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Let’s take a look at a trio of middle infielders as we dissect their present and future fantasy value:

Matt McLain: Reds – Sticking with the Cincinnati theme here: Matt McLain, overshadowed by Elly De La Cruz, has a 25/3/15/.328/.380/3 line in 131 at-bats and has remained a steady presence at the top of the Reds lineup. He skyrocketed through the minors, as he was drafted by the Reds in the first round of the 2021 draft. McLain was given the following prospect grades: 40/45 hit tool, 50/50 power, 60/60 speed. The hit tool is translating, as his xBA is a respectable .278, albeit a .27% K%. Interestingly enough, McLain only has three steals in 130+ at-bats thus far, despite a 92% sprint speed, but those 4 triples are juicy. As McLain has been caught stealing twice already, perhaps Reds management has told him to pump the brakes as McLain gets further accustomed to big league life and the quality if Major League catchers. As McLain just passed the 130 at-bat threshold, he has a wild 10 barrels, good for a Barrel/PA of 7.0%. While the insane barrel rate pace will not continue, McLain was already regarded as a well-rounded player. At least in the early going, looking on the bright side here, it seems like McLain has some extra power and his hot start is not just a product of Great American Ballpark. His home/away splits are below, McLain hits everywhere so far. As it stands now, McLain is 63% owned in Yahoo, and as he looks to continue the great start to his career, over the next few weeks, he should trend towards being owned in shallower leagues before long.

 

 

Francisco LindorMets: Not much is going right for Uncle Steve and the high-priced Mets this year, and Lindor is having a weird 2023 so far with a  32/12/44/.211/.291/6 slash line. The counting stats are nice, but the Mets need their stud shortstop to have his AVG and OBP pump back up to his career norms. Looking under the hood, Lindor is barreling the ball at a career-high rate of 11% and the hardhit% is around a career-high, but there’s a stark difference over the past couple of years with regards to run value on certain pitches.

Last year, Lindor had an absurd +17 run value on fastballs and a +8 on changeups, but 2023 continues a trend of being below average on breaking balls (-5 on sliders, -2 on curveballs). Looks like the National League has the book on Lindor. Also, the banned shift is doing him no favors.

Further lowlights: the Zone Contact% is at a career low, the Chase Contact % is at an all-time low, and the Whiff % is at a career-worst. Francisco Lindor is only 29 and seems to be aging out of his prime prematurely. Someone tell Uncle Steve and Mets management to get Lindor to change his approach and/or get a new hitting coach. Looking at 2024, Lindor seems to be one of those players whose draft value will be artificially pumped up due to name recognition. Don’t be that guy next year.

Ozzie AlbiesBraves: Admittedly, I was one of the low guys on Albies entering the year, as he dealt with an injury-plagued 2022, among which included him undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. Flash forward to June 2023, Albies has a healthy 35/16/48/.263/.315/3 line entering play Sunday and ranks as one of the top options at a shallow second base pool. Looks like Ozzie Albie owners got a nice draft day discount. What’s going on here? Looking under the hood Albies seems to be earning his robust 2023 line. While Albies is an OBP drain, Albies is contributing just about everywhere else, accumulating plenty of counting stats in one of the best MLB lineups. His xBA is .271, his Barrel/PA%, HardHit%, and K% are all at career bests. Furthermore, Albie’s immediate fantasy value receives a boost as he and Matt Olson trade spots in the lineup (Albies bumped up from #5 to #2) with the extra plate appearances.  The Braves are at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park and Great American Ball Park this week as Ozzie Albies looks to continue his hot streak.

Hope all the fantasy baseballer fathers out there had a great Father’s Day!