Using tiers rankings can be very beneficial when drafting and when forming your draft strategy. A strategy of using a tiers ranking is to not reach for one player if you think that you can get another player in the same tier in a later round. I think that these rankings are especially useful for drafting 1B, OF, and SP this year, seeing that these positions are very deep and you will have many opportunities to pass up one player for another similar player in a later round.
There are some pretty solid options at the shortstop position this year, however there aren’t many elite options this year. Rollins is coming off a mediocre season, Jeter is nearing 36 years of age, and Reyes is coming off of surgery. After the first 4 tiers, I think that the solid options really drop off. In my opinion, the first 3 tiers are the only players worth drafting early, because once the top 3 tiers are taken off the board, I think that you can afford to wait until later in the draft to pick up a shortstop.
Tier 1: Hanley Ramirez
There is no doubt about the production that Hanley will give you. Hanley is a five category contributor and a well established fantasy stud. Look for a line around .325-30-100-35.
Tier 2: Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes
This group has a few question marks surrounding each player, however all of them are capable of having very good seasons. Tulowitzki broke out last year to have an outstanding season after a disappointing 2008. I expect him to solidify himself as an elite fantasy player this year. Rollins is coming off a horrid season by his standards, yet still was able to post a 20-30 season, proving that even when he struggled, he can still be a valuable fantasy player. A healthy Jeter meant a superb 2009 season, and if healthy, should do the same in 2010. Reyes is one of the most questionable players coming into this season, but if he can stay healthy, I expect him to have similar numbers to his 2008 season but with about 45 stolen bases.
Tier 3: Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett
Zobrist and Bartlett both broke out last season out of nowhere, despite being ages 28 and 30. While I do not think that they will both achieve the same numbers as last year, I think that their seasons were too good to be ignored, and should have slightly worse numbers than in 2009.
Tier 4: Elvis Andrus, Yunel Escobar, Alexei Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Miguel Tejada
Andrus is only 21 years of age, and had a pretty good season in his first season. Andrus had 33 stolen bases, and should be able to do the same this year, while hopefully improving on his hitting. Escobar put up solid numbers last year, and is probably one of the more underrated shortstops this year. Ramirez underachieved last year, but I expect him to put up respectable numbers resembling his 2008 season. Cabrera, when healthy, but put very good numbers, and at the age of 24, seems to forming into a good hitter. Tejada is getting up there in age and could be 40 years old for all we know, but can still definitely hit regardless.
Tier 5: Rafael Furcal, Clint Barmes, Marco Scutaro, Alcides Escobar, Jhonny Peralta, Stephen Drew, Erick Aybar, Everth Cabrera
Escobar and Cabrera should be able to be a good source of speed. Barmes and Peralta will give you a little more pop, while Drew, Aybar, and Scutaro will hit for more average. Furcal hasn’t had a good season since 2006, and looks to have lost a step, but may be able to put up a decent season if healthy.
Tier 6: Orlando Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Theriot, Juan Uribe, Ian Desmond
Hardy was so bad that he was sent down to the minors last season, so not sure if he will be able to go back to his 20 homers days. Cabrera can be a decent option for an average hitter, as well as Theriot. I wouldn’t want any of these players on my team except for Desmond, who is a pretty good prospect.