Shortstop is absolutely stocked with marquee players. Four of them may be taken in the first round of 2021 fantasy baseball drafts. You’ve got stars such as Gleyber Torres, Javy Baez and Carlos Correa possibly outside the top 10. And then you’ve got players such as the three listed below who can be called even later in drafts but will still put up productive numbers. This golden age of shortstops won’t be ending any time soon.
Didi Gregorius, Philadelphia Phillies
There are so many shortstops who are younger and have more upside than Gregorius that it makes sense as to why he is falling to pick No. 150 or so in drafts. But when he stays healthy, you can count on him for 25 homers, close to 10 steals and a batting average that ranges between .260-.280. His first year with the Phillies was a statistical success — 10 HRs, three SBs, .284 average in 60 games — and re-upping with Philly this offseason means we should expect another quality line from the 31-year-old in 2021.
Willi Castro, Detroit Tigers
Castro is kind of a mystery right now. He stole at least 15 bases in four separate years while in the minors leagues from 2015-2019, but he has attempted just two steals (neither successful) across 86 games in the big leagues. He never hit more than 11 home runs in any season in minors, then blasted six HRs in just 36 games last year. His batting averages from year-to-year have been all over the place, up to an outstanding .349 with the Tigers in 2020. But that was propped up by an outrageous .448 BABIP. Somewhere amid these extremes is a useful fantasy commodity. Castro is an intriguing late-round lottery ticket.
Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals
DeJong tested positive for COVID-19 about a week into the 2020 regular season. Maybe that can explain his stat line, as only nine of his 38 hits went for extra bases and just three left the yard. That is strange considering DeJong smashed 30 homers in 2019, and his extra-base-hit rate surpassed 40% in each season from 2017-19. Maybe the virus sapped his strength, which is why, although his fly-ball rate was stable, his HR/FB rate was just 6.4%. His low in that category prior to 2020 was 13.6%. Whatever the reason, it might be wise to give DeJong a mulligan as he heads into his age-27 season. He is lasting past pick No. 200 in NFBC drafts right now, so the return on investment here could be huge.