Sep 5, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy (2) singles in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. Hardy: Evaluating His 2014 Fantasy Value

Today we’re going to look at the game of James Jerry Hardy, but we’re all friends here so you can call him JJ.

Oddly, our first look at J.J. Hardy is going to be at his defense, which doesn’t doesn’t do a lick of good for his fantasy value, except that it really does. James Jerry is a great defender at shortstop, so good that he keeps Manny Machado pushed to third.

His good defense keeping him at short is significant because Hardy’s power really stands out at the position, where skinny-legged little slap hitting guys are the norm.  Fantasy baseball managers and even real life baseball managers are conditioned to look for speed at shortstop, and often can’t see past that type.

Here’s some proof of that from Ron Gardenhire, the manager of the Minnesota Twins, the team Hardy played for in 2010:

“We all know Hardy doesn’t run like he used to, and when you’re talking about injecting speed, there’s only a few places that you can do that, and shortstop is one of them.” – prior to the Twins giving him away for Jim Hoey.

Oh, those silly Midwestern mindset Twins, who were so stuck in their ways and conditioned to viewing the shortstop position as speedy little base stealers, that they overlooked what Hardy actually brings to a ball club (excellent defense and excellent pull power) and shipped him off for basically a bowl full of nothing (sorry, Jim Hoey, but you know it’s true).

Which MLB team do you think had the worst shortstop production for the three years after they gave away Hardy? 

Here’s a look at Hardy’s production, leaving out stolen bases because I don’t think he’s stolen one of those ever (Editor’s Note: J.J. Hardy has 8 total stolen bases in his 9 year career):

2011 (Orioles)763080.269.310.491
2012 (Orioles)852268.238.282.389
2013 (Orioles)662576.263.306.433
Career Averages802376.260.312.428

And here is a table of some more career numbers:

JJ Hardy Career Percentages7.0%14.2%85.5%16.8%44.4%38.8%13.0%11.4%

Hardy has a career triple slash of .260/.312/.428 and his counting stat averages per 162 games are 80 runs, 23 home runs, and 76 RBI.  If you have speed covered elsewhere, that’s a fine fantasy line out of a shortstop.

Outside of Tulo (and maybe Hanley) Hardy is the game’s most powerful shortstop.

A dead pull hitter, Hardy’s .260 career batting average won’t kill your fantasy team as much as you’d think. Keep in mind that it’s a poor hitting position, and .260 had Hardy at 8th among qualified shortstops. Likewise, he won’t help in OBP leagues, but among qualified shortstops he was 10th last year; not bad for mixed leagues.

Hardy hits 38.8% of his batted balls as fly balls (and a much too high 13% as infield flies), and only 16.8% as line drives, meaning his batting average will be what it will be. But don’t over-think the downsides, while neglecting what he does give. The power.

In short, address speed (and maybe batting average) elsewhere then Hardy is a fine choose as a fantasy shortstop. The benefit obviously is you won’t have to pay a mint in an auction, nor waste a high draft pick to get him.

If you are playing in a fantasy league with Ron Gardenhire, you let him draft the speedy – yet light-hitting – shortstop with a pick that is much too high. Meanwhile, you grab a cheap source of stolen bases elsewhere while you grab Hardy as the 8-11th shortstop off the board, getting 20+ homers and solid counting numbers.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles J.J. Hardy

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