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 five 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

  • He has improved his Contact% by more than 7-points against prior seasons
  • Story’s Swinging Strike % has been nearly cut in half
  • We see a 10-point drop in First Pitch Swing %

If we look at the flip side of the luck metrics, if anything, he has been unlucky.  Story is carrying a BABIP over 50 points below his career average and has the lowest HR/FB% in the last three years.  This metrics are certainly subject to the small sample size, but all arrows are pointing in the right direction for this story to continue.

3 Up!

Trevor Story Did you skip above?  The short story is we are seeing the start of something special here.  I am all in and he gets extra points for all the pun fun.

Garrett Hampson – Two weeks ago I was writing about how Hampson had only played in 2 games all season and we could not trust Bud Black and the Rockies to give us any consistency.  The last six games Hampson has been in the leadoff slot and has been running with the opportunity.  Over a full season, Hampson has 15/20 upside and could deliver sneaky value over the rest of this season.  Through nearly 50 plate appearances this year, he is showing much improved plate discipline and sits in the top 10% of the league in xBA.  If he is sitting on the waiver wire due to frustrations over the first few weeks, snatch him up.

Ian HappDavid Ross has confirmed Ian Happ as the everyday center fielder going forward saying “he’s the real deal”.  He has always had power going back to his rookie year when he popped 24 long balls in only 115 games.  The question has always been about consistency and opportunity.  With several players struggling to start this year, Happ and his new role jump up the list.

3 Down!

Jose Altuve – Nobody was sure how much impact the trash cans would have on the Astros. But at this point, I am starting to be convinced that Altuve was a serial cheater.  Across the board his metrics do not look good whether we look at quality of contact or plate discipline.  Maybe most notable, he is hitting just .174 on breaking balls and whiffing nearly 40% of the time!  I bet he didn’t hear that coming…

Adalberto Mondesi – I was the low guy out the gate on Adalberto this year as I just did not trust his ability to get on base enough to leverage his speed.  As the season was shortened, he started to move up the list as speed became even more valuable.  But…I immediately regret that decision and will be putting him back where he belongs.  To run, he must be on base and a BB% under 3 and a spot at the bottom of the lineup is not going to help.  The risk just is not worth the reward.

Cardinals Hitters – There are really two ways to go here.  Do we drop all the Cardinal hitters due to the general uncertainty around their ability to be on the field?  Or, do we bump them up because they have the benefit of more games the rest of the season.  I am going risk adverse here with the former option, but I do not fault anybody with being opportunistic due to the potential for more games over the rest of the season.

3 To Watch! 

Cavan Biggio – Cavan!!  Son of Craig!!  Greek God of walks!!  We know Biggio can fill up the stat sheet already accumulating 4 HR and 4 SB.  The real question has been if he will be more aggressive in 2020.  The jury is still out, but he does appear to be trading some walks for production.  Moreover, he is hitting the ball awfully hard with a BABIP below the Mendoza line.

Jake CronenworthJake Cronenworth has been jumping all around the San Diego lineup, but he been playing nearly every day.  There is not much in his profile that screams breakout, but we cannot ignore the solid numbers so far.  Cronenworth is worth watching, but I would be cautious before investing

J.P. Crawford – Seattle’s leadoff hitter is a once top prospect who is still just 25 years old.  He has shown some early season improvements by cutting down on strikeouts and really pulling up the runs.  I need to see more power, but Crawford’s trends place him squarely on the watch list.

 

