As before, I'm using the projected numbers from Fangraphs at each position to determine the rankings.
1. Rockies: 5.8 WAR (#1 overall)
Everyday starter: Troy Tulowitzki (5.7)
Backup: Daniel Descalsio (0.1)
Frickin' Tulo. And it's not even close, with Andrelton Simmons the only other SS projected for more than three WAR [interestingly almost entirely all on his defense. If he was remotely adept at the plate, he'd be up there with Troy-boy. There haven't been many as reliable: 5+ WAR every year bar one since 2009, which would fully justify the $20m he's due every year through 2019. The exception was 2012, when injury limited him to 47 games, and that may be an issue, as he has averaged only 88 games over the past three years. But when healthy, there isn't a better shortstop on the major leagues.
2. Dodgers: 2.6 WAR (#12)
Everyday starter: Jimmy Rollins (2.4)
Backup: Justin Turner (0.2)
Part of the blizzard of Dodger activity this winter was trading for Rollins with the Phillies: it's going to be weird seeing him in Dodger Blue, since Rollins had spent the entirety of his 15 years in Philadelphia. He's a free-agent at the end of the season, after earning $11m for 2015 (one million of which will be paid by his old team) and LA have prospect Corey Seager waiting in the wings, so it may be a short stay for Rollins. He is now 36, but should still be a solid performer, having been worth 3.6 WAR for the Philies last year - a .243 average was fine for the position, and the 17 home-runs he hit certainly help his value.
3. Giants: 2.4 WAR (#14)
Everyday starter: Brandon Crawford (2.4)
Backup: Joaquin Arias (0.0)
In his first year of arbitration eligibility, Crawford agreed to a $3.175 million deal with San Francisco, and should easily be worth that this season. He did make 21 errors in 2014, the second-most at the position, but that's in part due to his great range. Overall, his projected Fld of +3.6 is fourth-best in the majors, behind Simmons, J.J. Hardy and Zack Cosart. If his offense can maintain his 2014 production, when his OPS+ increased from 93 to 104, that will only help his value, and I've got a feeling the 28-year-old Crawford may pass Rollins this season, as their careers go in different directions.
4. Diamondbacks: 1.2 WAR (#27)
Everyday starter: Chris Owings (0.8)
Backup: Cliff Pennington (0.5)
I tend to think Fangraphs may be underestimating Owings here, though how much of that is just my rose-tinted fan eye-wear, is hard to say. But since he put up a .706 OPS, over 91 games at age 22, it does seem pessimistic to expect, as the projection does, a .661 OPS I think he'll outperform both those numbers, as he matures and with the sure and certain knowledge that he no longer have to compete with Didi Gregorius for a job. If you're interested, Fangraphs says we'd have been slightly better going with Didi, who is expected to be worth 1.0 WAR for the Yankees (ranked just above us, at #26) in the same amount of playing time
5. Padres 0.6 WAR (#28)
Everyday starter: Alexi Amarista (0.6)
Backup: Clint Barmes (0.0)
Even given both the limited offense generally expected from the position, and the offensive tundra which is Petco, a projected .630 OPS from your everyday shortstop is not good. But it would actually be an uptick for Amarista who, in 423 major-league games has a career OPS of just .615. That ranks him 293rd among the 304 active position players with 400+ appearances. When you're that weak at the plate, you'd need a Simmons-like level of defense to become a valuable player, and Amarista isn't that, with an expected Fld of -2.3. But at a height reported as low as 5'5", it's nice to see players shorter than me in the majors. Even if they suck.
With the departure of Gregorius, the Diamondbacks appear to have committed fully to Owings being the shortstop of the future going forward. With no others at the position in John's top 20 prospects, if Chris flames out, it might be a while until we are able to develop another one from within, making 2015 an important year for the team, as much as for Owings. Just bear in mind, he is still only 23, and will be until September. Only four NL players that age had enough PAs last year to qualify. With regard to the rest of the division, it's pretty much Tulowitzki way out in front, and then everyone else, with Rollins on his way down, and Crawford on his way up, hopefully along with Owings.
The story so far
Below, you'll find a chart summarizing the findings, which we'll update as we continue this series. For each position, we have awarded the teams a rating of between one and five stars, depending on how strong they are projected to be at the position. Generally, a five-star rating requires them to be among the best in the majors; a four-star one is clearly one of strength; three stars would be about average; two stars is a position of concern; and one star is a gurgling vortex of suck.