The marathon is almost complete. Congrats on your championships and/or being in the hunt at this point. The waiver wire is likely barren and the trade deadline has long passed, so I figured we’d take a look at the 2024 middle infield landscape.

Good news, middle infield is thriving and is strong as ever, even with the loss of Fernando Tatis Jr.‘s shortstop eligibility next year. We swap Tatis’ first round value out for another MVP caliber talent in Mookie Betts, who has seen time at second base and shortstop this season. Trea Turner will be 31 years old and coming off of a career-worst K% of 22.6%, but second half resurgence may propel him to around a top 5 or back end first round pick in the coming spring. The warning signs are starting to manifest, but I believe we’ll get another year or two of elite production.

Speaking of early rounders, Bobby Witt Jr. played himself out of a spring Schmohawk article to post a 86/26/90/.280/.322/47 line entering play Sunday. His strikeouts and walks are trending in the right direction, and he’s only 23.

Wily vets Marcus Semien and Francisco Lindor are still producing as 5-tool assets and with the emergence of more young talent, may possibly find themselves at more of a discount in drafts next year. It may be too early to tell. If that wasn’t enough, we saw what Ozzie Albies can do when finally healthy, as he hit his 30th homer this past Saturday and looks to eclipse the 100 RBI mark in a loaded Braves lineup.

Jose Altuve and Elly De La Cruz probably look to be among the most polarizing players come draft time next year. Altuve’s good when healthy, but given his injury-plagued 2023, how far does the 34 year old fall to capture value in drafts next season? Elly De La Cruz could be the biggest value gainer, and could easily catapult to first round status and we’re all aware of his flashy tools. The cutting of his 33 K% will go a long way in determining his value.

As of today, Matt McLain and Maikel Garcia seem to be the type of players that may be overlooked in drafts next year. Matt McLain’s lived in the shadows of Elly De La Cruz and seems to be overshadowed with the tremendous wave of hitting talent the Reds have called up in 2023, coupled with his oblique injury that may knock him out for the rest of the season but McLain’s been as steady as they come, batting 65/16/50/.290/.357/14 in 365 at-bats. Maikel Garcia, playing on the lowly Royals team and overshadowed by teammate Bobby Witt Jr., has quietly put up a 53/4/49/.273/.325/22 slash. The 4 homers in 400+ at-bats obviously leaves much to be desired, but worth noting, his HardHit% is in the 93rd percentile. A few tweaks of his launch angle in the right direction coupled with some added muscle (Maikel’s 23 years old), could easily make him a 20/20 candidate and a huge value gainer. Don’t sleep on McLain and Maikel.

Gunnar Henderson is a worthy AL ROY, and has made major improvements in his game in the second half. His slash line sits at a pretty 91/27/79/.260/.330/9 line. It’s good to see a young guy not wear down as the season winds down. Gunnar’s made great plays on both sides of the ball most of the season. Easy to see him as a top 75 pick next season.

The Twins are tied to Carlos Correa for some time, but rookies Edouard Julien and Royce Lewis have stolen our attention. Despite Julien striking out over 30% of the time, he’s shown talent beyond his years with a knack for barreling the ball up and he’s still walking at a tremendous rate (.380 OBP). Royce Lewis can’t stop hitting grand slams and the only knock on him is his health. Prorate out those 14 homers and 51 RBI in 206 at-bats! Edit: Lewis has only played one game at shortstop, so unless your league positional eligibility rules are extremely generous, Lewis will not retain shortstop eligibility next season.

At this point, it seems like all of the players mentioned above are good players and I haven’t even mentioned guys like Oneil Cruz (injured all year), Ketel Marte (rebound from injury, are the juiced balls back), Nolan Gorman (another guy making incremental gains in his game), or even the next wave of middle infield talent such as Jackson Holliday, Jordan Lawlar, and Luisangel Acuna. Safe to say, middle infield is in good hands.

Have a great week!