Welcome to Part IV of ranking the best players at each position.
This list is strictly predicting how these players will perform in 2023. Does that mean last year doesn’t matter? Absolutely not. Last season matters the most. However, this list also factors in how the players have performed since 2020, how much they progressed or regressed, and if 2022 was just an outlier.
Without further ado, here are the Top 10 Shortstops for 2023.
Honorable Mentions: Tommy Edman, Willy Adames
10. Jeremy Pena
As a whole, Pena had a pretty solid rookie season for the Astros in 2022. He was pretty underwhelming at the plate, where he batted .253, had a .289 OBP, .715 OPS, and a 102 WRC+. However, he was awesome in the field, where he had 8 Outs Above Average (OAA), and 16 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), which led all shortstops. What ranked him higher on the list was his postseason play. He batted .345, had a .367 OBP, and a 1.005 OPS. This led him to win both the ALCS and World Series MVPs. He probably will not hit as great as he did in the postseason, but that being said, I would expect a big jump from his regular season play.
9. Tim Anderson
Anderson had a great first half of 2022. From March to May, he batted .356, had a .393 OBP, and a .896 OPS. However, after suffering injuries from his groin and his finger, he only played 39 games and had a .596 OPS from June until the end of the season. In 2020 and 2021, he was a plus defender, producing 5 DRS and 5 OAA between both of those years. However, due to his injuries, he did take a step back in 2022, being negative in both DRS and OAA. Before his injuries, Anderson was playing the best baseball of his life. He probably will not play as well as that this year, but if he is close to it, watch out.
8. Dansby Swanson
Swanson had an unreal season in 2022. He batted .277, had a .329 OBP, .776 OPS, and 116 WRC+. He was even better in the field, with 9 DRS and 20 OAA, which led all shortstops. His very solid offense and elite defense combined resulted in him finishing second in WAR amongst all shortstops. The Cubs were super impressed with his season and signed him to a 7-year $177 Million deal. I would not have given him this contract because he does not have quite the track record. Who knows, maybe this change of scenery will make him an even better player and impress more people in 2023.
7. Wander Franco
People had very high expectations for Franco going into 2022. Even though injuries prevented Franco from reaching his full potential, he still had a pretty solid year. He batted .277, had a .328 OBP, a .745 OPS, and a 116 WRC+. He was below average in the field, with 0 DRS and OAA. Franco showed a ton of potential in 2021 and flashes of great talent in 2022. He just turned 22, so even if he does not take his big leap this year, expect it sooner rather than later.
6. Bo Bichette
Bichette was easily one of the better-hitting shortstops in 2022. He batted .290, had a .333 OBP, .802 OPS, and 129 WRC+. However, he was the complete opposite in the field. He finished with -16 DRS and -7 OAA. Bichette is 25 years old, so he has plenty of time to improve his glove. If he continues to be great at hitting and becomes about average on the field, it will be tough to keep him out of the top five.
5. Xander Bogaerts
Bogaerts had a ridiculous season at the plate last year. He batted .307, had a .377 OBP, .833 OPS, and 134 WRC+, which was second amongst shortstops. In 2021, Bogaerts was not a good defender at all, as he had -5 DRS and -9 OAA. He, however, improved big time in 2022; he had 5 DRS and 5 OAA. He just signed a massive contract with the Padres, in which he will have much more protection with Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Manny Machado batting around him. The only thing keeping him lower on this list is the expectation of the guys ahead of him
4. Corey Seager
Last offseason, Seager signed a 10-year $325 million deal with the Rangers. So far, he has not lived up to it. Last year he batted .245, had a .317 OBP, .772 OPS, and 117 WRC+. His defensive metrics were split, where he had -4 DRS and 4 OAA. So why am I projecting him to be the fourth-best shortstop?
First, some players don’t play as well in their first year with a new team, just like Lindor. Second, the banning of the shift. There is a stat called Expected Weighted on Base Average (xwOBA), which calculates walks, strikeouts, and quality of contact rather than the outcome of a ball in play. Seager was 9th in all of baseball in xWOBA and first amongst shortstops. Between Seager getting all of the new team jitters out of his system and the banning of the shift, he might be even better than fourth.
3. Carlos Correa
Correa, one eventful offseason just for him to end up with the team he was on last year. In 2022, he batted .291, had a .366 OBP, .833 OPS, and 140 WRC+, which led all shortstops. With this being said, he also took a step back defensively. In 2021, he had 20 DRS and 12 OAA. However, in 2022, he had 3 DRS and -3 OAA. I’d expect him to be closer to 2021 than 2022 this upcoming season.
So why is he only third? There is a lot of concern about his injuries in the long term. It is not likely his body will break down this year, but he could take a step back. He might be better than the two guys ahead of him on a per-game basis, but these next two guys are always available.
2. Trea Turner
The new shortstop for the Phillies falls in at number two. Last year Turner batted .298, had a .343 OBP, a .809 OPS, and 128 WRC+. He was slightly below average in the field, with -1 DRS and 0 OAA. This led him to be third in WAR amongst shortstops. It will be interesting to see how he performs with his new team, especially since he has to jump into the lineup without Bryce Harper. You can make an argument that he should be number one, but this shows how great the shortstop position is.
1. Francisco Lindor
After having a disappointing first season with the Mets in 2021, he bounced back big time in 2022. He batted .270, had a .339 OBP, .788 OPS, and 127 WRC+. On the defensive side of the ball, even though he had -2 DRS, he had 13 OAA, which was second amongst shortstops. Keep in mind, he also only missed one game and played a solid month and a half with a banged-up finger, and he went on a huge slump. If he had been healthy during that part of the season, he would have been even better. Between really solid batting, elite defense, and being able to play every game, that is the best shortstop in the league.
It feels like I’ve said this for many positions, but shortstop is a challenging position to rank. It is debatably the most crucial position on the field, so it’s tough to balance which one is more important for the position. A lot of these guys have a lot to prove in 2023. It is highly possible 2023 will be the season of redemption for the shortstop position.
Next: Top 30 Outfielders (30-21)
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