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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Ahead, we’ve set out to identify the top 30 shortstops in the league heading into the 2018 season.

    A few things to consider before we get started:

  • League averages: For the sake of reference, the league average triple-slash line for a shortstop last season was .263/.318/.415.
  • Eligibility: To be considered for inclusion, a player must have played at least 300 innings at shortstop last season. Exceptions were made for an expected position change (no Zack Cozart) and a prospect (J.P. Crawford).

For draft fans, think of this as a big board of the position if the entire league were doing a redraft for one all-or-nothing season in 2018.

Someone like Amed Rosario has more upside than Jordy Mercer going forward, but is he going to be better this coming year?

Let’s find out.

     

Previous top 30 series entries: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen

1 of 30

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Age: 31

    2017 Offensive: 65 OPS+, .250/.272/.357, 47 XBH (6 HR), 54 RBI, 71 R

    2017 Defensive: -4 DRS, 1.7 UZR/150, 9.2 DEF

    WAR: 0.0

         

    Player Outlook

    From the time he arrived in Kansas City prior to the 2011 season through 2014, Alcides Escobar was a core member of the Kansas City Royals.

    Here’s a look at his averages during those spans:

Despite his lack of production in recent seasons, Escobar is still a passable defender with good speed and that was enough for the Royals to bring him back on a one-year, $2.5 million deal while Raul Mondesi continues his development.

     

Honorable Mentions

Aledmys Diaz (TOR), Ryan Goins (KC), Raul Mondesi (KC), Jose Reyes (NYM), Miguel Rojas (MIA)

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2017 Offensive: 71 OPS+, .250/.282/.355, 17 XBH (3 HR), 31 RBI, 20 R

    2017 Defensive: 7 DRS, 4.4 UZR/150, 4.8 DEF

    WAR: 0.7

         

    Player Outlook

    A 13th-round pick in the 2013 draft, J.T. Riddle steadily climbed the Miami Marlins’ organizational ladder and found himself thrust into a starting role last season after Adeiny Hechavarria was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays.

    With a .691 OPS over five minor league seasons and similar production in his first taste of the majors, Riddle will likely never make much of an impact with the bat.

    However, he’s always been considered a plus defender and the metrics backed that up during his rookie season.

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    2017 Offensive: 63 OPS+, .259/.297/.324, 18 XBH (5 HR), 37 RBI, 50 R

    2017 Defensive: -6 DRS, -8.7 UZR/150, -0.2

    WAR: -0.7

         

    Player Outlook

    Jose Peraza looked like an impact player in the making when he posted a 102 OPS+ with 18 extra-base hits and 23 stolen bases in 72 games serving in a super utility role as a rookie.

    However, his first full season did not bring the breakout many were predicting.

    A slap hitter with plus-plus speed, Peraza simply doesn’t make enough hard contact as evidenced by where his soft- and hard-contract rates ranked last season among 144 qualified hitters:

  • Soft Contact: 26.6% (1st)
  • Hard Contact: 21.4% (142nd)

The departure of Zack Cozart gives him a clear path to the starting shortstop job to open the season, but the eventual arrival of top prospect Nick Senzel on the Cincinnati infield could push Peraza back into a utility role.

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 80 OPS+, .257/.276/.402, 47 XBH (17 HR), 56 RBI, 72 R

    2017 Defensive: -8 DRS, -17.1 UZR/150, -5.7 DEF

    WAR: 0.9

         

    Player Outlook

    Tim Anderson turned a solid rookie season into a six-year, $25 million extension last spring, as the expectation was that he would be a core piece of the Chicago White Sox rebuilding efforts.

    While he showed a nice mix of power and speed in his first full season last year with 17 home runs and 15 stolen bases, his complete lack of plate discipline took a major bite out of his offensive value.

    Over 606 plate appearances, he somehow only walked 13 times for a 2.1 percent walk rate—lowest among all qualified hitters.

    His defensive metrics also went from excellent as a rookie (6 DRS, 10.9 UZR/150) to decidedly less impressive (-8 DRS, -17.1 UZR/150).

