I continue the tour of positions with a look at shortstops, a position once barren of fantasy impact players but now overflowing with value. In 2004, eight shortstops smashed 20 or more home runs and 19 stole 10 or more bases. Amazingly, only Miguel Tejada topped 100 RBIs (Michael Young finished one short). Let's start with Tejada.
Miguel Tejada, Bal
Since Baltimore finished the season 23 games behind the Yankees, the ridiculous 150 RBIs driven in by Tejada went virtually unnoticed. Tejada reached the century mark for the fifth straight season and slugged 30 homers for the fourth time in five years. He's scored 90 or more runs in six straight seasons.
Edgar Renteria, Bos
Though the Cardinals led the NL in runs, Renteria's numbers decreased markedly from a monster 2003 season. His batting averaged decreased by 43 points, he knocked in 28 fewer runs and his stolen base total was cut in half. He shifts to the AL and joins an equally potent lineup. In an extremely small sample size (six games), he holds a .440 career batting average at Fenway Park.
Derek Jeter, NYY
Jeter is one of the rare five-tool fantasy players. He ranked in the top five among shortstops in every standard rotisserie category. Last season's 23 HR and 78 RBI were his highest power totals since 1999.
Julio Lugo, TB
After launching 15 homers in 2003, Lugo hit only seven last season. However, he scored 25 more runs, drove in 22 more runs and boosted his stolen base total by 11 to better than offset the dip in HR production. Lugo declined after the All-Star break, contributing only one HR and driving in 25 runs.
Russ Adams, Tor
Adams clubbed 36 doubles and hit .282 for the Triple-A Syracuse SkyChiefs before getting called up in September. He hit .306 for the Blue Jays in 22 games with four home runs.
Juan Uribe, ChW
Uribe showed great versatility for the White Sox, splitting time between 2B, SS and 3B. He reached new career-highs with 23 home runs, 82 runs scored and 74 RBIs. He stole nine bases, but was caught 11 times.
Jhonny Peralta, Cle
Peralta was named MVP of the International League in 2004, hitting .326 with 15 homers and 86 RBIs. He added eight stolen bases and scored 109 runs.
The Indians are looking into the possible acquisition of Alex Cora, meaning that Peralta's ascent to the starting role is not guaranteed.
Carlos Guillen, Det
After six nondescript seasons in Seattle, Guillen was one of the best fantasy surprises of 2004. He posted new career-high marks in every statistical category, including 12 stolen bases.
Angel Berroa, KC
The 2003 AL Rookie of the Year experienced a sophomore slump, regressing in every statistical category and missed 28 games. He still contributed 14 all-important stolen bases for fantasy owners.
Jason Bartlett, Min
Bartlett hit for a high .331 average in the 67 games in which he participated for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He showed some speed, legging out seven triples and swiping seven stolen bases. He stole two bases in eight games for the Twins.
Orlando Cabrera, LAA
After collecting a World Series ring with the Red Sox last year, Cabrera relocated to the West Coast, inking a four-year deal with Los Angeles, nee Anaheim. He stole 16 or more bases for the fourth straight season and has hit double-digit home runs four of the past five years.
Bobby Crosby, Oak
Last season's Rookie of the Year belted 22 home runs, knocked in 64 runs and led all AL rookies in eight statistical categories. Crosby hit a weak .208 after the All-Star break and hit only .218 at home.
Pokey Reese, Sea
Reese has appeared in only 41 percent of his past two teams' games in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. He hit .219 in those two seasons in Pittsburgh and Boston. If he plays every day, Reese is a threat to steal bases, with three seasons above 25 thefts in his career.
Michael Young, Tex
Young followed up a strong 2003 season with an even more potent campaign in 04. He was most comfortable at The Ballpark in Arlington, with his batting average sitting 66 points higher at home than on the road. His .836 OPS ranked third among shortstops behind Carlos Guillen and Miguel Tejada.
Rafael Furcal, Atl
Furcal has always hit for a solid average, stolen bases and scored buckets of runs. In the past two seasons, he added power to the repertoire. Furcal has averaged 28 steals per season in his five-year career.
