It is Monday, and you know what that means: GM Mondays! In this series we are going to play the role of GM and analyze players, positions, etc. We will take an in-depth look at the team and diagnose whether something is a strength or not. If it is a weak area, we will also look at possible ways to improve that part of the team. So, without further adieu, let us jump right into looking at shortstop!
The Depth Chart
Somewhat like our second-base, shortstop has no shortage of players in the organization. But also like second-base many of these players will likely not play shortstop full-time. Likewise many of them also play second-base and were covered already. With that in mind, here is, generally speaking, our depth chart:
- Corey Seager
- Kike Hernandez
- Jake Peter
- Tim Locastro
- Errol Robinson
- Drew Jackson
- Omar Estevez
- Gavin Lux
- Ronny Brito
The Major Leaguers
At this time, our starting shortstop is one of the best shortstops in the league: Corey Seager. Even with the advent of a new generation of young, amazing shortstops, Seager is still one of the best. In fact, he actually is the best since he started playing full-time in 2016. Since 2016 he has the best fWAR (13.1), the best triple-slash and OPS (.867), best wRC+ (132), and, despite not being a stolen base threat, he actually has one of the better base-running values among shortstops.
The Dodgers have, in short, the best of the best manning shortstop. When he initially came up to the Majors many had doubts about his ability to stay at shortstop long-term, but he is showing he can handle shortstop very well. At this point there is little doubt he will be playing shortstop for the Dodgers for hopefully the next decade or so.
Kike Hernandez is our team’s mascot, and honorary shortstop. Coming up through the minors, and throughout his time in the Majors, he has spent his second-most playing time at shortstop. So that versatility is extremely important to the team. He isn’t the elite talent that Seager is, but his super-utility role is nonetheless important as it allows us to play a very competent player at shortstop on Seager’s rest days.
Next on the depth chart is newly acquired Jake Peter. Peter arrived from the White Sox via the recent trade that also netted Scott Alexander from the Royals. He is a super-utility player similar to that of Charlie Culberson. Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs recently said this of Jake Peter:
“Peter reached the upper levels of the minors as a high-contact, lefty-batting second-base prospect, then started seeing time at new positions during the 2015 Arizona Fall League[…] Peters projects as fairly versatile bench bat and he has a path to a 2018 debut.”
Peter plays every position except for pitcher and catcher, and he bats left-handed. That left-handed bat will come in handy as most of the Dodgers’ current depth on the infield bats right-handed. It would not be surprising to see him make his debut in 2018 and receive ample playing time as a super-utility bat off the bench.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 5, 2018
Beyond Peter is a number of players all previously covered in the piece on the Dodgers’ depth at second-base. Tim Locastro, Errol Robinson, Gavin Lux, and Omar Estevez are all capable of competently playing shortstop. Of these players, Robinson, Lux, and Estevez are all actually natural shortstops, though because of Seager they may not reach the Majors as shortstops. On our depth chart are 2 new additional players not covered.
Drew Jackson came by way trade from the Seattle Mariners that saw Chase De Jong go to the Mariners. His defense, especially his arm, have always been his calling card. Currently MLB.com has him ranked #17 in our top 30 prospects. Jackson has excellent defensive chops, and it has helped him move up through the minors. However, unless his bat takes a meaningful step forward, he will likely only be a fringe Major Leaguer.
— LA Dodgers Fans (@DodgersViews) July 3, 2015
Ronny Brito was another big international name from the 2015-2016 spending spree. Signing for a $2 million bonus Brito has lived up to his projections so far: a light-hitting, but sure-handed shortstop. Like Jackson, Brito is very solid defensively, but his bat is lagging behind quite a bit. However, the good news for Brito is while Jackson is going to be 25 years old this season, Brito is still only 18 years old. There is hope that his bat can develop at least into an average one. Which, for a slick-fielding shortstop, can work out just fine. Just look at Andrelton Simmons’ success so far in the Majors.
The Dodgers are very top-heavy at shortstop, which is not a bad thing at all. Having the generational talent of Corey Seager at shortstop, and under team control until at least 2021 (though a significant extension wouldn’t be out of the question at all). In addition to him there is a solid supporting cast of players capable of playing shortstop on the roster.
From a farm system depth perspective, there are certainly no future Corey Seagers there. However, that does not mean it is lacking in any way. Currently there are plenty of super-utility players, and slick fielding shortstops that project to be slightly below average bats. The landscape of shortstop is changing. Superstar shortstops are more becoming the norm. But there is still a spot on every team’s roster for a shortstop that is excellent defensively.