    He’s still only 24, but this could be a make-or-break year.

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    Steve Nesius/Associated Press

    Age: 28

    2017 Offensive: 88 OPS+, .261/.289/.406, 27 XBH (8 HR), 30 RBI, 37 R

    2017 Defensive: 5 DRS, 9.0 UZR/150, 8.0 DEF

    WAR: 1.5

         

    Player Outlook

    Adeiny Hechavarria has never provided much offensively with a career .255/.291/.345 line and 76 OPS+ to his credit over six MLB seasons.

    However, he has been one of the best defensive shortstops in the majors since his first season as an everyday player in 2014.

    During that time, his 17 DRS and 39.7 DEF are both good for ninth among all shortstops.

    It remains to be seen how long he’ll be able to hold off top prospect Willy Adames as the Tampa Bay Rays appear to be headed for a youth movement of sorts.

    The small-market club did opt to pay him $5.9 million in arbitration and all signs point to him breaking camp as the unquestioned starter.

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2017 Offensive: 78 OPS+, .251/.298/.419, 15 XBH (6 HR), 21 RBI, 24 R

    2017 Defensive: 3 DRS, 0.2 UZR/150, 2.1 DEF

    WAR: 0.2

         

    Player Outlook

    Elite defense is enough to land Nick Ahmed in the No. 25 spot, even after an injury-shortened 2017 season in which he played just 53 games.

    During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, his 32 DRS trailed only Andrelton Simmons (43) and Brandon Crawford (39) at the shortstop position and his production came in significantly fewer innings.

    Now it looks like he’ll have a shot at an everyday job with Chris Owings ticketed for a super-utility role and Ketel Marte shifting over to second base.

    If he plays 120 games, he could very well take home Gold Glove honors and anything he contributes offensively will be a bonus.

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Age: 31

    2017 Offensive: 92 OPS+, .255/.326/.406, 43 XBH (14 HR), 58 RBI, 52 R

    2017 Defensive: -1 DRS, -1.9 UZR/150, 4.9 DEF

    WAR: 1.2

         

    Player Outlook

    Aside from an injury-plagued 2015 season, Jordy Mercer has been a model of consistency for the Pittsburgh Pirates since replacing Clint Barmes as the starting shortstop.

  • 2014: 94 OPS+, .255 BA, 27 2B, 12 HR, 55 RBI, 56 R
  • 2016: 83 OPS+, .256 BA, 22 2B, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 66 R
  • 2017: 92 OPS+, .255 BA, 24 2B, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 52 R

That steady offensive production, coupled with his roughly league-average defense and reasonable contract has made him a valuable homegrown asset for the small-market Pirates.

He’ll be a free agent next offseason and could set himself up for a multi-year deal with a similar performance in 2018.

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Age: 33

    2017 Offensive: 77 OPS+, .249/.300/.378, 17 XBH (7 HR), 26 RBI, 16 R

    2017 Defensive: 0 DRS, -2.4 UZR/150, 1.7 DEF

    WAR: 0.1

         

    Player Outlook

    It’s reached a point where it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Troy Tulowitzki will find his way to the disabled list at some point during the season.

    The 33-year-old has averaged 98 games over the past six seasons, and hamstring and ankle injuries limited him to just 66 games last year.

    The five-time All-Star is still capable of making an impact offensively when he’s healthy and he’s just a year removed from posting a 102 OPS+ with 24 home runs and 79 RBI.

    That said, the Toronto Blue Jays were wise to acquire Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz as middle infield insurance policies.

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Age: 22

    2017 Offensive: 73 OPS+, .248/.271/.394, 12 XBH (4 HR), 10 RBI, 16 R

    2017 Defensive: 1 DRS, 7.9 UZR/150, 3.5 DEF

    WAR: 0.2

         

    Player Outlook

    Amed Rosario shot up prospect lists when he hit .324/.374/.459 with 42 extra-base hits and 19 stolen bases between High-A and Double-A during the 2016 season.

    It was more of the same in his first taste of Triple-A action last season and he eventually played his way into the big league job, making his MLB debut on Aug. 1.

