The shortstop position is filled with some of the most exciting young players in the league and has always been my favorite position since playing little league. Typically, this topic would focus on rookies entering their sophomore season, but I’ve decided to bend the rules and include a player who has seen more than one full season in the MLB. 




We are going to look at three young shortstops who are positioned to take their talent to the next level. Last year we saw Bobby Witt take that next step in monster fashion, and while I won’t compare anyone to him, it could be time for these players to take their next step as well.

Fantasy Baseball Shortstops: Stepping Up in 2024

Oneil Cruz, Pittsburgh Pirates

Oneil Cruz is one of the most exciting young players in the sport. Standing at 6’7 and 220 lbs, he is an absolute monster at the shortstop position. We’ve only had the privilege of seeing him in 98 games at the MLB level, but like many others, I think this is the year he takes his game to the next level. 

Pirates fans have been desperate for hope, and hope may finally be arriving. Through those 98 games, he tallied 19 home runs and 13 stolen bases with a .237/.302/.449 slash rate. His sprint speed of 29.9 ft/s in 2022 was 12th in the league and his max exit velocity of 122.4 MPH was the fastest ever recorded by Statcast. Now just imagine what his upside might be through a full MLB season. 

Let’s not forget he only played 9 games in 2023 following the changes to the bases, meaning he could very well steal the 20 bases he’s projected for, and then some. He had serious strikeout issues at the plate during his 2022 campaign, registering a 34.9% strikeout rate. This number is eye-opening, but he averaged around a 25% K-rate in the minors and is projected to sit at 27%. 

Every player goes through an adjustment period when entering the big leagues, but this Spring Training has shown promise. He’s destroying the ball, with seven home runs through 12 games. If he can continue to improve his plate discipline, he’s going to produce big numbers.

Anthony Volpe, New York Yankees

Anthony Volpe finished his rookie season playing 159 games while tallying 21 home runs and 24 stolen bases. He finished as one of only four qualifying players at the shortstop position with at least 20 in each category. He ranked 17th in runs and 15th in RBIs so he may not have blown any doors down, but he had a good season for a rookie. 

His struggles at the plate were up and down, hitting below .200 in May and again in the final two months. His .209/.283/.383 slash rate left little to be desired, but with a full season behind him, he should be in a position to improve. He’s projected to hit .226 this season which isn’t going to win you the BA category, but he should see an uptick in the counting stats. 

Improvements at the plate may also do wonders for his stolen base potential as we have already seen him swipe 44 bases in one season at AA. He’s projected to hit at the bottom of the lineup which isn’t ideal, but the Yankees were not afraid to move him up to leadoff last season. With D.J. LaMahieu currently injured, it’s entirely possible we see Volpe moved up in the lineup sooner. If he’s hitting ahead of Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, his runs are going to surge.

CJ Abrams, Washington Nationals

CJ Abrams is coming off a fantastic year for the Nationals where he tallied 18 home runs and 47 stolen bases. His 18 home runs ranked 13th among shortstops but he trailed only Bobby Witt in steals, by two bases. He ranked 8th in runs scored and 13th in RBIs while slashing .245/.300/.412. Like many left-handed batters, he struggles against LHP, but his speed makes up for this. 

In 2024, he’s projected to hit 23 home runs and steal 39 bases, which would make him one of five shortstops to tally 20 of each. The fact he hits in the leadoff spot gives him a good floor for runs scored, and any plate improvements will increase his RBI potential. His downfall is that he hits in a weak Nationals lineup with no real power behind him outside Lane Thomas unless we see a resurgence from Joey Gallo

Consider the makeup of your roster before drafting him. Yes, he’s going to hit home runs and steal a ton of bases, but he’s going in the 4th round in most drafts and his profile may not necessarily fit every team build at his ADP. If you spend the first three rounds selecting power-hitters who don’t steal, Abrams will fit perfectly to balance things out.