Alex Gonzalez, Fla
Gonzalez reached new career marks in both home runs and RBIs in 2004 (23 and 79, respectively). Unfortunately, his career .242 average mitigates his fantasy value. In 2004, Gonzalez hit only .214 away from Pro Player Stadium.
Kazuo Matsui, NYM
The highly heralded Japanese import failed to light the fantasy world on fire, but did turn in a solid first half. He hit all seven home runs, stole 12 bases and drove in 32 of his 44 RBIs before the break. Matsui was limited to 28 games after the All-Star game. The Mets are likely to swap middle infield positions in '05, with Matsui moving to second base and Jose Reyes sliding back into the shortstop role.
Jimmy Rollins, Phi
Rollins took another big step forward with a huge 2004 season. He hit new career marks in runs scored (119) and batting average (.289), tied his career best with 14 home runs and stole 30 bases. In four full seasons in Philadelphia, Rollins has averaged a shade under 32 steals per season.
Christian Guzman, Was
Guzman leaves for Washington after six seasons in Minnesota. He established a career best with a .983 fielding percentage but didn't light it up in any particular fantasy category. Guzman's 10 steals in 04 marked his lowest total since 1999.
Nomar Garciaparra, ChC
Garciaparra suffered through a difficult 2004 season, appearing in only 81 games with Boston and Chicago. He hit a solid .308 with nine home runs and 41 RBIs. In 25 games at Wrigley Field last season, Garciaparra hit .278 with three home runs and 13 RBIs.
Felipe Lopez, Cin
The Reds got solid play out of Lopez in split time between SS and 3B last season. He smashed 27 extra-base hits and drove in 31 runs in 79 appearances. Lopez scuffled in 39 home dates, batting .226 at the Great American Ballpark with nine RBIs.
Adam Everett, Hou
Everett appeared in 104 games for the Astros in 2004, scoring 66 runs and clubbing eight home runs. The key to Everett's fantasy value is whether he gets more opportunities to run. He stole 13 bases last season and hit a solid .273. Most of his damage was done at Minute Maid Park, where he stole 11 bases and hit a full 93 points above his road average.
J.J. Hardy, Mil
The Brewers will start the season with young Hardy at shortstop. He missed most of the 2004 season with a shoulder injury, appearing in only 26 games with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. Hardy hit .247 in those outings. Looking back to his exploits in the Southern League in 2003, Hardy smashed 38 extra-base hits with a .279 batting average.
Jack Wilson, Pit
An All-Star in 2004, Wilson signed a two-year contract with Pittsburgh this offseason. His .308 average dwarfed his previous three-year .246 mark. Wilson ripped off 64 extra-base hits, but nine of his 11 homers were solo shots.
David Eckstein, StL
After four years with the Angels, Eckstein signed a deal with the Cardinals. In 2004, Eckstein's .339 On-Base Percentage ranked ninth among shortstops. He's stolen 16 or more bases each season in the majors.
Royce Clayton, Ari
Clayton joins his seventh team after a one-year stopover in Colorado. He slammed a career-high 160 hits, 48 of which went for extra bases. Clayton also scored a career-high 95 runs. Not surprisingly, he hit .299 at Coors Field and pounded 30 of his extra-base hits there.
Clint Barmes, Col
The sweet-swinging Barmes torched Pacific Coast League pitching, ripping 175 hits. Sixty of his hits went for extra bases (42 of them were doubles). He'll certainly put up his share of hits in Colorado, but this guy can also run. Barmes stole 20 bases for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox before he was called up.
Cesar Izturis, LAD
In 2004, Izturis reached new heights in every standard fantasy category. He hit only four home runs and is unlikely to make great strides there, but his 25 steals warrant mentioning. And this guy put the ball in play. He collected 193 hits in 670 at-bats and struck out once per 10 at-bats.
Khalil Greene, SD
Despite a nagging injury, Greene had a tremendous year for the Padres. He bashed 15 home runs, drove in 65 and scored 67 runs. Like most players, he had trouble adjusting to PETCO Park, hitting a pedestrian .241 with three home runs at home.
Next up, I'll continue the tour around the diamond with the players who patrol left field. Barry Bonds leads the way with his absurd 1.422 OPS. But we'll get into that in a couple days.