    While the early returns were mediocre at best, the New York Mets have every reason to believe he’s the shortstop of the present and future.

    He’s always been a standout defender and as he gets set to enter his age-22 season, there’s still plenty of time for offensive growth.

    A huge step forward in his first full season is not out of the question and he could easily wind up inside the top 15 in these rankings before 2018 is over.

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    2017 Offensive: 78 OPS+, .214/.356/.300, 5 XBH (0 HR), 6 RBI, 8 R

    2017 Defensive: N/A, played 3B

    WAR: 0.9

         

    Player Outlook

    It’s taken longer than expected, but J.P. Crawford is finally ready to assume the everyday shortstop job for the Philadelphia Phillies.

    After a disappointing 2016 season caused his prospect stock to take a hit, he got off to a similarly slow start in Triple-A last year before catching fire in the second half:

  • April-June: 291 PA, .203/.321/.276, 12 XBH (2 HR)
  • July-Sept: 265 PA, .285/.385/.544, 29 XBH (13 HR)

That was enough to finally earn him a call-up on Sept. 5 and he actually ended up playing mostly third base in his first big league action.

Trading incumbent shortstop Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres this offseason made it abundantly clear that the job is now his.

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 69 OPS+, .232/.312/.324, 31 XBH (6 HR), 51 RBI, 59 R

    2017 Defensive: -7 DRS, -0.2 UZR/150, 6.0 DEF

    WAR: -0.3

         

    Player Outlook

    Dansby Swanson was viewed as the NL Rookie of the Year front-runner heading into last season after he hit .302/.361/.442 in 145 plate appearances in 2016.

    The No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, Swanson rocketed through the minors after the Atlanta Braves acquired him along with All-Star center fielder Ender Inciarte from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Shelby Miller.

    While his rookie season did not go as hoped, a two-week demotion at the end of July seemed to provide a spark:

  • Pre-Demotion: 362 PA, .213/.287/.312, 23.2 K%
  • Post-Demotion: 189 PA, .268/.360/.348, 19.0 K%

Swanson still has the polished tools and impressive intangibles to be a perennial All-Star and vital piece of the puzzle for the rebuilding Braves.

Can he take that next step forward in 2018?

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Age: 28

    2017 Offensive: 83 OPS+, .255/.309/.382, 47 XBH (12 HR), 61 RBI, 71 R

    2017 Defensive: -5 DRS, 3.5 UZR/150, 10.6 DEF

    WAR: 1.3

         

    Player Outlook

    Freddy Galvis is a tough nut to crack.

    Case in point: He nearly tripled his home run total from seven to 20 in 2016, yet his OPS+ actually dropped from 79 to 78 in the process as he posted a horrendous .274 on-base percentage.

    He showed a good mix of power (12 HR) and speed (14 SB) once again last season and his 10.6 DEF—FanGraphs’ stat for overall defensive value—trailed only Brandon Crawford (13.2) and Corey Seager (12.7) among NL shortstops.

    Yet he was still just a 1.3 WAR player and with prospect J.P. Crawford finally ready to take over, the Phillies traded him to the Padres in exchange for pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos.

    A year removed from free agency, he’ll be playing for a starting job in 2019 and beyond.

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Age: 28

    2017 Offensive: 73 OPS+, .255/.288/.369, 40 XBH (6 HR), 54 RBI, 56 R

    2017 Defensive: 4 DRS, 10.7 UZR/150, 14.3 DEF

    WAR: 1.4

         

    Player Outlook

    Since hitting .300 with a 99 OPS+ while earning a spot on the AL All-Star team in 2015, Jose Iglesias has turned into a glove-only player.

    A .255/.297/.353 line and 74 OPS+ over the past two seasons makes that abundantly clear.

    Still, he’s an elite defender.

    His 32.0 DEF the past two seasons ranks fourth at the position and it’s been enough to keep him in the everyday lineup even with his lack of offensive production.

    With free agency awaiting after the 2018 season, Iglesias could wind up on the trade block this summer.

