In order to add some substance to our rankings, Michael Ryan and Cody Crosby discussed some of the hot topics surrounding this year's shortstops.
is a hot topic for 2010. Can he repeat his numbers from last season?
The disappointing seasons from top SS's in 2009, and comparisons, and what to expect from aging and are discussed.
Cody Crosby: Obviously, with ranking Jason Bartlett at #9 you are not buying his stats from last season. Where do you project him in 2010?
Michael Ryan: Putting Bartlett at 9 isn't so much a knock on Bartlett as it is a belief in and bouncing back from sub-par 2009 seasons. That being said, yes I do expect a regression from Bartlett's 2009 season; most notably in the home run department, where I would be more surprised to see him hit 14 again than I would if he hit 5 like he did back in 2007. I also expect a regression back to the .290 area in average, which means a decrease in the other categories as well.
Cody Crosby: Jumping off of your response, 2009 was a sorry year for most shortstops with ' injury and multiple players playing well below their 2008 numbers. That being said, which players are you expecting to bounce back in 2010?
Michael Ryan: 2009 was not a kind year for shortstops, with , , and the aforementioned Bartlett being the exceptions. We both have Reyes as our fourth SS for 2010 and I do think he can bounce back to near 2007/2008 levels but now comes with the added injury risk and I would be cautious about paying full price for a speed guy with hammy issues.
Speaking of hamstring issues, Stephen Drew also felt the effects of sore hammies and it clearly impacted his game. I don't think 2008 was a fluke and he is healthy and entering his prime years.
Alexei Ramirez is my third bounceback candidate; I was full on the bandwagon heading into 2009 and while he was a bit of a disappointment for most owners, he was still a productive shortstop. I expect the home runs and average to go back up but am a bit more cautious about his steals potential. His runs and RBI production depends largely on where Ozzie decides to bat him in the order so that is something to watch going into Spring Training.
Michael Ryan: Alcides Escobar is a prospect that is generating some hype heading into the 2009 season, especially after the Brewers traded to Minnesota. You have him ranked at 15th heading into the season, even ahead of last year's top rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus. What are your projections for both guys heading into 2010?
Cody Crosby: Obviously the have confidence in Escobar heading into 2010. They traded fan-favorite J.J. Hardy to open up a spot that should have been Escobar's last season. He batted .304 in 38 games last season after hitting .298 through 109 games in AAA. His speed is there, as evidenced by his 42 steals in AAA and 34 steals in AA. Unfortunately for him, the Brewers acquired speedy from the who will start the season as the leadoff hitter. Don't be surprised if Escobar works his way to the top of the order as Gomez has shown his propensity for low OBP. Still, Escobar projects at 90 runs, 5 HRs, 45 RBI, 35 steals, and a .290 AVG.
As for Andrus, his 2009 season was impressive for a 20 year-old. Obviously, he is still figuring out how to hit in the majors but a .267 AVG far-exceeded the expectations of many. He's in a potent lineup but will likely bat down in the order, around the 8 or 9 spot. Andrus didn't steal nearly as much as I expected but his 85% success rate was still top-notch. Expect 85 runs, 6 HRs, 40 RBI, and 40 steals with a .270 AVG next season.
Michael Ryan: Miguel Tejada appears to age by three years every season but had a nice comeback of sorts in 2009. You have him at 18th in a weak year for shortstops, which tells me you're not buying a repeat for the one time stud.
Cody Crosby: Tejada, who will turn 36 during the 2010 season, still produces at a weak position each season. I have to admit that I have some bias against him due to his admission of "purchasing then throwing away HGH." I don't like cheaters and that sometimes skews my rankings. Though Tejada has been an iron man throughout his career, one has to imagine that his age will catch up to him. He also isn't going to improve at 36 years of age so I have to devalue his numbers from 2009 a bit. If you are willing to risk your pick on Tejada expect to be scouring the free-agent list at some point during the season.
Cody Crosby: I have Marco Scutaro ranked at 13 while you have him at 22. Explain your ranking and expectations and I will do the same.
Michael Ryan: For once I will try to keep it brief. I'm not going to pay for a career year from a 34 year old shortstop, especially one that just doubled his career high in stolen bases and whose .282 avg in 2009 raised his career average to .265.
Cody Crosby: I'm not buying him as my starting SS as I suggest getting one before Scutaro is in your sights. Signing with the Red Sox definitely doesn't hurt his value and, as evidenced by 2009, when given the chance, Scutaro can put up solid numbers over a full season. I'm tempering my expectations as many SS's have been unable to thrive in Boston over the last few seasons, but expect 90 runs, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 7 steals, and a .270 AVG.