2018 AL East Positional Rankings: Infielders - Page 5 of 6 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Paul Folkemer

2018 AL East Positional Rankings: Infielders

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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Shortstop

  1. Manny Machado, Orioles
  2. Didi Gregorius, Yankees
  3. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
  4. Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays
  5. Adeiny Hechavarria, Rays

Now at a new — well, technically, old — position, Machado joins his double-play partner and close friend Schoop atop the position rankings. Sure, Machado hasn’t played shortstop regularly in the majors aside from a two-month stint in 2016. But it’s the position he played throughout the minors and has always been dear to his heart. With the departure of veteran J.J. Hardy, Machado is finally getting his chance to be an everyday shortstop in the bigs (which will make his free agent resume next winter all the more impressive). It’s a good bet he’ll succeed.

Gregorius, who replaced Derek Jeter in the Bronx three years ago, has become a better player than Jeter was in his final few seasons before retirement. (I write that at the risk of incurring the wrath of Jeter’s legion of fans.) In 2017, Gregorius set career highs in average (.287), OPS (.796), homers (25) and RBIs (87) while playing a capable shortstop. In Boston, Bogaerts, after an All-Star campaign in 2016, took a step back last season with the lumber, and he’s never been a great fielder. But he’s still only 25.

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What has happened to Tulowitzki? Once a perennial MVP candidate, his career has sputtered since the Blue Jays acquired him from Colorado in 2015. He’s missed time every season with injuries and that will be the case again in 2018, which he’ll start on the disabled list with a bone spur in his right foot. Manning shortstop for the Rays, meanwhile, is the defensively gifted but offensively challenged Hechavarria, who was acquired last season from Miami.

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