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2017 Offensive: 96 OPS+, .249/.325/.398, 30 XBH (10 HR), 40 RBI, 53 R

    2017 Defensive: -9 DRS, -5.2 UZR/150, 1.1 DEF

    WAR: 1.1

         

    Player Outlook

    Marcus Semien quietly put together a breakout 2016 season, posting a 99 OPS+ with 27 home runs, 75 RBI and 10 stolen bases on his way to 3.0 WAR.

    Unfortunately, a fractured wrist limited him to just 85 games last year.

    He still managed 10 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 386 plate appearances and a 20/20 campaign is not out of the question as he enters his prime with his age-27 season.

    It’s looking more and more like top prospect Franklin Barreto is going to end up at second base, so Semien will have every chance to settle in as the team’s long-term shortstop as long as he stays healthy.

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    2017 Offensive: 86 OPS+, .239/.308/.457, 59 XBH (24 HR), 82 RBI, 68 R

    2017 Defensive: 11 DRS, 1.6 UZR/150, 7.6 DEF

    WAR: 2.6

         

    Player Outlook

    Trevor Story set the bar awfully high when he hit seven home runs in his first six big league games as a rookie in 2016.

    He finished his debut campaign with 27 longballs and he hit 24 more last season, but it’s alarming how much of his offensive value is tied to his over-the-fence power.

    The 25-year-old struck out at a dizzying 34.4 percent clip last season, whiffing an NL-high 191 times, and his .308 on-base percentage left a lot to be desired.

    He’s been better than expected defensively, but with top prospect Brendan Rodgers knocking on the door, his job could be in jeopardy if he can’t find a way to make more consistent contact.

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    Tom Lynn/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    2017 Offensive: 89 OPS+, .277/.324/.407, 34 XBH (15 HR), 53 RBI, 56 R

    2017 Defensive: 6 DRS, -3.9 UZR/150, 4.0 DEF

    WAR: 2.6

         

    Player Outlook

    It looks like the Milwaukee Brewers have a good one in Orlando Arcia.

    After posting a subpar .219/.273/.358 line over 216 plate appearances as a rookie, he’s begun showing the offensive tools that made him the organization’s top prospect during his time in the minors.

    His 15 home runs represented a previously unforeseen level of power production and he quietly saw his hard-contact rate spike from 25.3 to 30.2 percent.

    Always a standout defender and still well ahead of the developmental curve at 23 years old, he might just be scratching the surface of his eventual ceiling.

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 93 OPS+, .256/.313/.410, 46 XBH (13 HR), 74 RBI, 60 R

    2017 Defensive: -1 DRS, -5.4 UZR/150, 1.5 DEF

    WAR: 2.1

         

    Player Outlook

    Jorge Polanco is part of an impressive collection of homegrown talent that helped lead the Minnesota Twins to a surprise postseason appearance on the heels of a 103-loss season in 2016.

    His overall numbers might not look amazing on the surface, but a stellar second half leaves the future looking awfully bright.

  • 1st Half: 287 PA, .224/.273/.323, 19 XBH (3 HR), 31 RBI
  • 2nd Half: 257 PA, .293/.359/.511, 27 XBH (10 HR), 43 RBI

That included an otherworldly month of August that saw him hit .373/.413/.686 with 10 doubles, six home runs and 23 RBI in 112 plate appearances.

By season’s end, he was hitting in the No. 3 spot in the lineup and as important to the team’s success as anyone on the roster.

The 24-year-old looks like as good a breakout candidate as anyone at the position for 2018.

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 85 OPS+, .239/.304/.418, 36 XBH (12 HR), 43 RBI, 52 R

    2017 Defensive: 15 DRS, 7.2 UZR/150, 8.6 DEF

    WAR: 2.4

         

    Player Outlook

    The 2017 season was a trying one for Addison Russell as injuries and off-the-field issues kept him from building off a strong 2016 campaign.

    It was a step back, but there’s no reason to write the 24-year-old off just yet.

    FanGraphs summed it up perfectly: “He’s still a terrific defender and has plenty of pop, but the offensive package has been slow to develop. Keep in mind that he’s still just 24 as he enters his fourth MLB season. If the batting average jumps, there’s still star potential here.”

