to produce more.
Elvis Andrus launched 18 home runs in 2022, the second-highest single-season total of his career. He also swiped 18 bags in a season he began as a 33-year-old. Andrus signed on for another season with the Chicago White Sox, an intriguing team with untapped potential that could help his counting stats. He also seems to be learning second base with a healthy Tim Anderson returning, which gives you more flexibility for your teams.
Not counting 2020, the veteran has three straight seasons of over 140 games played and has played fewer than 145 games in a season just twice in his career (including 2020). He is durable and reliable, which is immensely valuable in fantasy sports.
Plus, he gradually improved in hitter performance throughout last season, showing no signs of slowing down his production.
Andrus has never been a particularly hard hitter, averaging just 2.9% and 32.2% on his barrel and HardHit rates for his career. But he is a relatively disciplined hitter, never falling below an 80% contact rate or tallying higher than a 15.9% K rate.
Keep an eye on Andrus this spring, because he could be an amazing sleeper as a late-round dart throw that could pay off massively this season.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Design by J.R. Caines (@JRCainesDesign on Twitter and @caines_design on Instagram)