Rank Name Position Team Change
1 Trevor Story SS COL 2
2 Fernando Tatis Jr. SS SD 3
3 Francisco Lindor SS CLE -2
4 Trea Turner SS WSH -2
5 Ketel Marte 2B, SS, OF ARI -1
6 Alex Bregman 3B, SS HOU
7 Keston Hiura 2B MIL 2
8 Xander Bogaerts SS BOS 2
9 Whit Merrifield 1B, 2B, OF KC 2
10 Javier Baez SS CHC 2
11 Ozzie Albies 2B ATL -4
12 DJ LeMahieu 1B, 2B, 3B NYY 4
13 Jose Altuve 2B HOU -5
14 Gleyber Torres 2B, SS NYY
15 Marcus Semien SS OAK
16 Bo Bichette SS TOR 1
17 Cavan Biggio 1B, 2B, OF TOR 2
18 Adalberto Mondesi SS KC -5
19 Max Muncy 1B, 2B, 3B LAD -1
20 Manny Machado 3B, SS SD
21 Jeff McNeil 2B, 3B, OF NYM
22 Carlos Correa SS HOU
23 Mike Moustakas 2B, 3B CIN
24 Dansby Swanson SS ATL
25 Eduardo Escobar 2B, 3B ARI
26 Corey Seager SS LAD 2
27 Tim Anderson SS CWS -1
28 Jorge Polanco SS MIN 2
29 Nick Solak 2B, 3B, OF TEX 4
30 Jonathan Villar 2B, SS MIA 2
31 Ian Happ 1B, 2B, 3B, OF CHC 9
32 Tommy Edman 2B, 3B, OF STL -5
33 Elvis Andrus SS TEX -4
34 Amed Rosario SS NYM
35 Garrett Hampson 2B, SS, OF COL 16
36 Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 2B, OF TOR
37 Didi Gregorius SS PHI 1
38 Brandon Lowe 1B, 2B, OF TB 4
39 Cesar Hernandez 2B CLE 2
40 Paul DeJong SS STL -9
41 David Fletcher 2B, 3B, SS, OF LAA 8
42 Ryan McMahon 1B, 2B, 3B COL -5
43 Howie Kendrick 1B, 2B, 3B WSH 3
44 Danny Santana 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF TEX -9
45 Jean Segura SS PHI -1
46 Gavin Lux 2B LAD -1
47 Kolten Wong 2B STL -8
48 Jake Cronenworth 1B, SS SD NR
49 Donovan Solano 2B, 3B, SS SF NR
50 J.P. Crawford SS SEA NR
 
  1. Simsbad says:
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    thoughts on Robinson Cano?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Great question as he came of the IL and homered tonight! The issue with Cano is two fold. First, can he stay on the field? Second, the Mets lineup has certainly had its challenges. Right now, he is sitting in the 50-69 range in my rankings.

      If (big if), he can stay healthy the rest of the season, I would see him around the 40 mark on this list. He actually has been incredibly consistent in his skills when on the field. Small sample sizes apply, but he has continued to show that consistency in 202 as well.

      • Mike Honcho says:
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        Does A. Gimenez stick in the lineup with Cano back?
        Look at his last 2 weeks versus JP Crawford.

        • Jeremy Brewer

          Jeremy Brewer says:
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          Gimenez has looked very good so far. I almost pulled him in the top 50, but held off for that very reason. I suspect Rosario and Cano get the bulk of playing time unless Rosario fails to turn it around.

          I have added a few speculative Gimenez shares myself.

  2. TTRA1N says:
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    man. I know y’all work hard. I stopped reading when I seen No Bichette 17.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Phew, I am glad you got that far! Kidding aside, I think you have a good point here.

      There are a few minor concerns with the league figuring Bo out with his struggles chasing the breaking ball. But overall his arrow is pointing up. Guys right in front of him (Altuve, Gleyber, etc.) have some track record but are trending the wrong direction. I am not willing to put Bo in the top 10 yet, but he is knocking on the door.

    • keith o branstetter says:
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      yep

  3. JDB says:
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    So, you move Mondesi down 5 spots, which I get, but leave E. Escobar alone? I have both on one of my teams – let’s just say that team is struggling a bit…

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Good call out on Escobar. Looking at the rest of the season I see more potential for Escobar to maintain his position than Mondesi. Escobar has shown some skill deterioration around his plate discipline, but also had some prettty tough luck.

      That being said, if you wanted to reshuffle 25-35, I can support many of those arguments. That group is much closer together than 15-24. Don’t be surprised in a few weeks if we see guys like Anderson and Solak jumping over Escobar.

      Thanks for jumping into the conversation!

  4. ellis says:
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    No love for Lowe?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      At 47 years old, I just don’t see him with the agility to stay on the field..wait…you meant 2002 All Star SP Derek Lowe right?