    Russell has posted 10.0 WAR over his first three seasons in the majors and there aren’t many players capable of slugging 20 home runs and winning a Gold Glove.

    He could easily climb into the top 10.

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 121 OPS+, .285/.325/.532, 52 XBH (25 HR), 65 RBI, 55 R

    2017 Defensive: 0 DRS, 3.1 UZR/150, 5.7 DEF

    WAR: 2.7

         

    Player Outlook

    The St. Louis Cardinals believe Paul DeJong is the real deal.

    They made that abundantly clear when they handed the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up a six-year, $26 million extension that includes a pair of option years just 108 games into his MLB career.

    His power stroke looks like the real deal and his defense at shortstop was a pleasant surprise after he began his pro career as a third baseman.

    However, there are some red flags.

    A .349 BABIP is a good sign he’s in for some batting average regression and his 4.7 percent walk rate will have to improve as opposing pitchers start to put together a game plan on how to attack him.

    Still, there’s a lot to like about the former fourth-round pick.

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    2017 Offensive: 95 OPS+, .273/.343/.403, 48 XBH (10 HR), 62 RBI, 94 R

    2017 Defensive: -11 DRS, -1.7 UZR/150, 5.1 DEF

    WAR: 2.2

         

    Player Outlook

    All signs seemed to be pointing toward superstardom for Xander Bogaerts heading into the 2017 season.

  • 2014: 83 OPS+, .240 BA, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 0.3 WAR
  • 2015: 107 OPS+, .320 BA, 7 HR, 81 RBI, 4.6 WAR
  • 2016: 111 OPS+, .294 BA, 21 HR, 89 RBI, 3.7 WAR

Instead, the 2017 season proved to be a major disappointment as his numbers dropped across the board and he posted negative double-digit DRS for the second straight year.

Now, with free agency awaiting after the 2019 season, he has a lot to prove.

Given his age and track record, there’s still plenty of reason for long-term optimism.

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    John Froschauer/Associated Press

    Age: 27

    2017 Offensive: 110 OPS+, .300/.349/.427, 43 XBH (11 HR), 45 RBI, 80 R

    2017 Defensive: -3 DRS, -5.5 UZR/150, 2.3 DEF

    WAR: 3.1

         

    Player Outlook

    Jean Segura didn’t quite match his monster 2016 numbers in his first season with the Seattle Mariners, but he was still a dynamic table-setter.

  • 2016: 122 OPS+, .319/.368/.499, 68 XBH (20 HR), 33 SB
  • 2017: 110 OPS+, .300/.349/.427, 43 XBH (11 HR), 22 SB

He also made a smooth return to the shortstop position after playing second base for the Diamondbacks in 2016.

The 27-year-old signed a five-year, $70 million extension in June and time will tell if the decision to ship young right-hander Taijuan Walker to Arizona to acquire him was the right move.

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    Reed Saxon/Associated Press

    Age: 29

    2017 Offensive: 108 OPS+, .297/.337/.471, 68 XBH (20 HR), 88 RBI, 100 R

    2017 Defensive: 3 DRS, -2.0 UZR/150, 4.6 DEF

    WAR: 4.7

         

    Player Outlook

    Elvis Andrus: power hitter?

    Over his first eight seasons in the majors, Andrus hit 35 home runs in 5,203 plate appearances, which comes to an average of roughly four per season.

    Then, in his age-28 season, he exploded for 20 home runs to go along with 25 stolen bases as he was one of just nine 20/20 players in the majors last year.

    Was his power surge for real?

    His fly ball rate was essentially the same (28.5 to 31.5 percent) while his HR/FB ratio nearly doubled (6.3 to 11.6 percent), so it was more luck than a change in approach that contributed to his surprising home run total.

    That said, he’s a steady defender who is capable of hitting .300 and stealing 25-plus bases and that’s enough to earn him a spot inside the top 10.

