Ben Verlander’s MLB tiers: Who are the best shortstops?

We’re less than a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training, so we still have some time to kill before the MLB offseason ends.

Let’s continue with our position ranking to help pass the time! Last week we ranked the top two dozen (or so) third basemen in baseball

This week, we turn to shortstop, which was the most exciting position to follow this offseason.

Let’s get into it!

Elite: Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa

These three are the best of the best. Obviously, Turner just signed a huge deal with the Phillies. Lindor signed that big deal with the Mets a couple of years ago that didn’t look great initially, but he bounced back in 2022. Correa signed a couple of big deals this offseason before rejoining the Twins.

If I had to choose a better one, I think it would be Correa. He is clutch, hits for power and can hit for a high average. He had a very underrated year last year. He plays great defense. He’s amazing in the playoffs. He is a star. He has personality. It can be a villain. I think he’s the best shortstop in Major League Baseball.

Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa headline The Elite SS Tier

Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa headline The Elite SS Tier

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry have Francisco Lindor of the Mets, Trea Turner of the Phillies and Carlos Correa of ​​the Twins in The Elite Tier. Do you agree?

Almost elite: Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, Corey Seager, Good Bichette

One guy I want to focus on here is Bogaerts. I don’t have it at this first level, although it does charge like this. Look, Bogaerts is “Quasi Elite.” He hits for a high average, but doesn’t have the power numbers that the elite guys have. He doesn’t play the defense that others do. In fact, his defense is slightly below average. I just don’t think it’s the full package that the best players are, but it’s “Almost Elite”. He is great.

Should the Astros’ Jeremy Pena be at the near-Elite shortstop level?

Should the Astros' Jeremy Pena be at the near-Elite shortstop level?

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry have the Padres’ Xander Bogaerts and the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette in The Almost Elite Tier. Do you agree?

Really good: Willy Adams, Jeremy Rock, Strike Franco, Oneil Cruz, Tim Anderson, Bobby Witt Jr., Tommy Edman

Some people, like my “Flippin’ Bats” co-host Alex Curry, may take exception to Peña not being ranked higher after the postseason performance he had.

His numbers in his rookie season were a .253 batting average with 22 home runs and 63 RBI. Does that make you “elite”? Does that make you “almost elite”? I have to leave this. I think Peña is “Really Good” with the potential to not only be “Almost Elite” but “Elite”.

Pena had 19 errors last season. I think there are some major defensive improvements to be made. He has a gold glove, but that’s a lot of mistakes. I would like to see defensive improvement. I’d like to see some improvement offensively before I put him in the next category.

Take the playoffs out of it, if Pena hits .253 with 22 home runs and 63 RBI, do we consider him “Elite” or “Near-Elite”? I do not think so. If I had to rank the “Very Good” category, Pena would be at the top. I don’t think he’s yet on par with the Corey Seagers of the world, who are hitting 40 homers, or the Xander Bogaerts of the world, who are hitting over .300.

Jeremy Pena and Tim Anderson headline The Really Good SS Tier

Jeremy Pena and Tim Anderson headline The Really Good SS Tier

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry have Jeremy Peña of the Astros and Tim Anderson of the White Sox in The Really Good Tier. Do you agree?

Pretty solid: Vaughn Grissom, Kike Hernandez, Amed Rosario, Java Baez, Miguel Rojas, Joey Wendle, Oswald Peraza, JP Crawford, Brandon Crawford

The one I will highlight here is Baez. At one point in the game, I think many people would have considered Baez to be an “elite” shortstop. But it has never been constant. Last season, he was consistently bad.

Baez hit .238 with 17 homers and 67 RBI. This guy is one of the most exciting players in baseball. We need him to play well. Early last year I tweeted that Baez will win a World Series with the Tigers. I don’t know how this will age. Maybe I believed in the Tigers a little more than I should have.

Grissom is someone who excites me. He’s in this group because we don’t know much about him. He will be the shortstop for the Atlanta Braves after they let Dansby Swanson walk. We’ll see how Grissom develops.

Vaughn Grissom and Javy Baez headline The Pretty Solid & The Rest SS Tier

Vaughn Grissom and Javy Baez headline The Pretty Solid & The Rest SS Tier

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry have Vaughn Grissom of the Braves and Javy Baez of the Tigers in The Pretty Solid & The Rest Tier. Do you agree?

The rest: all others not mentioned

One clarification: My producer is a huge Dodgers fan and wondered why Gavin Lux wasn’t at this level. I didn’t include Lux because the Dodgers just signed Miguel Rojas and I think he will be their shortstop. I don’t really know where Lux will play.

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