At the start of the season, I was certain Ozzie Albies was the top fantasy second basemen, followed closely by DJ LeMahieu. I was so smart to rank them there and I knew it. Filling out my top five were Whit Merrfield, Keston Hiura, and Brandon Lowe all ranked in my Top 5.

I wish I could say I was spot on about all five players. But if there is one thing that I should have learned in my lifetime, it is that what I am certain about in baseball is not always the way things turn out.

My initial Top 5 currently has only one player still there. Thanks, Merrifield, for living up to expectations so far. The rest of you, ugh. Albies, LeMahieu, and Lowe all struggled out of the gates but have since shown signs of life at the plate. And if you are an owner of Hiura, I’m sorry. I hope you enjoyed the two-run homer he hit for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds the other day. So outside of Merrifield, my Top 5 was completely wrong.

So who is now in the Top 5 and fills out the rest of the rankings? Has Albies done enough to crack the Top 10? Has LeMehieu or Lowe? Let’s find out.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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The month of April has come and gone. Among the hundreds of players in Major League Baseball, perhaps no one is happier about that than Francisco Lindor.

Acquired in the offseason by the New York Mets to be the face and anchor of the franchise, the perennial All-Star is off to such a bad start, Mets fans are greeting him with boos. That is what happens when you are hitting .189 with a .299 on-base percentage and a woeful .243 slugging percentage.

Is this just a player trying too hard to impress his new team and fanbase? Maybe. Lots of players have struggled to adjust to new settings or the bright lights of New York before figuring things out. Perhaps, however, Lindor’s struggles are not a blip. When you look deeper into his stats, maybe what we are seeing now is the start of a trend.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Well, it didn’t take long for injuries and poor play to blow up my preseason rankings.

Fernando Tatis is back in the lineup now for the Padres, but he gave every fantasy owner a heart attack when a vicious swing nearly ripped his shoulder off his body. Meanwhile, Adalberto Mondesi has yet to even get his season started while Tim Anderson was sidelined with a hamstring issue. While injuries are a nuisance, nothing frustrates a fantasy owner more than poor performance.

It seems shortstops such has Trevor Story, Gleyber Torres and Dansby Swanson have decided to enter the witness protection program instead of hit a baseball with any consistency. Story’s slow start has seen him fall 16 spots in my rankings while Torres and Swanson are nowhere to be seen in the rankings right now. Speaking of rankings, let’s get on with the show and see who ranks where – and why.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

There is just under two weeks left in the regular season.  In single-season leagues, there is no more waiting.  It is perfectly acceptable to drop the struggling star while playing for the category wins.  While this column all season has been focused on 2020, unless you are in the running at this point you are moving on to 2021.  Even if you are in the running, you might have one foot out the door of 2020.  I know most of the world does…

In keeping with the 3 Up, 3 Down and 3 to Watch theme, let us take a look at a few of my favorite names up the middle of the infield to watch going into 2021:

  • Dansby Swanson – I will admit I was not a believer in Swanson going into this season and it seems there is still some doubt in the industry. Is anybody else questioning why he is only 85% owned in Yahoo leagues?
  • Whit Merrifield – There was concern this year that Merrifield was not going to run enough to stay relevant. Not only has he been running, but he is on a 30/30 pace for an entire season.  Merrifield has a high floor and will be consistently undervalued playing for the Royals.
  • Please, blog, may I have some more?

There are just over three weeks left in the regular season.  The real and fantasy trade deadlines have passed.  Did the trade deadline give us much movement in the top 50 middle infielders for the rest of the 2020 fantasy baseball season?  At my extremely unofficial count, we saw 4 notable middle infielders move at the deadline.  A quick breakdown of the impact to their production the rest of the season:

  • Ty France
    • There will be increased playing time for somebody who put up a .399/.477/.770 line in AAA during 2019. I know it was at El Paso in the PCL, but any chance to give this guy consistent playing time is worth it and it sounds like Seattle has been targeting France for some time.
  • Tommy La Stella
    • La Stella has been a solid contributor this year and was an all-star last year. He joins a team that is going to be playoff bound and has much more to be playing for as the season rounds out.  Boasting a league leading strikeout rate, he has some deeper league appeal
      Please, blog, may I have some more?