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Age: 31

    2017 Offensive: 87 OPS+, .253/.305/.403, 49 XBH (14 HR), 77 RBI, 58 R

    2017 Defensive: 9 DRS, 8.4 UZR/150, 13.2 DEF

    WAR: 2.1

         

    Player Outlook

    Brandon Crawford saw his offensive game peak in 2015 when he posted a 113 OPS+ with 33 doubles, 21 home runs and 84 RBI to win Silver Slugger honors.

    He, like a number of players on the San Francisco Giants last year, struggled through a disappointing season and he’ll be looking for a bounce-back performance at the plate.

    His defense was as good as ever, though.

    The 31-year-old made it three straight NL Gold Glove Awards and during that three-year stretch, he ranks among the MLB leaders across all positions in DRS (48, eighth) and DEF (58.4, second).

    Even if he doesn’t return to his peak offensive form, he’s still a safe bet for 30 doubles, 10 home runs, 70 RBI and a roughly league-average OPS+.

    The No. 9 spot might prove to be too low.

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Age: 28

    2017 Offensive: 106 OPS+, .287/.318/.478, 52 XBH (25 HR), 87 RBI, 73 R

    2017 Defensive: 1 DRS, 5.3 UZR/150, 11.4 DEF

    WAR: 3.7

         

    Player Outlook

    Didi Gregorius quietly put together a breakout season for the New York Yankees, hiding in the shadows of young stars Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.

    Hitting cleanup for much of the year, Gregorius ranked among the offensive leaders at the shortstop position in OPS (.796, seventh), home runs (25, second) and RBI (87, third).

    His defensive metrics also improved from a disappointing 2016 season (-9 DRS, -3.4 UZR/150) and it looks like he’ll push top prospect Gleyber Torres over to second base once he arrives in the majors.

    With free agency following the 2019 season, he could be an extension candidate for the Yankees as they look to lock up a key piece of the established core.

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 102 OPS+, .284/.338/.451, 41 XBH (11 HR), 45 RBI, 75 R

    2017 Defensive: -3 DRS, 2.2 UZR/150, 5.2 DEF

    WAR: 2.6

         

    Player Outlook

    Trea Turner exceeded even the wildest of expectations when he hit .342/.370/.567 with 35 extra-base hits and 33 stolen bases in 73 games to finish second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2016.

    That made him a popular pick for a major breakout last season, but he has instead limited to 98 games as a broken wrist cost him roughly two months.

    Perhaps that breakout will come a year later than expected.

    Turner truly has game-changing speed with 46 steals in 54 attempts last year and the return of Adam Eaton will give the Washington Nationals a one-two punch at the top of the lineup that’s as good as any in baseball.

    A .300 average with 20 home runs and 50 stolen bases is well within reach.

    To put that type of production into perspective, there have only been 19 seasons of 20/50 in MLB history, and no one has accomplished it since Hanley Ramirez and Eric Byrnes in 2007.

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Age: 28

    2017 Offensive: 103 OPS+, .278/.331/.421, 54 XBH (14 HR), 69 RBI, 77 R

    2017 Defensive: 32 DRS, 18.2 UZR/150, 22.6 DEF

    WAR: 7.1

         

    Player Outlook

    Andrelton Simmons is the best defensive player in baseball.

    His 32 DRS were tops in the majors last season and his 163 career DRS trail only Adrian Beltre (212) and Yadier Molina (171) among active players and he’s done it in fewer than half the innings played.

    The best offensive season of his career on top of that made him a legitimate AL MVP candidate last season and one of the leaders among all position players with a 7.1 WAR.

    His OPS (.752), OPS+ (103), hits (164), doubles (38), RBI (69), runs scored (77), stolen bases (19) and total bases (248) were all a career-high and he ended up finishing eighth in MVP voting.

    With three years and $39 million left on his contract, he’s one of baseball’s best bargains and he’ll be vital in the Los Angeles Angels push for a contender.

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    Phil Long/Associated Press

    Age: 25

    2017 Offensive: 107 OPS+, .259/.310/.471, 67 XBH (33 HR), 95 RBI, 81 R

    2017 Defensive: N/A, played 3B

    WAR: 3.5

         

    Player Outlook

    Manny Machado is finally getting his wish as he’ll move back to his natural position of shortstop in his final year of team control before hitting the open market.