      I spent a lot of time looking at Brandon Lowe. Here is the thing, he just keeps hitting and his counting numbers are great! But I see the cliff coming. His BABIP is .370 and 1 out of every fly ball is leaving the yard. I don’t think that is sustainable. Couple that with his inability to hit any offspead or breaking pitches, it only takes luck regression or the league adjusting for him to slow down. Watch out if both happen.

      Nothing wrong with riding the hot hand, but he is a sell high in my book.

  5. Tony C says:
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    Does Dylan Moore come close to top 50 yet? Or is the sample size way too small? No pun intended.

    Once I activate Moustakas soon I’ll have one too many Middle IF. Based on your rankings above I need to drop Hampson instead of Happ although I really need OBP and SBs.

    There’s no way I can drop Devers or JD Davis to keep Happ/Hampton, right?

    I do have Spencer Howard also but I would drop him when Charlie Morton is ready to go. I could drop Howard now to activate Moustakas and see what to do in a week when Morton could be ready to pitch again.

    Thanks and good article today!

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Thanks for the read Tony!

      I need to see Moore from Dylan! Right now he is a hit hand that can be used, but long term I see some issues. Right now he is killing fastballs, but is batting under .100 on other pitches. If I can see that, you have to believe the league will challenge him. I have him in the 60-70 range, but temper expectations.

      You have quite the predicament on Moustakas. I would be dropping Howard to see how the Happ/Hampson situations transpire. I wouldn’t be shocked if another week gives us better insight into playing time for those two. I would be holding Devers/Davis as well.

  6. Papa Jean Segura says:
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    Need to drop 1 in order to activate Moustakas: Grisham, Winker, Santander, or Swanson?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Now that is a great problem to have. I think Grisham and Swanson are no brained to keep. So it really comes down to Santander and Winker. Both are hitting the ball well this year. With that it is really situational. Winker isn’t getting as much playing time and still swing virtual no exposure to left handed pitching.

      So I lean to keep Santander, but again this is a good problem to have!

  7. Nick santerre says:
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    Where is Moncada?????????

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      We are rolling with Yahoo eligibility here, so he is sitting at 3B! If he were eligible (you made me double check), I would probably be looking around #20 give or take.

      If you glance at Dan Richards CI rankings he is sitting right next to Machado as well!

  8. scoboticus says:
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    I agree with being risk adverse with Cardinals hitters, at least in Roto. With double and triple headers every day, either they don’t play them all or they’re more liable to get injured.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      As a Cardinals fan myself, this hurts. But it had to be done!

  9. scoboticus says:
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    What’s your opinion on Andres Gimenez? Is he close to getting on the list?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Had a Gimenez question earlier too, popular guy! I see some nice potential but expect the Mets to be the Mets and let Rosario and Cano play.

      I have like him as a speculative play sitting right outside the top 50. We should know more soon on the playing time. But if you have a spot, there are worse spots to try.

  10. fausto

    fausto says:
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    MI is killing me…you still that high on Am.Rosario? …I already dropped kingery in a 16team. How much longer are you giving Rosario before streaming the MI spot, or do you think he turns it around to at least some semblance of himself?

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      I think Rosario has more in the tank, but I am starting to sour a bit. A lot of Mets questions today. I would love them to give Gimenez a chance, but I fear we end up with reduced playing time for all.

      I would hold him in a 16 teamer, but watch the playing time closely

  11. Harley Earl says:
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    As much as I love Trevor Story … and I love him based on the fact that I have him on every fantasy baseball team I manage (3) … I cannot honestly say he is better than Tatis Jr. It’s close but Tatis is a megastar in the making. I hope you’re right and I’m wrong but even as much as I want to, I just can’t agree with putting Story ahead of Tatis.

    • Jeremy Brewer

      Jeremy Brewer says:
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      Those two are neck and neck at the top. Can I cheat and have two numbers 1s? Tatis is certainly special. I would love to see how he reacts to a slump and makes adjustments, but yes…He is a monster.

      Plus…’A new Tatis at the top’ just doesn’t make for a great title!

      Thanks for reading.

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