One third of the season is in the books and things are going exactly as planned across the league!  With such a predictable season, it should be little surprise that our Middle Infielder Rankings are stable…right?  That could not be further from the truth.  At this point, we are enjoying our first  glance at the first place Marlins, the Cardinals have played a mere 5 games and the Astros look like a hot mess.

With so much change and outside influence, it should be no surprise that our rest of season rankings are going through a shakeup from top to bottom.  With that movement comes a new #1 for our list: Trevor Story.  Let us take a quick look at his hot start and why it is not just a hot start but the beginning of a bigger breakout and a chance to lay claim to the top spot the rest of the season.

When Story first entered the league, he was carrying a lofty 30+ K%.  Through the first 18 games of the season, he has walked (10) nearly as often as he has struck out (11) resulting in a minuscule 13% K rate.  So, are we seeing real improvement in his approach at the plate?  Let us dig a little deeper

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We are now just over a week into the season and all bets are off.  In most years, we should be taking a longer view of these rankings and accounting for the ebb and flow of the season.  In this uncertain environment we do not have time to wait to see if a guy is just having a slow start to the season.  To win in what may be a ‘coin flip’ at the end of the season we must play the hot hands and cut bait on the sleepers that aren’t showing the promise we projected.  Sure, there will be mistakes along the way, but the bigger mistake is being left behind.

A few things to focus on this week:

  1. If you are playing for the Phillies, Marlins, Blue Jays or Yankees you are dropping in the rankings. There are rumblings of playing 7 inning doubleheaders to catch up on the season and anybody on those teams will take a hit.  If playing for the Marlins was not penalty enough…
  2. Who is off to a hot start or cold start? We can’t really base anything off of one-week, but as I mentioned in the intro I would much rather move on too early than wake up and realize the season is over because I didn’t want to bench or drop that high draft pick.
  3. Finally, we need to look at opportunities again. We have just hit the point where any call ups will have an extra year of time control.  Nothing like the roar of the crowd (or silence of cardboard cut outs) to get somebody off to a hot start to their career.

3 Up!

Dansby Swanson – Dansby Swanson broke out last year in a big way.  With shortstop (and middle infield) being so deep this year, he was getting sleeper love but is still owned in less than 70% of Yahoo leagues.  I will be honest and admit I was not fully buying the breakout leading up to the season.  On the other hand, he did increase his Barrel %, Launch Angle and Hart Hit % in 2019 and has not slowed down this year.  I get it is early, but he is top 5% in the league in Barrels and xSLG.  If he is available, grab him now and ask questions later.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Wait…Baseball!?  If I am being honest, I did not think we would have a season to watch and give us a distraction from the upcoming election season…ohhh and that whole Global Pandemic thingy.  But really, it is amazing to think we will have a season and there will be numerous unique adaptations from a fantasy perspective as we no longer have the benefit of patience over a long season.  A hot month can lead to an MVP campaign or the Mendoza Line!

We also cannot forget the bigger picture.  These players are real people in a highly unique situation.  All I can do is hope for their continued safety as they try their best to give us an escape from 2020.

So how am I reacting in the middle infield rankings?  Let us look at four key areas of change.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome to my inaugural post for the top 50 Middle Infielder rankings for the rest of the 2020 fantasy baseball season.  Throughout the year, I will be updating my rankings and calling out those movers and shakers.  For those of you here looking to gather some insights, welcome.  For those of you looking to steal my rankings and use them against me, I am not afraid!

Let’s take a quick look at the landscape up the middle of the diamond.  Middle infield is deep this year, more specifically shortstop is stacked.  This isn’t Jason Bartlett’s shortstop class of 10 years ago.  The top four all have an argument for being first round picks.  After that, there are all-stars abound with blemishes (Can Altuve hit without a buzzer?  How often will Gleyber play against Baltimore?  Will Tatis regress or grow?).  Once we get past the top 20-25, there is a steep cliff that will leave you wishing you had invested earlier.

Now let’s get into a few key guys standing out from the pack in the rankings.

Please, blog, may I have some more?