Derek Jeter will not return until after the All-Star break at the earliest, the Yankees have announced. He joins Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez as prominent Fantasy shortstops to miss significant playing time in 2013. If you drafted Jeter counting on a quick return, you now must scramble to replace him.
And with injury-prone shortstops Troy Tulowitzski and Jed Lowrie (so far) healthy, owners will have to study the position for most or all of the season. Fortunately, there is more talent at SS than in previous seasons, though available players may have different skill sets than a Jeter or Reyes, which will cause Fantasy owners to make a series of moves to replenish their lineups.
Here are the shortstops who may be available on the waiver wire, or who you will want to acquire via trade, to help stem the tide if you lost your star SS for any length of time.
- Jed Lowrie, A’s – The injury prone player is off to a solid start in Oakland. He’s hitting .373 with three HRs and 13 RBI on the young season. He’s a career .256 hitter with good power. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is an unworldly .413 right now (league average is about .295), so he will cool off. By now he is most likely on a roster, but he might be the most talented middle infielder available to you. Emphasize his injury-prone nature and that low career average. But if he stays healthy, he might have a big year.
- Zack Cozart, Reds — Cozart hit 15 HRs for the Reds last year, providing only 35 RBI over 600 plate appearances. His .246 average this season is exactly the same from 2012, though we expect him to lift that average a bit this year. He already has four HRs and can be a source of some power much like Lowrie, but if you counted on a .300 average from Jeter, you will have to find base hits somewhere else.
- Everth Cabrera, Padres – Cabrera could provide 35 or 40 steals. Do not be fooled by his two HRs thus far this season, or his .298 average. He hit .246 last season and swiped 46 bases. He will be hard to pry off another owner’s roster right now, but if he goes 1-for-20 over the next few days, perhaps it’s time to swoop in.
- Brandon Crawford, Giants – Crawford has started hot, but should not continue that way. He hit only four HRs last season and has three already this season. His .352 average is more than 100 points above his .244 career average. He’s not a base stealer either, swiping just one bag last season. He might be worth grabbing for now to ride the hot hand, but he won’t provide much value this season.
- Marwin Gonzalez, Astros – In 11 games this season he has two HRs, the same amount he managed in 80 games. He hit only .234 in 2012, stealing just three bases and managing 12 RBI. He is hitting .313 so far, so much like Crawford, Gonzalez might be a stop-gap pickup.
- Didi Gregorius, Diamondbacks – The 23-year-old Gregorius homered in his first Arizona at bat Thursday night in Yankee Stadium. He appeared in a handful of games with the Reds last year, hitting .300 with a lone RBI and no HRs or SBs. He’s owned decent, but not spectacular, power in the minor leagues, so if he takes hold right away for Arizona, he might provide some value.
- Ruben Tejada, Mets – He possesses very little power or speed, and only a decent batting average. He is a better player in daily Fantasy baseball leagues, but he has a professional approach at the plate and owns a .250 average, six RBI and one steal this year. He did hit .289 with the Mets last year, an average that was a bit higher than his peripheral stats might suggest. He may manage a .270 average, and he plays every day. But you shouldn’t consider him for your Fantasy team unless you’re in a very deep league and all the above names are already rostered.