Fantasy baseball shortstop preview: Undecided on Bogaerts

Our experts are not in agreement on the fantasy potential for Xander Bogaerts this season. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the MLB season coming sooner than you think, ESPN's fantasy baseball experts have gathered to break down each position to help you prepare your draft-day strategy.

How are our fantasy analysts approaching the shortstop position, and which players are they picking and avoiding in their drafts?

For more position previews, plus rankings, cheat sheets and mock drafts, check out our draft kit.

How are you approaching the shortstop position this season?

Shortstop is an exciting position for 2018 because there are so many versatile options capable of supplying power and speed, along with players that have yet to emerge and others that are young but perhaps a bit overlooked. Maybe it is not like when Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra played shortstop -- unless Alex Bregman is so much better than even I believe -- but fantasy managers should not feel any need to reach for a shortstop early, because there is depth. -- Eric Karabell

While shortstop, at least in the upper valuation tiers, was the second least-productive of the primary fantasy baseball positions last season, it's also perhaps the most exciting of them all entering 2018. Remember, a lot of the reason this position "disappointed" was because some of the key players missed time with unexpected injuries, including Carlos Correa and Trea Turner. A new wave of young shortstops has arrived (with some nearly there and others already broken through, on either end of the spectrum), best evidenced by the fact that not one of my top 20 at the position has reached his 30th birthday, the group averaging 25.6 years of age as of Opening Day.

In short, I think this is the position where you're most likely to turn a profit compared to the draft stock you invest, among any of the specific spots on your team, and it means you should be paying careful attention to the individuals, even less-trustworthy choices such as Amed Rosario, Addison Russell or Dansby Swanson. Draft-wise, I am not putting a premium on shortstop, a position I anticipate will be competitive with any of the others in terms of 2018 fantasy production, and I'd take a similar approach to it as I do second base, with a focus on homers and steals. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

It's basically an embarrassment of riches at the position, with seven solid choices to fill your starting shortstop role that can return top-60 value. While I have no issue whatsoever grabbing Turner, Correa or Francisco Lindor within the first three rounds, if that trio happens to elude my grasp, I'm fine waiting another round or two to grab at least of the next quartet of options. If not, I'll hold on until Rounds 13-15 to fill out my starting infield. -- AJ Mass

I mentioned in the second base preview that I wanted power from my middle infielders and I'm sticking to it. The nice part about shortstop is that you can get power from a few different tiers (you can get it in the second round, the fifth round, or the 10th round according to ADP) and thus wait for value to present itself. -- Kyle Soppe

My sleeper at shortstop is:

I guess I find it hard to believe that so many view the 2016 season for Xander Bogaerts as being the obvious outlier. We know Bogaerts dealt with a hand injury in 2017, and it had to play some role in his home run rate seeing major decline. He is also all of 25 years old, capable of winning a batting title, and we cannot ignore the 21 home runs blasted in 2016. Bogaerts remains in the top 100 for ADP purposes but is not going early enough. He is a potential building block similar to how so many viewed a year ago. -- Eric Karabell

While everyone seems to be talking about Ozzie Albies over at second base, Orlando Arcia has a bit of a similar look at shortstop, a player with decent pop and good speed who showed much greater patience during the second half of 2017. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

From 2010-14, Elvis Andrus hit a total of 14 home runs. The next two seasons, he hit 15 combined round-trippers and last season, he broke through with a 20-HR campaign. The first bump in power came as a result of a change in approach at the plate that saw his fly ball rate increase by around 10 percent. Last year's surge was due to a change to a heavier bat. Andrus is talking about making 2018 a 30-30 season. I'm not that "all in" with Texas' $15 million man, but I do buy him ending up with potential Round 3-4 value at a Round 7 price tag. -- AJ Mass

Javier Baez is not a player without flaws, but if I'm going to take a little bit of risk at this position, it'd be counting on Baez for counting numbers. Is he too aggressive? Probably, he ranked fifth among qualified hitters in swing-percentage last season. Still, his per-600 at-bat numbers over the past two seasons have been 25 homers and 15 steals, numbers that I believe are attainable this season and coming at a nice little discount. He's not way down the ADP board and he plays for a high profile team, but he's being selected outside of the top 10 at his position and I don't know that he is that much different than Bogaerts. -- Kyle Soppe

My bust at shortstop is:

Marwin Gonzalez provided power, batting average and extensive positional versatility, and he might just do it all again in 2018, but I am skeptical. Gonzalez hit 13 home runs in 2016. He is not a big base stealer, and he remains a career .268 hitter, as last season's BABIP played a helpful role. Positional versatility is nice but safe playing time is nicer, and the Astros have options. Perhaps Gonzalez can maintain his newfound walk rate, but I see an average player chosen generously in ADP. -- Eric Karabell

I can't see having Didi Gregorius on many of my teams, because I think what we saw from him in 2017 is pretty much what he is. That earned him the No. 116 spot on the Player Rater, but he's being drafted just outside the top 100 so far this preseason, which is simply too expensive for a player who would probably have to sacrifice too much batting average to add any more home runs to his ledger. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