    The 25-year-old last played shortstop during the 2016 season when he posted 3 DRS and 5.4 UZR/150 over 380 innings at the position filling in for an injured JJ Hardy.

    There’s little doubt he has the skills to be one of the league’s best defenders at the position, even after he spent the bulk of the past six years manning third base.

    Machado also looks poised for a bounce-back season offensively after righting the ship after the All-Star break following a so-so first half.

  • 1st Half: .230 BA, .741 OPS, 19.7 K%
  • 2nd Half: .290 BA, .826 OPS, 13.2 K%

Could a $500 million payday be waiting next offseason?

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    Ryan Kang/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    2017 Offensive: 125 OPS+, .295/.375/.479, 55 XBH (22 HR), 77 RBI, 85 R

    2017 Defensive: 10 DRS, 9.5 UZR/150, 12.7 DEF

    WAR: 5.6

         

    Player Outlook

    Corey Seager avoided a sophomore slump to cement his place as one of the game’s brightest young stars.

    And his numbers would have looked even better if not for a trying final month in which he was battling elbow soreness:

  • April-Aug: 522 PA, .310/.391/.500, 49 XBH (19 HR)
  • September: 91 PA, .210/.286/.358, 6 XBH (3 HR)

Along with his stellar offensive production, Seager also took a step forward defensively as he went from 0 DRS to 10 DRS in his second full season in the majors.

That’s not insignificant, seeing as many believed the 6’4″, 220-pound infielder would eventually need to shift over to third base.

He won his second Silver Slugger award last season and should be a perennial NL MVP candidate for the foreseeable future.

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Age: 23

    2017 Offensive: 158 OPS+, .315/.391/.550, 50 XBH (24 HR), 84 RBI, 82 R

    2017 Defensive: 4 DRS, -3.7 UZR/150, 3.1 DEF

    WAR: 6.3

         

    Player Outlook

    Carlos Correa didn’t take the massive step forward many were predicting in 2016 after he exploded onto the scene and won AL Rookie of the Year honors the previous year.

    That’s not to say his numbers were disappointing124 OPS+, 36 2B, 20 HR, 96 RBI—they were just more of a continuation of his stellar rookie season than the next step forward superstardom.

    His 2017 are more what they had in mind.

    While a torn ligament in his thumb limited him to 109 games, he still managed to tally 25 doubles, 24 home runs and 84 RBI in 481 plate appearances.

    He also maintained his 11 percent walk rate while trimming his strikeout rate from 21.1 to 19.1 percent and raising his batting average from .274 to .315—impressive stuff for a player who looks like he’ll be a regular threat for 30-plus home runs going forward.

    While teammate Jose Altuve deservedly took home AL MVP honors last year, don’t be surprised if Correa claims the honors at least a few times before his career is over. 

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Age: 24

    2017 Offensive: 116 OPS+, .273/.337/.505, 81 XBH (33 HR), 89 RBI, 99 R

    2017 Defensive: 5 DRS, 6.6 UZR/150, 12.9 DEF

    WAR: 5.5

         

    Player Outlook

    Francisco Lindor was already a budding superstar even before he took his offensive game to another level this past season.

    The former No. 8 overall pick hit .301/.358/.435 with 30 doubles, 15 home runs, 78 RBI, 99 runs scored and 19 stolen bases for a 5.7 WAR and a ninth-place finish in AL MVP voting in 2016.

    While he sacrificed some batting average last year, he more than doubled his home run total to 33, which led all shortstops.

    An elite defender from the onset of his pro career who was expected to hit for a solid average and steal some bases, no one expected him to become one of the game’s most productive power hitters.

    After finishing fifth in MVP voting last year, he has to be considered one of the favorites to claim the awards heading into 2018.

    A clean sweep of the MVP, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove seems almost inevitable at some point given his current career trajectory, and at a loaded shortstop position, he claims the No. 1 spot by the slimmest of margins.

         

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.



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