NL East Division position comparison: shortstop

Continuing my examination today looking over the rosters of each team in the National League East Division and breaking them down with a comparison and ranking of the shortstop position.

Earlier this week, I covered the first basemen and second basemen. Those evaluations found the Atlanta Braves on top, clearly fielding the best right-side infield in the division and one of the best in all of Major League Baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies finished third in both of those rankings.

I’ll finish up the infield with third basemen and then move behind the plate to cover the division’s catchers over this coming weekend. Next week, I’ll work across the outfield. That will be followed by separate pieces covering each team’s projected starting pitching rotation, bench, bullpen, and managers.

If it appears as though any particular position is unsettled or that a team may use a platoon situation, any potential starting players will be covered.

Once this process is complete you should have a far better understanding of where the Phillies stand entering spring training. Pitchers and catchers are due to begin reporting to camps on February 11.

NL EAST – 2020 SHORTSTOP RANKINGS

 

1) Trea Turner, Washington Nationals: The one position on the infield where the defending world champions come out on top. Turner is a true impact player in his prime, turning 27 years of age in the middle of the 2020 season. Last season he slashed .298/.353/.497 with 19 home runs, 61 extra-base hits, 57 RBIs, 96 runs scored, and 35 stolen bases. He put up those numbers despite missing six full weeks with a broken finger suffered when he was hit by a pitch thrown by Phillies starter Zach Eflin on a bunt attempt during an April 3 game at Nationals Park. The injury would bother Turner all year even following his return. He avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $7.45 million deal with Washington for the 2020 season. If the Nats don’t extend him before that point, Turner can become a free agent following the 2022 campaign. At least until then he will terrorize opposition lineups from the top of the Nationals batting order.

2) Amed Rosario, New York Mets: Playing the full 2020 season at age 24, Rosario is the youngest current starter on this list, will not become eligible for arbitration until after the season, and is under Mets control for the next four years. During his second full season a year ago, Rosario hit .287 with 15 homers, 52 extra-base hits, 72 RBIs, 75 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases. He is also a solid defensive shortstop. Rosario should be a key piece for the Mets as they try to become legitimate contenders over the next few years.

3) Didi Gregorius, Philadelphia Phillies: Gregorius came up with the Cincinnati Reds and was dealt to Arizona as part of a three-team, eight-player deal in December 2012 in which Trevor Bauer went to the Cleveland Indians and Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds. Arizona dealt him to the Yankees almost exactly two years later as part of another three-team deal in which Robbie Ray went to the Dbacks and Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers. In December 2019 the Phillies signed Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million deal. He hit 16 homers with 61 RBIs in 2019 with the Yanks after missing the entire first half of the season following October 2018 Tommy John surgery. Over the prior three seasons, Gregorius slammed 72 home runs and drove in 243 runs in the Bronx. He will turn 30 years of age just after spring training opens in mid-February and will be attempting to earn a long-term extension with the Phillies or a multi-year free agent deal with some other ball club.

4) Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves: Swanson was the first overall pick in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Vanderbilt University. He was dealt by Arizona along with outfielder Ender Inciarte to the Braves in December 2015 for pitcher Shelby Miller as part of a five-player deal. Swanson’s offensive production has steadily improved over each of his three full big-league seasons. In 2019 he produced 17 homers, 46 extra-base hits, 77 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases. He will turn just 26-years-old as spring training opens in mid-February, so may have another level to his game. If he regresses at all, Swanson could fall lower on this list in the future. He has a $3.15 million deal in place for 2020 and, like Turner, can become a free agent following the 2022 season.

5) Miguel Rojas, Mami Marlins: Rojas is by far the best defender of all those mentioned above, ranking fifth on the Fangraphs defensive rankings for the position a year ago. Unfortunately for Miami, he is also by far the weakest offensive producer. Last season, Rojas slashed .284/.331/.379 with five home runs, 35 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs, 52 runs scored, and nine steals. Jazz Chisholm is one of the organization’s top prospects. Turning 22 years of age in early February, the Fish hope that Chisholm fully reaches his potential, which would vault him high up this list over the next couple of seasons.

 

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