A rising strikeout rate combined with fewer pulled balls and more grounders all contributed to Bogaerts becoming a rather ordinary hitter in 2017. Bogaerts seemed to be too patient at the plate, with only 5 percent of his plate appearances ending after a single pitch last season -- down from 9 percent during his .320 BA season of just two years ago. Some people think he'll be able to get back to 20 HR under the tutelage of new manager Alex Cora. I think those folks are drafting him at least four rounds too soon. -- AJ Mass

One elite season from Andrus is just that: one elite season. Andrus muscled up for 20 homers last season after hitting a total of 21 over the previous four seasons and that resulted in a career-high 80 RBI and 100 runs scored. The fact that he has really just been an average base stealer over the past four seasons (69.7 percent success rate) really works against him, too, so I'm struggling to label him as anything close to a seventh-round selection. I'm either taking a shortstop (or two) before Andrus is even on my radar, taking Bogaerts/Jean Segura 1-2 rounds later, or waiting even later for a power-oriented shortstop. There isn't a circumstance in which I end up with Andrus and I am perfectly fine with that. -- Kyle Soppe

If I could get any shortstop at his current draft position cost to build around in drafts, it would be:

Segura has hit .300 in consecutive seasons, assuaging concerns from his Brewers days that he would struggle to reach base. He begins his second season in Seattle entrenched as a top-of-the-order man that steals bases and scores runs, and while the power from 2016 predictably settled into a more realistic number, this remains a potential top-5 shortstop going at discount. -- Eric Karabell

I don't have a specific choice. Turner, Correa and Francisco Lindor have all been hovering anywhere from my rankings spots to 5-8 spots later than that in terms of ADP, and I'll be happily scooping up whichever one of them lingers out there longer and is available in my draft slot in that specific draft. Turner is a top-five-overall potential player, Correa top-10 and Lindor should never last beyond the 20th pick. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

While I'm not paying a premium for Dee Gordon, I'm also not oblivious to the fact that when he is on the basepaths, Segura will see a lot more fastballs out of the No. 2 spot in the Seattle order. Expect him to hit .300 for the third-consecutive season and with an uptick in RBI now that he's out of the leadoff spot. A 15 HR/25 SB season is well within expectations. -- AJ Mass

Lindor and Bregman. Yea, I'm cheating here, but I am entering drafts with the intent to draft both of these guys at their current price tag. Maybe it's a hot take, but I like Lindor over Carlos Correra for SS2 honors this season, as the low strikeout rate and the stolen base edge are enough to sell me. As for Bregman, if you watched baseball at all after the All-Star break, you know where I'm coming from (.315/.367/.536). If you think Bregman is what he was last year, his ADP makes sense, but if you think there growth to be had from this soon-to-be 24-year-old, you'll happily pay the current asking price or a bit more. -- Kyle Soppe

The young shortstop who could break out is:

The first three picks of the 2015 amateur draft were Dansby Swanson, Bregman and Brendan Rodgers. Bregman is the only one to emerge as a star, but people are still underselling the potential. He is capable of hitting .300 with 30 home runs and 20 steals, and that is indeed special. He is worth reaching up a round or more to acquire. As for Swanson and Rodgers, the former was supposed to be great and will be still, though his 2017 numbers obviously disappointed, while the latter remains a year away. Get them both in dynasty formats. -- Eric Karabell

If it's not Arcia, then I think it's Bregman, a player who is routinely a fifth-rounder but who has a borderline-first-round ceiling. It's taking the layup, but I also don't think people understand how polished his mix of contact, pop and speed on the base paths, things that could legitimately make him a .300-hitting, 30-homer, 15-steal performer if everything clicks. To be clear, I'm not paying for those thresholds, nor close to them, but they're absolutely in the conversation and that's not something that can be said for most of the players you'll find in Rounds 4-6. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

In 2018, shortstop is clearly for the young. Zack Cozart aside, you're unlikely to see anyone in their 30's anywhere near the top 20. Many of the stars at this position are still several birthday cakes away from age 25, making it far more understandable as to why Tim Anderson is all too-oft forgotten. Well, sure, his astronomical K-rate hasn't helped matters any -- especially in points leagues, where his 0.08 BB/K rate (not a typo) is about as bad as one can possibly produce. Still, he hit .299 with 8 HR and 9 SB from Aug. 2 to the end of the season. Even with the K's, if he can maintain that kind of pace for all of 2018, how can it not be considered a breakout? -- AJ Mass

I'll let my friends here take some of the shinier names -- give me some Jorge Polanco. It's a goofy sort of offense, but I think the Twins can surprise some people in terms of fantasy goodness this season and that could well mean Polanco posts some nice totals in the bottom third of the order. Switch-hitting youngsters tend to be a target of mine and with my belief that this is an underrated offense, why wouldn't I invest on a player who slashed .292/.332/.476 with runners on base last season? With a fly ball swing and an improved batting eye, Polanco profiles as a player I could see totaling 35-ish home runs-plus-steals with a reasonable batting average, numbers that would be a significant bargain in the later rounds of your draft. -- Kyle Soppe